Sep 29, 2014

Kidz Gear Volume-Limiting Headphones: Protection for Our Kids' Ears [REVIEW]


Product Specifications

Maximum volume: 108dB 
Max. vol. with limiting cable: 88dB 
Cord length: 1.5 meters (4.5 feet) 
Speaker size: 30 mm 

Out of the Box

A pair of Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones for Kids came in the mail today.



The kids eagerly tore into the box, and here's what came out:

Kidz Gear headphones (blue) and volume limit cord (black)
Of course, we all tried it out. (Even I did.) Since the kids weren't presentably dressed, here's a picture of their visiting cousin Zach Besin instead.

Comfort 

The tiny ear pieces felt a little strange on my ears, but they were comfortable and light – and soft!

They didn't press uncomfortably against my head (unlike my large headphones), so I think I'll be borrowing these for my own use once in a while. 

The headband length is adjustable, so it fits all head sizes.

Sound

We took turns listening to some songs from YouTube. The bass is pretty good!

Without the volume limiting cable, the sound can get pretty loud, but with the cable on, the volume is kept just below ear-piercing level. I never have to worry anymore if the kids have the volume on too high.

If you want to turn the volume down even more, it's easy and convenient with the volume-control dial.

Material

The product has so far been sturdy enough to withstand the chaos of my four kids and their cousin. They've been using it for three days now, and it's still in great condition.

A closer look at the headphones revealed very clean edges and snug connections. The plastic is flexible, not brittle. The parts are neatly screwed on to each other and not simply snapped on.

Availability

You will be pleasantly surprised to find that these headphones' suggested retail price is only P1,190.

It's very affordable, compared to the price of regular adult headphones of similar quality. And compared to the cost of good-quality hearing aids – which our kids will need if we don't protect their hearing this early – P1,190 looks like an excellent investment.

Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones are locally available at Astroplus, Astrovision, Beyond the Box, and Digital Hub. Overseas shoppers can get their Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones for Kids from Amazon.com.

To learn more about this product, check out its website, www.gearforkidz.com, or Like Kidz Gear on Facebook for updates.



DISCLOSURE: This is an unpaid review. A sample of the product was provided for free for review purposes.

The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.


Sep 24, 2014

BMBE Frequently Asked Questions

I've been receiving so many questions about BMBE, I decided to post this FAQ for quick reference.

If you have questions that are not answered here, please ask them in the comments box below and I will update this post.

What is BMBE?

The Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2002, or RA 9178, is a law that (theoretically) allows businesses with assets worth less than 3 million pesos to be exempted from paying income tax.

Aside from a few other benefits, BMBE also exempts you from the minimum wage law.

Am I qualified?

If you are a sole proprietor or corporation with assets worth less than P3 million, you are probably qualified.

I am a sole proprietor. What assets are we talking about here?

If you are a sole proprietor, we're talking about your personal assets, since your business assets and personal assets are one and the same.

The only thing that is not included in the computation of assets is the value of the building and land on which your business is located.

I am registered as a professional. Do I qualify for BMBE?

According to my conversation with the BIR contact center officials, probably not.

I operate a branch/franchise. Can I apply for BMBE?

No. Only main offices can apply for BMBE.

How do I apply for BMBE status?

Please see my detailed post on that: http://www.nanaynotebook.com/2013/01/the-bmbe-in-real-life.html.

And how much does it cost to apply?

P1,000 is the maximum application fee.

If I am approved as BMBE, does that mean I won't have to pay taxes anymore?

Well, first, BMBE applications are approved by the municipal hall, but tax exemptions are approved by the BIR.

Just because you are approved as a BMBE by the municipal/city hall does not necessarily mean you will be granted income tax exemption by the BIR. The DTI knows this situation, and apparently, it's not illegal for the BIR to do that.

Now even if the BIR does grant you income tax exemption, it only means you won't have to pay income tax anymore. You still have to pay the 3% monthly percentage tax.

Will I still need to issue official receipts (ORs) or sales invoices (SIs)?

Absolutely. By the way, make sure your ORs and SIs are printed by BIR-accredited printers. Click the link for the official list of BIR-accredited printers for 2014.

Do they sell ORs/SIs at the BIR?

There may be BIR employees that act as middlemen for these printers. It will save you money if you avoid middlemen and refer to the list instead and contact the printers yourself.

If I get income tax exemption, will I still need to file my ITR?

You won't be required to file your ITR anymore, but you will need to file your annual information form instead.

