Inspiration for Homeschoolers

After a week of ticking things off a long to-do list (I have both an actual one and one that exists only inside my head), homeschooling parents like us like to take it slow. One of the things that I usually do is to pick up my current read and play catch up.
I also like to breathe in as much inspiration as I can, so I read quotes from some of my favorite writers, personalities and people who matter. I’m sharing with you some of them right here. Who knows, you yourself might need a little pick-me-up soon.

1 . “So you think the best way to prepare kids for the real world is to bus them to a government institution where they're forced to spend all day isolated with children of their own age and adults who are paid to be with them, placed in classes that are too big to allow more than a few minutes of personal interaction with the teacher-then spend probably an hour or more everyday waiting in lunch lines, car lines, bathroom lines, recess lines, classroom lines, and are forced to progress at the speed of the slowest child in class?” ~ Steven James, Placebo
2. The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda - a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make ‘good' citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens. ~ H. L. Mencken
3. “Change the world one "what-about-socialization" question at a time, my friend.”~ Jamerrill Stewart
4. “Break the teacher certification monopoly so anyone with something valuable to teach can teach it. Nothing is more important than this.”~ Kytka Hilmar-Jezek
5. “We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people.”~ Diane Flynn Keith
6. “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”~ Mahatma Gandhi
7. “I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.” ~ Agatha Christie
8. “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.”~ W.B. Yeats
9. “Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing. The rest is mere sheep herding.”~ Ezra Pound
10. “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all.”~ John Holt
11. “Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature.”~ Charlotte M. Mason
12. Reward and punishment is the lowest form of education. ~ Zhuang Zhou
13. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination. ~Albert Einstein
I can't get enough of these inspiring lines. Share your favorite quote on homeschooling with me. Shoot me an e-mail at I'll be waiting!

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20 Reasons Why You Should NOT Homeschool

We’re often asked about our life as a homeschooling family (yes, we do get the “oh-you’re-that-zany-bunch” look), and boy, do we enjoy every minute answering questions. It does not only give us the opportunity to share the joys, challenges and the mad moments we go through, it also opens doors for us to get to know more people.

We value what we learn from other parents. The perspectives people have on education, based on culture and experience, are varied and interesting. The loss of faith in educational systems (around the world) is a sentiment shared by people that we’ve met during our travels.

A young couple from Europe told me during my recent solo trip to Cambodia that they’d do what we do when they become parents. They, too, believe that there is no better place for the kids to learn but from home.

I received an e-mail from a mom telling me that she has been considering homeschooling her four-year old daughter, but is doubtful that she has the capacity to do it. It is true that homeschooling is a colossal, demanding and a challenging full-time job, but the benefits you reap are simply priceless. You have probably heard that a thousand times from other homeschooling parents and that’s how you know there’s some weight to it.

But homeschooling is not for everyone, and by that we don’t mean that it has anything to do with your perceived personal capacity. What it really demands is your dedication. Let’s spell that out again. It’s D-E-D-I-C-A-T-I-O-N. Don’t rush into the decision to homeschool. Do your (intense) research and ask as many questions as you can. That’s what I did before plunging in four years ago.

So why should you NOT homeschool?

  1. You don’t have a husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner who can do shifts with you homeschooling the kid/s.
  2. You think you need a husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner to pull it off. (There are single moms/dads who have been doing a great job homeschooling.)
  3. You have a full-time job, you work 12 hours a day and you come home every night looking like an apocalypse is happening outside your house that your kids don’t know about.
  4. You enjoy leaving the house at 6 a.m. to get to your 9 a.m. job without getting late, and without killing anyone on your way to your office.
  5. Your level of patience is anything from too little to nil. (But I don’t know how that’s an excuse because I’m exactly the same.)
  6. You care too much about what other people say and you’re afraid of how your family, neighbors and friends will react if you told them you’re homeschooling. (This one is tough. Don’t expect banners and cheerful greetings the moment you tell them. Let’s go back to the scenario of the apocalypse.)
  7. You seriously think reading is for boring people. Exclusively.
  8. You’re least entertained by historical facts, literature and science.
  9. You are convinced that only parents with A+ grades in school can homeschool their kids. (Very far from the truth.)
  10. You don’t enjoy watching movies.
  11. You don’t like going out for explorations and you abhor travelling.
  12. You don’t like watching the sky and planes flying by because you think it’s a waste of time.
  13. Whenever you look up at the night sky you think it’s such a boring space and not worth marveling at.
  14. Music bores you to death.
  15. You’d rather spend time elsewhere than with the kids.
  16. You are paranoid about how your kids can get to college. (We may have the answer to that here.)
  17. You believe that teachers were born to teach and you were born…to not teach?
  18. You believe that stock-market-like competition in the classroom is healthy. Very healthy.
  19. You think that your kids will be socially impaired if they learn from home. (Does your home resemble Alcatraz?)
  20.  You are comfortable at the thought of your school-age kids spending eight hours a day with other people and possibly hours on the road to and from school, rain or shine.
There are so many reasons, and valid ones at that, why people are afraid to start homeschooling. The number one fear that people have (based from what we always hear and what we’re told) is that they don’t know how to teach their children. If you’re a parent and you say that out loud a few times, you will start noticing how odd that sounds.

