My Kids Usually Have Zero Homework. Here’s How They’re Learning

In my children’s school, there is no cafeteria, gym, or football field. There are, however, shelves and shelves of books, open space to play patintero in, and lots of trees.

It took my husband and me, products of traditional schools from start to finish, a while to adjust to this non-conformist approach to education, the blended learning method. (On the other hand, it took our kids about a day.) But I was drawn to this method precisely because it was different from how we thought kids were supposed to be taught.

First, a backgrounder: Although the school my kids go to is called Blended Learning Center Manila (BLC), the school doesn’t subscribe to the usual definition of blended learning, which is a mix of face-to-face and online instruction. At BLC, they “veer away from the use of [online instruction],” says Zeena A. Pañares, BLC’s head teacher. Instead, they focus “on blending character, values, and life experiences into the academic curriculum…We’re evolving into a different approach towards education.”

Yes, it’s as un-traditional as teaching methods go.

No one is taught to be afraid to say or ask the wrong thing.

For one thing, the classes are conducted in free form. Students are encouraged to ask questions and voice opinions. And because the classes are small, it never turns into a circus. The kids, with their teacher, sit around a table and discuss whatever is on the syllabus that day; learning happens as a group. The air around the table is open — no one is taught to be afraid to say or ask the wrong thing.

This set-up was what got me on board. I remember painful days in my school when my classmates and I would squirm in our seats, petrified that the teacher would call on us, and we’d make a mistake. There’s none of that in my kids’ school. The use of discussions over lectures has even carried over into our meals at home. When they went to traditional schools, my children didn’t enjoy talking about what they learned in school. Today, they like talking about the solar system and solving math problems in between talking about Pokemon and Harry Potter.


There’s also little homework. Probably because the classes are small, the teachers can make sure that each student understands the lessons well enough not to need extra studying at home. But when homework does get assigned, it’s usually the more practical kind: learn how to cook something; wash the dishes; plant a vegetable.

Less — or usually, zero — homework means the kids have more free time after class. It is here where it becomes a bit complicated. On the one hand, it’s good that the kids don’t have to spend two extra hours a day hunched over their desk, studying, and instead be able to do other things that interest them. On the other hand, having all that free time brings on endless negotiations about screen time — at least in our house, it does. We are lucky that I can work freelance; I can be home and deal out the boredom when imaginations need to be stretched, and eyes need to rest from gadget use.

My kids like talking about the solar system and solving math problems in between talking about Pokemon and Harry Potter.

Blended learning is a hands-on approach not just for the teachers but everyone involved in it, especially the parents or guardians. There are scheduled parent-teacher conferences every semester, but there can also be quick huddles with the teachers other times. That way, parents don’t have to wait until the end of the semester to find out what’s happening with their kids in school.

As with any school, it takes commitment to stick with a different method of learning for our kids. My husband and I have had to un-learn some things that, up until we enrolled our kids at BLC, we thought were school canon. We grew up thinking that kids need to be in a classroom setting to learn—one day, the BLC kids went to watch a mini-concert at UP’s Abelardo Hall; that was their lesson for the day. We also studied in places where distractions were frowned upon—my kids’ school’s Labradors occasionally join classes that, I imagine, are especially interesting for them. I believe the dogs’ presence further relaxes the class, opening up the opportunity for more learning.

I understand that the blended learning method—just like any other learning method—isn’t for everyone. Each student, each family has their preference. But for my family, using this method has not only lifted our hopes for education. It has also made all four of us better students.


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5 Simple Tricks for a Smooth, ‘Walang Masungit’ School Morning

Get everything ready the night before. Sleep and wake up earlier. These are a few morning routine tips you may have already heard before, and are maybe even tired of hearing. If you’re looking for suggestions that require less changes to your routine, but are just as effective, read on:

1. Wake your child up with a snuggle.

Children are hard to wake up early in the morning. Worse, when they do, they can be in an awful mood. To avoid this, experts recommend starting the day right by reconnecting with your child. “For kids going to sleep at night means they are on their own,” Betsy Brown Braun, a child development and behavioral specialist, told Parenting. “I look at the morning as the oasis after the drought.”