Nevertheless, you might still want to file your ITR even if you are not required to, because you may need an ITR to secure a loan or apply for postpaid lines, etc.

Note that if you are a BMBE, you won't have the option to compute your income tax using the optional standard deduction method (OSD). You'll have to itemize your expenses.

If you don't have an accountant, computing taxes through the itemized expense method can be a headache. This is why I chose to forgo filing my ITR as a BMBE.

I've gone to my municipal/city hall to apply as BMBE, but nobody seems to know what it is or how to do it.

That always happens. Keep asking and go where they tell you to go. The employees usually want to help, they really just don't know or remember the process.

If you pester the people at the municipal/city hall long enough, somebody who remembers the process will overhear you or notice the hullaballoo, and you'll finally get the help you need.

What if the official I end up talking with really has no idea what the BMBE law is about?

When this happens to you (and it will), call DTI's Bureau of Micro, Small, and Medium Scale Enterprises Development (BSMED) office and let the BSMED official talk to the municipal/city hall official, government office to government office. That should work.

Here are BSMED's numbers: 751-0384 / 890-4968 / 897-7596 / 897-1693. Save those on your phone.

Any more bad news?

Why, yes! When you get your income tax exemption, many of your clients' accountants will not know how to handle your payments as a BMBE entity. They will still insist on withholding tax from you because that's the only way they know how to report the payments they give you as an expense.

To prepare for this scenario, make sure you also get a special certificate (cost: P50) that specifically states you are exempted from income tax and, therefore, from tax withheld at source. Here is mine; you can use it as your template (click to enlarge):



Also, in all my invoices, I add the following note:
This subcontractor is registered as a Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise (BMBE) sole proprietor under RA 9178. Income tax is not part of her registered tax activities, and her withholding tax rate is 0%. A copy of her certificate of exemption from tax withheld at source is available upon request. To report this payment as an expense through Form 1601-E, please mark item 13 in the form as YES and specify RA 9178.

With all these hassles, why again do I want to apply for BMBE?

Because the income tax rates in the Philippines are incredibly high, and if you can be exempted from paying them, you will save a lot of money.

Is there no other way I can save on taxes?

There is! If you are operating a very small business with an annual gross income not exceeding P100,000, you are exempted from paying the monthly percentage tax of 3%.

For more information, read Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 7-2014.

The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

Aug 13, 2014

Is Homeschooling for You? And if It Is, How Can You Do It? [FREEBIES AND GIVEAWAYS]

CONTEST RESULTS 

After ensuring the validity of entries, The Nanay Notebook is happy to announce that the winner of the raffle is NADIA DE LEON

Congratulations! See you at the Homeschool Conference 2014! 

Please email me your full name and mobile number so I can submit them to the contest organizer, Manila Workshops.

Warm regards,

Blessie Adlaon

On a signal-number-2 day in August, my kids are all in "school."

  • My 9-year-old is learning Java Script. 
  • My 7-year-old is doing typing lessons (currently at 15 wpm), and later she will make loom band bracelets, which she will sell to our neighbors at P50 each. 
  • My 5-year-old, who has never been inside a formal classroom, is reading aloud the Act of Contrition.

Welcome to our world. This is what homeschooling in the Adlaon residence looks like.

Why Homeschool?

Every homeschooling family has its own reason. In our case, our three main reasons are
  1. protection and preservation of the children's innocence;
  2. the freedom to teach our kids what we believe is truly important, in the way we believe children should learn; and
  3. financial flexibility.
I will discuss each of these very briefly:

Preservation of Innocence. In school, away from teacher supervision, I saw and heard a lot of things that I now know children should not see and hear. In other words, garbage freely entered my mind – and once garbage enters, it's very hard to take it out. 

Now is not the time to discuss what happens when one's mind is sullied. But I know it is something I do not want for my kids. Homeschooling is one way I am able to protect them until they are discerning and spiritually strong enough to protect themselves.

Freedom to Teach. Do you ever feel that your child's school is teaching too much too soon? Does your child wake up extremely early, sleep very late, and have little to no time for play, because there is schoolwork to do? Do you feel helpless in the midst of it all?

My husband and I refuse to feel helpless in the way our kids are educated. That's why we chose to take full charge by homeschooling.

Financial Flexibility. My husband and I are both freelancers right now. Income is unpredictable. We don't always have money in June. 

By homeschooling, we can enroll in September or December or whenever the money comes. We decide what books to buy, what field trips to take, and we never have to spend on PTA fund raisers. 

Want to Learn More?

