Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Passion Project: The Filipino American Woman

Although I was born in the United States, I too lived the immigrant experience.

I grew up in a Filipino speaking home where Filipino was my first language, which eventually labeled me as an English Language Learner as I entered elementary school.

In pre-school, my classmates furled their curious brows and sniffed at my sinigang in my thermos and the adobo and rice in my Tupperware.

I had the stereotypical Filipino nurse mom and military, then post office working Filipino dad.

I aspired to be a broadcast journalist as a child because the only Asian woman I saw on TV was Connie Chung. She was pretty and smart. I wanted to be like her.

I can recall my first experience of being discriminated against shopping for clothes as a 5th grader. I was told my the store's employee, "If you can't afford it, don't touch it." I was so horrified, I never walked in front of that store again in future visits to that mall.

When entering a room, I have always, even now, scan the room hoping to find others who look like me, to validate my presence, to find my comfort zone, to find familiarity. Just like my Filipino students, they find comfort in being able to speak Filipino with me, being able to access services in their first language validates their concerns and their questions, and the affection they show in calling me "ate" creates familiarity of family and connectedness that comes from the Filipino concept of "bayanihan".

When members of the San Diego Filipino Blogger Network were invited to be a part of The Filipino American Woman project, I wanted to be involved to share my story. I wanted to share the bits and pieces of my story that parallels with so many other Filipino American women around the county.
The Filipino American Woman Mission Statement
The first step to building our community is by creating awareness. The approach we are taking to create awareness amongst our sisters is through storytelling. We believe that storytelling is the most powerful and effective way of connecting with each other. In understanding our similarities and differences, we strive to find a common ground of community, support and collaboration. Stories connect. And when we’re connected, we’re empowered to embrace the beauty that’s within ourselves and with each other.

It was a great honor to be the second interview for the The Filipino American Woman project. The hour spent chatting with TFAW founder Jen Amos went by very quickly. Jen's passion project has gained speed over the past few months with over a dozen interviews already documented on Facebook live. 

Check out my TFAW interview here:

I look forward to each TFAW interview as they go live on Facebook. So far, TFAW has featured educators, business owners, community advocates, fitness enthusiasts, motivational speakers, recent college graduates, multi-media professionals, television personalities, and more! I am excited to see the growth of this project and to learn from the all the women who grace the TFAW audience with their stories. 

How can YOU get involved?
Contact TFAW Founder Jen Amos at


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Parental Control App: Google Family Link for Android

There is lots of chatter online about technology use for youngsters. Appropriate content, time limits on use, and suggestions for apps and websites helpful for kids are topics that come across my social media feeds often.

A concern I've had since my kids have been using their iPads is being able to control the content they see, as well as controlling the amount of time they spend on their devices. 

I've tried a few of the parental control apps available. None of them really did what I wanted it to do, the set up was too complicated, or the monthly fees for use were just too expensive.

In my last attempt to research parental control apps, I discovered Google had created it's own parental control app called Family Link which was released earlier in early 2017. Unfortunately, it only works with Android devices so only I'm only able to use the Family Link controls on my one son's Android phone, and not on both my my kids' his iPads.

How to Set Up Google Family Link
  • To use Google's Family Link, a parent must have a Google account. 
  • Download the Android Family Link App on the child's device, as well as the parent device.
  • Create a Google Account for your child through the Family Link App. If your child already has a Google account, you will have to create a new one. 
  • Follow the prompts for the initial set up. It's very easy to follow.

What Can You Control with the Family Link App?
  • Screen Time - Control daily time limits and bed time. Once the time limit has been reached or bed time arrives,  the device will lock. Parents can unlock on the child's device with a code created on the app on the parent phone or the parent can unlock the device from their own phone. When the device is locked, their child's phone will still be able to make outgoing calls  to anyone and receive incoming calls from anyone. 
  • Google Play downloads - There are different settings on the extent to which parents will allow their child to download apps, as well as the content of the apps you will allow.

  • Websites on Chrome - Parents have the options to control which websites the child will have access to.  
  • Filters on Google Search - This enables the Google "Safe Search" option to filter sensitive content
  • Android Apps - Parents can block certain apps that come "stock" with the phone. Parents can also see the minutes spent on each app per week and per month.

  • Location - This options allows the Family Link App to track the child's location.
There are a few things that I would add to make the app even more helpful:
  • Ability to see a log of websites visited on the app. Parents will need to view the "history" on Chrome itself on your child's phone.
  • Limit incoming and outgoing calls to phone numbers approved by the parent. 
  • Password to access the Family Link App on the parent phone to avoid the child hacking the parents phone to change the settings. Yes, my son had tried.
  • App activity should list the minutes for the day, not only the week and month.
This has been the most user-friendly parental control app I've tried. I like that it automatically synced with the other Google apps and works well with the Android operating system. It has worked really well for me so far. When my son is acting up and needs a consequence, I'll lock his phone. When he downloads apps, I get a notification on my phone for approval. When he's has his phone, I can track which apps he's been using and how long he's spent on each one. 

