Feb 17, 2014

Kolbe Academy FAQs for Enrollees in the Philippines

1. Are they open to having enrollees that use a different curriculum (e.g. Sonlight, Catholic Heritage, etc.)?

Yes, they are. You as the parent have the right to choose what curriculum to use with your child. The main thing is that you are able to prove to Kolbe, through proper documentation, that your child indeed learned the materials that are contained in the curriculum you used.

2. How do you send in your sample works, grades, etc.?

We scan them and save the whole set in PDF, then we email them to Kolbe. The documentation is arranged per quarter, but we compile all quarters so we can send them in one blast at the end of the year.
For high schoolers, however, it is highly recommended that you send quarterly reports quarterly, not annually.

3. Do you do all subjects?

No. For grades 1 to 3, we only do reading, phonics, grammar, math, science, and religion.

The full Kolbe curriculum includes geography, spelling, and history. We will include geography and history starting grade 4.

If you wish to teach Philippine history and geography, you may do so, but you will have to find your own curriculum and books for them, because Kolbe does not supply such materials.

4. Do you teach Filipino?

No, although I tried on our first year. My problem was the lack of good curriculum and materials for teaching the subject.

If my kids are ever required to take a validating exam in Filipino, they will fare like other children who were schooled using the US curriculum.

I agree that this can be inconvenient. This is why my children are transferring to a Philippine-based homeschool provider this year.

5. Do you buy all their books?

No. I get most of our materials online. You can get cheap or even free digital versions of McGuffey’s readers on Google Play, Project Gutenberg, and Amazon.com.

We subscribe to Starfall.com for my kindergartener. There are online flashcards at Factmonster.com. There are also plenty of printable exercises you can get for a P500 annual fee at Schoolkid.ph.

I sometimes browse the textbooks at National Bookstore for the occasional textbook gem.

The only books I get from Kolbe are their religion books. I used to get them using Johnny Air, but if you order the books right after you enroll online, they can be shipped along with the curriculum.

6. How old was your child when you enrolled her in kindergarten?

My second child was almost six years old when she enrolled in Kolbe’s kindergarten. My eldest was seven when he enrolled in Kolbe for the first time, in first grade. They did not ask if he had gone to kindergarten. But that could have changed, since US schooling policies seem to require kindergarten now too.

7. How much time do you spend homeschooling?

I hesitate to answer this question because you may interpret my answer to mean how much time YOU should spend homeschooling.

The point of homeschooling is that you get to adjust everything to your child’s individual needs. I recommend that you carefully gauge how long your child’s attention stays, and when the child has obviously become tired, don’t push it.

When my eldest was in first grade, he could tolerate two hours of class. When my second child was in first grade, she could only tolerate one hour of class.

You may ask, how was my second child able to finish her lessons in half the time?

Actually, the lessons were short enough to be finished in one hour time. My eldest child took two hours because when he was done with his lessons, his mom made him do extra practice!

Today, we have done away with the clock. I give them their tasks for the day, and if they are able to satisfactorily do their lessons in fifteen minutes (that means no mistakes on the exercises), they can go.

What do they do the rest of the time? They play. They study the things that really interest them.

They have drawing lessons through YouTube. They make their own dragon models out of cardboard and glue stick. They use Android apps to learn French vocabulary. Right now, as I type, they are exploring the properties of reflection and iridescence using flashlights and old CDs.

8. How much does it cost?

Please click here for my complete post on that.

9. How do you find Kolbe Academy so far?

Their curriculum is excellent for busy working mothers who are looking for an affordable curriculum with maximum flexibility. Their religion curriculum is excellent for Catholics. They are loyal to the Magisterium. I love that.

But this year, we are transferring to a Philippine-based homeschool provider because I would sleep better knowing that my children have Filipino and Sibika at Kultura in their curriculum. Also, Kolbe's flexibility is not quite suited to my personality.

Nevertheless, we will continue to buy Kolbe's curriculum and books for religion.

Note: This FAQ list is based on my experience and is not officially sanctioned by Kolbe Academy. To get information straight from them, please visit their website, kolbe.org, and find their contact information there.

