Every Child’s Birthright

Every Child’s Birthright

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

One of the many things I thank my parents for is making sure my siblings and I finish college. Like my Nanay and Tatay, I believe that having a good education is a big factor in a person’s future. That is why my husband and I also dream to see our sons get good jobs or put up a thriving business someday so they can, in turn, be able to raise their families well.

Having knowledge about many things can help a person make good choices because decisions should be made after all angles are considered. This is not always possible if one has limited information. Sure, we don’t, and won’t, learn everything in school. But going through a structured educational system at least guarantees you won’t miss out as much compared to those who didn’t go to school at all, or stopped going to school earlier than they should.

Among the various advocacies I support, I particularly have a soft spot for children’s education. Hubby and I sponsor a child each through World Vision because we’ve seen how our donations, no matter how small, are making an impact in the lives of two children, their families, and their communities.

I am optimistic that if only every Filipino child, the leaders of the future, could have a good education, our country would have a brighter tomorrow. Of course, included there should be good values that will also give them the heart and compassion to help others, not just themselves, when the right time comes.

This March and April, three of my sons are graduating from elementary, high school, and college. I feel this sense of joy and accomplishment for getting them through this far. I know, we still have a long way to go but the foundation is already there. And I will continue supporting my kids as much as I can in reaching their full potentials by making sure they all finish school and improve their chances of having the good lives every parent dreams of for their children.

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

More than Just Coffee

More than Just Coffee

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

I am not much of a coffee drinker. And I don’t particularly like spending a lot on signature drinks. Lately though, I’ve been finding myself hanging out with online media friends at various coffee shops after we’ve attended events.

It’s nice when we get to use the gift certificates we’re given during press cons or by clients but, most of the time, we do have to shell out for the stuff we order. Good thing the stores offer non-coffee drinks so I can still buy other kinds of beverages. However, practical person that I am, I still try to limit my spending and just let the others get the regular coffee and pastry fixes they always can’t seem to be without.

Analyzing the situation, I realized that I’m there mainly for the company. I enjoy being with my friends because we always have a great time exchanging stories. We seem not to run out of topics to talk about and I find my mind stimulated by all the interactions which, at times, even give me ideas about new stuff to write about.

True friends are hard to find these days. So I’m taking these pockets of opportunity to bond with them when I do have time to hang out even for just an hour or two once in a while. After all, I don’t know how much longer our schedules would jive and if we’ll still be having coffee together a few weeks or months from now.

I like how we continuously meet individuals whom we could be great friends with in time. It’s amazing how our hearts have the capability to let more people in who will eventually touch our lives in the most meaningful of ways.

So I don’t mind spending for my not-so-cheap, non-coffee drinks every now and then. Ultimately, the friendships, the stories, the laughter, and the good times are worth far more than that.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

Before the New Year Begins

Before the New Year Begins

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

We often hear people say they want to leave behind stuff that needs to stay in the past year before turning on a new leaf when the New Year comes. I believe this is actually good practice because the end of a year is a good time to clean the slate, start anew, and forget anything undesirable that happened for the past 12 months. So, here’s sharing several suggestions on what we can do before, or immediately after, the calendar reads January 1:

* Write down specific goals you want to achieve for the next 12 months. It would be better if you also list the essential steps you have to do to accomplish those targets then start with step one. Print everything on paper and post it where you can often see it.

* Gather the family for a “conference.”  This is an ideal time to share your resolutions with each other so you can cheer on one another and provide helpful suggestions on how everyone could reach their goals faster. Young children, most especially, would be motivated to reach simple goals with the guidance of their parents.

* Fill up a new calendar or planner with important dates and events such as family and close friends’ birthdays and anniversaries as well as scheduled doctor visits, if any.

* Catch up on miscellaneous stuff. Clean up your e-mail inboxes, finish the pile of laundry in the basket, arrange your closet and take out stuff you can donate or sell to give way for the new things you bought or received during the Christmas season, check if you still have unpaid bills, etc.