I just hope Apple will take what Google has created and make something similar, if not better, to work with Apple devices.

For more information on the Google Family Link App, visit


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: Tips for Teens on Life and Social Success

It's Back to School season! Some kids look forward to this time of the year to buy school supplies, sport their new outfits, and reconnect with their classmates. While for others, this time of the year brings anxiety and worries about fitting in, making friends, and being able to do well academically. 

How to Make and Keep Friends: Tips for Teens on Life and Social Success is a helpful read for teens who are worried about back to school. It's also a great resource for parents who are at a loss of what kind of advice or guidance they can give their children. After reading this, I myself used some of the strategies with my 9 year old who is dealing with "bullies" at school.

The book is divided into four sections: Self, Others, Online and Social Media, and College, Work, and Adulthood. 

Within each section are about a dozen different chapters like fitting in, bullying and meanness, personal hygiene, real friends checklist, online presence, driving, accepting criticism, and more. 

Each topic has a short introduction and then a list of coping strategies for each of the chapters. I liked the "Adjusting to Social Feedback" chapter that discussed non-verbal feedback, being conscious of social norms, conversation tips, and respecting personal space. 

The format of this book is "teen-friendly". The anecdotes are relatable and the tips on how to deal with each scenario is simple and straight to the point, exactly what a teen wants. The examples shared in the book are common occurrences at the school where I work.

I look forward to sharing this book my students in my work as a school counselor. I see myself with a student dealing with a particular issue, finding a relevant chapter in this book, having them read it, then discussing with them what they learned. I know my students will be able to find coping strategies they are comfortable with in this book. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

96 years. 96 birthdays.

96 years. 96 birthdays. Her husband, my beloved Papa, passed over a decade ago. She has 12 children, two of who proceeded her. Her scores of grandchildren are all over the world. They have given her a over a dozen great-grandchildren.

My grandmother, Consuelo Moreno Luansing, passed away 5 hours ago. 

The last time I spent with her was at her care facility in Los Angeles a few months ago. She saw me from across the multi-purpose room. Her "roommates" were scattered around the room. Some where playing board games. Others were watching the soap opera on the giant television while enjoying a snack. Many were just chatting with each other, just passing the time. Mama sat in the middle of it all gazing across the room at a familiar face, me. 

As I approached, her eyes followed me. Her eyes met mine as a kneeled right next to her. Her eyes lit up with familiarity and a huge smile spread across her face.

"Hi Mama. Do you remember me?"

She didn't respond. She just pulled my face close to hers and did the all-too-familiar Filipino "smell kiss" on my cheek.

I looked her in the eyes, "I'm Lysa, Mama. Lysa."

"Aaaaah, Lysa!" she said as her eyes lit up her entire face as if saying "Oh yes, I remember! My chunky granddaugher Lysa!"

She pulled me in again with a longer, stronger smell kiss.

I pulled Jelo over who was right behind me. He gave Mama Nene a hug and a kiss and she replied, "Ooh! Utoy!" then hugged him tight and greeted him with the same smell kiss. Jelo and Mama Nene had a special bond which started during Jelo's first few years when Mama Nene lived with my parents. He loves her and always includes her in his prayers.

Utoy, the pet name she's called him since he was months old. Utoy is the affectionate pet name for "little boy" in the Tagalog dialect of the Batangas region of the Phlippines where our family is from. I don't think she ever really remembered his name. I don't think she remembered that Jelo, whose real name was Julian, was named after her husband, my Papa. She always called him utoy.

We spent a few hours chatting with her, wheeling her around the facility to go for a "walk", and watching some TFC with her in her room. We helped her with lunch since she repeated many times that she was "hungry". The nurses did say, "Nanay is always hungry" teasing that she's always asking for food which was very unlike the grandmother I grew up with who ate very small portions.

After lunch, she was ready for her nap. She could hardly keep her eyes open as we went from the dining room to her bedroom. We helped her into her bed and tucked her in. Half asleep she said, "Take off my socks. I don't like the socks." I slid off her socks and tucked in her feet into the fleece blanket.

She was already asleep by the time I kissed her on her forehead and said "I'll see you soon Mama". I knew that that goodbye might be the last time I saw her. It was the last time I saw her.

My earliest memories of my Mama goes way back when I was just a few years old when we lived in an apartment in Los Angeles. Mama and Papa lived in a unit above where my parents and I lived. Being just 3 years old, I remember the fried "tuyo" mama used to cook. To this day, whenever I smell "tuyo", it brings me to mama's kitchen in that Los Angeles apartment.

