It’s a Girl Thing

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

I watched “Love, Loss, and What I Wore”, an off-Broadway show, when it was staged a couple of months
ago here in Manila. It’s about the stories of different women and how they lived their lives. Many ladies
in the audience identified with almost all the topics but one, in particular, made me laugh out loud
because it totally applies to me.

The segment was about bags and how they seem to become dark, terrible, gnawing holes you have to
put your hand deep inside of just to find what you are looking for. I am one of those women who prefer
using big bags because we seem to “need” a lot of things to bring with us whenever we’re on the go.

And so, for such a long time, I keep finding myself digging (and wasting a lot of time) inside my big bags
looking for a ringing cell phone, my folding umbrella when it suddenly rains, or my coin purse when I
have to pay jeepney fare. I tried switching to smaller bags for a while but it was frustrating to leave stuff
behind and realize later that I should have brought them along in the first place. So I went back to using
big bags … and digging for stuff.

For weeks, I’ve passed by a bag organizer store in the mall where I frequently shop for groceries. I
avoided browsing the displays because I was doubtful if I really, really need one. Besides, I was watching
my budget and was mindful of my “needs” and “wants” lists.

But last weekend, I finally gave in. I saw a design that caught my eye so I went closer to the shelves
and looked. The bag organizer I liked has a wide bottom, numerous pockets of different sizes stitched
all around both inside and outside the bag, and a sturdy handle which would make it easy to transfer
everything to another bag.

After some hesitation, I bought it. When my husband saw me unwrapping it later, I heard the usual,
exasperated question, “What’s that this time?” I explained how the bag works and proceeded to
transfer all the contents of my big bag into the organizer’s large and small compartments.

When I finished, even I was amazed how neat everything looked inside my big bag. Now, a few days
since I started using the organizer, I found that I don’t spend a lot of time anymore looking for objects
inside my bag because I could clearly where each item is and immediately zero in on the one I want to

I commend whoever thought of making this useful bag inside a bag. I’d readily bet it’s a lady. After all,
only a woman would understand what other women go through and the organizer bag is definitely
something a lot of other ladies I know need. Necessity is truly the mother of invention!

No Excuses Not to Learn

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

I sometimes hear friends and other people verbalizing their desire to pursue further studies like enrolling in cooking classes, joining self-enhancement seminars, or taking up their Masters but having no time to do so. I have the same sentiments once in a while but make do with other things I CAN afford to do and spend time on.

For me, learning for adults like us should be a continuous process and must not always require formal schooling or enrollment in a class. Yes, it’s great if we can shell out money to pay for tuition or seminar/workshop fees but having no budget should not stop us from pursuing other things.

These past years, I’ve been able to expand my knowledge through self-study. I have long since acknowledged that I won’t always have the time to set aside these many hours or days to attend learning/training sessions somewhere, or that I will be able to shell out enough money to pay an instructor to teach me something.

For instance, when I got hooked on The Corrs’ music some years back, I had a cousin buy me Irish pennywhistles from the U.S. even though I’m not even sure if I could play one when they get here. A few months later, I was able to play Irish melodies from memory without looking at notes anymore!

While I was pregnant with my second child and had extra time on my hands, I also finally learned how to do cross-stitch projects properly and realized how enjoyable it is. For the next year or so, I was able to have more than a dozen creations framed and hanged on our walls.

The saying that goes “When there’s a will, there’s a way” is true. If I want to know how to do a task and I can’t afford to pay for acquiring the knowledge, I research and try to learn it on my own. When I started my own blog back in 2003, I had no idea how htmls work or what they are in the first place. I also don’t have the slightest clue about using new software that makes Power Point presentations or converts mov files to mpeg and wav files to mp3s.

But, with enough resolve to figure everything out plus a little help from techie friends who willingly answered my numerous questions, I slowly learned how to do stuff online by myself. I know I still have a lot to discover and apply, but I’m getting there.

As to my kids, I’m proud to say that my firstborn learned to play the guitar very well just by watching instructional videos and printing out music sheets from the Internet. He practices day and night and gets better by the minute. My youngest, on the other hand, could now play anime theme songs on the piano also by watching tutorials on YouTube. How’s that for determination and thirst for knowledge?

