Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Phenomenal Mama's pantry-led cooking

“The Phenomenal Mama’s pantry-led cooking”
SunStar Davao, April 4, 2020

Cook. Wash dishes. Repeat.

With most members of the family staying home for the community quarantine, homemakers are endlessly busy whipping up meals for their famished brood multiple times a day. Adding to the gastronomic challenge is the limited access to ingredients.

One such mom adjusting with the lockdown is Tina Lam-Ong, the superwoman behind social media’s “The Phenomenal Mama” and @thismommaloves. She also happens to be my childhood friend from Stella Maris Academy of Davao who is now based in Manila.

For a late-bloomer home cook like me, Tina is such a culinary inspiration. With ‘acts of service’ as her primary love language, she expresses her love for her family by preparing home-cooked meals that require a great deal of her time and effort.
The domestic goddess considers herself lucky that she has the luxury of time to cook quite well for her hubby and kids; a daily responsibility that she truly enjoys.

Food prep in the time of COVID-19

“For over two weeks now, we have been observing the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, which means we are staying home and limiting trips to the grocery. My pantry and freezer are sufficiently stocked, and pantry-led cooking is the order of the day.  This simply means that I go into the kitchen and try to make the best possible meal out of what's already in my pantry,” the mom-of-three shares.

“COVID-19 has changed the way I do my food shopping.  For vegetables and seafood, I order online and they get delivered. But, for meat and pantry items, we go to the nearby grocery store, which, thankfully, has remained well-stocked. We have so far only done this once,” she says.
During these uncertain times, Tina takes extra care with all the items going inside the house. Everything is sanitized before they are brought in and stored. Canned goods, meat that is packaged in plastic, and everything that’s packaged in plastic, are soaked in a soapy solution, washed individually and then dried. 

“We wipe down everything that’s packaged in a box/carton with a kitchen towel that’s soaked in a sanitizing solution of bleach and water. Vegetables are soaked in a solution of plant-based baby dishwashing soap and water, scrubbed and rinsed, air-dried or blanched,” Tina explains.

Low-waste kitchen hacks

To prolong the life of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach and green beans, they are quickly blanched in boiling water and frozen in freezer-safe resealable plastic bags. The rest are dried properly and wrapped in kitchen towels (to save on precious fridge real estate) before storing in the crisper.
Part of Tina’s conscious effort of eating without waste during the community quarantine is to challenge herself to use up all the near-expiry ingredients that have been in her pantry. 

“While it is already a practice to put items with the nearest expiration dates toward the front of the shelves, it cannot be helped that certain items are just not used as often. I corralled all of those expiring in the next 2 months in one bin so I can plan my meals accordingly,” she divulges.
Before Tina plans on what to cook, she picks out an ingredient from her “consume-first” bin and everything else revolves around it.


Online classes may have been cancelled but it does not mean that learning has stopped for the Ong kids. The hands-on mom assigned each of them to take charge of dinner once a week.

The children decide on what to cook based on existing items in the kitchen. They are challenged to be resourceful as Tina encourages them to look for substitutes in case an ingredient is not available. 

“Getting my teens involved in the kitchen is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the concept of planning meals and making smarter food choices,” she enthuses.

Even beyond quarantine, this phenomenal mama has thoughtfully equipped her children with valuable life skills they can rely on for the best and worst of days.

Tina shares more of her kitchen tips on pantry-led cooking, low-waste kitchen hacks, and baon ideas on her social media accounts.  Follow her on FB/IG @thephenomenalmama and @thismommaloves.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Making the most of the 'quarantimes'

Making the most of the ‘quarantimes’
SunStar Davao, March 21, 2020

Exactly a month ago, news about COVID-19 Patient 1 in the Lombardy Region of Northern Italy started to come out. That same night, more cases were reported one after the other.

“The school told us through their website that it was up to us if we will still let our children report to school. We decided to keep them at home," recalls Pinky Barcelona-Ruggiero, a former top model from the Philippines who is now based in Italy with her husband Fabrizio and kids Vincent, Andrea, and Isabella.

Fortunately, the majority of the parents did the same thing.

A few days later, Northern Italy was put on lockdown then eventually, as the cases became alarmingly high, a nationwide lockdown.

Because their 80-year-old matriarch Angela lives with them, the Ruggiero family strictly followed the quarantine rules to protect her.

According to Pinky, supermarkets and pharmacies remain open but only one member of the family can leave the house to buy food.

Those who go out for other reasons, like work, have to fill out a form to show to the authorities.