L to R: Papa, Mama, Mom with me in her belly, Dad
I remember Mama and Papa's apartment in San Diego that would always be stocked with Crunch ice cream bars.

Mama and Papa in the early 80's
I remember when Mama made me the "bubble skirt" I saw on a mannequin in Macy's. She said it was "too expensive" and "I can make that! Nicer than that one!"And she did. As a young woman, she was a seamstress in the Philippines. My bubble skirt was made of a pearly, peach, silky material. I adored that skirt!

I remember taking Mama grocery shopping at Seafood City and waiting for her fish to be cleaned while she browsed the aisles.

My mom with Mama shopping at WalMart
I remember pharmacy pick ups as Mama and Papa got older.

I remember how well dressed she was for every worship service.

I remember how Jelo and DJ enjoyed pushing Mama Nene in her wheelchair on their trips to Plaza Bonita.

I remember Jelo and DJ would spend afternoons watching the dramas on TFC with Mama Nene.

I remember the giggles and hugs Jelo and DJ have shared with their Mama Nene.

I remember the many birthdays we've celebrated in honor of our matriarch, our queen.

Mama, may you rest in peace. Peace knowing you finished your race. Peace knowing you lived a faithful life. Peace knowing you have left your legacy with your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and generations to come. I pray that the peace in which you rest be shared with your family you leave behind. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Hospital Box – A Creative Care Package Kit

When a loved one becomes hospitalized, things can get really stressful. It's even stressful for youngsters who have a loved one who gets sick. My kids worry about their "mama" who goes to dialysis three times a week to care for her failing kidneys. Although my mom is a trooper and doesn't let her illness get her down, my boys can't help of feel bad for their "mama" when they see her fatigued and weak after her dialysis.

When given the opportunity to partner with The Hospital Box, my boys immediately knew who they wanted create the box for: mama! The Hospital Box's goal is to inspire the road to recovery!

The Hospital Box is a creative care package kit that has everything you need to give an incredibly special gift! 

How does it work?

There are 3 Simple Steps:

Step 1- Attach Your Photos: Lift your loved ones spirits by showing them life outside the hospital and reminding them of precious memories they’ve had living life vibrantly! See their smile as they reminisce on the good times displayed on your personalized care package. DJ chose to include photos of him and his brother.

Step 2 - Add A Meaningful Items In The “Open When” Bags: Dozens of emotions take over when you’re left to sit in a hospital bed ranging from anger, to sadness, to loneliness, confusion and more. The Hospital Box comes with three soft cotton bags with messages: Open When You Need Comfort; Open When You Need Love; and Open When You Need Support. The bags are ideal for handwritten notes, mementos and anything that will bring a smile. DJ chose a small plushie toy for mama to hug, a fun  photo of him and his brother, and a book to help pass the time during the 3 hour dialysis sessions.

Step 3- Include Thoughtful Comfort Items: Customize your care package with a few items that will bring the comfort of home right to their hospital bedside.

DJ had such a fun time creating the box. We wished the box was more of a blank canvas to be able to customize the box even more. Despite that, I think he did a pretty good job!

Visit The Hospital Box at 


Follow The Hospital Box at


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary The Hospital Box in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Marvel Universe LIVE! Comes to San Diego

Super hero action, thrills and drama will soar, smash and burst into arenas across the country starting this summer with the debut of the all-new action-packed adventure Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes.

Marvel Universe LIVE Age of Heroes will travel throughout North America, including a stop in San Diego August 24 to 27!

Want to go? Click the image below to enter my Instagram giveaway!

The iconic Marvel Super Heroes Spider-Man and The Avengers are joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy, including Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket and Drax, in a legendary battle to defend the universe from evil. 

Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes will be playing the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego from August 24-27, 2017. Tickets are on sale NOW for all San Diego shows - tickets start at just $15!


Thursday, August 24 - Sunday, August 27
Thursday, August 24 7:00 PM
Friday, August 25 7:00 PM
Saturday, August 26 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM
Sunday, August 27 1:00 PM & 5:00 PM

Valley View Casino Center - 3500 Sports Arena Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92110

Tickets start at $15 each!
Discount Opening Night tickets available for only $15 on select seating 
(not valid for premium/VIP seating)

All seats are reserved. Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes tickets are available for purchase online at, charge by phone at 888-9AXS-TIX or visit the Valley View Casino Center Box Office.
*Ticket prices subject to change; tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees.
For more info:
* Website:
* Facebook:
* YouTube:
* Twitter:

Disclaimer: I receive complimentary tickets and promotional items in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine. 


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