For those looking for an “online” activity for their children where they don’t need to leave the house, I want to share with you this online Filipino class by The Learning Library.

This summer, they launched their course called Wika’y Galing! Online.  It’s the very first online program for children learning to speak Filipino as a second language. 

When Zeeka was 2, she was really good at speaking Filipino. For some reason though (and I heard a lot of kids are in a similar situation), they forget how to speak Filipino and would rather speak in English. I guess it’s because a lot of the content that we see online are in English. I also think that we haven’t really exposed her enough also to Filipino content.

This summer, I decided to enroll her to this online class of The Learning Library. She had her assessment already. She knew how to read and say Filipino words like our body parts, but when it came to words like Maaliwalas or Maaraw, etc., she had to practice more.

This course was created by The Learning Library in cooperation with Adarna. Once your child is enrolled, s/he will have access to over 100 Adarna books. Also, the course will have a teacher that your child will interact with. You will need to choose a schedule so that you’ll have a teacher who can guide your child.

For more information, you can visit www.wikaygaling.com 🙂

Happy learning!

Creative writing is an important skill for our kids. 

In this age of smartphones and handheld devices, creativity and writing remain as top requirements to ensure our kid’s future.

I should know. In my years as an entrepreneur, it took creativity to resolve issues I’ve encountered.

It also takes creativity to get people to be interested in you and your product.

That’s why I also try as much to increase my daughter’s creative writing skills.

Creative Writing Benefits for Kids

Our kid’s generation may be tech-savvy, but science backs up the fact that the act of writing is more beneficial for the brain.

Writing on pen and paper can keep our brains sharp and can also influence us into more positive thoughts. Hand movements during writing activate a huge part of the brain responsible for healing trauma, language, and working memory.

Here are other benefits of handwriting and creative writing for our kids. 

1. It helps manage stress. 

Stress is a natural occurrence in everyday life. Children, for example, go through the pressures of school, their homes, and relationships with their peers. 

Writing poems, short stories, or creating cartoons can unload a lot of stress for kids.

It also helps release unwanted tension and encourages them to divert their attention to something more productive and creative.

2. It encourages deep thinking

I love it when Zeeka does her drawings and shows them to me. Watching her draw and create a story out of it is such a great joy for me.

Every story she tells lets me take a peek into what’s going on inside her head. And I’m really glad to hear how much her stories are growing.

Check out our drawing time here: 

Now that she’s six years old, her stories are becoming more complex.

Her characters are becoming more intricate. And I’m really glad I’m getting to witness her progress.

3. It increases comprehension and learning 

Creative writing also helps kids do better in Math and Sciences.

Studies show that writing helps the brain create the same patterns one needs to learn Math and Science.

One needs sharp observation and documentation skills when it comes to learning Sciences and figuring out equations.

Both can be improved through systematic approaches and observations which can also be developed through creative writing.

4. It helps them process big emotions. 

Children go through a lot of stress even as kids.

Every now and then Zeeka tells me she feels sad or angry, even frustrated when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Sometimes she tells me she’s lonely without her friends.

Even if it doesn’t sound as serious to us, it’s a big deal for them.

That’s why it’s also important for them to learn how to recognize, process, and handle their emotions.

Creative writing helps them write down what they feel through stories, characters, and situations. 

Child psychologists have used similar techniques in therapy to help children open up and share details about them or their trauma.

Doing so helps kids focus on their strengths and the good side of things rather than dwell on their negative emotions or trauma.

5. It increases focus 

Children are naturally curious. And it’s perfectly normal for them to have concentration issues because of how they’re exploring the world. 

They get bored easily when things aren’t fun and they shift their attention somewhere else. 

While creative writing may not be a part of your kid’s priorities yet, there are some exercises that can prepare them for writing. 

These include doodling and drawing.

Drawing helps them visualize their materials better. This is a great exercise in developing characters and settings.

Harvard Health Blog also confirms the health benefits of doodling, especially for kids.

Doodling, it turned out, is like our brain’s last attempt at staying focused and awake.

It also eases psychological distress and activates the brain’s “time travel machine”.

Doodling puts us in a relaxed state where our minds attempt to find lost pieces, make sense of the present, and help us visualize our future. 

Gamifying Creative Writing for Kids

Gamification has been a huge buzz word not only in the tech industry but also in other areas like education.

Educators from all around the globe have turned to apps and games to help students maximize learning and make it fun.

But did you know that board games also help in boosting creativity for kids of all ages?

Yep, you got that right. Board games. And I must admit, I’m a board game fanatic.

