Not Your Usual Holiday Find: A Mum’s Review of APEC Schools

Who goes school hunting in December?

Well, I do. While everyone’s busy and many are still scrambling to get last-minute gifts for Christmas, yesterday I found myself checking out potential schools for my DD Tina who’s moving up to 7th grade next year. Over dinner the other day, a good friend mentioned APEC Schools to me so I decided to find a bit more about it. So yeah — here I am sharing a short review of some sort in case, like me, you’re also doing some random school shopping right from your couch.

APEC-school inquirer


Since I anticipate Jan and Feb next year as busy vacation months for our fam, here I am trying to finish all the tasks I could tick off my to-do list this time of year.

Now on to the details. APEC is a pretty new network of schools from Ayala with over 20 branches in Metro Manila and nearby cities. When I called to inquire, these are some bits of info I got which you might find handy:

  • Tuition Fee for Grade 7: 29,000 for morning class and 21,000 for afternoon class
  • Payment Terms: Tuition fees can be paid in two ways either on cash or installment basis. There are no additional charges for the monthly installment plan FYI.
  • APEC’S Differentiators over Other Schools: Full English language teaching, DepEd-approved curriculum, skills and values formation, schoolwide CCTV cameras, access to technology, access to an employer partner network
  • Entrance Test: None, only an interview and basic assessment
  • Student-Teacher Ratio: 1:45 approx

The tuition fee is VERY reasonable to think it already includes books and misc. fees (yup, you read that right). Of all the Christmas deals you’ve enjoyed over the last weeks, this value-for-money school could be one of the best finds on your list.

If you’re wondering what APEC stands for, it’s Affordable Private Education Center (doesn’t have anything to do AT ALL with the leaders’ conference which was concluded recently).

APEC offers two shifts (morning and afternoon) to give students options and more time to pursue other constructive interests outside school. They also pay close attention to English mastery, according to my friend, which I REALLY, REALLY LIKE. The admissions officer I talked to also told me they follow a no-homework policy to give kids enough time to engage in activities that matter as much to them. So far, so great isn’t it?

apec school large photo

As if that isn’t interesting enough, APEC School also offers a collaborative approach to learning which teaches students to work together and leverage each other’s strengths. Everyone’s encouraged to experiment, make mistakes and learn fast from it, as this is the best way to grow and learn.

Did I get you excited about APEC? I think it’s worth checking out. As they say, the best deals are often gone too quickly. Reserving a seat now while all the others are caught up with the Christmas rush could be your best bet to secure a slot at APEC. Call them now at 720-2620 or you can also visit their Facebook page at to know more.


More and more, parents are having challenges in meeting the daily demands of raising a family.  We all want to provide everything that our children need.  A good education is on top of that list.  Pre school tuition fees in private schools now cost more than P100k and the amount only increases as the students move on to the higher years.  Some parents resort to paying interest on their installment payments just to keep their kids in private schools.

The good news is that there is an alternative school that provides quality private education but is affordable.  This spells the big difference to parents out there who are looking for exactly what APEC has to offer.  The above article is  a testimony of one such parent.  I, on the other hand,  have firsthand account from my good friend who fell on hard times and had to pull out her daughter from a Katipunan- based all girl high school.  Now on her third year at APEC, her daughter is flourishing.  She tells me that the teacher to student ratio is good and that homework is mostly done in the campus which lets her teenager have a balanced school and social life.  For more information on APEC schools , please take note of the contact details enumerated above.

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John Lewis – All the Pretty Things


They say one’s house is a reflection of the woman who lives in it.  This holds true for me. I like calm colors, clean lines and simple but elegant home decors and furnishings.

Now who can resist these pillows for for royalty?

Now who can resist these pillows for for royalty?

No wonder I felt like  a little girl in a candy store the first time I visited the John Lewis store-in- store during it’s opening earlier this year at the 5th level of SM Makati.  My eyes darted from the neatly arranged  royal themed throw pillows to the luxurious bed sheets  to the delicate tableware.  Men and women of discriminating taste where all invited to the launch of renowned home and furniture British brand John Lewis.    The whole event proved to be  a treat to all the guests as the  gorgeous line  lived up to its slogan “Never Unknowingly Undersold.”   Simply put,  these are premium products sold at the best possible prices .


