1.31.2014

How I Quit Corporate And Became A Mompreneur

When I was about to graduate from high school, I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur one day. I remember one time when my parents and I left my high school from a school event, I told them that it would be a good idea to buy an empty lot around the school because someday it will be worth more. At that time, my parents just laughed it off and thought maybe I was too young to think about such a thing. A year or two later, the area around the school that housed nothing but farm land was sold to a developer which later developed it into a bustling, residential community.

I later went on to college and took up Management Engineering. We studied a fusion of math and business, and it prepared us very well for a corporate job. Yet still, I was eager to learn more about starting a business. I read up on articles from Entrepreneur magazine and all of Robert Kiyosaki's books. I played Cash Flow with my brother. In college, I would make the trip to Divisoria from Quezon City to buy fashionable clothes and sell them to my dorm mates. It was a good experience, nonetheless, but still I wasn't a full-fledged entrepreneur.

Robert Kiyosaki's Cash Flow Quadrant
When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be a business owner. At that time, Ateneo was setting up its entrepreneurship laboratory, where students can road test their business before launching it in the real world. I wanted to join and found this a very good opportunity. Unfortunately, I had already graduated and I needed to move on to the next phase in my life. I knew in my heart I wanted to start a business, but I didn't know how to start.

I then proposed to my parents a fashion accessory business. I showed them samples I made, and I even inquired how to set up a space inside a popular mall in Cebu. I was so excited with the idea! I thought my business proposal was very promising. I asked my parents for capital to start it. However, like many things in life, things don't happen at the timing you want them to. My parents probably thought I was too risky or crazy to jump into business back then. They advised me to get a corporate job first.

So I did just that. I was fortunate to get jobs in the top multinational companies in the country. Compensation and benefits were generous. I had a salary above the market average, and I got a lot of perks too. I had medical benefits, a car, laptop and a monthly postpaid mobile phone plan. I get to travel a lot, staying and dining in fancy hotels. It was nice, but I knew I really wasn't happy and at the back of my mind, I still wanted to become an entrepreneur.

Many of my colleagues know that my heart belongs to entrepreneurship. In one small team building session of ours, they were asked, "Where do you see Mitz in the next 10 years?" All of them answered that I will probably run a business someday. While working in corporate, I never forgot my dream. In fact, I did business on the side. I had a partner and we sold clothes online through Multiply. From a small capital of Php10,000, our online following grew and grew until we were able to lease a space inside the mall. We brought in another partner as well. We were a team of three, and we had fun shopping for clothes abroad and selling them. It was going well for a while. We even got featured in the local newspapers. However, not a single one of us worked full time in the business. I had my job and my partners were managing their own businesses as well. In the end, we decided not to renew our mall lease and let the business go as we attended to our own priorities.

I went back to my corporate job, moving from one multinational company to another to advance in my career. I learned a lot from my corporate jobs. I learned how to do business and I got exposed to business practices I otherwise would not have learned in school. My corporate jobs were my real world training for business. In my 10 years of working in corporate, I learned sales, marketing, finance, strategic planning and a lot more. In hindsight, I am thankful that my parents urged me to work in corporate first. Otherwise, I wouldn't have learned all the skill sets critical to managing a business. Learning something in theory is completely different than learning it from experience.

Fast forward to today, I have become a full time entrepreneur. I can't say that I am already successful. Everything is still a work in progress. I currently manage an online store called PinaymommyPH with a fellow mom as partner. We mainly sell items for moms and babies. I started this business because I wanted to supply good products for breastfeeding moms like me. I mainly supply Pur breast milk storage bags, and I can honestly say it is one of the cheaper brands in the market that offers very good quality, double zip-lock, BPA-free milk storage bags.

I also manage a food business with my husband called Marky's Chicken. We have big plans for this brand. We continue to work on this and we hope our efforts will turn this business into something big one day. By God's grace, we have received a lot of encouragement that this venture is truly promising. One such example was when we won in the Next Big Food Entrepreneur Challenge of Entrepreneur Philippines.

So how exactly did I make the shift from corporate to entrepreneurship? The answer is pretty simple.

I just took a big leap of FAITH. 