People who break the quarantine rules must pay the fine or go to jail for up to three months, depending on the violations.

Staying home

Pinky laments that Italy could have prevented this catastrophe if everyone listened and stayed home right from the start and did the quarantine properly. 

She observed that the Italians are very sociable and proud. They do not like to be told what to do. So, instead of staying home, they kept going out especially the young ones.

"Those in their 20s were even interviewed and they said there was no reason for them to give up on their nightlife. They thought they were immune, so they got infected," Pinky recounts.

"Sadly, they also infected the more vulnerable members of their families, their parents, and grandparents. That’s why the outbreak worsened. It’s really important to stay home these days to contain the virus,” she stresses.

Meanwhile, Mayen Sarenas, a learning specialist at the Hong Kong International School started to stay home more with her kids Ella and Jack even if there was no directive to quarantine yet in late January.

“We have not been to school since then. So, this is our 7th week of official online home learning,” says the Dabawenya.

To ensure optimal learning and teaching, Mayen set up a designated space in their home for schoolwork. She also made a general and flexible routine for schoolwork, chores, free play, indoor/outdoor play. 

In addition, she kept a journal of long-term project ideas (e.g., painting, fixing, organizing closets, sorting clothes and books) and decide which ones to tackle during each week.

"We are trying our best to keep bedtime at around 6:45-7:00 p.m. during weekdays, as was the case when school was in session. Even before the quarantine, we have been drinking green juice, but we have upped our intake of Vitamin C as well," details Mayen.

This quarantine taught their household a sense of social responsibility to keep their family and the families around them safe and healthy. They pray a lot, too.

Davao ‘quarantimes’

As a measure to prevent the spread of the dreaded 2019 novel coronavirus, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also placed the city on community quarantine.

During this crucial time, mompreneur Vanessa Uy-Santos made a policy that only one person can go outside the house to do all the errands to limit exposure. 

Her household uses a footbath to sanitize all the shoes and slippers. She likewise emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet and proper hygiene.

Vanessa does all the office work at home and constantly monitors all their employees and stores.

As for the kids, they still study and do their activity sheets daily. Sometimes, they would help her bake and cook. They do sports in the afternoon as well.

"We get to spend mealtime together and binge-watch Netflix as a family which we don’t normally do because of work,” she shares.

On the other hand, nothing much has changed with the routine of husband and wife Jae and Julia Sta. Romana who have always worked from home. 

Their daughter Bianca just finished school and needed to be kept occupied for the duration.

"For this, we have listed down tasks for her to complete, to “buy” gadget time. This keeps her, me, and Julia productive,” reveals Jae.
To keep themselves healthy and limit their possible virus exposure, the Sta. Romanas only go out if necessary. Bicycle and walking are their primary forms of travel. This keeps them distanced from other people.

They likewise have cut back on eating meat and processed food and clean the house more often.

In general, they appreciate that this quarantine has made people much more aware of sanitation and health.

Slowing down

Wanting to still have a semblance of normalcy in their kids’ routine, businesswoman Keryl Lee-Tan implemented a daily schedule for them. 

Her daughters help their kasambahays with their chores which they normally could not do during school days. They also practice their piano or violin after schoolwork.

Sunny afternoons are spent in their backyard: biking, running around with the dog, playing hide and seek, water play and the like.

During this community quarantine, Keryl says it has been a pleasure seeing how both her kids have different ways of dealing with homeschool work as the official summer break has not started yet. 

"The quality time spent with the whole family without the daily grind of going places and rushing to appointments has been quite an eye-opener. It made me realize that life is actually better spent slower,” she happily reflects.

These families may have lost time for work but, in the end, the unlimited cuddles, leisurely meals, and endless bonding with loved ones are the little things that count the most!

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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Staying for summer

“Staying for summer”
SunStar Davao, March 7, 2020

With travel plans put on hold because of COVID-19, there is no place like home sweet home to enjoy the long summer break.
Here is a list of kiddie summer activities to keep our kids busy and entertained here in the city. Check out for regular updates.
Have a happy summer!


