Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Addicted to Cards

Save for some, where reason for card debt is an emergency (family beinghospitalized, etc.) or lost source of income...
For most of us the culprit for card indebtedness is the big "S". Let's face it shopping is addicting. And credit cards come in handy if you don't have cash with you. Unfortunately for some its too late in the card swiping game before they get to realize that they are actually spending more than what they can afford to pay after. Thus you end paying only the minimum amount and the outstanding balance is charged a whopping interest of 3% (that is 36% annualy), plus so many other charges – many of which you've only heard of now.

Here's some tip on card usage:
(1) Know your budget and DO NOT spend outside your budget.
(2) Maintain only two cards (the 2nd card is an emergency card). Onecard is enough. Cards are temptations, if its in your wallet, you are more likely than not to use it (even if you don't need to). Trust me it is difficult to balance multiple cards in your wallet.
(3) Mind your due dates and pay on time. Card centers have grace periods of 3-5 days, but if your payment gets posted after the grace periodyou are charged an additional for late payment.(4) Get the most out of your card – charge your utilities to your cardand earn rewards.
(5) Do not do – CASH ADVANCE. For cash advances you are charged with a cash advance fee right away and it is still part of your outstanding (meaning part pa din into ng papatawan ng interest, so double whammy).
(6) If possible pay in full. Isipin palagi na sayang ang interest (If your outstanding is P10,000, for an interest of 3% that is P300 already. So if you pay P400, effectively you have only paid for the interest).
(7) Learn to read the fine prints and the asterisk "*". There is always an added condition for freebies.

For those who have read this posting way too late... you can try asking your card issuer for an account restructure. In restructuring the interest may be lowered or waived, other charges may also be waived. Tell the card issuer, you have so many cards and you fear you might not be able to settle everything thats you why you want to pay them, but can only manage so and so amount... some issuers will be willing to waive the other charges (not the principal though).

I have not heard of anyone who was put in prison for not paying his loan,except if you issue a check that bounces that would be estafa. Otherwise, you would just be asked to issue a promissory letter, "promising to pay". If you do not have a means to pay they can't force you out of your home nor confiscate your belongings (unless the issuer is able to prove that themoney used to buy your stuffs were charged from your card).

Ensure to pay of your dues. Credit card companies has an association thatshares bad records and the bad record also gets reported to the Bankers Association of the Philippines . The record stays there forever, unlessyou settle fully the total amount due, our name is still there but with notation that you have settled already. This would affect your credit rating and it would be difficult to get a loan from a Bank (not sure if SSS/GSIS also gets access to these reports) when you need one. Bad records would may also harm your employability. Good companies before hiring people checks on their candidates credit rating/record. Moreover, if you have plans of migrating/working abroad, your bad credit rating may also surface.

In summary, use your card wisely!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pains of House Building

House CONSTRUCTION is such a big word. Not to mention EXPENSIVE.We
have been planning since like ages and with two kids (ages 1 and 5) in tow, it
better be soon.

We lived in a 4BR bungalow type house owned by my parents, who migrated abroad and left us the house. It is an old house. I was barely six (6) years old when we moved there. I recall that we were one of the first houses in the
village and that the road was not even paved, when we first moved in.You can just imagine the toll left on an old house by Millenio and Ondoy! We just had to rebuild!

(this old house)

Finally on January 3, 2010, with our amassed strength, we got a bank loan (in addition to our savings) and started building our "dream house".


(1) Be sure you have the house titles in order, especially if you have plans of applying for a mortgage.
(2) Depending on the total cost of your dream home, you need to have at least P100,000 to P200,000 to ensure continued construction. Release of loan for construction is staggered and the bank will not release until your contractor is able to deliver the needed percentage of completion.

(3) Even if you are getting a loan from a bank, you would still be shelling out the cost of MRI, CARI, Fire Insurance, documentary stamps and registration. For a P3M loan this would cost you an additional P50K. This does not include the building permit and other permits you need settled with city hall.

(4) Do on line research. It would give you an idea on whats efficient, comfortable and nice to look at.

(5) Try applying Feng Shui to your designs. I heard that the value of the house appreciates when feng shuied!

(6) If you want to get rid yourself of the trouble... less ofcourse the additional expense, hire yourself a contractor! This what we did. Hire somebody you know! Otherwise get referrals.
(7) Even with a trusted contractor, be involved in selecting the flooring, roofing and the house colors (interior and exterior).
(8) You need additional permits to move in. Yup, "gastos ulit".
(9) Finally, if you think you are done with the "gastos". Think again! With a beautiful house... you would need fine sets of furnitures and appliances.