Click image to enlarge
Manila Workshops, The Learning Basket, and Unilab, supported by the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI), are proud to present the Homeschooling Conference of 2014, entitled Educating for Life: Homeschooling with Passion, Purpose and Confidence. It will be held on September 6, 2014 at the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center (8008 Pioneer St., Kapitolyo, Pasig) from 8 a.m. (registration) to 5:30 p.m.

The speakers and topics are
  • Irma Chua (Educating for Life). Irma is a mom of six and has been homeschooling for 20 years.
        
  • Dennis Poliquit (The Hands-On Homeschool Dad). Known as “Big Daddy Jake” over the radio airwaves, Dennis is a hands-on homeschooling dad of two sets of twins and one singleton.
        
  • Moira Bunyi (The Confident Homeschool Mom). Moira has a postgraduate degree in Family Life and Child Development and has been homeschooling for five years now.
       
  • Yen Galagnara (Learning in the Digital World). Yen was a “housemate” at Pinoy Big Brother Season 2. She homeschools her three children while she runs a Korean language school.
       
  • Jen Bellosillo (Introducing Filipino Arts, Culture, and Heritage). Jen has been homeschooling for six years now. She mentors other homeschooling parents as a CFA (Catholic Filipino Academy) parent coach.
       
  • Tina Rodriguez (Homeschool 101: Getting Started). Tina, mom of three, is a work-at-home and homeschooling mom who advocates her faith through her blog, Truly Rich Mom.
       
  • Donna Pangilinan-Simpao (Conquering Homeschool Fatigue). Donna is a medical doctor. She homeschools her three children. She is also the founder of the Facebook group "Homeschoolers in the Philippines."
       
  • Ivy Marquez (Nurturing the Love of Learning). Ivy homeschooled her three children up to high school.

Learning Fee (and How You Can Get a Seat for FREE!)

The cost of attending the conference is as follows:
  • Php 1000 per participant
  • Php 1500 per couple (We encourage both parents to attend!)
  • Php 500 per child (7 to 18 years old)
  • Php 500 for PWD
  • Php 500 for groups of homeschoolers; with a minimum of 5 persons per group
However, you have a chance to attend the conference for free! (Yes, FREE!)

Simply join our contest via Rafflecopter below and win TWO FREE SEATS to the conference! (Yes, TWO!)

But wait. There's more. You'll also get a heaping bag of craft goodies, sponsored by Bee Happy Crafts.

So of course you want to join the contest. Now here are the mechanics. To join:
  1. Like Bee Happy Crafts on Facebook.
  2. Like Manila Workshop on Facebook.
  3. Like the Learning Basket on Facebook.
  4. In the comment box below, leave a comment using an email address we can use to get in touch with you in case you win.
Each of the above equals one entry, for a total of four. (The more entries you make, the bigger chances of winning!)

Now if you want to further increase your chances of winning, please also like my Facebook business page, Facebook.com/WishPhilippines, the first local online wishlist publisher in the country, and follow me on Twitter, @WishPH.

This contest runs from August 13 to 22, 2014, Philippine time. Winners will be chosen through Rafflecopter and announced on August 23. Prizes (free seats and craft materials) will be given at the conference site on conference day.

Now if you can't wait for the contest results and want to register right now, please visit homeschoolingconference.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

Jul 31, 2014

The Kasambahay and Household Employer Unified Registration Form [DOWNLOAD and VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS]

A reader just informed me today that we can now register our kasambay (household helper) to three government agencies – the SSS, HDMF and Philhealth – in ONE registration step!

(Thank you, Leah. You rock!)

How to do it? Watch the video below. Then, scroll down further to download the form. 


Click a link below to download the Kasambahay and Household Employer Unified Registration Form:
CAN'T UNDERSTAND FILIPINO? HERE'S THE VIDEO'S TRANSLATED TRANSCRIPT:

As per RA 10361, or the Kasambahay Law, our household employees also have rights, just like ordinary workers. They should also be members of the PAGIBIG Fund, SSS, and Philhealth so that they can take advantage of their benefits. 

Because of this, the Kasambahay Unified Registration System was established. Here are the steps for household employees to register and become members of PAGIBIG, SSS, and Philhealth:
  1. The household employer and household helper may go to the nearest branch of PAGIBIG, SSS, or Philhealth to get the Household Employer and Kasambahay Unified Registration Forms.