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Holiday on Australia Times Poetry

The Australia Times Poetry is one of the best sources you'll find for poetry. 

I'm rarely on Stitcher these days, but I was so pleased to find a discussion on Lady Day that I curled up in bed longer last Monday. Today, my "Gloomy Sunday" inspired poem called "Holiday" sits pretty on the pages of The Australia Times Poetry. That catapulted me to spending my holiday very early.

Click here or the magazine above to read ATP.

Read, share, share and read the magazine with everyone you know who might need a bit of poetry overdose at this point in time. 

Here I am on pages 64 to 67.

Sincere thanks to the Editor of ATP, Maureen Clifford, also known as The Scribbly Bark Poet!

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Thoughtfully Anticipating the Coming of Heneral Luna

John Arcilla in Jerrold Tarog's Heneral Luna

The inundation of low-quality films in the Philippine movie industry has pushed a number of aficionados away, and perhaps permanently, into the realm of foreign cinema. How many Enteng Kabisotes does one need to watch in his lifetime anyway? Not to disrespect our talented film directors and script writers, but it seems like the words “revenue” and “trend” have overridden talent and skill. Philippine cinema over the years has become a dismal venue for storytellers who rehash stories, retell them over and over again for the pleasure of overenthusiastic audiences. Mediocrity is a disease that has plagued the Philippine cinema over the years and it is disconcerting to know that what the young generation of moviegoers consider a “movie-to-die-for” is one with a senseless plot coupled with inept (but very charming) actors.

And yes, sorry to say that there is only one plot for 25 different movies.

When you know that a movie like “Heneral Luna” is about to hit the theaters, you can’t help but jump for joy because good Filipino movies come rarely these days. Heneral Luna is promising in so many ways, starting with the fact that it stars brilliant actors like John Arcilla, who plays the lead role, Mylene Dizon, Eppy Quizon, Nonie Buencamino, Mon Confiado, Bing Pimentel, Joem Bascon, as well as Arron Villaflor, Archie Alemania, Alex Medina, Paulo Avelino, Alvin Anson, Lorenz Martinez, Leo Martinez and Ketchup Eusebio.

Heneral Luna is a film by Jerrold Tarog, who garnered several awards for his film Sana Dati in Cinemalaya 2013. I honestly have not seen any of his films, but knowing that there’s a new historical fiction looming over our horizon...

It will be shown on September 9, and yes, I am thoughtfully anticipating.

Here's a sneak peak.

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Easiest Recipe for Vegetarian Sinigang

Sinigang is an all-time favorite dish among Filipinos; it's so popular that it's served twice or more every week in most households. 

The rains have come and what a better time to prepare a popular Filipino soup called sinigang. My daughter calls it sour soup because that’s what it is exactly. The Filipino palate loves strong flavor, especially a good blend of sweet, salty and sour.

Sinigang is a sour soup that typically has fish or pork, but food aficionados have become more adventurous and have started using corned beef in their sinigang. A famous restaurant here in Manila lists Sinigang na Corned Beef as one of their specialties.

We’re not vegetarians at home, but we try to put more vegetables and fruits than meat on the table. Both our kids are also soup-crazy, and love sinigang, so I decided to create a sinigang recipe that does not contain any meat so they can have it any time they want.

What I like about sinigang is it has the healthiest ingredients like eggplant, radish, string beans, okra and kangkong. I add alugbati because I love it, and I use it on most dishes, no matter how odd sometimes.