I honestly spent many years of my life not pursuing my dream. I had so many excuses to myself -- "I don't have enough capital", "I'm not ready yet", "This isn't the time". Yet something changed in me when I became more faithful to God. I realized that God places dreams in each and every one of us, and these dreams reveal His plans for us. Ever since I thought about what I wanted to do in my life, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. This is what my heart tells me. This is where God is leading me. With a stronger faith, I became more confident to pursue my dream. In moments of doubt, I go back to my favorite Bible verses to inspire me.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3 NIV
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11: 24 NIV

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

"If God is for us, then who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 NIV

Some events in my life also made this decision quite easier. One of them is when I lost my daughter Elyssa. I was working in a field job when I lost her. It made me realize that no amount of compensation or benefit from corporate life will ever equal to time spent with family. There are a lot of times in my corporate career when I would feel sad that I miss milestones or important family events just because I needed to work or attend a meeting which is at most times, declared urgent and crucial. My job was financially rewarding, yet it was stressful too. After Elyssa's passing, I decided that I will really take steps to get out of corporate. A few months after that, our company for Marky's Chicken was born and we even named it after Elyssa.

When I got pregnant again and Marky's Chicken was already running, I knew it was time to quit. I prepared for it by building up on our savings that can last us at least 6 months. A year and a half later, we are still working hard to make our business grow. Our income from our business may not be as high as my corporate salary (yet), but I can definitely say I am a much happier person now than when I was working in corporate. No amount of financial reward can ever pay for that. At any time, I can attend to my baby Kali. I can keep track of my daughter Annika's progress in school. When my husband gets home, I am here to greet him with a hug and a kiss. I no longer have to feel bad that I miss family moments because I'm away at some business meeting or corporate seminar.

If you're thinking about quitting your job and entering business, let me tell you that it is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes when the bills come in and our funds are just enough to pay them, it can be tempting to entertain the thought of going back to corporate. In the corporate world, you're paid when you're present at your job and you know exactly how much you're going to earn every pay day. You can plan your expenses more consistently. In business, you don't know exactly how much you're going to earn. It depends on how well you manage the business, and how customers behave when they spend their money. You have to know how to keep your expenses in check, while your income fluctuates every month.

Before you quit your job for business, build enough savings to last you at least 6 months to make sure you can get by as you work on your start-up. The first few months or years of setting up a business can be really tough. Make sure to put hard work and effort into it. It can be tempting to work at a slower pace when there is no boss to hurry us with our tasks. Most importantly, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Each day, I always dedicate a prayer to God for our business. He's our best business partner, and I believe He will always take care of us. When things don't happen your way and worries set in, just pray and remember that He loves you and will never leave your side. I know it because He has always pulled us through in one way or another. It's amazing how God works. I'm truly thankful to embark on this entrepreneurship journey with Him.

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1.27.2014

Azumi Boutique Hotel Alabang

We were invited to the launching of a chic new boutique hotel in Madrigal Business Park, Alabang last week. It's called Azumi Boutique Hotel. I researched about the meaning of Azumi, and the name is of Japanese origin. It means "safe residence".

The hotel has a total of 187 rooms and is located near Alabang-Zapote Road. It's a mere 5 minutes away from Molito and Alabang Town Center, and one can easily walk to these locations from the hotel.

The reception area. Everything is so clean and minimalist!

The lobby. The design is very chic and modern.

I love their colors of white, gray and a hint of red.

This is the other side of the lobby past the reception area. 

Standard room. Each room comes with a bed and a small sofa. This is a picture from a 5th floor room, wherein balconies are so much bigger compared to the higher floors.

View from the 5th floor balcony

I took a picture of the whole room from the balcony area. Each room comes with a bed, sofa, working desk, flat screen TV, bathroom, refrigerator and microwave. Interesting to note is that their refrigerator is actually not the usual personal-sized ones you see in hotels. They have a tall, standard-sized one that can accommodate the needs of long-staying guests.

King-sized bed in their superior room.

After viewing the rooms on the 5th and 6th floors, we went up to the penthouse where they have a private villa available. The design is consistent with the rooms on the lower floors, but the villa offers much more space than the average room. The villa also has immediate access to the hotel's infinity pool since they're both located on the penthouse. Currently, they still have no rate for the penthouse villa.

