Tribord Easybreath Snorkeling Mask

Here's what your kids need to experience full snorkeling fun: Tribord masks!

Unlike the traditional Snorkeling Mask and spout, this one is very easy for the kids to use since they can breathe through their nose while underwater. On top of that, the breathing tube has an automatic shut-off function so that water will not go inside in case you dip your head too low. Of course, needless to say, the mask will give you a better view of the sea with the 180 degrees visibility screen. 
I am very grateful my friend recommended that mask to me because it gave my 8-year old son the confidence and motivation to snorkel without worrying about the technicalities of breathing through your mouth. Given the compressed air inside the mask, it will also give your head a certain level of buoyancy. When my husband and I use the mask (yes, they have adult sizes too!), we don't even use life vests anymore. Although I don't recommend doing that when you're swimming with the kids as it can get tiring to keep on paddling to stay afloat.

The masks come in four sizes (XS, S/M, M/L, L/XL) and three colors.

Here's a guide on how to get the right size to fit your face.
There are imitation easybreath masks now and I have not tried them so I cannot say whether they're a good replacement or not. But from the reviews, I heard that the imitations fog easily. Not something you'd want to worry about once you or your kids are already in the water.
The Tribord masks cost P3,500 here in the Philipines. We got ours through a seller we met at OLX. You may also order online through Amazon.



Dumaguete Adventure Series: ATV to Tierra Alta

On our last day in Dumaguete, we decided to go to take the kids on an ATV adventure.  We rented a van and drove for about 40 minutes from our resort, Pura Vida, to Tejero Highland Resort and Adventure Park in Valencia.
You have the option to choose the type of ATV you want to drive and the route you wish to take. For our family of two adults and two kids (8 and 5 years old), we got the ATV 300cc and took tour B to Tierra Alta.
The trip lead us to cross mini rivers and ride up the mountain on various types of terrains. It was honestly more exciting (read: scary) than I expected. The kids enjoyed the ride worry-free. I, on the other hand, feared we might topple over some rocks or worst, the mountain edge!
The tour brought us to the Tierra Alta subdivision where we got to take photos up the lighthouse. It felt a bit like a real estate tour - which is probably accurate given that the operator of the ATV is the same group as the developers of the Tierra Alta subdivision.
The entire tour took about 1 hour, including the stop at Tierra Alta. It was a great experience, especially for our kids who rarely get to ride on motorcycles and the like.

You may book by calling Tejero Highland Resort at 0917-707-0791. Lines open between 8am and 5pm Mondays-Fridays.



My Echinacea Story

A few months ago, my friend Candy introduced me to this little pink flower called Echinacea. It was not introduced to me as a flower, but as an immune-system booster. Before I tell you about my experience, let me share what has to say about Echinacea.

Echinacea is an herb that is native to areas east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. It is also grown in western States, as well as in Canada and Europe. Several species of the echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its leaves, flower, and root. Echinacea was used in traditional herbal remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes. Later, settlers followed the Indians' example and began using echinacea for medicinal purposes as well. For a time, echinacea enjoyed official status as a result of being listed in the US National Formulary from 1916-1950. However, use of echinacea fell out of favor in the United States with the discovery of antibiotics. But now, people are becoming interested in echinacea again because some antibiotics don't work as well as they used to against certain bacteria.
I have a perennial sore throat. My throat is quite sensitive to extreme tastes. Anything that is overly salty, sweet, or sour will automatically hurt my throat. This is the reason why I try to avoid too much chips, sour gummy, or any food with garlic and onion. It's also the reason why I have been used to avoiding ice cream since I was young. In the past, I would take a decongestant once the symptoms of an impending sore throat start to appear. During my younger years, antibiotic was the automatic option when the sore throat does not go away after a week. But around ten years ago, I have decided to be more healthy and do away with unnecessary medicines or, at the very least, look for safer and more natural alternatives.
After being introduced to Echinacea, I did my research and found that it was a good natural alternative to antibiotics. I got myself a bottle from Healthy Options and tested it when my sore throat came.  I took two capsules in the morning and another two at night.  I was very surprised to feel completely well only after a day or two. It was pretty awesome. I started to wonder if there's Echinacea for kids since my children cannot swallow capsules yet.