The one big failure I had with this recipe (just a matter of self-persecution, really) was not being able to use fresh tamarind. I searched high and low for tamarind and came home disappointed. (If you know a source for fresh tamarind please let me know.) I used a tamarind recipe mix instead and it did a great job. It’s less healthy than the fresh ones, but it tasted just as great.

There are other souring ingredients that you can use for sinigang like green mango, guava and bilimbi fruit (also known as kamias). I wouldn’d part from my personal favorite though – the tamarind.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes or less (definitely less, if you’re not horrible with cutting like I am)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


3 eggplants
Radish, 1
String beans, 1 bunch
Okra, 5 pieces
Kangkong, 1 bunch
Alugbati, 1 bunch (optional)
1 onion, sliced
2 bulbs of garlic

Cut eggplants and radish diagonally into half- inch slices
Cut string beans in 2-inch lengths
Cut okra into two or three parts
Slice onion and garlic


  1. Saute garlic and onion in two tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  2. Add half a liter of water and bring to boil.
  3. Add eggplants, radish, okra and fresh tamarind or sinigang mix.
  4. Add the kangkong and alugbati right before you serve because you don’t want to overcook these two. 
You are done and ready to serve this healthy soup!

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Reuse coffee grounds and save money

Have you been throwing out used coffee grounds? That means you have a less stinky trash bin, which is good. But there are other coffee ground uses that will help you save on hand washes and body scrubs.

As I’m writing this, my head is throbbing with pain that I feel will kill me before I finish this article. My advice to anyone suffering from migraine is to drink black coffee. That has worked for me for years. But today’s a little different. I'm staying away from caffeine, but ONLY FOR A DAY. 

Oh well, if I can’t drink it I might as well talk about it. 

Coffee is the kind of drink that never goes to waste. After enjoying a heavenly brew you can save those grounds for a lot of other uses. If you decide to throw the ground into your trash it’s still going to serve its purpose as a deodorizer. It will get rid of the nasty smell and you’ll get a whiff of coffee whenever you open the trash bin instead of the rotten stuff you threw in there.

Here’s what I like to do with used coffee grounds:

Hand wash – It removes stubborn smells that soaps and hand washes can’t get rid of. 

Skin softener– Rub it gently on your hands. Massage the back of your hands with coffee ground then rinse. The instant softness is addicting, I tell you. You’ll find yourself washing your hands with coffee grounds many, many times everyday. I love using this on the back of my hands especially because it takes away years from them. What a great anti-ageing formula!

Body scrub – Spas offer coffee body scrubs for a hefty price, but then, you have all that you need in your coffeemaker.  My favorite DIY would be this and I’m sure you’ll like it, too. Bring a jar with you to the shower and give yourself some good loving using coffee as a body scrub. 

Facial scrub- Among the facial scrubs I’ve tried, this one works wonders. It’s non-drying and does a great job exfoliating even the sensitive areas of your face. 

You can also use coffee grounds as food plants and general deodorizer in any area in your home.

Care to share what you do with your used coffee grounds? 

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The Art and Spirit of Mataji Sharma

Mataji Sharma, her life, art and spirit
We are but tiny specs in this universe. As minuscule as we are, there is always something to make us feel big about every day. Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to interview a truly gifted artist.

Mataji V. Sharma is an educator, a traveller, a mom, a wife, a person brimming with passion for the arts. She celebrates her strong connection with the universe and shares this through her art. Even when she’s traveling around the world, she continues to touch people’s lives through her workshops. 

I’ve always loved tribal art since I was a kid. Most of Mataji’s tribal pieces speak strongly about the beautiful Filipino culture that, whether we admit it or not, has been drowned out by modernity.

More than just a lovely addition to the homes of her patrons, Mataji’s tribal art is a visual reminder that there are a lot of things to love about the Filipino culture.

Mataji Sharma talks about her art. She tells us that there is an artist within us and that we should not pass up on this chance to explore what we can create and share with the world.


How old were you when you fell in love with the visual art and realized that it was something that you wanted to do?

I suppose every child is an artist at heart; and the love for art is an innate thing. Little hands want to do art even before adults come along. However, my parents took conscious effort to instill the love for art in my brother and me at such an early age (six or seven years old); by buying us artbooks, bringing us to museums and meeting real artists in their studios. I also grew up watching my parents paint and sketch.

What were your first paintings like? The genre or theme?