This is the bathroom for the penthouse villa. Notice all the glass doors and no window curtains? Only the brave can use this bathroom in the villa. Since it's located on a high floor and Alabang has low buildings anyway, no one will probably recognize you when you're up here. ;-)

Night view from the bathroom villa

Shot of the infinity pool at night. On the right are seating areas covered in orange fabric. 

Also on the penthouse is their conference room. Shown here are the various food and desserts for their cocktails that night prepared by the Romulo Cafe, which is also their in-house cafe on the ground floor. The food was absolutely delicious!

Shot of the conference room from the side of the infinity pool. The conference room has all-glass windows, but window blinds can be brought down for privacy.

Azumi Boutique Hotel is a promising choice for a good hotel in Alabang. It's perfect for the next staycation or quick business trip.

Azumi Boutique Hotel
2205 Market Street, Madrigal Business Park Phase III
Alabang, Muntinlupa City 1780
+632 38 AZUMI (29864)


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Our Home - SM Southmall

In my hunt for good home finds, I find myself researching on Google about the different home stores here in Manila. I have always liked the designs that Our Home posts on their Facebook page, so I decided to visit their SM Southmall branch last December.

I love how they inspire their customers by grouping together their furniture pieces by style.

Various types of home decor to tickle your fancy.

Vases and flowers section. They can do floral arrangements for free.

Wall frames and mirrors

They have sections for carpets and linens as well.

I love the sofa section! Honestly, I think one should always invest in a good sofa.


They have a great selection of lamps here too. Look at the many different kinds!

How will your next home be? Their question entices their customers to take inspiration from the many styles displayed in their store.

Our Home in SM Southmall has a great selection of pieces. Since then, I have also visited Our Home in SM City BF Paranaque but their store there is so much smaller than their SM Southmall branch. If you're looking for great home finds in one stop here in the South, it's best to head over to SM Southmall. Other than Our Home, there are other furniture stores you can visit.

Website: www.ourhome.ph


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1.26.2014

Happy 5 months Kali!


Time flies by so fast. Kali is already 5 months! At this time, here are the things that Kali can do:

  • She is an expert in rolling over! She rolls over even in her sleep. She rolls over while her diaper is being changed. 
  • She can sit up and hold her head all on her own.
  • She can communicate her needs. She calls her mommy when she wants her breast milk. She coos to her dad and siblings when she wants to be entertained. 
  • When she's playing with her yaya or her siblings and she sees mom walk across the room, she would start to cry just so mommy can pick her up and carry her.
  • She doesn't like being left out of the group. When the family is eating at the dinner table, she wants to go near and be around them. When yaya walks away from the table, she would call out and make some noise until yaya goes back to join the family at the table.
  • She wants to feed while the family is eating.
  • She doesn't like anyone turning his/her back on her when she's being talked to.
  • She's camera-shy. She would smile, coo and laugh a lot but when you hold a camera in front of her to capture the moment, she stops and just begins to stare straight back at you with big, round eyes.
  • She loves bath time.
  • When she gets her vaccine shots, she just cries when the needle pierces her skin then stops right after when it's done.
  • She likes to sleep beside mom.

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1.17.2014

Spectra Baby Cimilre M1 Double Electric Pump Review

I'm a work-at-home breastfeeding mom who directly breastfeeds my little Kali. I have 2 manual pumps Medela and Avent Classic, yet I have dreamed of getting an double electric breast pump for convenience. Most of the electric pumps from well-known brands out there are outrageously expensive. They retail for at least Php15k and up.

I chanced upon Babymama's website and I am so thankful that she has a wide selection of good, hardworking electric breast pumps. Best of all, they're AFFORDABLE! You can find a double electric breast pump for as low as Php4,900. Amazing, di ba?

My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas and without a doubt, I told him, "I want a Spectra M1 Double Electric Breast Pump!" He was a bit skeptical at first because the pump was so much cheaper than Medela and Avent, but I assured him that it had good reviews. Besides, I wouldn't want to invest so much in an electric pump that I don't use frequently every day. Since I'm a work-at-home mom, I can conveniently breastfeed my baby directly and take a break from work easily. I pump to build my breast milk stash for times when I have to go out for meetings or errands.