Take your pick from these pillows with Union Jack flags, royal crests and british bulldogs.

Take your pick from these pillows with Union Jack flags, royal crests and british bulldogs.


Serene Surroundings

In keeping with its singular design aesthetic,  John Lewis has created yet another  exciting  collection.  From its Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, I  particularly liked the pristine beddings which came in grey,  duck egg, blue and white.  It was good, too, that there was an actual bed on the display floor which I was able to style to see what would would work best with the bedsheets I chose. The wide assortment of throws and pillows made it easy for me to mix and match  before I decided on my final purchase.

Perfect sheets for the home.  Breakfastware and candle also from John Lewis.

Perfect sheets for the home. Breakfastware and candle also from John Lewis.


Get your best sleep in these beddings.

Get your best sleep in these beddings.

This season’s collection also served tableware with waterlily design as well as an all white set. Coffee mugs in bright hues as well as nautical inspired  bath/beach towels were also on display.  I found three small marble dipping bowls on a wooden paddle and double layered cake stands. What lovely Christmas presents! Those went home with me as well.

Gift ideas for the kitchen.

Gift ideas for the kitchen.


All white, speckled or floral? The choice is up to you.

All white, speckled or floral? The choice is up to you.


Shop and Win!

Great news to all  shoppers!  John Lewis is taking part in the Great British Shopping contest which is a project initiated by the British Embassy of Manila.  A trip for two to the UK and prizes from other participating brands are up for grabs.  Every P3000 worth of John Lewis purchase (single receipt) entitles the customer to one raffle voucher. If the customer uses their HSBC credit card, they double their  chances of winning!  The contest will run until the end of December.  Draw date will be on January 7, 2016.  Please visit   and  for more details.

As I walked with both hands full of goodies, I passed by the delightful Christmas trees and holiday decors.  Hmmm…I need those silver snowflakes to hang on my own tree and that Santa inflatable with built in snow would look good in my front door. Five more Mondays to go until Christmas!  I made a mental note to go back to the SM home store and get more Yuletide shopping done… and to join the Great British Shopping Contest, of course!


For more information on John Lewis and the SMHome  , visit Twitter: SMHome_ph and IG: smhome  and johnlewisph


With a pocketful of glitter,

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6 Books You should Get Your Hands On

I’ve always loved books.  I was the girl whose mother gave a disapproving look to because I racked up hefty fines for overdue books from the grade school library.  From Antoine Saint Exupery’s “The  Little Prince “(where I learned what boa constrictor meant ) to Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” (which I read at 12 years old),  I buried my head into the pages of  every book I could get my hands on as a kid.

I felt  much like Bella as I entered the SMX Convention Center on the very first day of the 36th Manila International Book Fair, You know that part in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast where  Belle opens her eyes and finds herself in the palace library?  Spot on. The bookworm in me  wasted no time in making the round of booths of the different participating exhibitors.





MIBF- The Life Changing Magic

How many women have fallen into the abyssmal pit of disarray and disorder?  The Japanese cleaning consultant shares her expertise on editing and decluttering the home.  Her revolutionary category by category method promises lasting results. Kondo asks the all important question – “Does it spark your joy?”  Everything that does not MUST be discarded. So if you’re holding on to clothes you might use when you finally lose those twenty pounds, or those books that have gathered cobwebs on the shelf or those kitchen tools that have been hidden in the dark for so long, it’s time to learn the art of tiding-up.


2.  THE BOOK OF AWESOME by Neil Pasricha

MIBF- The Book of Awesome


Written by a thirty year old guy who wanted to jot  down a happy thought each day to help him with through his divorce and the death of a friend, this book  shows us the far reaching effects of simple joys.  The pitch black moment before a concert starts, waking up and realizing it’s a Saturday, fixing electronics by smacking them – these relatable tales have made The Book of Awesome an international bestseller.  It’s the perfect read for those not-so-perfect days so we can be reminded of the multitude of things we should be grateful for.



MIBF- The Ultimate Travelist

Leaf through pages and pages of magnificent destinations.  Each of the 500 must-visit places include beautiful photos that will make you want to pack your bags and just hie off  somewhere in this earth.  What’s number one on the list? Cambodia holds the coveted spot  with its Angkor  Wat Temples  which are described as not just ruins but a “spiritual epiphany carved in stone.”   I made a mental note to add the 7th ranked Colloseum in Italy in my ever-growing bucket list.