My first oil painting on canvas was on Juan Tamad on a branch of a mango tree, when I was about 14 years old. It was a painting I found in an encyclopedia of Filipino Art; and I wanted to make my version of it. It was a combination of  portrait and landscape painting of a classical approach. My watercolours in my elementary years were often landscape; and in college I would sketch a lot of dramatic contorted bodies or angels. I don’t ever remember doing Abstract when I was younger, but now I am in-love with abstract art.

Has your style changed over time?

I experiment a lot. My style changes week after week; sometimes a few times within a week. For me, art is an exploration, not something that is fixed. I want no identity in my art. I want it to be about growth, exploration, experimetation and evolution – as well as expression, of course.

"Sister Love"

 What inspires you?

Artists inspire me. Explorers inspire me. Deep spiritual people inspire me. Creative entrepeneurs inspire me. And of course, Nature and everything in it (including the human made world)– are my sources of creativity. Practically, that means everything around me – from a tile design in a public toilet to a ripped ad streamer by the street that presented an abstract pattern. Music, books, conversations etc. you name it.

Which artists do you consider influential in your life and art?

So many to mention! My 3rd graders for one! Of course, there are also the masters, of all genres. To name a few, Van Gogh, Matisse, Julie Dumbarton, Monet, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klimt etc. The ones who are still alive, the artists that I found on the net,  are the most influential to me – Flora Bowley, Iris Scott, Claire Desjardin, YanYan Pan, etc.

How do you balance your time between painting, teaching, being a mommy and a wife?

If you mean equal time for everything, then my life is not balanced, but I guard my time like a hawk. I keep a journal to assess whether my days have become imbalanced. I try to ensure that every area of my life is not being sacrificed, to the point of breakdown.  I have a very supportive hubby and daughter, and I communicate my choices and the rationale of my behaviour to them. I explain myself to them - why I have to do this now and that later. But quiet tea afternoons and cuddling with hubby and tickling my daughter in bed are the non-negotiables. Yes, even homework is negotiable – but not the lovey dovey times. They demand it too!

 What advice would you give young people who want to try their hand on painting?

Forget what people will think of your work. It’s just paper/cloth and paint – it’s not the entire declaration of who you are. They are figments of your constantly evolving moments, do not attach to them. Create, because it is your nature to create. Let it flow. Research and be an aggressive learner. Expose yourself to various genre of art and keep yourself inspired by following artists online. Be brave in posting your work and sharing them with the world. Know that someone will always hate it or love it, what matters more is that you shared a part of who you are – just in case it might inspire somebody watching quietly (or loudly). Don’t hold back. I don’t believe in masterpieces because everything is practice. A masterpiece is a practice piece – because art is never done.

What do you want to tell moms who also want to try painting, but have no confidence since they've never had formal training?

It requires no formal training. Many Fine Arts graduates regret attending art school; they could’ve used those years painting and producing more. Practice and experimentation play a strong role, for you to be able to express what’s in your heart.

It is all about the process, not the product. The product is always guaranteed to be beautiful, because you already are. A human being, in its deepest and grandest level is perfect. Painting is an experience of facing our personal judgments; it is a journey of taking risks, letting go, changing routes and accepting each stage as a possibility for the next step. You can stop at any point of time and work on it again on another day. Like I said, it’s never finished – but it can only be finished for the day or when you declare it to be done. It is a documentation of your growth as a person; a record of your self-acceptance and celebration of what is, of any moment of your life- making everything sacred.

Take time to paint. Do what feels right (strokes, colours, etc). There are NO rules nor  principles in painting. Forget the traditional training, it doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s your painting, it’s your life. Somebody will always resonate with it – not that somebody has to.

Enjoy, laugh, cry, if you will. Painting’s got to be an exhilirating experience where time and space collapse for you. There is no space in true artists’ hearts to impress others. At times, when we get lucky, we find ourselves through art.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

It’s impossible to have only one. I have many! But if I must, at least allow me to name a few. My parents. They are grand souls, beings extraordinaire! Without my unconditionally loving hubby, Rahul, and my free-spirited daughter, I don’t think I can achieve much with so much ease.

Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why are you proud of it?

Yes. My abstract pieces. They are unpopular, but they are the most liberating. They are pieces of me that I am yet to explore. I love the unknown, so they represent adventurous things that I would love to explore!
My own Sharma
You can find more of Mataji Sharma's paintings here.