Other questions? Please ask them in the comments.

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.

Feb 12, 2014

New (!) BIR Rules for Filing Income Taxes for the Year 2013, Due April 15, 2014

(This image just felt so right.)
Oh, yes, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) powers-that-be have done it again.

On January 24, 2014, the Department of Finance and the BIR issued this Revenue Regulation 2-2014 that says income tax for 2013 must be filed using the new 2013 edition tax forms released just recently (because when I downloaded it in late January, it was still the 2011 version).

In other words, if you had tried to be a good citizen and filed your taxes early (like I did), then sorry, good citizen, you'll just have to do the effing paperwork and visit your RDO to file your taxes again!

(Yes, I am humungously pissed. Does it show? Good.)

Thank goodness BMBEs like me are exempted from income tax, and according to the Tax Code of the Philippines, Chapter IX, Sec. 51.A.2.d, "An individual who is exempt from income tax pursuant to the provisions of this Code and other laws, general or special" is not required to file his/her ITR.

So I guess I'll just skip filing an ITR this year.

But I wanted an ITR in case I apply for a loan. The ITR, after all, is the main reason why I registered in the first place. Oh well, here's hoping I won't need an ITR in 2014.

Anyway, I am not writing to rant (even though I already did that). For your guidance, fellow tax payers, here is the full text of the BIR's latest notorious new regulation -- one of so many in very recent years.

Oh, and my annotations in red.

- - - - -



January 24, 2014

SUBJECT : New Income Tax Forms
TO : All Revenue Officials, Employees, and Others Concerned

SECTION 1 - Objective.

These Revenue Regulations are issued to prescribe the new BIR forms that will be used for income tax returns (ITRs) filing covering and starting the taxable year ended December 31, 2013.

SECTION 2 - Scope.

Pursuant to Section 244, in relation to Sections 6(H), 51(A)(1) and 51(A)(2) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 (Tax Code), as amended, these Regulations are issued to prescribe the use of revised income tax forms with bar codes, and to reflect the changes in information required from said forms. This will also enable the said forms to be read by an optical character reader (OCR) for ease in scanning.

SECTION 3 - Filing of New ITR Forms. (Click on the links to find the new downloadable BIR forms.)

All taxpayers required to file their ITRs under Section 51(A)(1) of the Tax Code and those not required to file under Section 51(A)(2) but who opted to do so, covering and starting taxable year ended December 31, 2013 shall use the applicable forms as follows:

  1. BIR Form No. 1700 version June 2013 (Annual Income Tax Return for Individuals Earning Purely Compensation Income);
  2. BIR Form No. 1701 version June 2013 (Annual Income Tax Return for Self-Employed Individuals, Estates and Trusts);
  3. BIR Form No. 1702-RT version June 2013 (Annual Income Tax Return for Corporations, Partnerships and Other Non-Individual Taxpayers Subject Only to the REGULAR Income Tax Rate);
  4. BIR Form No. 1702-EX version June 2013 (Annual Income Tax Return for Use Only by Corporations, Partnerships and Other Non-Individual Taxpayers EXEMPT Under the Tax Code, as amended, [Sec. 30 and those exempted in Sec. 27(C)] and Other Special Laws, with NO Other Taxable Income); and
  5. BIR Form No. 1702-MX version June 2013 (Annual Income Tax Return for Corporations, Partnerships and Other Non-Individuals with Mixed Income Subject to Multiple Income Tax Rates or with Income Subject to Special/Preferential Rate)

SECTION 4 - Rounding Off to the Nearest Peso in the ITR.

The requirement for entering centavos in the ITR has been eliminated. If the amount of centavos is 49 or less, drop down the centavos (e.g., P 100.49 = P 100.00). If the amount is 50 centavos or more, round up to the next peso (e.g., P 100.50 = P101.00). (Note: In the new form, the spaces for centavos were simply omitted, so instead of writing "101.00," you would simply write "101.")

SECTION 5 - Mandatory Itemized Deductions.