Some pictures from our new home :)
(The Masters' Bedroom)

(The Masters' Bathroom)


(1st floor, sala-dining-kitchen area)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Miracle first hand

Our son, Raj Jibril, then five months old was admitted at the Philippine Heart Center - Pediatric ICU last Feb 7. He was to remain there for 1 1/2 months. He has contracted a highly toxic bacteria called “staph” and was diagnosed for Staph Pneumonia.

His lung condition was so bad; he was close to blue when we first got him to the PHC. We were told that this bacteria is an aggressive type, abroad, patients afflicted with this bacteria die in less than 72 hours.

Doctors were not expecting our baby to make it. His breathing was 80% ventilator dependent, his fever round the clock, he also has bleeding in his stomach and his lungs were 90% filled with water and pus.

His next three weeks at the PHC was a nightmare. He was intubated (tube into his mouth straight to his lungs), dual tube inserted into his right chest for draining off the liquid, air leaks and pus in his lungs. He has needle marks in his arms, wrists and legs. He also has two cut downs one in each of his inner thighs. Seeing him like that was a very painful sight.

His condition worsened on week three. He has not responded to any of the numerous (4th generation antibiotics) medicines administered to him. His body is no longer fighting off the bacteria in his body. The bacteria have been in there for so long his body is now being tricked into thinking it is already part of his system.

Although pus and liquid coming from his lungs has lessened, air leaks continues to increase and will not stop.

Doctors explain that if the bubbles coming out of our baby’s lungs persist they would have to operate as liquid and puss will again set in, if the leaks are not patched or removed.

Doctors did a CT Scan on our son, only to confirm what his numerous x-rays and CBC checks indicate, his lungs are severely damaged. His left lungs 90% non-functioning and his right showing indications of 50% damage as well.

At that time, operating - opening up our baby to see the extent of the damage and salvage whatever can be saved from his lungs was the best option. We agreed to an operation, how could we not? Our son has five specialist attending to him - two pediatric surgeons, two pediatric pulmonologist and a pediatric cardiologist.

He was scheduled for operation on Feb 20 (Friday), he looks so fragile and so helpless - we wonder how will he make it out of that OR. Operating might further weaken him and give the bacteria an ideal condition to take full control.

Doctors have given us very little hope. We were told to pray and expect the worst.

We decided, we are not losing hope and will put our trust in God.

We have sought and begged for prayers from friends and families. People were praying for Jibril 24-7 around the world from all religious denominations - Muslims, born again Christians, El Shaddai, were all seeking God’s intervention for Jibril’s recovery.
Everything was ready day of the operation, noon time, his schedule. The OR was set, blood for transfusion, in case of heavy blood lost available. We then saw his doctors walk by towards the ICU - to do a final run down and discussion the operation plan. We anxiously wait to be called, but the call only came at 330pm.

God has given us a miracle in Jibril. His lead surgeon, noticed that there was a sudden decrease in bubbling (from (3/4 of a 5-litter bottle to a less than a 1/8), the drop, was substantial to call off the operation. Doctors said, they are waiting off three more days and if Jibril’s condition continues to improve, an operation is no longed needed. It has been a month since and Jibril’s health has been improving.

We were finally released from the hospital on March 23.

Doctors were not able to explain what happened. It took them 3 1/2 hours to deliberate and decide to call off the operation. Our son is healing slowly and is now back in his old self.

God saved our son, He has allowed him to live and become a living testament of His glory.

Thank you for your incessant prayers. Your prayers and faith has given our son a second chance in life.

God has blessed us so!!!

This was written by my mother’s “Vicky” sister, “Lita”. They are both in the US. Tita Lita has been so helpful and generous to my parents. God has blessed us tremendously and it shows through people like her whose unwavering support and love has given my parents strength and courage.
Hello Beloved ones,

‘Couldn’t help but share with you one of the greatest testimony in the life of Ate Vicky, which had deeply touched my heart, and had blessed so many. (Efren and Lily can surely attest to this). An awesome verse which inspired us to share His Word is in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed to proclaim the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.”
All of us know that inspite of Ate’s long journey of living a life on one eye alone, her faith and trust in God has never failed…neither did she lose heart - she diligently seek God’s face, stands on His divine promises of healing, and most of all the Word of God became her constant companion. We cried with her, prayed with her, and patiently await of God’s miracle. In her worst condition, she still had managed to do things on her own, taking the burden upon herself than ask for any help.