* End the current year on a positive note. Make a list of things you are thankful for that happened the past year. Highlight the best ones that made a big impact in your life. These will remind you that there are more good things in store in the coming year. Refer to this list as often as possible in the coming days to be inspired and further encouraged to keep on going.

Photo by Chris Gilbert on Unsplash

Only Good Memories Remain

Only Good Memories Remain

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

A friend of mine shared something on his Facebook wall last night. It’s a link to a story he wrote about his dad. Soon after, other friends, including myself, started sharing our own experiences as sons and daughters.

Most of us acknowledged that our parents are human beings too and are bound to make mistakes like we do. We may have been hurt by some of the things our dads and moms did during our growing up years, but we recognize that we have done stuff that caused them pain as well.

Many of my friends and I have already lost our dads or our moms, or both. Some, many years ago; others, just a few months back. But one thing we expressed is how we all love our parents and respect them.

Me? I remember my Tatay as a strict man who can be quick with the belt when my siblings and I made mistakes while we were still kids. When he and our mom had misunderstandings, he would be gone for days, staying in my Lola’s house before coming back with his sense of humor intact. I loved listening to his corny jokes! I also remember him as a person who people go to when they need help. He was generous to a fault and would even lend his last peso to a friend in need.

He was a good granddad to my kids and my nephew. Up until now, 11 years after he passed away, our relatives and people in our town still talk about him with fondness. I also don’t think anybody has yet broken his record for having the longest line of mourners during the long walk to the cemetery when we brought him to his resting place.

When I get asked about the most precious memories I have of my Tatay, I’ll always recall how he would take my youngest son, barely a year old at the time, every morning for a walk around the town while he chitchats with his many friends. The two of them were a common sight in the area which seems to be still engraved in peoples’ memories. It is gratifying that whenever we visit my mom in Laguna, neighbors and friends would look at Daniel and exclaim how big he has grown from that little baby that my Tatay used to bring everywhere. It always gladdens my heart to hear that.

Nobody is perfect and it will serve us well to look beyond a person’s imperfections to appreciate the goodness within. I’ve long since forgiven and forgotten whatever shortcomings my dad had. What I want to remain are the happy memories he left behind.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

My Body Speaks

My Body Speaks

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

If you are familiar with The Corrs, you probably know their hit song where the lyrics go, “And it really doesn’t matter if we don’t eat, and it really doesn’t matter if we never sleep … ‘cause we are so young now, we are so young, so young, now …”

I could very well identify with those sentiments. There were a lot of times during my college days and after graduation when I also felt invulnerable. I could spend a whole night talking with friends or walking around the campus under the pouring rain without getting sick. Back then, I could push myself hard and bounce back after just a few hours of rest.

Not anymore. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of protest from my bones, my muscles, and even my skin! The other day, I interviewed the CEO of a company that carries beauty and wellness products. There, I was offered to have my facial skin analyzed using a high-tech machine that takes photos of one’s face in high definition.

The beauty consultant showed me the pictures one by one using an LED screen. I found myself squirming and grimacing as she started zooming in on each problem area. She said my skin is dehydrated, I have slightly enlarged pores, there are already fine wrinkles around my eyes, and I have lots of pigmentation. She advised me how to prevent the conditions from getting worse and, for the first time, I really paid attention. It’s not every day I get to see all my skin’s imperfections flashed larger than life on a computer monitor! And it was hard not to wonder how bad things could get if I don’t take care of my skin while it can still be saved.

A lot of women won’t acknowledge it but, deep down, we are vain. Admit it; many of us avoid revealing our age when the number goes past 25. We also show a lot of interest when new health and beauty products come out promising to make us look more youthful and give them test runs as much as our budget allows. That’s something most men can’t comprehend but which we, females, understand well. After all, knowing we look presentable draws out that inner confidence that makes our steps lighter and our heads held higher.

Now, I’m trying to pay more attention to what I eat, what activities I engage in, and what products I use on my body. I’m not actually searching for the fountain of youth but I do want to stay healthy inside and out because I’d like to remain strong as long as possible and have many years more with my family. I believe those are good enough reasons to really start living, and not just thinking about, a healthier lifestyle.

Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

Be Personal Finance-Savvy

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

For the past several years, I have researched on, interviewed a lot of financial experts for, and written many articles on various finance-related topics. Somewhere in between, I came to know more about how it is to really take a good look at my family’s finances and what I could do to better secure our financial future. I acknowledge that I still have a lot to learn but I have improved on what I knew and have also taken several first steps this past year.

An article I read recently mentioned that most people’s idea of financial maturity means either getting the first paying job or making the all-important decision to get married. These life events, however, will not, and do not, affect financial stability unless you have already acquired the mindset with regards to making, keeping, and spending money. As I told my 17-year-old son a few weeks ago, I wish his dad and I could have learned many of the things we’re teaching him now about personal finance management when we were still in our 20’s. If we did, perhaps a lot of things would be different today.

But, it’s never too late to learn and to keep on learning. Here are six things I discovered that could help us become the totally finance-savvy individuals we aspire to be one day.

  1. Work hard and make your own money. For college students and new graduates, avoid becoming too dependent on your parents. They are not ATM machines. For family members of an OFW, don’t just wait for remittances to keep you alive. Make use of your time, be productive, and help augment your family’s income instead so your loved one would not have to stay abroad far longer than necessary. Don’t take shortcuts to getting rich (e.g. pyramid schemes, gambling, et cetera) because a large percentage of people who have done that end up with a lot less money than when they started.
  2. Save, save, and save. Study the power of compound interest. Whether you have decided to set aside P100, P500, or P1,000 a month in a financial institution, as long as you religiously stick to this every 30 days and do not touch your savings, no matter what, that small amount of money you allowed to grow will provide you with rewards in the future. Open a new bank account where you can transfer a fixed amount of money once a month. If you are enrolled in an online banking facility, this can be made easier via automatic transfers from your regular savings account. If you are more adventurous, study how you can earn more from investing in vehicles like time deposits, the stock market, mutual funds, and unit investment trust funds (UITFs).
  3. Be your own financial planner. It is not bad to take advice from others but, ultimately, it will be you who will decide where to invest and how to handle your money. Don’t just take someone else’s word and leave it to him/her to manage your money for you. Be hands on! Do your own research before making any decisions. It took several years before my husband and I finally decided to get life insurance policies after an unfortunate experience with an educational insurance company.
  4. Avoid getting into debt without a valid reason. Don’t borrow money unless the loan proceeds will be used for something that would help you earn money. When our PC started malfunctioning last year more often than we could use it, I bought a laptop and asked my sister to charge it to her credit card. I paid her back monthly for six months. Meanwhile, I used the laptop to churn articles and find online activities that would provide me with more income.
  5. Don’t become discouraged from pressing on. My husband and I have made some bad investments in the early years of our marriage. However, those made us realize that though we may make wrong decisions about money, the important thing is to make efforts to correct and avoid repeating the same blunders again. We’ve also learned that all financial decisions will not come without risks but it is not right to avoid making them for fear of committing another mistake. What matters is keeping watch over what happens after making a decision and learning from them. I am of the opinion that financial maturity can be achieved if we are determined to bounce back after experiencing setbacks.
  6. Live a simple life. Choose to spend money on basic needs and on a few luxuries to reward yourself every now and then. In our home, a mobile phone usually gets replaced only when the old one conks out. My kids don’t have the latest game consoles. What they have are hand-me-downs from their more affluent cousins. If they badly want a new gadget, they have to patiently plan for it and buy the thingamajig with their own savings.

I wholeheartedly believe that material things can rarely give true happiness. Family and friends, however, could. Thus, my husband and I prefer to spend more on special outings where all six of us could bond and enjoy each other’s company away from home once in a while. We treasure these simple joys with a prayer that, when they are all grown up, our kids would remember those happy times with their parents and siblings more instead of memories of being showered with stuff that had only given them fleeting pleasure.