In fact, we hold regular board game sessions at home with friends and family. 

Here’s what it usually looks like at game nights… 

What I love most about it is the challenge of quick thinking, and the strategies it takes to win. 

I’ve been reading a lot about how old school role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons help improve children’s creativity through storytelling. 

Even the world’s greatest writers and novelists acknowledge the impact that Dungeons and Dragons have on their writing skills. 

Goerge R.R. Martin, Dan Harmon, and even Stephen Colbert admit that a huge part of their creativity stems from playing the game in their youth.

The game can last from three hours or three years.

How is it played?

A ‘dungeon master’ gets to run game and create critical situations where the players respond with their own narrative.

Players can also choose the characters they portray. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the characters respond to crises according to their powers. 

Check out this fun tutorial from The Try Guys:

So how exactly does playing board games like D&D help in boosting creativity, especially with kids? 

For one, it’s an endless story with unlimited possibilities. Children get to come up with their own stories and characters. 

It also develops quick wit and enhances situational awareness. 

Playing the game encourages teamwork and promotes complex problem-solving skills.

So how does it make your kid become a better writer? 

Studies show that the highly social and collaborative nature of role-playing games has a huge effect on learning. It helps improve crucial soft skills, like listening intently and responding to the challenges set by the game master.[1]

It also taps into the player’s abilities like decision making, invention, calculations, negotiation, active spatial visualization, and storytelling.

UEC Philippines: A Unique Way to Teach Creative Writing

One of the reasons why I like UEC Philippines is because they make writing fun. 

Unlike traditional schools, Unique English Classroom provides kids with a chance to run wild with their imagination.

Children learn the basics of reading to the intricacies of storytelling, reading, and writing through four progressive programs. 

UEC also focuses on the more important aspect of communication: reading comprehension and confidence in communication. 

Headed by Catherine Khoo, children under the Unique English Classroom program get to explore the English language through practical application. 

They also use different ways to fire up your kid’s imagination and improve their storytelling and creative writing skills.

Younger kids learn reading and writing through storytelling activities.

Later on, they progress to drawings and illustrations to tell their stories. 

They also do comic books with their own stories.

They even play Dungeons & Dragons and learn how to develop their own world and characters. Dungeons & Dragons will be available in all UEC Centers this coming summer. This activity is for kids ages 9 to 16 yo. I told Zeeka about it and she said she can’t wait to be 9 years old! haha!

Check out the kids of UEC San Mateo as they play it here: https://www.facebook.com/UniqueEnglishClassroom/videos/1486421058176426/

Help your future writer excel in creative writing. Learn more about UEC Philippines today. 

For inquiries, check out their website here: https://uecyoungauthors.com.ph/

It’s that time of the year again when we all have to pay our Annual Income Tax Return, popularly known as ITR. And with this, I see a lot of posts online asking how to I file an Income Tax Return or ITR and where should one start.

So, let me give you at least some information, based on what I know and how I do it. Again, I am not an accountant, but having Taxumo as a business have made me understand how taxation in the Philippines work for MSMEs, self-employed individuals and PRC licensed/non-licensed professionals.

Who needs to prepare their ITR by themselves?

Most of us are employees of a local company that are registered with the BIR. The company that we work for withholds a certain amount that they pay to the BIR (on our behalf). This is called substituted filing. And as proof of that, employees get a form 2316 around Jan to Feb (start of the year) so that you can use this when you apply for VISA, get loans, etc.

So for employees, MAKE SURE you get a 2316 form and KEEP IT! That form is very important.

Now for employees who have side businesses or freelancing / professional services that they do on the side? How do I file an Income Tax Return?

Friend, you are called a Mixed Income Individual. This means that you earn from being an employee and from your business or profession. So what you need to do is to file a Form 1701 (Annual Income Tax Return Form). Let’s talk about how to file it later on in this article. To file a 1701 for mixed income individuals though, you will have to have your 2316 by your side. And if some of your clients also gave you 2307 forms, you have to have them, too.

How about for full time freelancers, professionals and sole proprietors, what do we file?

Now listen up! You can either use 1701 or the newest form to the ITR family, which is 1701A. Now when do you know which of the two you will have to file?

  • Form 1701 – Please use this form if 1) you are a mixed income individual, meaning you are an employee AND also earning income from a business or side profession (ex. consultancy work, freelance writer, etc.) or 2) if you’ve chosen Graduated Tax rate with an Itemized Deduction Method
  • Form 1701A – Please use this form if you are earning purely business income or income from your profession. This is a new form released by the BIR for those who chose the Optional Standard Deduction Method (OSD) or opted in for 8% GRT in the previous year

I’m ready to file my ITR. I know what form I should fill out. What do I do?