A. Corporations, partnerships and other non-individuals are mandated to use the itemized deductions in the following cases:
  1. Those exempt under the Tax Code, as amended [Section 30 and those exempted under Section 27(C)] and other special laws, with no other taxable income; 
  2. Those with income subject to special/preferential tax rates; and 
  3. Those with income subject to income tax rate under Section 27(A) and 28(A)(1) of the Tax Code, as amended, and also with income subject to special/preferential tax rates. Juridical entities whose taxable base is the gross revenue or receipts (e.g., non-resident foreign international carriers) are not entitled to the itemized deductions nor to the optional standard deduction (OSD) under Section 34(L) of the Tax Code, as amended.

B. Individual taxpayers who are not entitled to avail of the OSD and thus use only the itemized deduction method are as follows:
  1. (BMBEs, take note!) Those exempt under the Tax Code, as amended, and other special laws with no other taxable income [e.g. Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BMBE)]; 
  2. Those with income subject to special/preferential tax rates; and 
  3. Those with income subject to income tax rate under Section 24 of the Tax Code, as amended, and also with income subject to special/preferential tax rates.

SECTION 6 - Transitory Provisions. (Oh, here comes my favorite part.)

Taxpayers who filed using old forms for their 2013 ITRs (manual and/or electronic) must re-file using the new income tax forms upon their availability. (Re-file. Of course. We business owners really have nothing better to do. We're a non-busy lot, after all.)

SECTION 7 - Repealing Clause.

All existing regulations and other issuances or portions thereof which are inconsistent with the provisions of these Regulations are hereby repealed, amended, or modified accordingly. (Yes, supreme leader.)

SECTION 8 - Effectivity.

These Regulations shall take effect starting the taxable year ended December 31, 2013 and after fifteen (15) days following publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

("Starting the taxable year ended December 13, 2013"? So you mean, like, January 2013? 

Wow. And to think, this was only signed in January 2014 and published on newspapers on February 6, 2014. Wowwwwww. 

Pardon my ignorance, but is this really how these regulations are supposed to work -- take effect now, sign and inform the public a year later?)

(Original Signed)
Secretary of Finance

Recommending approval

(Original Signed)
Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Click on the link to download the original text of REVENUE REGULATIONS No. 2-2014.

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.

Feb 8, 2014

My Very Imperfect Husband, and Why I Love Being Married to Him

Bride And Groom
(Image by Cieleke)
Valentine’s Day is coming soon. In a few days, Facebook will be inundated with public declarations of affection, and we whose husbands are not so demonstrative will be on the sidelines wondering, “Why is her husband so perfect and mine is so not?”

Their perfect husbands

One thing I’ve realized very recently is that partner envy is a very common pain.

On social media, people post everything that is good in their lives and hide away everything that is not.

Not only do we seldom hang our dirty laundry in public, but now most of us (myself included) like to give the impression that we only have brand new designer clothes in our closets. And yet, when we see people showing only their relationship’s good side, we wonder, “Why doesn’t my husband…

  • …bring me out on dates every week (or month, or year)?”
  • …send me flowers at the office?”
  • …compliment my selfies?”
  • …hug me more often?”
  • …make public declarations of his love for me?”
  • etc.

We forget that what we’re seeing are the washed and pressed (and starched) clothes. The laundry hamper, of course, is full too, but it is hidden.

My imperfect husband

I have a confession to make: I am married to a very imperfect man. How imperfect?

  • Since 2012, he’s only taken me out on a date once – and it was I who orchestrated it.
  • The last time we went to a movie was before I gave birth to our now nine-year-old son.
  • He thinks hugs are only good for foreplay.
  • Our total conversation time per week is 15 minutes max.
  • When I made a long, mushy declaration of love for him on Facebook, he replied by clicking on “Like.”
  • Last Christmas, when I wore the blouse he had bought for me even if it wasn’t my style, simply because I wanted to please him, his only comment was, “Don’t you have better pants than that?”
  • Unlike my friends’ husbands, he does not lead us in prayer, and he does not bring us to church.