Before Christmas, my Spectra M1 breast pump arrived and I was eager to try it. Babymama threw in a lot of freebies like Mother's Milk tea, Nano Silver Ice Pack and a few other items. (--Thank you Babymama!). Before I give my review, let me introduce to you the pump and show you how it works.

There are exactly 7 important parts to remember: (1) Pump Unit, (2) Back Flow Protector, (3) Flange, (4) Valve, (5) Tubing, (6) Bottle and (7) Adapter. This is for one set. If you want to use it as dual pump, you need to use the connector and attach another set.

The Pump Unit controls. There's the On/Off button (lower right), Battery Indicator (top center), Massage Mode (lower left) and +/- Buttons for the vacuum adjustment (top left and top right). The middle indicates the vacuum setting.
This is what it looks like when you put it on massage mode. Just look for the orange light. Massage encourages let-down, and once you see milk come in you can switch to the actual milk expression phase.

Actual expression phase. I use the middle setting (3/5) since the vacuum is just right for me. Feel free to experiment which vacuum setting is hiyang for you. I've read that some moms just use the massage mode.

Ta-da! Here's the pumped milk! This is the product of only 10 minutes of pumping glory! :) 

I honestly love the Spectra Cimilre M1 for the following reasons:
  • Easy Assembly. My yaya can assemble it like a pro when she sterilizes it for me even without reading the manual. 
  • Efficient Let-down. There are times when I use my Avent and Medela manual pumps and let-down is difficult. Sometimes I think that I have no more milk flowing. With Spectra M1 massage function, let-down is easy and I am assured that there's always milk to collect. 
  • Affordable. Seriously, who can get a better deal than a mere Php7,800 for a good breast pump? It's half the price of most popular breast pumps out in the market!
  • Quiet. I can breast pump while my husband and baby is sleeping and they wouldn't even notice. I breast pump and multitask and I don't even mind the sound. 
  • Pain-free. With the efficient let-down described above, I find that this pump is absolutely pain-free. The first time I used it, I didn't notice that there was already milk flowing! Make sure that you use the right vacuum setting for you. I tried to increase the setting one time to see if more milk will flow, but naging mas masakit lang ang vacuum.
  • Portable. The pump unit is the bulkiest part of the breast pump, and it is smaller than a tall order of your favorite Starbucks drink. It can easily be stashed away in a small insulated bag. I can imagine that it's super easy to bring for corporate moms out there. 
When I first opened Spectra M1, I wasn't impressed since the plastic parts seem to be thinner than my other breast pumps. But when I finally tried it, I am amazed by its efficiency! It's a hardworking, affordable, convenient electric breast pump. What more could you possibly ask for? 

Spectra Baby Cimilre M1 Specs from Babymama's website: 
  • From the makers of Spectra breast pumps, Korea’s number 1 breast pump brand
  • Over 60,000 Cimilre breast pumps units sold in Korea since product launch in 2012
  • Portable
  • 5-level pressure control
  • Built-in rechargeable battery (1.5 hours usage, 4 hour charging time)
  • Low noise (45 db/less than a fan)
  • KFDA (Korean FDA) – approved back flow prevention so that mold doesn't grow inside the pump
  • Massage function to enable quicker letdown
  • Smaller than a smartphone
  • Pump motor dimensions: 4.7’” length x 2.6” height, 1 lb
  • Flange size is 28mm
  • Comes with 2 breastkits
  • 1 year warranty
  • Up to 320mmhg suction strength
  • BPA-free
  • Over 60,000 Cimilre breast pumps units sold in Korea in 2012
Feel free to visit Babymama's site for more details and browse for other Spectra products. 

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1.13.2014

Mandaue Foam Showroom Las Pinas

Moving into a new home challenges one to develop some form of interior design skills. Being the logical person that I am, it's really an effort for me to visualize and imagine designs that will fill up our home with decors according to the theme that we like.

These days, I try to visit home stores as much as I can. It's a whole new world of never-ending possibilities! Haha. Ang dami palang pwedeng gawin! If only budget permits everything, ang dami ko sigurong mabibili agad. For now, we're filling up our home slowly by carefully selecting the pieces we like.

One Sunday, our family went over to Mandaue Foam near SM Southmall to check out their selection. We were looking for shoe racks to organize our shoe clutter near the main door.