Try waking up your littler learner with a snuggle in bed and soft but cheerful conversation. Say good morning, tell her what you’ve made for breakfast or remind her of something fun she’ll be doing at school today. It may take away a few minutes in your morning routine. However, it’s absolutely worth it if it makes everyone’s happier and more cooperative in the morning.


2. Motivate — don’t dictate.
Keep in mind: your aim is to get everyone ready and out the door, but your child may not share the same goal. He doesn’t feel the need to dress quickly or make sure he eats his breakfast. And, barking orders at your child to hurry up may just make him more reluctant to do so. The solution then is to motivate and not to dictate.

Your presence, motivation, and help will move things along. When he’s sitting down at the table but reluctant to eat breakfast, say something like, “Hey, why don’t you try mixing your own bowl of champorado this time?” When he’s putting on his shoes, comment on how good he is now at tying his laces.

3. Keep cool.
Have you noticed that when you start to stress that’s when everything seems to go wrong? You’re not just imagining it. “The more you rush in the morning, the slower your kids will move,” said Kirk Martin, a behavioral consultant. Your child won’t be happy in the morning if you’re not, so stop what you’re doing and take a breather. Signal to your child that the both of you will work together to get things done by making eye contact or gently touching her arm. This will re-establish that much-needed parent-child connection in the morning. “Once we connect with a child, compliance follows,” said Martin.


4. Be smart about the time.
If you know that fixing your child’s bag in the morning puts you both in a frantic and sour mood, then place the task as a to-do the night before instead. Morning routines hinge on how well you manage the limited time you have. Be smart about it and move around morning tasks to make your routine more efficient. If you have trouble thinking of what to make for breakfast and baon in the morning, decide on it the night before too. And, if your child doesn’t like taking a shower as soon as he wakes up, maybe it will be better if breakfast comes first.

5. Play music.

Here’s a simple trick you can try: play feel-good tunes in the morning to set the mood for a wonderful day ahead. Pick a few songs that you know your child loves singing or dancing to and play it while she’s getting ready. It may just surprise you at how willing and cooperative she’ll be while “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 movie or “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls is playing in the background.

Source: Real Simple, Aha! Parenting, Parenting


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How to Deal with a Pasaway Yaya, According to Preschool Teachers

No matter how much we wish to be there for our children always, there will come a time when help would be necessary. Besides relatives and close friends, nannies or yayas have become an indispensable part of our lives.

While the goal may be to build a good relationship with our yayas, sometimes it’s not that easy, especially when they exhibit unpleasant attitudes. Needless to say, many moms who have given the task of bringing their kids to school to their yayas sometimes feel frustrated. We spoke to them for tips on how to deal with these pet peeves:

“Yaya on call”
We’ve all encountered the yaya who is glued to her cellphone. Once she hands over the child to the teacher, she uses the waiting time in school talking on the phone or texting. For Patricia Del Rosario-Coromina, who works in a preschool, gauging the yaya is the first step. “Some yayas are actually open to constructive criticism while others get defensive. So it’s always a matter of feeling for the right moment and the manner in which to tell them. A yaya may respond better if you say things half-jokingly, like, “Hala yaya, mamaya ka na mag-phone, baka pagtingin mo ulit college na sya.” There was one that appreciated bluntness more, “Yaya, baka puwede mamaya ka na mag phone kasi mahirap na kung may mangyari sa bata dahil distracted ka.”

Yaya “the Kapitana”
She gathers all the yayas in the waiting area for the latest gossip and updates in showbiz, politics and even insider scoop from their employers. Toni Fajardo, a preschool teacher for five years, points out “These chit-chats may be the cause of helpers being pirated between employers, among others.” Instead of talking about other people’s lives, “I would appreciate it if yayas can do more productive tasks such as knitting, writing or reading a book. The yaya of my student reads a dictionary while waiting!” shares Chany Antonio, a preschool teacher.


