Category Archives: Bonding with children

Black Belt

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Rg,MM and Me with Shin Nosuke Suzuki

I remember being the butt of jokes because of my height. I am barely five feet. Since I can’t do much about my God given measurement, I might as well become strong and improve my asset-my strength. Height is might but being small also has benefits. When my brother forgot his ID and wasn’t allowed to enter the school, I simply crawled under the gate and gave mine. He was allowed to enter; while I simply crawled back inside-unnoticed.

When High School was ending, I figured how to improve my lot.  Everyone else towered above me. Feeling a sense of insecurity, I joined TaeKwonDo. Back to the time when Bruce Lee was popular even twenty years after his untimely death, I was finally “in”.

I chose Taekwondo because it is very fancy and resembled Bruce’s Kung fu.  Further, you rarely find an authentic Chinese Martial Arts School unless you live in Chinatown.

During my white belt days, I stood out not because of my form but because I kicked hard. I was very fortunate to train under the Olympian Bronze Medalist, Stephen Fernandez.

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Back to the Basic Side Kick

When I finally gained my black belt, I felt invincible, and yes, TALLER.  You see, I am so fortunate to be born in a family where martial arts was much revered and required. Considering that I am now a black belter, I occupied the front row, closer to the Master.

When I entered law school, butt and head kicking days had to be archived, in the meantime.  The days that followed were thought provoking and more sedentary. I gained legal knowledge and POUNDS.  I remember the laws, but completely forgot my TKD forms. I even lost half of my sense of humor.

Twenty three years after I became a black belter, I came back (Well, I had to find a bigger dobok[1]  and run around the oval for two weeks straight to  shed unwanted fats earned during law school).   At the TKD Central Gym, the children were taller and faster. How does a forty year old lawyer spar with teenagers who have longer legs and at the prime of their youth?  Simple. Being small, I get closer and kick higher so their legs would not hit my little frame. After a week’s training, the coach lauded my old school moves.[2] You see, being a black belt does not mean it’s the ultimate level, there are several degrees/dans to reach. In order to be promoted to a higher degree, you have to break more boards and spar with several black belters as well. This is a very formidable task because age and height are never considered during promotion.

This is not just about me. It’s all about my sons too. You see, they recently became black belts too. Two years of hard training finally paid off.  The happy part is we three get to occupy the front row.

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Coach Ric giving instructions.

When asked if something inside them changed, my eldest replied, Mom, I think I will become more popular. Let’s see.

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RG, Shinosuke Suzuki and Miguel with Coach Ric Canlas taken on June 28,2016.
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Miguel, Shinosuke and Ruben wid Coach Ric, taken in June 2014.

[1] Dobok means Tae Kwon Do uniform.

[2] Old school meaning fancier more Bruce Lee like kicks which include turning head kicks.

What I got My Kids for Christmas

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My husband, Col. Ruben B. Guinolbay, gave our children these bikes for Christmas.


After reading my previous post, maybe you are wondering what I gave my children for Christmas.   Apart from books and polo shirts, I  gave my sons these:

Black Ops Junior Sniper
Black Ops Junior Sniper Pellet Guns

Honestly, the last thing I want my children to be, is a soldier. I have nothing against soldiers ( considering that I am married to one)  but the thought that I would be seeing them less while they are studying until they become full-fledged soldiers NEVER appealed to me.

My children and their dad.
My children and their dad, Col. Ruben Guinolbay.

Anyway, the reason why I bought them these pellet guns was simply to  provide them an alternative hobby. Considering it’s Christmas time, going to the TaeKwonDo gym is very discouraging given the horrendous traffic. As their mom, I am responsible for taking care of their eyes. Every time we go to my parents’ house, my boys can’t get enough of gadgets.  My parents’ house is actually a gaming zone with free wifi. Further,  my cousin Dino gave them SEGA console each.  Anyway, being the supportive mom that I am, I printed them gun targets  which I posted all over the garden.  Look at these pictures:

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My first born, RG, is testing his sniper gun. My other son, MM looks on.
 This is my younger son Miguel, firing his sniper gun.
This is my younger son Miguel, firing his sniper gun.

As a toy advocate, I encourage  the use of toys to reach  out to children. I am fortunate  to grow up in  a place surrounded by gardens. The environment is very ideal for children. My father who is himself an officer, bought four contiguous lots and surrounded them with  walls.  When we were children we also used the place to fire air guns.  Now that I am a mom, to bond with my kids, I bought a pellet gun for myself.

This is my pistol/pellet gun.
Mm is trying  my pistol/pellet gun.

Are you like me, an adult who never gets enough of toys? Sometimes I feel guilty because I  buy toys not only for my children but for myself as well.  A reminder though, even if these are mere toy guns, playing with pellet guns should  be  adult supervised. By adult supervision, meaning I have to be present whenever they play with these guns. Now that’s my perfect excuse to get a toy gun for myself.

How We Celebrate Christmas

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My husband, Col. Ruben Guinolbay, gave my children RG and MM, bikes for their Christmas presents.

Christmas time is always family time.  At the time November was ending, I was already planning my family get away, the toys  that I will be buying for my children and for myself.Well of course, my plans depended on how much money I will be receiving for my bonus. However,  after a ten day confinement at the hospital, and the  harsh reality of finally receiving the most awaited thirteenth month pay with TAX, of course, the long dreamed family get away and the hi tech toys i intended to buy for my children and myself had to be archived- in the meantime. Don’t get me wrong, I still think positive. Anyway, as usual, I have finished the nine day Misa De Gallo  (rooster’s mass) which is a Filipino Catholic tradition. I thanked God for a good year and I must admit,  I  still prayed  essentially for the same things like not being “short” on funds and not having any health problems for the incoming year 2016.

