Saturday, January 16, 2021

Going vegan: The family's big switch

“Going vegan: The family’s big switch”
SunStar Davao, January 16, 2021


Mompreneur Tricia Mae Su-Lim vividly remembers the day their family decided to make the “big switch”.


“We were barbecuing some meat on November 1, 2019 and my brother pushed me to watch “The Gamechangers” on Netflix. We did and it helped us open our eyes on how animal products affect our bodies in a harmful way,” she says.


The next day, Tricia enthusiastically told her husband Leonard that the family would switch to a plant-based diet. Their initial goal was to become healthier and lose some pounds.



They switched cold turkey and amazingly, their kids were game on as well. She and Leonard explained to their sons Zack (12 y.o.) and Hunter (4 y.o.) the dangers of consuming animal products along with several documentaries on animal cruelty in slaughterhouses and farms. The adjustment was easy, and it took Tricia by surprise. 


When Tricia does serve mock meats and replicate a meat recipe, even her toddler will ask if it is vegan and eats only if it is vegan.



A few months later, Tricia converted all the recipes for her business for breastfeeding moms to vegan.


“I removed the cookie flavors that I could not convert. I even made my own vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and looked for the best and healthiest substitutes for my other ingredients. By doing this, I made my recipes free of eggs, dairy, honey and with less sugar,” explains Tricia who is also a licensed English and TESOL teacher.


Veganism as a lifestyle


“Veganism is well known as a diet to remove animal product consumption. However, I would like to correct that and mention that veganism is a practice or a lifestyle that excludes all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it from food, clothing, or any other purpose. So, it goes beyond just the food but basically respecting animals and looking at them as sentient beings. Sentient, meaning they can feel, perceive, or experience subjectively,” points out Tricia.

“I can eat all the plant-based ingredients and food. There are some ingredients though that are plant-based but had animal testing on them and cruelty inflicted to animals while getting certain products such as palm oil, seaweed and honey so I avoid supporting those,” she continues.

Back when the family were meat lovers, Zack and Hunter always had allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema so Tricia heavily depended on essential oils but eventually, their condition would return.

These days though, they have improved energy, better sleep, no sickness, and do not depend on oils anymore. They also noticed that they no longer had body odor.


“Somehow turning into a vegan healed my addiction to food and made me have a better relationship with food in general. My kids and I became more compassionate to animals. We decided that we are not only vegans for health but for the animals and our planet, too,” stresses the former BPO employee.


Whys and hows


For families who want to try the vegan lifestyle, Tricia advises that it is important to make sure to know your “why”.


“Why will you be doing this? The hardest step is the first day. So, get a support system and share your goals, may it be your partner, friends, or your social media friends. I found out that the vegan community was supportive, so it made the transition smoother and easier. There are also a lot of vegan videos out there,” Tricia reveals.


Also, the mommy blogger/vlogger suggests removing anything from the kitchen that will likely hinder one’s goals. Learn how to cook as veganism also means saving money by sourcing local produce.


“If you are a parent who wants to transition, do research about veganism and meat replacement. Our go-to meat replacements are tofu (from a local vendor), seitan (wheat gluten), and other substitutes suggested by different vegan YouTubers,” the breastfeeding advocate shares.



She emphasizes that the key to a successful switch for kids is to always season the dish with natural herbs and powder. “Do not skimp on flavors because one can always veganize a dish no matter what. If you do need someone for support, I am open to help you and your family,” Tricia warmly offers.


Follow Tricia Lim on YouTube and Facebook for her vegan recipes; and mommytricialim on Instagram where she posts her vegan food every day. 

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Monday, January 4, 2021

Eight friends, one heart

"Eight friends, one heart”
SunStar Davao, January 4, 2021

Davao-based couples Rene and Sylvia Rieta; Vic and Fe Rosario; Joey and Joy Mempin; and Richard and Monique Villanueva’s Christmas project “Noche Buena Mo, Sagot Ko” is a tangible and palpable proof that, when God sees the heart of the Filipino, He will find a hero. 

“Early on in the pandemic, the eight of us were individually grappling with its many difficult realities - separation from family members, businesses, and professions that ground to a halt because of quarantine restrictions, and all the uncertainties that come with a deadly illness that has yet no cure,” says Monique.


By April, Richard appealed to the other three couples to come together in prayer, as they were slipping into depression, denial, and other unhealthy mindsets just to get through the day. 


“Since then, every Monday to Friday at 830pm, through the wonders of cyber technology, we would meet for virtual prayer - for ourselves, our families, our city, our country, and our planet,” the mom-of-three shares.


Deluge of kindness


On the first Monday of Advent, alive, healthy, and Covid-free, the group felt a divine prodding to have a Christmas celebration that was bigger than themselves. A meaningful endeavor that would be personal, non-institutional, non-denominational, and all-inclusive. 


And so, with just their respective families, friends, and social media accounts, they launched “Noche Buena Mo, Sagot Ko” on December 4, 2020.


“Our initial target of 400 families in need, was a conservative estimate of what eight people could realistically achieve in two weeks. But when we reached this target within three days, we were already starting to suspect the beginnings of a miracle,” enthuses Monique.  

So, they pushed the dream further – 800 families. The deluge of contributions continued - from students, young professionals, businessmen, families - Filipinos helping Filipinos during one of the worst periods in the history of the world.




Multiplication of goodness


On December 11, the group officially ended the contribution phase of the project, as they had already generated funds for 1,360 Noche Buena packs. 