First thing that I did was I created an account in Taxumo. Just follow these screenshots:

A. https://www.taxumo.com/blog/taxumo-how-tos-creating-a-user-account-in-taxumo/

B. https://www.taxumo.com/blog/how-tos-setting-up-your-company-information

Once you’re done setting up your user account and company information, the next step is to feed Taxumo with information. Note that the system COMPUTES for your taxes, so you don’t have to manually compute or compute using a spreadsheet.

So, there are two scenarios when we get to entering Revenue and Expenses in Taxumo. Scenario one is that you’ve never filed anything before (even manually). This is your first time. And scenario two is that you’ve actually filed manually before and you want to try using Taxumo this time around.

Perfect! I will guide you for both instances.

Scenario one’s cash flow entry is basically adding your revenue and expense entries into Taxumo. Click on your CASH FLOW tab and add entries one by one. Things to note:

  • For revenue that you key in, it has to pair up with an OR that you have written for a client
  • For expenses, enter expenses that are related to your business. It has to pair up with an official receipt (it’s usually indicated in the receipt).
  • Taxumo has standard and suggested categories already in the system. If you’d like to add a few categories, it’s best to consult with an accountant to know if it’s a direct or indirect expense. You can book a consultation here: https://www.taxumo.com/taxumo-consult/

Scenario two’s cash flow is basically adding your revenue and expenses for the 4th Quarter of 2019 (or applicable year for your ITR) — October, November and December. This is because we assume that you have your 1701Q-Q3 (3rd Quarter Income Tax Return) with you. Just keep it by your side when you file.

I totally forgot Scenario three. Scenario 3 is basically when you have used Taxumo and have filed at least your 3rd Quarter 1701Q with us and have consistently been logging revenue and expenses for 4th quarter. You have nothing to worry since all fields will be filled out (assuming you are not a mixed income individual where you need to have your 2316 form by your side).

So I have encoded all of my revenue and expenses in Taxumo. Do I need to encode anything else?

If you have 2307s, please take a picture of each of the 2307 form and go to the WITHHELD TAXES tab. Encode and copy each one under the RECEIVED tab.

If you are a withholding agent and need to pay withholding taxes (0619E,1601EQ and 1604E), be sure that you have done and paid all of these already.

Hmmm, that’s about it.

I have done all that. Am I ready to file my Annual Income Tax Return now?

Yes, you are! You have done all the prep work. All you need to do is to watch these videos and follow it. If this is the first time you are using Taxumo, be sure that you have your past filings of 1701Q beside you. If you are a mixed income individual, have your 2316 with you while filing your ITR in Taxumo.

Visit this link, watch and follow the videos:

https://www.taxumo.com/blog/how-do-i-file-an-annual-income-tax-return/

Oh, this sounds easy! Aside from the actual tax dues that I will need to pay, how much is processing in Taxumo?

Taxumo has 3 subscription plans to choose from and the plans are based on the tax forms that you need to file. To know the forms that you need to file, check your Certificate of Registration and look at Tax Types. You’ll normally see the following for a self-employed individual:

  • Percentage (Non-VAT taxpayers) / Value Added Tax (VAT taxpayers)
  • Registration fee (this is the yearly BIR fee that you need to pay every January)
  • Income Tax (this is paid by everyone)
  • Withholding Taxes – EXP/OTH (This means you are a Withholding Tax Agent and you need to withhold taxes for each payment that you make)

Okay, on to the plans, you can check out Taxumo’s plans here: https://www.taxumo.com/taxumo-pricing/

The cheapest is Php 700 per month (if you get the annual fee). It’s Php 888 if you get the monthly fee. This is for those who opted to pay the 8% flat income tax rate (so they need to file forms 1701Q, 1701A and usually the registration fee or 0605). Taxumo’s pricing already includes filing form 1701A and all of these mentioned forms. You SAWT or 1701Q/1701A attachments are also submitted to the BIR! No need to be penalized for missed submissions of attachments.

The next plan is at Php 1500 per month (if you get the annual fee). It’s Php 1888 if you get the monthly fee. In this plan, the forms Percentage tax (2551Q), Income Tax Forms (1701Q, 1701, 1701A), Withholding Tax (0619E, 1601E, 1604E), Registration Fee (0605) and submission of attachments QAP and SAWT are also included.