Labeler Yaya
She is quick to attach a label to the child, such as “bad boy/girl,” “ADHD,” and other names. “I am always a bit more direct with these yayas, because, as a teacher, I feel this is a more pressing issue to address. I always try to be gentle but firm about it. And I make sure that it is always away from the child’s hearing,” reminds Coromina. “Instead of using street language, teach yaya to call the child’s name and explain the wrongdoing instead of calling the child “bad” right away.”

Yaya sumbungera
Or the one who threatens if the child doesn’t follow her rules (Sige ka, sasabihin ko sa mommy mo na di ka kumain!) “It’s better to just tell the child the actual consequences of his actions – if he doesn’t want to eat, he’ll get hungry, or if he doesn’t want to pee before leaving the school, he might have the urge while you’re on the road. Threatening to leave him will only cause resentment or other deeper issues,” explains Coromina.

In cases like these, parents can always seek the help of their child’s school. Thankfully, most schools nowadays conduct yaya seminars. “We tackle topics from hygiene (for the yaya and for the children), to food and snack ideas, to effective communication with the children and fun activities they can do with the kids at home,’ says Coromina.

“We’ve all been told that children learn by imitation. That is why parents and caregivers are expected to model socially-acceptable behavior and language at home and in school so that the children will grow up to do the same,” ends Fajardo.


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Ginger Root for Migraines

Many successful herbal treatments start like this: Some doctor learns that some plant has been used in some ancient medical tradition, like ginger for headaches. Well, the physician has patients with headaches and so tries advising one with migraines to give it a try since it’s just some safe, common spice. At the first sign of a migraine coming on, the patient mixed a quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger in some water, drank it down, and poof! Within a half-hour, the migraine went away. It worked every time for them with no side effects. That’s what’s called a case report.

In my video, Ginger for Migraines, I show the remarkable case report, but case reports are really just glorified anecdotes. Case reports have played an important role in the history of medicine, though. AIDS was first discovered as a series of case reports. Some young guy walks into a clinic in Los Angeles with a bad case of thrush, and the rest is history. Reports of an unusual side effect of a failed chest pain drug led to the billion-dollar blockbuster, Viagra. Case reports may represent the weakest level of evidence, but they are often the first line of evidence, where everything starts. The ginger and migraine report isn’t helpful in itself, but it can inspire researchers to put the treatment to the test.

The problem is, who’s going to fund it? The market for migraine drugs is worth billions of dollars. A quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger costs about a penny. Who would fund a study pitting ginger versus the leading migraine drug?

No one… that is, until now. A double-blinded, randomized, controlled, clinical trial compared the efficacy of ginger to sumatriptan, also known as Imitrex, one of the top-selling billion-dollar drugs in the world in the treatment of migraine headaches. Researchers tried using only one-eighth of a teaspoon of powdered ginger versus a good dose of the drug.

They both worked just as well and just as fast.

Most patients started out in moderate or severe pain but, after taking the ginger or the drug, ended up in mild pain or completely pain-free. The same proportion of migraine sufferers reported satisfaction with the results either way. As far as I’m concerned, ginger won—not only because it’s a few billion dollars cheaper than the drug, but because there were significantly fewer side effects in the ginger group. People taking sumatriptan reported dizziness, a sedative effect, vertigo, and heartburn. The only thing reported for ginger was an upset tummy in about 1 out of 25 people. (As a note of caution, taking a whole tablespoon of ginger powder at one time on an empty stomach could irritate anyone’s stomach.)

An eighth of a teaspoon of ginger is not only up to 3000-times cheaper than the drug, but you’re also less likely to end up as a case report yourself of someone who had a heart attack or died after taking the drug—tragedies that have occurred due to sumatriptan.

These are my favorite kinds of posts to do because I can offer something that is immediately practical, cheap, safe, and effective to reduce suffering. If this kind of information helps you or someone you love, I hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the nonprofit organization that runs We have a growing staff and server costs to cover, and any help you could give would be much appreciated (and there are perks!).