They chose to distribute the Noche Buena packs to all Gawad Kalinga Villages in Davao City, Samal, and Panabo, including the Ray of Hope Village in the Female Detention Center of Ma-a City Jail; two Matigsalug tribal communities; and selected Gawad Kalinga Villages in North Cotabato.


Twenty days. One thousand three hundred sixty gifts of a Noche Buena. 

“For the eight of us, this is our takeaway: miracles are the multiplication of goodness, divine and unexplainable. Before God performs the impossible, he first seeks out our faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these, He found in the Filipino heart,” ends Monique gratefully.

Onwards to “Noche Buena Mo, Sagot Ko 2021”!

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Saturday, December 12, 2020

There's no stopping Christmas


"There's no stopping Christmas"
SunStar Davao, December 12, 2020

Ever since Monique Tempongko-Villanueva became a parent, Christmas home-prepping was no longer just for herself but has become about making her children happy.

“And, even if they are all grown up and well into adulthood, that part of me has not changed. Christmas is the celebration of the life-changing birth of a child; so, for me, preparing my home is always going to be about children,” Monique says.


For fur momma Alyssa Yap, she and her family are again celebrating Christmas to remember that Jesus has always been the essence. Lighting up their tree this year is to especially honor the blessings during this crisis.


The Covid-19 pandemic may have drastically altered everyone’s lives, including that of Center for Brighter Beginnings Davao and Siargao CEO Rossa Charissa “Chari” Omac-Gavino. But, during these dark and unprecedented times, she believes that keeping the best traditions of the season, like decorating our homes and gift-giving, will bring a sense of normalcy and the much-needed good cheer we are all looking forward to.


There’s no stopping Christmas for these three ardent ‘yulephiles’!

What is your Christmas décor motif?

Monique: Upon the insistence of our youngest daughter Ariana, our motif this year is Christmas in the Springtime.  I think that it is the scientific impossibility of the theme that prompted us to choose it, a concept that can only happen in our imagination.  So that is what our tree is about – believing and trusting in the impossible.”

Alyssa: “The highlight of our 2020 Christmas decor is our adorable Schnauzer tree which is something very personal to us as we are proud owners of eight cuddly Schnauzers and two Schnoodles (Schnauzer Poodle mix).”


Chari: “I decorated our Christmas tree with our well-loved glittery and shiny decors to allude hope. I also added personalized ornaments to signify the important people in my life.


What/who did you lose and gain this pandemic?

Monique: “I lost my fear of the unknown and I have gained faith in the impossible.  In fact, my prayer group and I have put up two Christmas projects: “Manito, Manita Para sa Sta. Martha”, to give Christmas gifts to 42 children in Gawad Kalinga Sta. Martha Village in Catalunan Grande; and “Noche Buena Mo, Sagot Ko”, with a goal of bringing Noche Buena packs to 400 families in need in Davao City. In just 4 days, the innate kindness and instinctive generosity of the Filipino produced 482 packs. Now, our new target is Noche Buena packs for 800 families. There are just eight of us in our prayer group, and yet we did not even blink when we simultaneously decided to do this – no fear, just faith.”

Alyssa: “I lost one of my closest friends a month ago. I was devastated and it made me realize how precious life is and for that, I am grateful for the gift of life. With our work-from-home setting, I gained the most precious resource which is time. I get to have more meaningful conversations with family and friends.” 


Chari: “I lost a very good friend to Covid. Our loss in revenue and savings caused by this pandemic is devastating. We have all lost a sense of safety, security, and control. With all the concerns of this outbreak, I was able to build up resilience and strengthened relationships. But I have absolutely gained weight and gardening skills.”


What are you thankful for?

Monique: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, my husband and I would do FaceTime every night with three other couples, to pray.  And in that spiritual journey, we have whittled down our life to three simple joys: an intimate relationship with God; the gift of being alive (and Covid-free, too!); and the love of our family and friends.  And, having all three during this pandemic – our cup overflows.”

Alyssa: “Although I will miss our big family gatherings where we usually have costume contests or themed Christmases with the whole Yap clan, I am thankful for the fun Christmas memories we have shared through the years.”


Chari: “I praise God for all the frontliners and to those developing vaccines for Covid-19 offering hope.  I treasure parents who trusted and supported us with the online program we have developed that kept our school open. I am grateful for Zoom and good internet connection; although it is daunting when systems glitch, this is all we have. I am thankful for teamwork and our dedicated teachers and staff who are doing an amazing job and making sure quality learning will continue amidst this crisis. I am blessed with family, friends, good health, and strength every single day to face the challenges of this global pandemic. Covid has taught us to be appreciative of the simple things in life and to find ways to thrive.”


What is the most important thing to remember this Christmas?

Monique: “The very first Christmas – there was just a carpenter, a very young mother, and a child who taught us to love one another.  With all the trappings that used to come with Christmas over the years, I think we all forgot about Bethlehem.  This Christmas, and hopefully in all the coming Christmases in my lifetime, this is what I will remember.”    

Alyssa: “The most important thing for me is really to remember and honor Jesus Christ. Through Him, we show kindness and help those in need especially during this pandemic—both to animals and mankind.”


Chari: “The reason for the season of celebration is, always has been, and always will be, the birth of Christ. For us to remember, that in His perfect time, this will all be over. Take all that we have learned from this global crisis and put them all to heart.  Let us all remember the Christmas spirit which promotes hope, love, understanding, giving, helping and everything that makes Christmas the best time of the year!”.



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