The last plan is at Php 2300 per month(if you get the annual fee). It’s Php 2888 if you get the monthly fee. This is what VAT taxpayers usually need since in this plan, the forms Percentage tax (2551Q), VAT forms (2550M and 2550Q), Income Tax Forms (1701Q, 1701, 1701A), Withholding Tax (0619E, 1601E, 1604E), Registration Fee (0605) and submission of attachments QAP, SAWT and SLSP are also included.

*Note that for all plans, Taxumo gives you additional 2 delegate access and access to your Books of Accounts view.

A lot of people are asking if they can just avail of Annual ITR (1701 and 1701A). Yes, you can!

Here are the rates:

1701A 8%  at ₱ 888.00 
1701A Graduated (Optional Standard Deduction) at ₱ 1,888.00 
1701 at  ₱ 1,888.00

Usually, the deadline is on April 15, but it was extended for this year due to COVID 19. BIR deadline is May 15,2020. Taxumo’s deadline is May 10, 2020.

Always file early, peeps, and #TaxItEasy!

If I missed anything that you’d like to ask, please feel free to comment on the comment section below. Also, check out the videos of Taxumo in their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/taxumo

Happy filing!

Summer vacation is almost here! Being a mom, I am starting to look for different activities that Zeeka can do this coming summer vacation. Aside from the occasional trips to Kidzoona, Kidzania and the Mind Museum, and aside from the dance classes with Teacher Mia Cabalfin that she has joined (HipHop Hooray), I’ve been looking for other cool things that she can do.

One of the activities that we stumbled upon was the VR+ Next Generation Virtual Reality place at S. Maison. It’s located on level 2.

#TheATeam at VR+ Next Generation Virtual Reality

What happens is that you are led to a small room, given weapons and the headset (with really clear graphics and audio). Their games are powered by OMAS Entertainment and ONIK Entertainment. Aside from that, their are moving floors and rumbling sounds that make it seem more realistic.

The game that’s most popular from VR+ Next Generation Virtual Reality are their zombie games. Since we had Zeeka with us though, we had to choose Box Man, a game that is more fit for kids like Zeeka.

#TheATeam Inside the Box Man Game

Each game is around Php 400 to Php 450 pesos per person for the Zombie games. Here are the updated prices (2020 rates) from their FB page:

Being the OC parent that I am, I asked if they clean the equipment. They said that they disinfect equipment every time after a game is played.

Check out our experience in this video!

Verdict: We really liked it. If it were a bit closer to where we live, we would probably be there more often. What we like about it is it is definitely more immersive than that ride in Glorietta with the VR glasses. This has better graphics, sounds and weapons.

Like VR+ on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VARLivePH/

I’ve been seeing lot of pretty pictures on Instagram of the Dessert Museum. I always thought that the Dessert Museum was made for teens and young professionals; never really thought that young kids or moms like me would appreciate it (EJ would probably appreciate it though because of the free dessert). I was so wrong.

Zeeka, EJ and I enjoyed and loved every single minute of the experience at the Dessert Museum. It wasn’t just for people who loved taking amazing pictures, but even for those who love doing and learning new things.

What is the Dessert Museum?

Image from the Dessert Museum

This museum is located in the Philippines. It’s specifically located at the Ground Floor of S Maison Mall, Conrad Hotel Manila, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.

It’s composed of around 8 different rooms that you can visit in the span of 2 hours.

The different rooms are:

Donut Room

Room of Ten Thousand Marshmallows!

Gum Ball Room

Macarons Tea Party

Banana Beach

Bewitched Bakery

Piñata Pit

Cake Pops Carnival

What I like about the place?

You can take really great photos at every corner of every room. There is not one part of the room that they did not think about. I love the fact that you can also learn something new.

Most of the rooms have cool information presented, like this wall that I took a picture of. Do you remember the brand “chiclets”? Guess where it came from? 😎

I also love the desserts that were given. They were all so yummy! There were also different activities that the entire family will enjoy.

The money that we spent for two hours was worth it! There are the rates for going inside the Dessert Museum.

We got in for Php 550 pesos each person, because we each have Maxicare cards. I also saw this deal from Klook: Klook Dessert Museum. You can get a ticket for Php 529. Those who are 0-3 years old can come in free of charge.

Check out our video here, and please show me you watched it (really watched it! haha 😄) by commenting on my YouTube video!

Have you visited the Dessert Museum? What did you think? Did you like it or did you not like it? Leave your comments on the comment section below. 🙂

Have a sweet day!