    Because the registration is already unified, only one agency needs to be visited to be registered with all three agencies. For instance, if the nearest office is a PAGIBIG office, the household employer and household employee can go there to be registered not just with PAGIBIG but also with SSS and Philhealth. You no longer have to visit the three agencies one by one. Now it's three in one!
      
  2. Fill out the registration forms with the required information, such as full name, address, age, sex, birth date, civil status, etc.
       
  3. Afterwards, submit the accomplished forms to be registered.
      
  4. Just wait for the printout to ensure that you have been registered with the three agencies. When you receive the printout with the membership numbers for PAGIBIG, SSS, and Philhealth, sign it. 
You are now registered with the three agencies! You may now pay the necessary contributions at each agency, or go to a Bayad (Payment) Center outlet or to SM business centers. 

You may also download the Household Employer and Kasambahay Unified Registration Forms at these websites:
  • www.pagibigfund.gov.ph
  • www.sss.gov.ph
  • www.philhealth.gov.ph
The Kasambahay Unified Registration Form – easier and more convenient!


The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

Jul 26, 2014

Filipina-Authored Breastfeeding eBook Now at Amazon.com, FREE on Aug 1–3!

Breastfeeding: A Journey Worth Taking, by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag
From August 1–3, 2014, "Breastfeeding: A Journey Worth Taking" by inspirational author and breastfeeding advocate Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag will be available for free download at the Amazon.com Kindle Store.

The book features stories of triumph over breastfeeding challenges by moms from different walks of life – stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, moms working outside the home, and mompreneurs – including Dumadag's own breastfeeding story.

"Teresa imparts helpful and practical tips, from breastfeeding positions to nursing wear. All breastfeeding mothers can certainly relate to this book. I've already kept a copy in my clinic for all my patients to read," said Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas,  lactation unit consultant at The Medical City.

"I wish Teresa wrote this book five years ago when I was struggling during my own breastfeeding journey. A must-have manual for every nursing mother," said Rissa Singson-Kawpeng, bestselling author and editor-in-chief of Kerygma magazine.

This three-day ebook giveaway coincides with the start of World Breastfeeding Week. After August 3, "Breastfeeding: A Journey Worth Taking" will be available at the Kindle Store for $9.99.

Dumadag has previously written two books, "When My Bridegroom Comes" and "How to Have the Wedding of Your Dreams." She is the founder and current president Full Life Cube Publishing and Events Services. She maintains two blogs, Mommy Bares All and When My Bridegroom Comes. She also homeschools her kids.


The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

Jul 19, 2014

Professional or Sole Proprietor: What's the Difference?

If you're a freelancer registering your business to the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the first time, one question invariably comes up: should I register as a professional or as a sole proprietor?

Even if your profession does not require a license, you can register as a professional. And even a licensed professional can register as a sole proprietor. Hence the confusion.

To find answers, I interviewed a few accountants whose job it is to handle people's taxes and registrations. Here's what I found:

Registration Process

Sole proprietor registration takes patience
To register as sole proprietor, you need to
To secure a municipal permit, you may (depending on your municipality) be required to have
  • a fire extinguisher, 
  • business insurance, 
  • the written permission of your neighbors, 
  • etc. 
The plea that your "office" is just a laptop will fall on deaf ears. Government bureaucracy has little room for flexibility.

And, of course, you need to have a tax identification number (TIN).

To register as a professional, you don't need DTI registration. Municipal requirements, if any, are far less stringent than those for sole proprietors. But of course, you will still need a TIN.

Municipal Permit Fees

Sole proprietor's wallet after municipal permit renewal
Sole proprietors need to renew their barangay and municipal permit annually. Barangay permits cost around P500. Municipal permit is generally computed at 2% of your gross sales based on your issued official receipts. (If you earn P100,000 annually, you'll need to pay P2,000 at permit renewal time.)

On the other hand, professionals only need to pay for professional tax receipt (PTR), usually amounting to P500.

BIR-required Books

The BIR these days has a nagging distrust of professionals. So in addition to the three ledgers/journals that all self-employed individuals need to consistently fill out, professionals also have an appointment book they need to register with the BIR and keep updated.

Sole proprietors are not required to have this appointment book.

Reporting of Employee Wages

Professionals work alone. If you plan to take on employees or get freelance help, you should register as a sole proprietor so you can report their wages as part of your expenses.

Possibility of Income Tax Exemption

http://www.nanaynotebook.com/2013/03/bmbe-certified.html
The lovely law you will never hear about in a BIR seminar
Sole proprietors with assets totaling less than P3 million have the option to apply for income tax exemption under the BMBE law, or RA 9178. (Click on the links to learn more about BMBE in Real Life and BMBE Certification.)