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Dragons on the Moon in The Australia Times Poetry Magazine

The much-anticipated rain did come last night. Thank high heavens, it made the night much less hellish compared to the previous nights. And this morning, sunrise was gorgeous! This mother (not a morning person, I tell you) has to sleepwalk across a short hallway to the office/study/art/music/activity/game room to enjoy a glimpse of the sunrise. But I'm not complaining. I praise the distant Antipolo hills for serving as a great canvass for all our periodic daydreams. 

Looking good today, my dear July!

Today is a glorious day. Not only did my first mug of coffee taste great, I was, and still am, stoked. I got published. My poem "Dragons on the Moon" is on page 73 of The Australia Times Poetry. Maureen Clifford, editor of the poetry magazine, sent me a message that catapulted me to outer space. Thank you for making my day, Maureen. 

If you want to get your fill of meaningful poetry from different parts of the world, The Australia Times Poetry would be a great choice. Share the love, share this post. 

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Thursday Art

Cole surprised me with a gorgeous painting yesterday. He was on his way out for his daily bike ride when he handed me this untitled painting. He said he didn't know what to call it. Well, I guess not everything has to have a title. 

My kids' artwork give me such positive energy. The more you encourage kids to just let their imagination flow, the more positive energy emanates from their work. It also boosts their creativity when they know that they will not be graded for their work. We have empty walls and spaces in our new home that are hungry for colors. I hope both Cole and Attika will be inspired to do more artwork in the coming days.

Here's sharing the love! Share this with anyone you know who needs a little lift today. Love and light!

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How Do Homeschoolers in the Philippines Get to College?

Families who are considering homeschooling have one major (and very valid) concern -- what happens to the kids when they’re ready to go to college? Generally, the process is similar for both traditionally schooled and homeschooled kids, except that there might be a bit of difference with the colleges' requirements.

Homeschooled students don’t fly straight to Hogwarts after high school -- they go to the same universities that traditionally schooled kids go. (FYI to those who still ask what the future looks like for kids who are educated at home.)

We got curious and called up the University of the Philippines (Diliman) Registrar’s Office to ask what the requirements were for homeschooled students. We just have to mention that the admissions officer that we talked to was patient in answering all our queries. He even offered that the requirements might eventually change because more and more families are homeschooling now. Just the acknowledgement of that set out the fireworks for us.

I used the word “curious” above because we aren’t worried about college. We leave it to our kids to decide if they want to go to college later on or not. There are career pursuits that don’t require a college degree. I know it’s not a popular thought among parents, but then this is us.

Just to be clear about it, there is no one formula that works in homeschooling and that is precisely why you bring home the education -- to bring the creativity back to learning. There are different types of homeschooling. We have done a cross between literature-based homeschooling and homeschooling with curriculum. We, however, found joy in unschooling, also known as interest-based learning and natural learning, a style that allows your children to develop their potentials by supporting their interests.

According to Earl Stevens of The Natural Child Project, “Unschooling isn't a recipe, and therefore it can't be explained in recipe terms. It is impossible to give unschooling directions for people to follow so that it can be tried for a week or so to see if it works. Unschooling isn't a method, it is a way of looking at children and at life. It is based on trust that parents and children will find the paths that work best for them - without depending on educational institutions, publishing companies, or experts to tell them what to do.”

Although the number of homeschooling families is growing here in the Philippines, the educational system has yet to recognize and standardize college admission requirements for homeschoolers. Besides being worried about how to go about homeschooling from day to day and what to do with the curriculum, parents are worried about their kids being “displaced” after high school. I know because I have been asked and I’m glad to be back with an answer—at least from one of the universities that we have here in the Philippines.

UP requires homeschooled students to have final grades for three consecutive years preceding graduation from a Department of Education (DepEd) affiliated school. There are a number of DepEd-affiliated homeschooling schools in the Philippines now so there is no need to enroll your kids in traditional schools if you’re aiming to get those final grades.

Homeschoolers will be permitted to take the University of the Philippines Admission Test (UPCAT) if they have taken the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) administered by DepEd. If they are certified eligible, they will be allowed to take the UPCAT.

A lot of people have been asking us about this that is why we are seeking for answers. Once we have new information from other universities, we will let you know. Pronto!

It would also be best for you to call up schools yourselves to answer your questions, which we were not able to detail in this article. Would love to hear about the information you’ve gathered.

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