COURSES OFFERED: Creative Drawing, Oil Pastel, Sketching, Clay Sculpture, Cartoon and Comic, Acrylic Painting, Poster Color Painting, and Watercolor Painting 
SCHEDULE: Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm. By appointment (Lunch break 12nn-1pm) 
SPECIAL OFFERS: Deco art, Cultural box, and Multimedia program.
SPECIAL PROMO: 5% discount for siblings and/or group of friends.
CONTACT: GLOBALART DAVAO, 301-E Palma Gil St., Bo. Obrero Davao City (near Central Convenience Bajada) Tel. no.  2219980 or CP no. 09234814333 (Sun)


WHAT: Summer Art Class
Tutorial classes for drawing and painting for intermediate and advance classes only
for ages 10 years old and above
SKED: Months of May and June  
FEE: Available upon request. 3-4 students get a discount.
VENUE: Tulip Drive, Matina, Davao City
CONTACT: MEAN TAN GUINOO, CP nos. (0917)3220320; (0932)9264676

WHAT: Art Workshop for Kids, Adults, and Enthusiasts
Art for Beginners/Advanced Drawing and Painting
SKED: All-year-round  
FEE: Available upon request
VENUE: Art de Triomphe, 47 Tulip Drive, Juna Subd., Matina, D.C.
CONTACT: BERNADETTE GULAR, CP nos. (0917)1127058; (0923)0823607; and landline 2339661



WHAT: Private Lessons - Voice, Piano, Guitar (12 sessions)
FEE: P6,800
WHAT: Music Theatre (Kids & Teens): Acting classes, voice lessons, ensemble singing (18 sessions)
FEE: P8,200
WHAT: Ensemble Class - Voice, Guitar, or Violin (12 sessions)
FEE: P4,500
WHAT: Musikids for kids ages 3-5 yrs. old (12 sessions)
FEE: P4,200
Early bird rate available upon request (until March 14, 2020)
CONTACT: MUSIKADEMY, 3F L & P Bldg. Loreto St., Juna Subdivision, Matina; Landline 2336776; SMS 0905-2727642.


WHEN: Classes start on March 17-April 1, 2020 (Batch 1); April 6-21(Batch 2); April 22 to May 8 (Batch 3); May 11 to 26 (Batch 4); Recital date:  May 29, 2020.
WHERE: Door, 143 V. Mapa St., Davao City fronting Crafters Haven of JDEG Bldg. NOTE: 12 sessions/1 hour per session.
FEE: P3,800 (voice, piano, bamboo flute, violin, drums, beatbox, guitar, bass and ukulele); PhP4,400 (saxophone & Flute). Full payment upon enrollment
CONTACT/VENUES: JDR16 MUSIC TUTORIAL, The Shoppes, Purok 34, Diversion Road Maa Davao City. For more details, call/text Teacher Jay: 09159009718 and 09465539076.



WHAT: Various Summer Programs for Kids, Teens, Adults and Young Professionals
COURSES: Teens Poise, Personality Development and Modeling (8 years old and above); Powerful Speech for Elementary, High School, College and Professionals)
SKED: April 20-24, 2020 (5 sessions, Mon-Fri, 1pm-3pm)
FEE: Available upon request
CONTACT: JOJI ILAGAN CAREER CENTER FOUNDATION, INC., Gov. Chavez Street; Tel: 2275602; 0917 577 7336.



COURSE: Gourmet Bites Workshops for Kids and Teens
SKED AND FEES: April 18, 2020-Cooking and Baking Class for Kids, P2,800; April 26-Cooking Basics for Teens, P2,800; May 2-Cooking and Baking Class for Kids, P2,800; May 23-Cooking Basics for Teens, P2,800
CONTACT: GOURMET BITES, Ilustre St. (Across Limso Hospital), D.C. Call 2957178 or text 09331310100 or message them directly on their FB page


COURSE: Culinary Summer Program for Kids, Teens, and Adults
WHAT: Young Executive Chef (ages 13-18 y.o.)
SKED: Batch 1-April 13-17, 2020, 9am-12nn
FEE: P7,500 (includes all ingredients)
WHAT: Kids Culinary Boot Camp (ages 7-12 y.o.)
SKED: Batch 1 - April 20-24, 9am-12nn
FEE: P7,500 (includes all ingredients)
WHAT: Senior Chef De Cuisine (18 y.o. and above)
SKED: Batch 1-April 29, 9am-12nn
FEE: P3,500 (includes all ingredients)



WHAT: I-Sayaw’s 6th Summer Dance Workshop offers Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop and Jazz SKED: Starts on April 1, 2020 (Wednesday). Culminating activity is on May 30, 2020 (Saturday), venue to be announced. THEME: Pinoy Rock Classics to Classics
COURSE: Ballet class for 3 yrs. old, teens and adults. Ballet Beginner 1 and 2; Secondary; Advanced Levels and Fitness Ballet; Tap 1 and 2; Hiphop 1 and 2; and Jazz 1 
SKED: Available upon request. Students are assessed before the finalization of the schedule that will suit them.
VENUE: I-SAYAW DANCE STUDIO, Unit 207 McPod Bldg. (Beside Ateneo High School, fronting MTS), McArthur Highway, D.C.