For more on ginger root:

Avoiding aspartame (Aspartame and the Brain) and using lavender may also help (Lavender for Migraine Headaches). If you have cluster headaches, ask your physician about capsaicin (Hot Sauce in the Nose for Cluster Headaches?).

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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San Francisco to ban sales of vaping flavored liquid

San Francisco city supervisors unanimously approved a measure that bans the sale of flavored nicotine-laced liquid used in electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products — with city supervisors saying nicotine masked in cotton candy, banana cream, mint and other flavors entices kids into a lifetime of addiction.

The post San Francisco to ban sales of vaping flavored liquid appeared first on Inquirer News.

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DOH urged woman to under cervical cancer screening

Manila, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) urged women to get screened for cervical cancer to boost survival rates for the illness, which kills more than 12 daily and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipino women.

“The tragedy of cervical cancer deaths is that this cancer is preventable and treatable. In fact, in developed countries, cervical cancer is much less common because screening and vaccination are well-established,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.

“Our goal now in the Philippines is to institutionalize HPV (human papillomavirus) immunization and screening so that our precious women will no longer die of cervical cancer,” she said.

In recognition of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month last May, the DOH offers free cervical screenings using the VIA (visual inspection using acetic acid) method for women aged 25 to 55 years in selected DOH hospitals across the country.

SeriousMD Doctors | EMR Philippines

“With regular screening, women will know if there are changes in their cervix due to HPV infection, which may eventually progress into cancer,” she said.

As indicated by Ubial, almost 100 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV.

“It is unfortunate that, every day, more than 12 women die from this disease, primarily because they are detected late and are not given early protection,” she said.

As part of its National Growth Prevention and Control Program, the DOH will spearhead this year’s commemoration of Cervical Cancer Consciousness Month with the theme “Babae, Mahalaga Ka! Magpa-Screen, Now Na!” (Woman, you are priceless! Get screened at once!)


12 Ways to Encourage Dad to be a Hands-on Parent

No matter how much of a supermom you are, it is also good for both your husband and your kids if Dad’s more involved in raising them. Nagging is definitely not the way to go (when is it ever?), so some of these tips might help.

1. Take baby steps
It can be overwhelming for a new dad if he’s saddled with a screaming infant and he has no idea what to do. Anne Santos, children’s-book author and mom of Tiago, 6, suggests, “Slowly ease him in, and involve him in your parenting chores little by little. Give him books to read, and praise him for a job well done or at least for trying. This way, he won’t be too scared to step in and eventually step up.”

2. Take him along to the OB-gyn and pre-birth classes
Even before babies arrives, begin working as partners so your hubby will know what’s going on and not feel like an outsider. He’ll understand his role from day one and know what to expect and what is expected from him.
According to Andrean Garabedian, director of sales marketing and mom of Lily, 1, “if your marriage’s sole foundation is about partnership, why shouldn’t that go along with the next stage of your life as parents?”

3. Ask him to help you
The best way to reel him in is simply ask. According to clinical psychologist and Miriam College associate professor Jerry Jurisprudencia, Ph.D., men will assume “[the mom] can do it better, and think, ‘if she doesn’t ask me to help her, then I’d just let her do it.” That’s why it’s important to ask him to help you out.

Inez Velasquez, lawyer and mom to Lala, 8 months, agrees: “They don’t know what’s going on inside your head, how you feel, or what baby needs. I think that once husbands realize how badly wives need their help raising the kids, they would willingly become more involved.”

4. Send him parenting articles or videos
While you may be reading parenting articles, he is most likely watching gadget videos. Ina de Vera, former primary-years educator and mom to Nacho, 17, Josh, 14, Emilio, 6, Amara, 3 and Cato, 6 months, says it’s important to learn together:

“We attend parent-education talks together or send each other interesting articles. In the case of busy dads, short videos seem to work better.”