My kids are now 8 and 5. Since birth, neither of them have taken cough or colds medicines nor antibiotics.  When my kids are unwell, my course of action is always to let them sleep more, stay hydrated, take Manuka honey, and nebulize regularly.  I do give them Paracetamol once in a while when fever reaches higher temperatures as I am afraid of convulsions. While this routine work, I sometimes wonder if it is prolonging the virus' stay in their system.
A few weeks ago, Candy (not a doctor, by the way, but a really trusted friend) gave me a few packs of Esberitox. I later found out that they are a chewable alternative for Echinacea. Hurray! I tried it myself first during my bouts with sore throat and it worked just as well. I have yet to let my kids try it but it's a good alternative to antibiotics for the kids. It's chewable and it tastes pretty good too. To top it off, it's very easy to take while traveling since you do not need water to ingest it.
You may purchase Esberitox  in the Philippines for P1,500 per box (100 tablets per box) through +63917 8337931 (Bettina del Rosario)
Learn more about Echinacea and Exberitox by clicking on the links.




Dumaguete Adventure Series: Whale Sharks in Oslob

On the last day of May of 2016, my 8-year old son experienced something he will never forget. He finally got to swim and snorkel with the whale sharks! After his first snorkeling stint in Apo Island, I was quite hopeful that he will agree to go down and swim with the whale sharks with us. The first time we visited Oslob a year ago, he wanted to go down but was too scared to do so. When he finally did, the whale sharks were already too far to be seen underwater. 
With much prayers and a lengthy heart-to-heard talk with his dad, my son finally agreed to go down. The moment he put on his mask and peeked under the water, I knew he was in awe. I can hear his muffled screams underwater. Thank God for Tribord masks! It's truly different seeing them from the boat and witnessing them underwater. 

Here are some fun facts about whale sharks (some taken from National Geographic):
  • They are the largest fish in the sea (in case you're wondering about whales, they are mammals and not fish)
  • Whale Sharks are sharks, not whales
  • Can reach lengths of 40 feet (12 meters) or more
  • Their favorite meal is plankton. They scoop these tiny plants and animals up, along with any small fish that happen to be around, with their colossal gaping mouths while swimming close to the water's surface.
  • They use a technique called "cross-flow filtration" to passively filter food through its formidably sized
  • They prefer warm waters which is why whale sharks are often found in tropical seas
You may travel to see the Whale Sharks in Oslob via a 3-hour land trip from Cebu which is what we did last year, or a 1-hour boat ride from Dumaguete like what we recently did. I found this very helpful site on how to get to Oslob from various cities. Click here to view it.
Seeing these gentle giants are worth the trip. The whole family will love the experience. Even smaller kids who are not brave enough to go down the water will be able to see the Whale Sharks feeding from the boat. Should you decide to go down to swim, do not forget your underwater cameras. You may also rent there and ask the boatman to take your photos. They are quite the experts at underwater 'whale shark' photography.
(Photos from this blog are my friend Franc Ng's GoPro. Not a professional photographer, not a 'Butanding boat man' either. Thanks, Franc!)



Dumaguete Adventure Series: Dolphins in Bais and The Manjuyod Sand Bar

We woke up at 4:00 in the morning on the second day of our Dumaguete adventure. We had to leave by 5:00am to reach Bais before 6:30am.

Bais City is well known for its proximity to the protected marine sanctuary, the Tañon Strait.
From the Capiñahan Wharf in the South Bay, the boat heads out to the Bais Bay and into the Tañon Strait where the dolphins frolic in the water, and the whales emerge from the deep. []

We booked two vans from the resort which costs P4,500 (11-12pax per van) round trip from Dauin to the Bais and another P6,000 for the boat going to see the dolphins and the sand bar. The boat could fit all 23 of us and had it's own toilet. 