She underwent a cataract surgery 4 months ago which unfortunately worsened the condition of her eye, which made her almost legally blind…’couldn’t fathom the ordeal she went through thriving in the dark.
In our helplessness, the thought of suing the doctor (Dr. Lan Nguyen) who performed the cataract surgery came into our mind so many times. We continued to pray for God’s direction. Ate shared moments that many nights she cried before slumber, and thinking to herself, that what if she’ll wake up one morning with her sight restored.

One day, we found ourselves meeting with Dr. L. Nguyen. In a very assertive manner, we voiced out our concern regarding the unexpected and disappointing result of the surgery. We told her, we will be seeking for a 2nd and another opinion from other doctors, and we want to prove what went wrong. My voice was soft but strong and firm, and I saw her facial expression changed, like suddenly she became very concerned, if not probably scared. She left for a few minutes, made some phone calls, then came back with an authorization for us to see a doctor at Stanford Hospital (one of the best hosp. in the valley) immediately.
Hearing “Stanford” gave me and Ate a glimpse of hope.
A week after that, we saw Dr. Christopher Ta at Stanford, and confirmed after some extensive test that Ate will need a Corneal Transplant…
A surgery where a cornea from a donor will be grafted to a patient’s eye, hoping that it would adapt, adhere and be compatible to the patient. Although this surgery has been proven to be highly successful, there is still a 20% risk of infection, and rejection. Unfortunately, Dr. Ta wouldn’t be able to perform the surgery because he is scheduled to go on a 2 months research sabbatical leave. That is a very long time to wait in Ate’s condition. Dr. Ta recommended a very good Doctor who specializes on Corneal transplants…He is Doctor David Hwang of UCSF (University of California San Francisco), founder and director of Corneal Transplant facility. After 2 weeks of waiting if Ate can be accepted there due to availability of appointments, and Insurance issues, she finally was required to go through tests and Pre-operative appointments for 2 consecutive days. Then again, we were asked to wait for the Insurance authorization to come to make sure the surgery will be covered completely…This was another test for us to remain patient and hold on to the faith that the Lord shall intervene - then finally, we receive information that the insurance shall fully cover all the expenses for the surgery.
August 5th, when she was scheduled for a 6 hour surgery + recovery time. Ate was calm and composed. The message rendered by Pastor P.J. on that Sunday before her surgery about hope and trust by not worrying gave her enough grace, strength and consolation.
A minute before they took Ate to the surgery room, I told the doctor, “Doc, my sister’s eye is in your hands.”…I couldn’t believe when he answered, “Nope!, it is in God’s Hands, not mine.” Ate and I felt the whole world smiled, and a big load was taken off our chest…then I boldly asked him, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, Doctor, are you a Christian?”…and as he replied a Yes answer, he grasped Ate’s hand, and began praying…his exact words were: “Lord, I pray that you give me and my staff the skills, and the wisdom we need for a successful operation”….etc…HOW AWESOME CAN THAT BE!…I whispered to myself, this is truly a work of God. A Christian doctor who inspite of he already earned skills and wisdom still humbled himself and sought His divine intervention. What an inspiration!
On the way home, Ate threw up many times due to the effect of the anaesthesia…with her head tilted up, I felt so sorry seeing her in this sad plight, eyes covered, completely blinded.
The next morning, we came back to the hospital for a Post-Operative check up…As the doctor slowly uncovered and examined the eye, the only phrase that came from his mouth is “PRAISE THE LORD!!!”.
The doctor was amazed at the rate Ate’s sight was restored. She was able to read the letters shown to her.
Finally, after another week, as the 2nd part of her Post-operative visit, the doctor confirmed that Ate’s corneal transplant was nicely in place, without any sign of infection nor rejection….and what amazed the doctor is Ate’s healing faster than what he thought and expected. God works in His wondrous ways!
Last Sunday in church, as Ate ( I was standing right beside her) boldly shared her testimony, I happened to set eyes on Kuya Joey whose tears he cannot contain…people cried, they laughed, and they rejoiced with their Sister in Christ who with her unfailing love and faith in God won this marvelous gift of victory….and we all know, that this miracle shall live forever in the heart of our beloved sister, ATE VICKY.