This is the Sta. Clara Church, Pasay. This is where I attended the Misa De Gallo  at 4:00 in the morning.  Roman Catholic Filipinos believe that they are entitled to more blessings after completing the nine  day Christmas masses which  culminate on Christmas eve.

Thanks to my  siblings and cousins, the toys which I was not able to buy for my children were  wrapped by them as presents; to my children’s delight. (See that, finishing Misa De Gallo  indeed  yielded miracles.) This is what my Cousin Dino gave my boys.

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Christmas tree

This is what my dad's tree look like during the day.
This used to be a coconut tree; now, only the trunk remains. My Dad decided to cut it down due to the safety hazards it poses on my children.

Not  all families are happy this year, in my office alone,  an office mate lost his parents and he himself eventually died of complications from diabetes,  barely two weeks after his dad was buried.  Guess what, all three deaths in that family happened this year. Further, a fellow lawyer recently got diagnosed with lung cancer- stage 4.  Another office mate lost her mom during Christmas eve. These three families will never be whole again. They will never celebrate Christmas the same  way again.  But, life goes on. In view of the three unfortunate events, my office mates and I decided to celebrate our  Christmas party with a Merry Montage of pictures. See this picture, I’m wearing violet:12357115_10207187621901395_2781551567842562298_o

Wearing white this time.

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2015 Legal Services Group Christmas Party. I am  at the center wearing black.

Given the several deaths, all funerals attended by yours truly, I decided to pay more attention to my family, specially my aging parents. Even if climbing and hanging ornaments on my dad’s make shift backyard tree proved to be challenging, the back pains I suffered was inconsequential compared to the magnitude of happiness my dad felt upon seeing his little project decorated.  You see, I was not expecting any rewards, but he rewarded me monetarily nonetheless.

This is what the tree looks like at night.
This is what Dad’s Christmas tree looks like at night.

You see,  this Christmas was not spent the way I planned it. But still, I felt very happy because, simple things MATTER more than material things.

This is my family.
This is my family. My parents are those wearing crowns.

After all, let us not forget why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place.

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Toys and Kid Stuff by Atty. Marianne Aningat-Guinolbay

A glimpse of my happy childhood memories...
A glimpse of my happy childhood memories…

Stress is  inevitably part of our lives.However, there are ways to overcome stress-  praying and learning to have fun. In my case, I cope with stress by collecting and playing with toys. Forty years of existence and I still enjoy the things  that made me happy when I was a kid. I am talking about all kinds of  toys. Rich or poor, Mattel, Chicco branded or mere sardine cans, a normal kid gets by through the help of his/her toy. When I was young girl, I had barbie dolls and toy cars (yes, toy cars).   My siblings and I also shared a remote controlled toy airplane fueled by gasoline. It looks somewhat like this:

Image result for world war ii toy airplanes

Apart from  my dolls and toy houses, I also have toy musical instruments like this harp:

Miguel with my toy harp.
Miguel with my toy harp.
I have ten barbie dolls like this one. I think its called a heart barbie.

I am very fortunate to grow up in  a family who loves toys. Even my 81 year old dad takes out his gun collection once in awhile just to look at them. I think my children would be considered lucky to have me for a mom because I am a certified toy advocate.

Toy trains are a must. Miguel and Ruben II cannot get over their Thomas trains.Image result for toy thomas trains collection images

We have around seventy of the trains including the famous eight -Thomas, James, Percy, Edward, Gordon, Henry, Toby and Duck. These trains come in handy especially during Christmas time.

My collection of toy houses and windmills blend with my children’s train set. Pardon the low quality of the picture but the shapes are still visible, thus:

Ruben and Miguel's trian set.
Ruben and Miguel’s train set. At the foreground is the Hogwarts Castle.
RG with Percy
RG with Percy  the train.
Miguel with his radio flyer. I bought one for each boy. I was inspired by the movie Dennis the Menace.

Even if they break some of my toys and figurine houses older than them (grr!!), what matters is that they see and share a part of my childhood through my toys.Research shows that there are benefits from playing with children.Pretend playing improves the children’s vocabulary and teaches them how to solve problems. Further, regular bonding with our children relieves them from stress too.   My job as a mom is to give them the best childhood memories a mother could possibly give. I have no right to get tired. Tiredness equals disappointed children.

The author with her children RG and MM Guinolbay.
The author playing war games with her children RG and MM Guinolbay.
Daddy playing pirates with MM and RG.
Daddy playing pirates with MM and RG.

The point is, we must always play with our children because when they grow up, they will look for other playmates. In my experience, children who had a happy childhood eventually grew up as happy adults.

RG teaching his dad how to play Minecraft. MM wears the green wizard's hat.
RG teaching his dad how to play Minecraft. MM wears the green wizard’s hat.
RG teaching his dad how to play Minecraft. My little boy MM  has his face partially hidden by the green wizard’ hat.
RG 5 years old and MM, 3 at SM Moa in November 2010. The train was lent to Mm by the store vendor because MM was crying.
RG 5 years old and MM, 3 at SM Moa in November 2010. The train was lent to Mm by the store vendor because MM was crying.