WHAT: LCB Summer Dance Workshop 2020 with a culminating recital on July 18, 2020 (3pm and 7pm)
SCHEDULE: Batch 1: March 30-May 16; Batch 2: June 1-July 18
COURSES OFFERED: For kids and teens-ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, acting and voice; For adults-belly dancing, hip hop, jazz and tap
FEES: Adult classes: 1,800 monthly + 200 registration fee; Kids and teens: P18,000 all dances + acting and voice; 1 dance + acting and voice=P15,000 (inclusive of tickets, shirt, certificate and video and pictures of the show)
CONTACT: LCB PERFORMING ARTS CENTER FOUNDATION, INC., 48 Villamor St., Bo. Obrero, D.C./Tel. 2225205

WHAT: Urban Dance for kids ages 3-7 y.o.
SKED: April 27- May 27, 2020, Mon-Wed, 9am-10am
FEE: P2,500
CONTACT: ANGELS AT WORK, N. Torres cor. Vinzon Sts., Bo. Obrero, D.C./Tel. 2250208



WHAT: Summer Enrichment Class for ages 2-5 years old
SKED: April 13-May 15, 2020; M-F/9-11 am
FEE: P7,000 inclusive of snacks and materials
CONTACT: ANGELS AT WORK, N. Torres cor. Vinzon Sts., Bo. Obrero, D.C./Tel. 2250208


WHAT: Handwriting Without Tears Program
The program is a research-based multi-sensory handwriting program.
WHAT: Orton-Gillingham (OG) Multi-Sensory Reading and Math
The OG is a powerful instructional approach for teaching, reading, spelling and concepts in Math.
SKED AND FEES: Available upon request. All programs are supervised by certified instructors.
CONTACT:  CENTER FOR BRIGHTER BEGINNINGS, Road 7, Doña Vicenta Village, D.C./Tel. 2242188

WHAT: SUMMER LEARNING CAMP: SUMMER ZOOFARI (for children ages 2-3 years old)
SKED: Module A: April 6- April 28, 2020; Module B: May 4- 22, 2020 (15 sessions per module @ 2 hrs per session)
SKED: Module A: April 6 – April 28, 2020; Module B: May 4- 22, 2020 (15 Sessions per module @ 2 hrs per session)
WHAT: MATH/SINGAPORE MATH/ ENGLISH ENRICHMENT PROGRAM (for children ages 3 - 12 years old) Number of Sessions: 8 sessions/month
FEES: Available upon request
CONTACT: GALILEO ENRICHMENT CENTER-DAVAO, 27-A Dacudao Avenue, D.C./Tel. 2210268; (0932)8008118; (0922)8501650


WHAT: Kiddie Fun Time for 1.5–3 y.o.
SKED: 10am– 12nn. 1st batch-May 4– 8; 2nd batch-May 11-15; 3rd batch-May 18-22; 4th batch–May 25– 29 (Mon-Fri)
WHAT: Multi-Sensory Reading for 3–7 y.o.
SKED: 10am–12nn. May 11-22. 10 sessions (Mon-Fri)
CONTACT: TENDER YEARS, #7 Gemini St., Dona Vicenta Vill., D.C./Tel. 2244884; (0933)8505356

WHAT: Toddler’s Playgroup 1: Age: 2-3 y.o. Activities include Skills Readiness Play and Creative Arts
WHAT: Children’s Playgroup 1: Age: 3.1 - 5 y.o. Activities: Stories, Cooperative Play, Arts and Crafts
WHAT: Kid’s Crafts: Age: 5-8 y.o. Activities: Creating usable art from simple materials
WHAT: Little Einsteins: Age: 6-10 y.o Activities: Science experiments
WHAT: Skills Tutorials (Reading, Writing, Math) Age: 4-8 y.o.
FEE: P4,300 plus P200 registration fee (inclusive of materials)
SKED: Batch 1: April 4-30; Batch 2: May 2-24, 2019
CONTACT: BRIGHT SEEDS PRESCHOOL, Dona Vicenta Road, Dona Vicenta Village, D.C. (near Chowking, across Victoria Plaza); Tel. 3003286; (0917)5400988