5. Assign him certain tasks.
“An agreement on shared parenting can be established with a specification of roles expected from each partner,” says Celia Aguila, Ph.D., chair of the Miriam College Department of psychology. “Each role can be established, taking into account the partner’s ability and availability to play the role. In doing so, gray areas such as who wakes up at night to change diapers or who babysits when the yaya is unavailable become clear.”

“My husband and I agreed that I would take care of feeding and bathing the baby, while he would take care of dirty diapers,” says Inez. “At night, I wake him up whenever the baby needs a diaper change. No matter what time it is, he always gets up to change Lala’s nappies without complaint.”


6. Involve kids in activities dad likes to do
“My husband likes to water the plants and go for a night jog, and he still really enjoys his comic books. So the kids garden and go on evening strolls with him, and he keeps them entertained talking about comic-book characters and making up bedtime stories based on those,” relates Ina.

“My husband Miko loves to cook, so he bakes cookies and cupcakes with the girls,” says Gabbi Pascual, mom to Natalia, 6, and Solenne, 3. “Their dad lets them help in sorting the ingredients and mixing the batter. Then he leaves them fully in charge of decorating.”

7. Have the kid ask dad for help
“I tell my son that there are specific activities where papa is the expert at, so he and [his dad] Charlie do those things, such as coloring with markers, together,” says Treena Ongking, mom to Carlo, 3. She explains that this way, “Carlo asks Charlie to help or play with him,” so Dad can’t say no.

8. Lower your expectations
Sometimes, when we notice that our men don’t do the job as well or as efficiently as we do, we swoop in and take over. Dr. Jurisprudencia says this is a bad idea. “Nagging your husband if he doesn’t do something right away would be a turn off,” he explains. “He might not meet your expectations, so don’t expect what he does with the kids to be the same as how you would do it.’

9. Set a Daddy playdate
“Another way to involve Dad further is to involve his friends,” suggests Inez. “One of my husband Paolo’s closest friends has a daughter who is only six months older than Lala. Sometimes, our families meet up and have ‘family dates’. We went walking at the park one Sunday, and it was so heartwarming watching these two dads playing with their daughters while the mommies talked and traded mommy tips.”


10. Spend time together without mom
“I let my husband spend a lot of time with Tiago so they can get to know each other and have a relationship just like a mom and child do- or as close to that as possible,” says Anne.

Inez’s husband is the one who insists on giving his wife a break: “On Mama’s days off, I would leave the baby with my husband. It’s great because Mama gets a break, while Daddy and Baby have alone time.”

Andrea and her husband take turns. “On Saturdays, they go to swim class together and that’s their thing,” she says. “There are weekends when he plays golf all day and I have her, but on another day, I get a day off, too.”

11. Give him a list
You might have your child’s needs memorized. However, according to Dr. Jurisprudencia, husbands can be forgetful, so it’s important to make a list for him. Anne does this as well. If she’s going to leave her husband with her son, she makes sure there’s a …read more    

Fatherhood Brings Performance Anxiety (It’s Not What You Think)

Being a dad is no joke. As I always tell my friends, making kids is the easy, enjoyable part of starting a family. Once they’re there though you assume responsibilities you never really thought about and try to meet expectations to prove your worth as a “quality” dad. Being the father of two highly-opinionated, snarky kids (a teenage boy and a precocious 8-year-old girl), here are five things about being a dad no one told me.

I wasn’t given a warning about performance anxiety.
No, not THAT kind of performance. When my wife told me that she was pregnant with our son, I was ecstatic. It was something we have been waiting for (and I also realized the “boys” were actually working, woohoo!). But the day after the announcement, I was working in front of my PC at home, and it just hit me: I’ll be a father, and I didn’t have any savings.

That thought led me into a downward spiral of worrying: will I be able to provide for my child and my wife? Will I find a better job? Is my current job fit for a padre de familia? What about when my child enters elementary school? High school? College?

Am I going to be a failure as a father?