Professionals cannot apply as a BMBE.

If you are approved as a BMBE, you could save much more than the difference between your municipal fee renewal and a professional's PTR fees. Compare:


BMBE 
Sole Prop
Professional
Gross sales
P200,000.00
P200,000.00
Optional standard
deduction
– 80,000.00
– 80,000.00
Net sales
120,000.00
120,000
Personal exemption
– 50,000.00
– 50,000.00
Total taxable income
70,000.00
70,000.00
Income tax due
0.00*
*BMBE income tax rate
8,500.00*
Municipal fees
4,000.000
*2% of gross sales
500.00
*PTR fee
TOTAL ANNUAL FEE
(income tax due + municipal fees)
P4,000.00
P9,000.00

Percentage Taxes, Annual Registration Fees, and Official Receipts

Whether you register as a sole proprietor or a professional, you will be required to 
  • pay monthly percentage taxes, which is 3% of previous month's receipts;
  • pay an annual registration fee of P500, due January 31; and
  • issue official receipts printed by a BIR-accredited printer, not just any ordinary printing house.

Which option did I choose? 

I registered as a sole proprietor under the trade name Escrive Writing and Editing. Sole proprietorship works for me because I was approved as a BMBE. 

But if I weren't a BMBE, I would probably find a professional registration more advantageous, despite the additional book I would have to fill out.


   
The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

Jun 26, 2014

4 'Good' Things You Do that Can Be Deadly to Your Child

Vitamins, minerals, milk, and honey – all these are good, healthy stuff. But did you know that some of these "good" things are in fact dangerous, even deadly, for children?

Giving Water to Babies

Every summer, Johns Hopkins Children's Center sees 3 to 4 infants suffering from seizures because their parents gave them water to drink.


"Babies need extra fluids in the hot weather, but straight water is not one of them," says Allen Walker, head of Johns Hopkins' emergency department.

Walker explained that the body needs both water and sodium. Children on solid food can get sodium from their food, but infants rely completely on their milk.

When pure water replaces milk, the water-sodium balance is lost, resulting in water intoxication, a potentially fatal condition.

To avoid water intoxication (and malnutrition), the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends giving only breastmilk to babies 6 months old and below.

Replacing Sugar with Honey

Honey is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. Research from the American Chemical Society shows this golden liquid is full of disease-fighting antioxidants.


But the WHO warns that honey can also contain Clostridium botulinum, a known cause of infant food poisoning:
Human botulism is a serious, potentially fatal disease.

Infant botulism ... occurs when infants ingest Clostridium botulinum spores, which germinate into bacteria that colonize in the gut and release toxins.

Spore-contaminated honey has been associated with a number of cases.
Adults and older kids are safe from these toxins because their bodies have already developed resistance, the WHO says, but infants are easy victims.

Symptoms of infant botulism include weakness, loss of appetite, constipation, and loss of head control. If an infant displays these symptoms, bring the child to the hospital emergency room immediately.

Taking Iron Supplements

Iron is a crucial mineral our body needs to deliver life-giving oxygen to our cells.

Image via Wikipedia by Ragesoss
But according to research from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, iron is also "a leading cause of poisoning-related injury and death" in children from 0 to 4 years old.

The research notes that children often overdose on iron supplements taken from child-resistant containers. Parents should keep all medicines and supplements in locked cabinets out of children's reach.

If you suspect iron overdosage, call the Philippine Poison Control Center's 24/7 assistance office at (02) 524-1078.

Breastfeeding During Diarrhea

The Department of Health lists diarrhea as the number 2 cause of death among Filipino children aged 1 to 4 years old. Part of diarrhea treatment is to give the child plenty of clean, nutritious fluids – and breastmilk is as clean and nutritious as fluids can possibly get.


But if your breastfed child's diarrhea won't resolve, breastmilk may be the culprit.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains that an initial episode of diarrhea can trigger temporary lactose intolerance in children, so your breastfed baby is suddenly unable to digest breastmilk properly. If you continue giving breastmilk to the baby, the diarrhea will not stop.

Temporary bottle feeding with lactose-free formula can provide your child with nourishment and fluids until the child's body is able to digest lactose again. For information on when to see the pediatrician, check out the Mayo Clinic website.

Certainly, in most cases, iron, honey, breastmilk, and water are good for children. But when given inappropriately, they can be deadly. The last thing we want to do is to hurt our children by the very same actions we intended to protect them.

The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.