So, I think I can safely say we’re proof that learning doesn’t have to be expensive or that one has to wait for the perfect moment. Right now is better than any other time.

Language of the Heart

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

Recently, a newspaper article posted online caught the attention of many Filipinos and caused a lot of debates in cyberspace. The writer talked about preferring the English language because, according to him, “while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.”

How sad that this person, who happened to be a Filipino, could belittle his own country’s mother tongue! Yes, it can’t be denied that we should know how to speak, read, and write in English because it serves its purpose when it comes to having a good education and better employment. But to point out that learning Filipino is only important because it is practical; that it is simply what you need to use when you are “forced” to relate to the tinderas, the manongs, and the katulongs of this world, is highly insulting.

I am not against children learning one or more languages. Learning other languages can have its advantages. In fact, since we now live in multicultural societies and are also citizens of the world, we need to be able to communicate with people from various geographical locations. Nevertheless, it is important for Filipinos to develop literacy in our mother tongue as well as take pride in the culture of the country we call home.

In my opinion, learning new languages should be viewed as a means to become more aware and respectful of other people’s beliefs, customs, and culture; not as a reason to turn one’s back to where one has come from. Parents thus need to encourage their kids to keep and improve literacy in our mother tongue while teaching them to respect other cultures too.

Here are some ways parents can promote Filipino literacy in their children:

  • Even if you want your children to be fluent in English, don’t ban the use of Filipino in your home. For instance, avoid requiring house helpers to only speak to your children in English especially if the helpers are not well-versed in the foreign language in the first place.
  • Spend time every day helping your child read and write in Filipino. I usually hear a lot of parents complain that their kids always get low grades in subjects that use the mother tongue. Why not do something more concrete about it?
  • Expose your kids to high quality Filipino movies, TV shows, and children’s books written in Filipino. People who say there are no good Filipino films or shows apparently haven’t seen a Cinemalaya film or watched excellent documentary series like i-Witness or Storyline. Buy children’s books written by Filipino authors. Many of these come with both English and Tagalog versions in the same volume.
  • Share stories of your childhood including traditions and customs you grew up with. Encourage children to ask questions and find out more interesting things to talk with you about.
  • Have kids spend time with their grandparents for more stories. Periodically bring them to your family’s province and meet distant relatives. Visit historical sites around the country so they could learn our country’s origins first hand.
  • Teach children old songs from different regions. Bring them to concerts (e.g. Ang Bagong Harana) and theater plays (e.g. Noli Me Tangere or Rizal X) with Filipino themes. Do not discourage them from listening to OPM music with Filipino lyrics because we have so many talented artists who write beautiful words and melodies.

Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”  Our native language connects us with our society’s culture and shapes our identity. It is one of the best instruments that preserve who we are as Filipinos. May we never forget that.


By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

There are usually two types of people I encounter in my line of work: those who inspire and encourage and those who can turn a good day bad. Thankfully, over the years, I’ve learned that life always has ways of balancing things out.

One memory I’ll never forget was being scolded via text messages by a university professor for not being able to provide her immediately with a complimentary copy of the magazine where the article I interviewed her for appeared. At the time, I really didn’t have the budget to buy even my own copy because we’re saving up for my son’s operation. I politely asked if she could give me a month or two to provide her with one since the publisher doesn’t give out complimentary copies. She replied with “No need. This will be the first and last your company is getting any help from me and I will inform my colleagues about your policy” as if I have just committed a crime.

There was also a time when I got stuck in traffic and arrived less than 10 minutes late for an interview. On my way over, my interviewee has been texting and calling me that she and her husband will not wait for me because they’re always on time. I was out of breath when I got to the venue because I ran as fast I could after getting off an expensive taxi ride.

I have dozens more of these stories than I care to remember including a couple of clients who vanished into thin air after making me write press releases for them. Thankfully, I have also been blessed with pleasant ones.

For instance, there was this Saturday when my article appeared in the newspaper I was writing for and my interviewee texted me to ask for my mailing address. That afternoon, a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived at my doorstep.  A couple of months ago, while grocery shopping during my birthday, my sister in law called me to say that a lovely cake from a PR company was delivered at our house several minutes ago.

When I get text messages or e-mails from people I interviewed telling me how much they liked what I wrote, I try not to erase them from my phone or e-mail inbox. When I do have to make way for new messages, I write down their texts, the dates, the senders’ names, and the articles I interviewed them for in a small notebook.

On days when I encounter another bad experience, I take the notebook out and read the affirming messages there. I remind myself that I may fail to satisfy the expectations or demands of certain people but there are still those who appreciate what I do; and that is validation enough that I am not doing as badly as those others think I am.

Then again, I also try to keep in mind to treat the negative experiences as lessons in humility that would help build my character, let me grow more as a person, make me more patient, keep me grounded, and provide me with better discernment on how to deal with or avoid similar incidents in the future.

In my roles as parent, friend, colleague, etc. I always pray that I could also be a source of encouragement for other people even if I may fall short every now and then.

We all need to hear words of affirmation. However, let’s also remember that they are not meant to make us feel puffed up or arrogant but rather grateful that there are people who believe in what we do. At the end of the day, that is what should matter.

Celebrating Your Child’s Strengths

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca


Life is one big classroom. I have always believed that learning is not, and should never be, confined inside the school setting alone. The same goes for the pursuit of excellence. Not making it to the honor roll doesn’t mean a child can’t excel in other areas.

Personally, I am not too keen on putting too much pressure on my kids to earn medals and get high grades in their report cards. Yes, I encourage them to do their best but I don’t feel overly disappointed when they score lower than expected in exams or don’t come home with accolades after a scholastic competition.

What I better want to see in my children is the genuine enthusiasm to pursue their passions and hone their skills, academic or otherwise. My eldest son has already shown so much potential in the field of visual arts when he was just a mere toddler. He continued to focus on that as he was growing up. When he decided to take up Digital Media Arts as his college course, my husband and I gladly gave our full support. In the span of a few weeks since he entered school last year, our firstborn’s transformation from being a high school student getting average grades to becoming an excelling freshman in college was amazing! Now free from the high school subjects he thought were utterly boring, I’ve seen how eager my son now tackles his assignments and projects because they are in line with the things he truly wants to do.

My other two sons, on the other hand, showed a lot of promise when it comes to writing around three years ago. They were invited to write for Manila Bulletin’s Funpage section and have been contributing articles there ever since. I feel very blessed that these kids were given that chance to already show what they can do at an early age. To help them hone the writing craft, I make sure I provide them with books and magazines they’d like to read and provide guidance when they are writing their drafts. I also remind them every now and then that becoming a good writer always starts with being an avid reader.

When parents nurture a child’s God-given gifts at home through constant encouragement and ample attention, the knowledge and skills as well as the discipline and determination he gains will eventually become a way of life, radiating towards everything else he does.

In my opinion, that’s already one big step towards reaching the top of the class called life.


To Each His Own

By Ruth M. Floresca


“I don’t think I can, or will ever attempt to, do that!” I thought again and again in between gasps of awe and wonder at the mind-blowing feats being performed on stage during Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai.

It amazes me that there are people like them willing to risk bodily harm for the sake of art. On the other hand, if there are no brave individuals like them, breathtaking shows like Varekai wouldn’t be here today.

Still, I prefer to be engaged in activities that won’t require me to exert too much effort that may cause me physical aches and pains. I guess this is probably why I am a bit wary every time I’m asked to do certain forms of exercise hahaha. Thankfully, my adventurous spirit usually overcomes my fears and I get persuaded to give things a try.

But I have my limitations. I refuse to have anything to do with activities that involve heights without any security straps involved. Years ago, I trekked up a mountain and to the edge of a waterfall in Puerto Galera with hubby and our friends.  All of them jumped to the cool waters below. I chose to scramble back down the steep ravine holding on to protruding rocks and trailing vines, all the while scolding my husband for coercing me to come with them in the first place.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Among my kids, two can be convinced to try daring rides in amusement parks while one will always refuse to do so regardless of the heckling he gets from his brothers. In terms of abilities, one prefers doing artworks cooped up in their room rather than go biking outside with his siblings.

I let them be. I am of the belief that parents can only do so much to influence their kids in finding their passions. We just have to wait and see what paths they’ll choose for themselves. They will discover their niche and discern where they’re really good at sooner or later.

As for me, I am open to trying out new stuff every now and then. Just don’t make me do sky jumping or swing from a flying trapeze. I leave those to people who really love doing them.