At that moment, I kind of wished the boys didn’t perform their job that well. My wife noticed that I looked sullen and worried and asked me what’s wrong. Thankfully, after I told her my fears, she reassured me, helped me process, and made me realize that I just need to take it one day at a time and enjoy being a soon-to-be-dad.

You’re expected to be Mr. Handyman.
When you get married, your wife will likely assume that you, being this virile alpha male, know your way around a toolbox. Minor house repairs should be your domain. While my dad taught me how to use a screwdriver (leftie loosie, righty tighty!), becoming a dad brings with it additional expectations on your skills.


After breaking his favorite toy truck when he was young, my son naturally asked me to fix it. One look at the poor truck though, with its cracked housing and wheel and bent axle, I could tell there was no way anyone could fix it. When I told my son that it was beyond repair, he gave me this look of profound disappointment. He thought his Dada could fix anything, short of resurrecting a totally destroyed toy.

I felt quite small when my son gave me that look. So I salvaged his damaged perception of his superhero father and drove him to the nearest toy store. Yes, I bought him a new toy. Problem solved. Reputation intact. Dada is a hero.

You will have to steel yourself for when you have a girl.

Be ready for fashion makeovers.
This is something you will have to steel yourself for when you have a girl. Little girls think everyone is a mannequin, and the most pliant one would always be you, the Dad. Why? Because they have this sixth sense — they know they’ve got you wrapped around their finger. Lipsticks and makeup while you’re working at home? Suffer through it.

Headbands and tiaras while playing tea party? Suck it up. Putting colorful clips on your hair because she’s bored while waiting for your flight at the airport’s waiting area? Sit through the embarrassment with quiet dignity. On the plus side, though, you get really admiring glances from the ladies. I think their uteruses can sense great daddy material when they see it.


Patience x infinity = dadhood
Patience is not just going to be a virtue when you’re a father. It’s practically going to be your last name. You have to learn to keep your cool when they throw a tantrum at the toy store, when they kick their sibling on the face, when they pull the placemat from the table with a plate on it. You can’t lose your cool and get angry for something little kids are kind of expected to do because what kind of a dad would you be? You’re trying to be the cool DAD, right? And Cool Dads are, you know, COOL! You’ll have to learn the art of Zen even if you don’t know what the frigging hell Zen is when you became a dad.

You’re going to be a rolemodel — 24/7
No one tells you that being a role model is a LOT of hard work. It is probably the hardest thing to do when you embark on your journey of fatherhood.

Whenever I’m with my son and daughter, I have to remember to say “please,” “thank you,” “po,” and “opo” when I talk to everyone. When I order anything at the restaurant, I have to be extra nice and polite even when I’m tired and just want to mumble our orders with a quick thanks to end it. Every single show we watch together, every single movie, every single Facebook post they read becomes an impromptu moral lesson.

Patience is not just going to be a virtue; it’s practically going to be your last name.

And you know you’ve turned into a parent when you do the one thing you hated your parents for doing — give those “during my time” and “when I was your age” stories. You suddenly realize your parents told you those stories not to torture you; they just really love you, and they’re just afraid you won’t develop the tools and skills you need to survive adulthood.

And yes, this is THE ONE THING I wish someone told me about being a dad — you’ll always live in this bubble of overwhelming love for your children, vexation for the wrong things they do, fear for their future, and pride for raising really cool kids.


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5 Anti-Acne Drugstore Products That Actually Work

Many expensive skin care brands can do wonders for your skin, but don’t think that more affordable ones won’t work. Especially when it comes to dealing with acne, products you would normally find in a drugstore deserve a second look and a trial spin.

Below, we list five of our favorite budget-friendly options to soothe those breakouts!

IMAGE Naruko

Naruko Tea Tree Shine Control & Blemish Clear Night Gelly, P739, Watsons

A mattifying night moisturizer that calms breakouts and fights sebum production, it also works as a spot treatment!