WHAT: Creative Summer Fun at Stockbridge for 5.1-13 y.o.
Karate, Dance, Voice, Arts, and Digital Literacy
WHAT: Academic Sneak Peak Week
Hands-on experience with science, explore international literacy in the library, create your own comic strip, and learn all about how to make a vlog (a video log).
SKED: April 20-May 15, 2020
WHAT: Diving In to Stockbridge Ocean Adventure!
Smart Play (6mos to 1.5), Smart cubs (1.6-2.0); Underwater Explorers (Literacy and Numeracy; 2.1-3.0; Book Surfers (Introduction to phonics and reading; 3.1-4.0); and
Reading Marines (Reading; 4.1-5.0)
WHAT: Let's Get Ready! (5.1-6.0 y.o.)-(Reading, Math, and Writing)
Around the World Class 1 (6.1-8.0); Around the World Class 2 (8.1-10.0), and Around the World Class 3 (10.1-13.0)
SKED AND FEE: Summer classes from June 15- July 16, 2020. Fees available upon request.
CONTACT: STOCKBRIDGE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, Maa Road, Davao City, CP no. 09222501491. Tel. 3276590



WHAT: Summer Learn to Swim Program of the Blue Marlins Swimming Club with Coach Abdul BM (American Swimming Coaches Association Life+Member Level 4) in full cooperation with Brokenshire Hotels, Resorts and Convention Center for 6 years old and above
SKED: Batch 1 - March 30-April 10; Batch 2-April 13-24; Batch 3-April 27-May 8; Batch 4-May 11-22; Batch 5-May 25-June 5; Time: Morning: 6-7am; 730-830am, 830-930am, 930-1030am; Afternoon: 2pm-3pm, 3pm-4pm; 10 meetings for one hour (Mon-Fri). 1st day orientation for every batch.
FEE: P4,000 (basic) exclusive of swimming pool fee and finisher’s
VENUE: Brokenshire Resort, Madapo Hills, D.C.


WHAT: Swim and Survive Program by (RLSSA) Royal Life Saving Society Australia
SCHEDULE: Available upon request. 5-10 years old: 1-3pm; 11 y.o. up, 330-530pm. One course is 5 days, Mon-Fri. Maximum of two hours per session. First wave will start on April 6, 2020 at Skyline Poolside, Catalunan Grande, D.C. North and Centro venues to be announced.
FEE: Available upon inquiry
CONTACT: Coach IPE ALIÑO, Certified SAS instructor. CP no. 09228186846
WHAT: Muay Thai
SKED: April 4, 2020 - July 4, 2020. TThS 10:30am-12nn (5-7 yrs old) /TThS 1pm-3pm (8 y.o. and above)
WHAT: Karate-do
SKED: April 3, 2020 - July 3, 2020. Wed/Sat 9:00am - 10:30am (5-7yrs old)/ Wed/Sat 1pm-230pm (8 y.o. and above); Sunday 9am-All ages
WHAT: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
SKED: April 4, 2020 - July 4, 2020. MWF-1030am-1200nn all ages
FEE: Packages are offered at a “per-month” enrollment basis. 1 Month - 2,000Php, 2 Months - 3,500Php, 3 Months 4,500Php. EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT - Pay and reserve on or before end of March 2020 and get a 10% discount on any of their packages.
CONTACT: LIMITLESS FITNESS & MARTIAL ARTS (E. Quirino Ave., D.C.) 2856028/09227923588

WHAT: SUMMER BADMINTON 2020 (Beginners & Advanced)
SCHEDULE: April 13-24 (Batch 1); April 27- May 8 (Batch 2); May 11-22 (Batch 3); May 25-June 5 (Batch 4); June 8-19 (Batch 5); June 22- July 3 (Batch 6); July 6-17 (Batch 7); July 20-31 (Batch 8). Mon-Friday, 9am-12nn. Start Date: April 13, 2020
FEE: P1,500.00/student (inclusive of 1 souvenir shirt, shuttlecock, court & trainer's fee)
CONTACT: Coach ROCELYN PO with Asst. Coach JUDE OLAYTA. CP no. (0933)8692313.


WHAT: Basic Swimming Course under Coach Haroon Cali
SCHEDULE: March 23-April 4 (Batch 1); April 13-24 (Batch 2); April 27-May 8 (Batch 3); May 11-22 (Batch 4); May 25-June 5 (Batch 5); and June 8-19 (Batch 6).
Kids-Mon. to Fri. 8-9am/3-4pm; 415-515pm; Adults-Mon. to Fri. 730-830pm
FEE: Available upon request
CONTACT:  HOLIDAY GYM AND SPA, F. Torres St., DC/Tel. 2223041; (0929)7560559

Images courtesy of Davao Life is Here Facebook page and Google images.

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