A Letter of Thanks to a Dear Aunt

Dad’s operation, Mom’s surgery and Jibril’s recovery are testaments of His greatness. None would have succeeded without His divine intervention. We are truly blessed because we have personally experienced His greatness not once but thrice. And everyday in our lives we continue, to live these miracles over and over as we are reminded of His love for us, through people like YOU.
He has continuously blessed us with people who truly love us and cares for us. And we thank Him even more because He has given you to us. You are truly a manifestation of His unceasing love and graciousness.
Thank you, Tita for being always there for Mommy, Daddy and even Joboy. You have given so much and continue to share whatever you have with all your heart, without pretensions.
Thank you for all the prayers and help you have extended to my family there in the US.
We are NOT there physically. Sometimes we cry because we are not there to comfort our parents. It is difficult to be away to family especially at times we need each other the most. But prayer soothes us and after each prayer we feel stronger and somehow at ease. We know in our heart or hearts that everything will turn out fine because God provides and answers our prayers. We believe God has used you and is using you as answer to ours.
Thank you very much. We pray for you and your love ones also. Our prayer is that may God continue to bless you so that you may continue to be a blessing to others.

Jibril Turned One


Not bad for a party of 250++++ (lost track, we occupied the entire Congo Grille, El Pueblo branch… pati sa labas may bisita kami), I only spent P32,000 on food! There were a few snags (like my additional orders came in a little late and one of the kids chairs snapped), but the accommodating staff compensated for the minor troubles. I was fuming over the late additional orders, pero they were still nice.

Spacious and free parking (you just need to have your parking stub validated.
Medyo nainitan ako, pero baka ako lang. None of our guests complained.
Was not able to taste the food we ordered, we were so busy entertaining guests. By the time the party ended it was time for dinner – so my husband and myself ordered dinner nalang.
Staff were helpful. They helped set up the place for us.
There were so many staff attending – was not able to count them all, I am guessing 15+.

YAN-PLE (8.5)
Got from her Candy Cart, Balloon Burst and Pinata.
The candy cart was a hit with kids and adults alike. I think this is sulit for P2000 for 8 candy variants good for 100.
I checked the candies – they were good brands.
Balloon Burst was a hit among mommies and daddies – parang mga nanalo sa lotto.
The piƱata was a personalized lion head. It was ok, but not a real hit like my balloon burst and candy cart.
BTW, I am happy Apple was there early. Saved me one less worry. Apple also helped with some of the decorating.

Another sulit find. For a 6 galloon I only paid P1500.
Manong was there early too like Yan-ple. Everybody had his/her fill of ice cream meron pa din lahat ice cream cart ni manong.
Sarap ice cream ng Del Mundo. The owner is a good friend of my cousin so I know they are clean. And masarap din.

ANF (almost 10)
JAP the face painter / glitter tattoo artist is so good at what he does. Lahat – bata, matanda, pati baby ko pumila for a face paint!
JAP came in a little late. Mga 3 minutes lang naman, but for a mommy celebrating his kids 1st bday – those 3 minutes were ngarag moments. But when I saw what he can do, forgot about his being late. It would have been a 10+ if he came in a little earlier. Still highly recommended and ANF!!!
It’s a real sulit package!

PETE THE CLOWN (Got him through Congo Grille) (10 with a lot of TAWA)
He is so funny and super galing in doing magic.
Friends commended his performance. Kala nila expensive kuha ko sa kanya.
He has unique and fun game ideas.
He was able to hold a crowd of 250+ and everyone even mommies and daddies were participating.
He is good. Also highly recommended.

PHOTOS and VIDEO – c/o Tito Jeff and Tita Ella (perfect 10 syempre… labor of love!) They skipped merienda and finished the party before eating with me and my hubby. Thanks Tita and Tito.

I got everything from DIVI! I bought 55 set backpack bags (Ben 10, Winnie the Pooh and Dora). For the loot I got stationery set, matching wallet, stickers, coloring books and crayos. Cost per bag is approximately P55.

Really affordable. I got 10 inches round moist cake in Jungle Theme, plus 50pcs cup cakes all for P1,500.
Cake was sarap. My husband does not like cakes, but had second serving of Iko’s.
Pinag-agawan even the cup cakes and heard good feeds from the mommies too.
The baker – JON called me up personally one week before our party to confirm ur requirement and design.
They readily customized for us. No additional cost!
I saw a picture in the net tapos pinakopya ko lang. The copy was much better than the picture I showed them.

They did Jibril’s BIRTHDAY TARP. Again super affordable!!! For lay out and printing I only paid P700+. Cost is only P17/ft. That’s cheap and yet quality wise ganda ng printing nila, better than most I have seen around.
· Jennelle and Thonie were very nice and accommodating.
· Mabilis din sila gumawa.
· Francis the owner entertained us also. He happened to pass-by kasi while we were inquiring.

Jibril’s invitation is also a labor of love. Lay out was done by Tito JV from US. I just had it printed here at P6/pc.

Jibril’s is sooo cute in his lion cub costume. This also came from the US c/o Tito JV. Thanks Tito.

Here is a link to Jib's party pictures: