Testing the Waters

Testing the Waters

By Paula Bianca Abiog

Since I was a child, I have always known I wanted to become a writer. I learned how to read by flipping through newspapers and magazines at three; started writing my own stories (patterned after my favorite fairy tales) at six; composed long entries in lock-and-key journals by 11; and seriously considered writing as a career when I was 16.

Five years ago, I got my dream job. I was finally going to write for a magazine. And with getting my dream job came plans to eventually become an editor one day.

I loved my job. I got to interview and write about celebrities and inspiring men and women; I was able to tackle relevant, sometimes controversial, topics, and more. I was able to go to different places around the country and write about what I saw, from Batanes in the north to Bohol in the south.

But as the years went by, while I still loved writing about people, places, and issues, I found myself doing the same thing over and over again. I felt that I was stuck in a rut, and lately, I felt I wasn’t improving as a writer. I also wanted to try other things, to see if I can do more than just writing. And after a few months agonizing over whether to stay or to go, I finally decided to try my luck in doing something new.

Even if I knew I made the decision for career growth, I initially felt I was abandoning my childhood dream, my plans to become an editor, and the friends I made in those five years. But life doesn’t always pan out the way you envision it, plans don’t materialize exactly when you want them, and friendships don’t end when one leaves to pursue something new. More importantly, I realized that I won’t stop being a writer just because I wanted to try a different tack.

Sometimes, getting what you want, when you want it doesn’t always lead to the fabulous ending you’ve always wished for. Perhaps one day you’ll get what you want when you least expect it, when God, or the fates, feel that you’re ready to finally have what you want. And to be able to grow and move forward, you sometimes have to take a different and unfamiliar path to shake you up. You have to step out of your comfort zone, test the waters, flounder a bit, and find your footing once more, so your growth doesn’t get stunted.

Paula now works for the corporate communications office of a large corporation. And yes, she is still very much a writer.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Why I Work

Why I Work

By Rossana Llenado

smart super women.

rossana llenado

Women work for all sorts of reasons. For some, it is to pursue a lifelong passion. For others, it is to have that sense of self-fulfillment inherent in a job well done.

One of the reasons that I started Ahead Tutorial and Review Center 16 years ago was because I wanted to be able to manage my own time. I was a mother of twins, and leaving them in the hands of strangers was not acceptable. Going into the tutorial business seemed like a very good idea. Not only could I pursue my passion for teaching and molding young minds, I also get to keep an eye on my children.

Today, I have four children of my own, but thousands more that I could very well call my own. Yes, one of the great joys of being in the business of education is that you get the chance to meet all these wonderful children and see them grow up into young adults with purpose. You could see it in their eyes—that burning desire to learn and improve.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing a student shine—and I’m fortunate enough to have witnessed this many times over. A child would come to us, defeated because of failing grades, and then several months later, he has grown confident in his skills—and has improved his grades immensely.

And so, whenever faced with the everyday problems of raising four children and managing a company, I just picture that child who could now walk with his head held high.

What does it take to be a good mom?

I’ve been a mother for almost 16 years, and I have to tell you that there have been good days and there have been bad days. There have been times when I’ve been overwhelmed with joy. And there have been times when I’ve been sickened with frustration.

What does it take to be a good mom? This is one question that I always ask myself. The basics are easy enough: feed them, clothe them, shelter them, provide them with good education, teach them about faith, and shower them with love. I make sure that they grow in a psychologically and financially stable environment so they can be free to explore their various hobbies, interests, and passions.

But as a mother of twin teen boys and two young girls, I ask myself, what does it take to be the best mom? That’s because I always value excellence in everything I do, especially when it comes to parenting. And so, I read books, learn from other parents, and pray for guidance.

But what I’ve learned through all those years is that I can only try my best. For example, my children say that I don’t spend enough time with them. But as far as I could tell, I spend all my non-working hours with them. We not only see plays and watch movies, we also engage in sports. They say I’m too strict when it comes to rules. But then, I am only doing so to instill a sense of discipline and responsibility in them. I try to make them realize that there are consequences to their actions—or inactions.

I’ve realized that there is no one way to raise a child. One child is different from the next. And so, what worked for Angel may not do so for Meggy. Although I also get complaints on that: “You’re unfair!”