IMAGE Himalaya Herbals

Himalaya Herbals Neem Purifying Mask, P135, Watsons

Treat yourself to this neem mask that will balance your oil production and clear your pores of dirt, sebum, and more.


IMAGE Celeteque

Celeteque Acne Solutions Acne Spot Corrector Gel, P169, Watsons

Need to dry up a zit overnight? This works like magic!


Celeteque Acne Solutions Clearing Concealer, P269, Beautymnl

With the help of salicylic acid, this concealer hides blemishes and helps them heal faster all in one go. What more can you ask for?

IMAGE Beautymnl

Leaders Insolution Derma Soul Anti-Trouble Mask With Green Tea, P78, SM Makati

Prevent and calm down breakouts as you chill the night away using this mask.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.


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How This Children’s Book Helped My Bullied 8-Year-Old Daughter

My daughter never had any trouble making friends. She’s generous, affectionate, and up to the time she was in second grade, believing every single person in the world was the same way.

Then one day she stopped talking about school. And over the next few days, she became petulant and emotional. (In other words, she was a complete brat.) Lots of tantrums and sulking. Red flag: she stopped eating her baon when usually she’d bring enough to share.

After Lord knows how many attempts to get her to open up, I found out that her friends had stopped talking to her. She knew about bullies — bad kids, mean kids — but she didn’t know what to make of people she loved and trusted going out of their way to make her miserable.


“What did I do wrong, Mama?”

We talked a little. We hugged a lot. I approached teachers and parents who basically said, “Kids will be kids, they’ll sort it out.” Eventually, she found other people to play with, but she remained wary. “He’s my friend…today.”

I wondered how to bring up the bullying incident without opening a hole in her heart that I couldn’t close.

And then, I found the book.

Super Ningning is a story about a lonely little girl who is bullied and thinks she needs superpowers to either earn friends or run away from the teasing. Along the way she finds other people who are just as scared or hurt as she is, and she reaches out and helps. It turns out she doesn’t need anting-anting; she needs compassion and kindness. She doesn’t need to be strong and perfect; she just needs people who accept her just the way she is.

“Do you want me to read you a bedtime story?” I asked my daughter.

“You said I was too old for bedtime stories,” she said. “I can read them myself.”

“No, this is a story I want us to read and talk about together.”


I read the story to her. She listens. Then she shakes her head.

“Why are you shaking your head?” I asked.

“Sometimes kids stay mean,” she said. “Sometimes even if you’re nice…really nice…they still won’t play with you.”

I’ll be honest with you. Super Ningning is a beautiful, empowering story that can help kids understand that words can hurt and actions have a consequence. But it will not magically erase the feelings of a child who’s already been bullied.

What it can do is start a conversation. It gives kids who don’t have the emotional vocabulary to explain what they feel a safe way to talk about what they went through.

“I still wish I had superpowers. I still wish I could kick them.” And we talk about anger.

“Does Ningning and her friends still fight? What if they suddenly don’t talk to her?” And we talk about how it’s okay to disagree, but there’s a friendly way to do it.

And we talk about sitting alone in school. And what I went through, and what the authors went through, and it’s really about being okay with who you are.

“You know, the author of the book was also bullied? And she said writing was her superpower,” I said. “Sometimes writing and talking about stuff can make you feel better. I do it all the time.” She looked at me. “How?”

So we got a piece of paper. And she drew her mean friends, and we both had fun putting horns on their heads and giving them green teeth and red eyes.

And I said, “Do you want to write a letter to Ningning?”

“She’s not even real, Mom,” she tells me, rolling her eyes.

“Okay, fine. Do you want to pretend to write a letter to a pretend person?”

“But why?!” she asks.

“Because one day you will meet a nice, friendly, and really wonderful person. And maybe her name will be Ningning or maybe it won’t, but I bet you’ll have a lot of fun with her. What would you say?”

For the first time she smiles really widely. “I would say…Hello, Super Friend.”

Get a copy of Super Ningning at National Book Store, Precious Pages, and Mt. Cloud Bookshop in Baguio.


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