4. THE 5 LOVE LANDUAGES OF CHILDREN by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell


Most of us are familiar with the 5 love languages namely: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service.  Whereas the precursor to this book has helped couples in building meaningful relationships, this installment teaches parents to discover their child’s love language. Knowing the latter enables the parents to communicate their love more clearly and even discipline more effectively. Discussions on the correct way to process anger, how to deal with misbehaving children and how to encourage your child’s interests are particularly interesting.


5.      THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin

MIBF - The Happiness Project

I could relate so well to the author as she too was a  practicing lawyer before she started her career as a blogger and writer.    Rubin’s epiphany came on a bus ride where she decides to focus on ways to become happier.  In her pursuit, she gives herself 12 months to make goals (things to be achieved in the future e.g. visit Europe) and resolutions (tasks to be consciously done everyday e.g. get regular exercise).  Her candid and onpoint thoughts on how money can help buy happiness when spent wisely and finding time for fun made me think and laugh at the same time. Most salient point : the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences.


6.     THE TIME CHAMBER by Daria Song

MIBF- The Time Chamber

Admittedly, I don’t get the fuss over adult coloring books.  The ones I saw in the book fair only mildly interested me.  However, I liked this particular one because it tells a story of a fairy who lives in a cuckoo clock.  She leaves her home and discovers the human realm where everything is magical.  The coloring book/storybook is something my toddler daughter and I can enjoy for hours.  I even bought colored pencils and decided to surprise her with it.

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Bento Meals Spell F-U-N!


I’ve never been adept at arts or anything crafty.  I’m pretty good at cooking though.  Every birthday card I’ve received in recent years have included a line or two of appreciation on my self-taught culinary skills.  “Thank you Mom for cooking delicious meals. Yum!”  It’s a badge of honor I wear proudly.

Some weeks ago while browsing the net, I chanced upon a cute photo of  robots cut out from wheat bread and cheese.  These were neatly arranged in a lunch container with hotdogs and grapes.  Hmmm …. I could do that! After a few calls, I was able to contact Monet Aquino, one of five enterprising women behind the group Bento Mommas.  By week’s end , my friend Marie and I had enrolled in our first bento making class.

Bento -Author with the Bento Mommas

At the workshop with the Bento Mommas – (from left) April Lim, Monet Aquino and Kaye Sy-Catral



So there we were, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, seated on a long table  at the very front of the class.  We were each handed a bag with the basic tools to be used in the workshop,. To start off, Monet explained that in Japan bento means box while in the Philippines it means “baon”. She furher testified that her group became bento enthusiasts not only because the meals were fun to make but also because their creations proved to be a hit among their little picky  eaters.

It's time to carve our apples !

It’s time to carve our apples !


We eagerly dove into our first task— carving an apple.  With our small knives, the instructor told us to make light horizontal and vertical lines on the skin of our fruits.  Then she showed us how to carefully lift alternating squares to make a checkered design on the apples.  Good that I made big squares! I was done in a jiffy!

Then, it was time to roll some rice logs and decorate them to make farm animals.  It was like being in kindergarten class again while we happily worked our rice like clay.  After an hour or so, we were done with our Old Mc Donald themed bento boxes.

Not bad for my first bento box! Tadaa!

Not bad for my first bento box! Tadaa!


Look at these colorful ketchup variants and molds! Use them to make your creations more FUN!

Look at these colorful ketchup variants and molds! Use them to make your creations more FUN!



Whereas, the first project built my confidence as a novice bento (baon) maker, the next one proved to be quite the challenge.  Making perfect mounds of rice and covering them with nori (dried seaweed) to make the head, torso, hands and feet of the bear takes time and skill.  Designing the face was also quite tricky.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard comments like , “Nakaka-pressure!” and “Mine looks like a deranged Mickey Mouse!”  I made several trips to the teacher’s table to make sure I was on the right track.  It took another hour or so to finally finish the job.

Bento Momma Kaye (our instructor) showwd us how to do a PANDA.

Bento Momma Kaye (our instructor) showwd us how to do a PANDA.