When you enter Mandaue Foam, it's a big building with three floors of home decor options. Their products are conveniently separated into categories so you'll be guided on where to go.

Bed Linens section
Living room section where they display lots and lots of couches and seating options.

I like the headboard in these twin beds. I wish they come in queen size too.

This day bed looks interesting. I'm looking for a cozy type of day bed which I can place in one of the many empty spaces in our home now. I hope they come up with more designs.

They also have a nice selection of lamps. 

Here's a sample of a lamp I like. They like to display their pieces in sections like this. They conveniently tickle your home design creativity by displaying their products in different design styles. Pag like mo ang peg nila, mas marami kang mabibili. Haha.

This lamp is nice too!

They have a huge customer service counter. However, their customer service needs a LOT of improvement. Their staff seems to not be attentive to their customers. Parang parating busy pero di naman ganun kadami ang buying customers. We were touring the whole building in search of our shoe racks, and it was difficult for us to find a sales rep to assist us. Whenever we find one, it takes so long for them to attend to our request.

In the end, we were able to purchase 2 side tables and 2 shoe racks. It took them probably about an hour to finish our transaction. Nagkamali pa sila with our transaction that we ended up paying a portion of the total amount with cash. Haaayyy. Buti na lang patient kami. Probably pagod na rin from the day so we didn't want to argue anymore.

Mandaue Foam has nice and affordable pieces for the home. I just wish they had better customer service. Then, it would have made our whole experience so much better.

Mandaue Foam
487 Alabang Zapote Road
Brgy. Almanza Uno, Las Pinas City

Store Hours
Mon-Sat: 10am - 8pm
Sunday: 10am - 6pm

www.mandauefoam.ph

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Breakfast at Restaurant Verbena, Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay

Before we left for Manila from our Tagaytay getaway, we had breakfast at Restaurant Verbena, Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay. Since it was a weekday, we were the only ones in the restaurant and we had time to explore the venue. The last time I was here, it was for a friend's wedding. I absolutely loved the place since it was perfect for a small and intimate wedding.

The chic signages of Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay and Restaurant Verbana can be seen along Aguinaldo Highway. You won't miss it.

I love their very bold choice of color for their Christmas decor -- purple! Not everyone can pull it off.

It's all about the details. They really put effort into decorating the whole place with their theme.

Their awards are displayed in a cabinet near the door. Restaurant Verbena has been awarded the following -- Miele Guide's One of Asia's Finest Restaurants 2009/2010 and Philippine Tatler Best Restaurants 2013, while Discovery Country Suites has the Top Luxe Destination Award from PHILTOA and 2013 Traveller's Choice Winner from TripAdvisor.

The balcony where we had our breakfast. It's fully screened too so no need to worry about bugs or mosquitoes. The balcony is overlooking their small garden where you can see a small jacuzzi.

Restaurant Verbena's lovely breakfast menu

Since we were the only ones there (the guests were probably having breakfast in their suites), we toured the kitchen. Their staff was kind enough to let us peek while they prepare our orders.

It's all about the details. They serve their guests the best and freshest ingredients. No wonder they have multiple awards!

Very nice wine rack hanging on their kitchen wall.. It's a good idea for decor at the home.

Different kinds of bread for appetizer. Seen here is a selection of pandesal, butter croissant, toast and banana bread. The dips include butter, jam and condensed milk.

All breakfast specials come with bread, fresh fruits, and a choice of coffee or tea or hot chocolate.

The Verbena Breakfast Sampler (P395). Huevos Rancheros / Lucban Longganisa / Belgian Waffles and Breakfast Buko Fruit Salad.

Verbena Corned Beef (P365). Their corned beef comes with potatoes, onions and chili.

Garlic and tomato rice and scrambled egg that comes with the Verbena Corned Beef.

My dish and my favorite among all the 3 breakfast selections that we ordered -- Tagaytay Vegetable "Tortilla". It's a mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and potatoes frittata. It comes with a salad on the side which they call Baby Greens, Pesto, Balsamic and Tomato "Soffrito".

The ingredients were very fresh and everything was absolutely delicious! It's a good idea that we chose Restaurant Verbena as our last breakfast place in Tagaytay before we headed home. Next time we visit, I want to try their lunch and dinner menus as well.


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