And so I keep trying. I keep working at being the best mom I can be because when I see my four children, I know that all my efforts have been worth it.

No to WAHM Burnout!

By Gina Abuyuan


I’m a WAHM—a Work At Home Mom. Aside from the assignments I work on at home, most of my time nowadays has been taken up by a book project, for which I go to my client’s home and we pore over her manuscript there.

I’m about to go crazy.

Understandably, I got a wonderful rush yesterday when I went out to my first meeting not situated in a structure with a sala, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a maid to call on when you need water. Finally! An environment with strangers! With food you had to pay for! And me actually caring for how I looked like!

Working from home does have its upsides—obviously, you get to spend more time with your kids and work without having to commute or dress up. On the other hand, it can be stressful, especially when homework needs coincide with deadlines, or clients are a-calling while the kids are causing a ruckus. It also keeps you more than a tad isolated from the outside world and other adults. So much so that a visit to the mall may seem like the most exciting thing to happen all week, and coffee with other grown-ups is something you want to last forever. A burnout isn’t far away if a WAHM doesn’t take care of herself.

How to prevent it? Some tips:

* Set a schedule, just like you would do if you were working in an office. Before or beyond 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., for example, is time for family. Working at home is for naught if you don’t get to enjoy what WAHMs have over regular working moms: getting more time with the kids. During your “off” hours, allow yourself to play. If needed, you can resume your work after the kids are asleep.

* Designate an errand day. Spend one day a week to get everything done outside your home; stuff like paying bills or going on a bank run, doing groceries, going to the dry cleaners or having clothes altered…you’ll get things done while at the same time, preventing cabin fever!

* Designate a “no kids zone” in your home. In my case I had to build a separate room in our garage. As expected, the kids don’t strictly follow the rule and we end up “working” side by side. My partner and I decided it would be better if we rent a studio nearby to serve as our office. The kids haven’t even been there yet, haha.

* Don’t forget downtime with your spouse or partner. After playtime with kids, you and your partner deserve time together. Step out on a date or snuggle up while watching a movie. Lock the door.

* Have lunch with a girlfriend. WAHMs, SAHMs (stay-at-home moms), and regular working moms—it doesn’t matter. We’re all busy in our own ways, but need time to connect and talk about…well, what women talk about. Make an effort to stay in touch with your friends.

* Get some exercise. In between Skype meetings, go for a walk, a run, a swim. Do some yoga. Me, I hop on a stepper and lift free weights while taking a break. Exercise is a great de-stressor.

* Pay attention to your looks and pamper yourself. Looking lousy will make you feel lousy as well. Being able to close deals while you’re in your pajamas may be a perk, yes, but don’t get too used to it. Don’t forget to groom your brows, get the occasional mani-pedi, hair treatment. Stay fab!


Why I Work

A Bunch of Flowers

By Rossana L. Llenado   One of my most vivid memories of my son Nicolo happened when he was just three years old. We were admiring the blooms at a flower shop in SM Megamall. And behind us was a bunch of other mommies looking at the beautiful floral arrangements. I must have looked so pleased because after some time, Nicolo said, “When I grow up, I’m going to buy you all these flowers!” My heart jumped to my throat. Like most three-year-olds, I knew that mommy was still the center of his universe. Nevertheless, his words filled me with joy. He said, “I’m going to buy you all these flowers!” I’ve been given flowers before but nothing beats the promise of my young beloved. Today, Nicolo is 15 years old. And true to his words, he has given me flowers through the years. He would give me bouquets on Mother’s Day and on my birthday. Once, he even gave me a bunch of roses. Put together, his gift of flowers would not be able to fill up a floral shop. But still, I am very happy. Next month, Nicolo will turn 16. Yes, my once sweet toddler will soon become a full-fledged teenager. And already, he’s talking about going to a soiree—an impending event which has brought me a bit of anxiety. Because after the soirees will come the crushes, and then the group dates and the prom, and soon, my once sweet toddler will be giving flowers to someone other than yours truly. I knew it would happen someday soon. And when it does, I will not cry. I will not shed a tear. I will be happy for my son Nicolo as he experiences the first throes of young love. But till then, I have the memory of this handsome three-year-old who made my heart jump with joy.