The idea behind bento making is not only to make creative snacks and lunches but also to serve nutritious food.  In preparing the meals, it is best to include items from the Go (bread, rice, pasta), Grow (chicken, fish, meat) and Glow (fruits and vegetables) food groups.  The main goal is to make food exciting and enticing in order to get the kids to eat healthy fares.

Sofia themed bento boxes.  My daughter will surely love these!

Sofia themed bento boxes. My daughter will surely love these!  For party packs, contact the Bento Mommas!


Making the actual bento does take a lot of time.  A weekly plan with individual daily illustrations of the meals would certainly be helpful.   You can also prepare some items the day before.  Lastly you can attach written notes like “Happy Eating!” or  “Surprise Sweetie!” to make the meals even more personal.


I showed my day’s handiwork to my children as soon as I got home.  My 12 year old son looked at it suspiciously (sigh) while my 4 year old said excitedly, “Can I bring it to school, Mom? I want to show my classmates!”   By their expressions alone, I can tell that it will be my daughter who I will be preparing themed meals for. I’m now officially a Bento Momma!

I should make this one for my son!

I should make this one for my son!


How cute are these PEPPA PIG bento boxes???!!!!

How cute are these PEPPA PIG bento boxes???!!!!

For more information and ideas on bento making , you can check out the Facebook page of Bento mommas and their IG and Twitter accounts @thebentomommas.


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Everybody Loves Smiggle!

Eyes Wide Open

I can tell it’s a good product when my children can’t stop tinkering with it.   And that’s exactly what happened when I sat down for an interview with Joyce Reyes.  As soon as she  pulled out her SMIGGLE goodies from big white paper bags , the smiles on the kids’ faces grew bigger and bigger.  My son M and daughter R had their pupils dilated as their mouths formed the word “WOW!”

M picks up a green hard case speaker and says “This is sooo cool!”  Four year old R, on the other hand,  starts to take off the caps of the colorful markers.  “Kids, please put those down,”  I say.   “Don’t worry.  It’s perfectly fine!  The products are really designed for children to explore, poke, prod and play with.  That’s why everybody loves SMIGGLE,”  Joyce laughingly assures.


Smile + Giggle = SMIGGLE!



SMIGGLE was born in South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia in 2003.  It’s colorful, fun and fashion forward stationery was an instant hit!  Today, it has 100 fun stores Down Under. The brand has gone international too, opening  stores in New Zealand (2008), Singapore(2011) and London (2013).  It was in Sydney where Joyce and her daughter Gabey discovered SMIGGLE.  They found themselves going back and back again to look at the quirky, innovative products. “I guess you can call us die-hard Smigglers! We just kept on coming back to the stores and really liked the products.  So when my daughter asked me if we could bring the  SMIGGLE brand  to the Philippines , I said –Why not?”


What Happens When a Smile Meets a Giggle?

I won’t deny it! Even as I was gently reprimanding the kids, I too was smitten!  Just look at these adorable thingamajigs!

Hard Top Bubble Pencil Cases

Top : Zip Hard Top Pencil Case P850, in green, black,purple,pink and teal Bottom: Bloom Hardtop Pencil Case P915, in blue, pink. purple and teal

Top : Zip Hard Top Pencil Case P850, in green, black,purple,pink and teal
Bottom: Bloom Hardtop Pencil Case P915, in blue, pink. purple and teal


Smiggle Hard Top Gift Pack

HardTop Gift Pack (P1985) includes a notepad, scented and bendable pencils, colored pens and a ruler.  All the girls would love to own one!


Character Strap Lunchboxes

Smiggle Character Lunchboxes

These cute character lunchboxes (P1330)  are made of polyester with two layers of insulated storage, removable carry strap, convenient handle, bottle compartment and double zip openings.


Speaker Cases

Bestseller and The BQP’s top pick are these multi-colored speaker cases.  My boy absolutely loves his black SMIIGGLE portable speaker!

Smiggle  speakers

Plug in your cellphone to the speaker (P1185) and listen to your favorite music or watch a movie. Soft touch zip up and embossed graphic designs. Does not include 3AAA batteries BUT guarantees a whole lot of F-U-N!!!


It’s in the bag!

Smiggle Lucy Satchel

The Lucy Satchel Bag (P1920 ) comes with interchangeable backpack and shoulder straps. It has an inner front pocket, magnetic closures and an ID card.


The BQP is loving these delightful bags too! Will get the pink backpack with ice cream print for my little girl.  Prices available upon request.

The BQP is loving these delightful bags too! Will get the pink Go-Girl Backpack (P1920) with ice cream print for my little girl. Satchel Messenger bags in polka dot prints (P1690).


I’m sure you want to get your hands on these  fab delights!  You’ll be glad to know that the SMIGGLE pop-up store will soon open!  For now,  you can visit @smigglelovesph on IG and the brand’s Facebook account for more products.  For orders , please viber 0917 5958658. Gabey and her Mom will also take part in the Kiddo Preneur Bazaar which is happening this Saturday, May 30 at the East Atrium of Shangrila Mall from 9am to 6pm.  Birthday girl Gabey Reyes will donate part of the proceeds to Bantay Bata.

The Reyes kids are all SMIGGLERS!

The Reyes kids are all SMIGGLERS!










Beat The Heat With Aeratron Fans!

 The temperature is a scorching 35 degrees. It’s hot, it’s humid and it’s downright unbearable!  In the morning,  the heat slowly creeps up on us as the kids and I start our day.   We only get relief in the early afternoon when I open the airconditioner  for their nap.  At night,  the AC works overtime as it has since the summer started while two stand fans help to give the family a restful slumber.  I used to set the timer to two hours on the cooling unit to save on the electric bill.  Now when I do this, the four of us would feel like muffins baking in an oven!  Speaking of bills , we racked up P11,000 last April –P3,500 more than our usual consumption.

Then I saw a picture on my Facebook news feed of these two big, white ceiling fans in a bedroom.   “I have to get those,” I thought to myself.  One week later , the installers came to my house.  In less than an hour,my very own AERATRON ceiling  fan was whirling without a sound .   An agreeable temperature started to set in as the heat eased.  And even if I was a few feet away from it, I could feel a light breeze. FANTASTIC!


Left : Timber colored-fans Right : The picture that peaked my interest.  Two fans , double the cool, right?

Left : Timber colored-fans
Right : The picture that peaked my interest. Two fans , double the cool, right?


“You’ll be surprised to hear this, but the AERATRON consumes a mere fourth of the power that a regular electric fan uses.  It will also help your aircon function more efficiently as it evenly circulates the air inside the room.  Some of our customers have lowered their Meralco bill by 30 percent — yung isa nga by 50 percent pa,” says exclusive distributor Ariel Becina.  He smiles at me and says,  “ Try it .  You’ll see and feel the difference.”


Why choose the AEROTRON?

Why choose the AERATRON?


Quiet, Most Efficient,  Award Winning

The AERATRON has been awarded THE ENERGY STAR MOST EFFICIENT for 2015.  The product’s Swiss-German engineered balancing system guarantees a quiet, effortless performance.


aerotron boy's room

What could possibly be cooler than a superhero?  Suitable for residential and commercial purposes, the Aeratron fan provides a gentle cooling effect during the summer, supports natural ventilation and evenly distributes temperature allowing energy savings of up to 50%  in indoor cooling.


Aero GIRLS's rooms

Perfect for your girl’s bedrooms.


The fan can be suspended from high ceilings without affecting its performance.

The fan can be suspended from high ceilings without affecting its performance.



Aero in Lanai

These silent whirlers are great for outdoors too.


A Cool Change

I like the AERATRON fan for its simple, stark and modern look.   Made of durable ABS plastic and aluminum, it’s both an efficient and stylish  complement to any room. I chose to get the fan in white but it comes in other colors as well (matte black, silver, light and dark timber). You can have your fan custom colored, too! Since I had mine installed in the ceiling of the master’s bedroom, I opted to have LED light under the fan as well.  There is no wiggling, no vibration, no sound.  As a consumer, however, the biggest draw for this product is the fact that we have all gotten uninterrupted sleep since we got it two weeks ago.

This month’s Meralco bill hasn’t arrived yet.  I’m preparing for a surprise . But til then , go ahead —-Try the  AERATRON fan.  You’ll see and feel the difference!

 ***To reserve your very own AERATRON FAN today, please contact ARIEL BECINA at 0908 8872377 or 881 6256.