After about 30 minutes of sailing,  we were getting a bit discouraged. We decided to pray together as a group and asked the Lord to send the dolphins.  After a few minutes, we found them. We were able to see a few big ones swimming near us.
We were already quite happy with our dolphin-sighting but prayed for more. I wanted to see them jumping out of the water while my friend, Kim, wanted to see dolphins swimming alongside our boat. With our boat already far from the site where we found the pod of dolphins, we were not very hopeful with our requests. But after about 15 minutes, God surprised us. One by one the dolphins came up to do a show for us. There were proabably around a hundred of them swimming around us. The boatman even said 'libo (thousands) na yan, ma'am!' though I don't think it reached that figure. And guess what? They jumped out of the water and swam alongside our boat. We prayed for dolphins but we got more than that. We experienced God's power and His wonderful presence.  That morning in Bais, we searched for dolphins, but we found the Lord.

Watch this short clip to see the dolphins swimming near us.
We have watched the videos over and over again. And as I watch it, I thank God over and over again. It was such an unforgettable experience. My 8-year old son said "They look like cartoons!". It was surreal.
After our dolphin encounter, we headed to the Manjuyod Sand Bar, also known as the 'Maldives of the Philippines'. It was not low-tide enough when we went but the kids still enjoyed swimming in what look to them like a natural kiddie pool.
We reached the sand bar around 10am and stayed until around 12nn. We brought packed lunches with us and ate inside our boat while docked in Manjuyod.
After lunch we headed back to the resort and arrived at around 1:30pm.  The kids spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the pool while the adults did intro-diving. It was a very fruitful day to say the least.
Next stop: Oslob Whale Sharks



Dumaguete Adventure Series: Sea Turtles in Apo Island

Our family just came back from a 4-day vacation in Dumaguete with friends. Prior to the trip, I was honestly not very expectant. I was excited to spend time with our friends and just relax with them. But this trip turned out to be all that plus so much more.
On our first day, we checked-in the Pura Vida Beach & Dive Resort in Dauin and headed out to sea immediately after lunch. Our first destination was Apo Island.
Apo Island is a volcanic island covering 12 hectares in land area, 7 kilometers off the southeastern tip of Negros Island and 30 kilometers south of the Negros Oriental capital of Dumaguete in the Philippines. The name "Apo" was derived from a Filipino word for "grandchild".
The marine habitat around the island is a marine reserve, protected by the National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA) and under the jurisdiction of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It has become a popular dive site and snorkeling destination with tourists. (Wikipedia)
We booked the trip through the resort's dive shop. The boat we took has its own toilet, which is very important when you're traveling with small children, they serve free-flowing tea and coffee and can fit all 30+ of us.
I cannot remember how long we sailed but we reached Apo Island sooner than we thought.  The sea was clear and the sky was blue. We had the perfect snorkeling and diving weather.
Thanks to our Tribord masks, which I will talk about in a separate post, my 8-year old son was able to snorkel for the first time. And his first snorkeling experience was nothing short of awesome. We saw around 4 to 5 huge sea turtles swimming with us! The largest was about 5 feet long. Imagine that! See the photo below from the Hello World to picture how big the turtle that we saw was.
photo from Hello World blog
We probably spent over 30 minutes just swimming and looking at all the sea turtles in their natural habitat. You can see them eating and going up for air once in a while. It was such an amazing experience for all of us.
I remember seeing sea turtles by the shore last year when we went to Hawaii (read about that here) and thinking how awesome it was that the Hawaiians were able to preserve these beautiful sea creatures.  I was in awe thinking that I am actually seeing them again in my own country! Hurray for the Philippines!
Giant sea turtle. Photo by Franc Gival
When you find yourself in Dumaguete, snorkeling in Apo Island is a must. Do not miss it, You will be glad you didn't.



Winners of the Belo Baby Contest!

Thank you to everyone who joined our recent Belo Baby Contest! We have picked three winners via Rafflecopter and will be contacting each of you separately via email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


5 Ways to Cook the Perfect Egg

In our continuous quest for the perfect Sunday breakfast at home, my husband and I have been in a competitive streak on finding the best way to cook an egg. I posted this video a couple of weeks ago and have yet to try some of the tricks there. The other night, I found my husband reviewing this other video and testing out the scrambled eggs last Sunday. I will save the video he was watching here as my reference for the next breakfast showdown. Let's do this!


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