Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Care to My Meet Car-Friday?

The Filipino language, like any other complex system of speech, has a vocabulary so unique that finding a direct translation for each word in English is nearly impossible. 

Think of words such as grabe, hanep, astig, naman, sabik or even susmaryosep! Surely, you will be grappling for words to define those terms :)

To date, my favorite Filipino word is "sulit." In English translation, sulit means "worth it!" Featured on the photo is my sulit car. I purchased it from a good friend way back in the year 2000 and since then, it has provided me sulit service. Yes, it is what you would call my Car-Friday, as Robinson Crusoe would term it. The fact that I drove it first on a Friday is purely coincidental. I'm sure you have your own sulit story, don't you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smens: Earth Friendly Scented Ball Pens by Smencils

Ah yes, the glory of the old ballpoint pen! The Egyptians were one of the first to create the world's most reliable writing instruments. Too bad their papyrus was pulverized to dust after years of storage. And so did the ink that was used to record salient events of their history. That first attempt, however, was the pioneering work that led to what is known today as the world's most reliable writing tool.

Since the time of the ancient civilizations, several hundred billion pieces of ball pens have been sold all across the globe. The ballpoint pen is the most widely used writing instrument in the world, regardless of social class or culture. Even the advent of computers and high-speed internet has not altered humanity's dependence on ballpoint pens. 

Allow me to share to you my favorite ball pen. I love it because it is wonderfully scented. SMENS, as they are aptly called, hail from the land of the free -- USA. SMENS are not your run-of-the-mill ballpoints. These are eco-smart ball pens made from recycled newspapers and just a little bit of corn-based biodegradable plastic. As a bonus, SMENS are infused with earth-friendly essential oils that make writing an unforgettable fun-smelling experience! SMENS come in ten gourmets scents namely, pink lemonade, caramel corn, banana-fo-fana, mocha, red licorice, passion fruit, ninja berry, aloha, creamsicle, and black licorice.

Smencils Manila is the authorized distributor of SMENS in the Philippines. It is also available in retail establishments such as Fullybooked, Hobbes and Landes, and Powerbooks. The scented pens are currently under a Smencils Manila promotion. Visit the Smencils Manila Facebook page for further details.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aiming High with Singapore Math in the Philippines

Please. Do not cringe. At least not yet. I know how Mathematics can shut your whole system down in a second. You can shoot me dead after you read my next statement. Of course, that is, if you find me! Read carefully. I LOVE MATH! Yes, I do! Algebraic equations (and inequalities) excite me. Proving theories in geometry were the essence of arithmetic life. I enjoyed Math so much I actually married a man who graduated with a B.S. Mathematics course! 

While I would expect my own child to share the same joy in solving Math word problems, the opposite has happened. My bundle of joy would rather read books about the human body and experiment creating a solenoid than deal with learning the multiplication table. Of course, a mother will NEVER lose hope that someday, she too will fall in deep love with Mathematics.

Choosing books to use for homeschooling is a tall task. There are so many good curricula around promising many great things. When it comes to Mathematics, there are endless approaches to learning and teaching, even though most people find it to be the most boring subject. From all those really good choices, I finally handpicked Singapore Math. After two years of using this math curriculum, I can say that I am satisfied with the results.

Using very "loose" terms, I would describe Singapore Math to be the "Smart Math." Rather than trying to memorize rules and formulas, Singapore Math instructs you to logically understand the relation between the digits, numbers, and basic operations. I love the fact that when Singapore Math introduces new mathematical concepts, it starts with a picture. The math we know as abstract begins with a concrete approach with visual illustrations. I also think that having some math manipulatives around has helped me connect the concrete to abstract learning process. I do not recall ever instructing my daughter to memorize a rule or a formula in Singapore Math. On the other hand, I always hear myself telling her to "think and think harder."

If you would like to use Singapore Math as main math material for your homeschooling or as supplement to your child's math subject, it is already available in the Philippines. The country's top schools have been using it for the past two to three years already. These schools include Xavier, ICA, Uno, and many more. While it may not be the cheapest math curricula in the country, the innovative methodology in learning mathematics is worth every peso spent. Inspire your children to love the unlovable and think beyond their abilities by trying out Singapore Math. You won't regret it. :)