Why I love being married to him

If I could design the perfect husband, it would probably be very different from the husband that I have. I would probably have designed a husband who loves, honors, and obeys me, and makes sure the public hears about it every day of the week.

But despite my husband’s glaring imperfections, I know he loves me. How?

  • When I ask him to bring home siopao, he does.
  • When he messes up, he brings home siopao even without me asking for it.
  • He once gave me three pots of cactus because he knows I despise flowers.
  • When I get all hot tempered with the kids, he intervenes, tells me to take a break, and faces the kids himself.
  • He fully supports (without necessarily approving of) my quirky desires to homeschool the kids until college, and raise rabbits for meat, and someday live in Bukidnon.
  • After giving me four beautiful children, he pretended to be as disappointed as I was after the pregnancy test showed I was not pregnant with our fifth.

As much as I would like to continue my paean to my imperfect husband, I don’t want to contribute fuel to more partner envy.

The point I wish to make is that even if our husbands don’t express love for us in the way we want them to, they do express their love for us in the way they know how.

Rather than hoping they will learn to speak our love language, why not learn to understand theirs?

This post is lovingly dedicated to Neil Adlaon, who will definitely not compliment it or even comment on it on Facebook – heck, he probably won’t even read this – but perhaps he will click on Like.

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.

Dec 9, 2013

Believe It or Not: Osteoporosis Increases Risk of Premature Death

(Image by gabriel183)
So you don't drink milk, huh? Neither did I, until I saw this news: Osteoporosis increases one's risk of fracture, re-fracture, and premature death following the refracture.

I guess, by now, we all know what osteoporosis is. Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones become thinner, weaker, and easier to break. One of the causes of osteoporosis is insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D.

The findings mentioned above were taken from the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study, which happens to be the longest-running large-scale study on bone fractures caused by osteoporosis. Dr. Dana Bluic, one of the study's authors, pointed out, "All fractures are serious, ... and most have the potential to reduce life expectancy."

Dr. Bluic explained the they looked at the incidence of re-fracture and found a very high incidence of it occuring within five years after the first fracture. Then, once re-fracture occurs, the risk of death increases up to an astounding 90 percent.

The study focused on all kinds of fractures – hip, spine, rib, and even wrists and ankles. The authors of the study emphasize that they found all these kinds of fractures to have serious outcomes.

Although the subjects of the study were people over 60, it is important to note that osteoporosis begins long before a person turns 60. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, bone loss begins in one's twenties, and bone degeneration just goes faster and faster as we age. 

Still according to the Mayo Clinic, one way to reduce our risk of osteoporosis is by ensuring sufficient calcium intake. 

Anlene Total contains twice as much calcium as regular milk. In addition, it contains glucosamine, which has been clinically proven to protect people against cartilage damage – but only as long as the person is taking the glucosamine. (Yoshimura 2009)

We note that glucosamine is, in fact, produced naturally by the body, but ironically, the body's production decreases as we age, when we need glucosamine more. This is one reason why osteoarthritis is more prevalent in old age, and this is also why glucosamine supplementation from Anlene Total can help prevent not just osteoporosis, which can shorten our lives, but also osteoarthritis, which will definitely lower our quality of life.

Now I don't know about you, but I would like a long and active life ahead of me. That's why I am now an Anlene Total drinker, a habit jumpstarted by the Anlene Total samples that the company generously provided for me to try out. 

Note: The studies mentioned in the article are from PubMed and Science Daily, two very reputable sites that publish registered clinical studies for professionals and laymen. Feel free to click on the links above to confirm the information.

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.

Nov 2, 2013

What Can a 6-Year-Old Do to Help at Home?

Children are not just mouths to feed;
they can also be extra pairs of hands.

Today, my daughter Bea turns seven. I think it is a fitting tribute to her to tell the world what an amazingly helpful daughter she has been, not to brag but to thank her, as well as to propose an answer to other mothers who may be wondering, "What can I let my young children do at home, to teach them industry, responsibility, and respect for work?"

At six years old, Bea did these things to help Mommy out:

1. Wash the dishes. Ever since she was four years old, Bea has been washing dishes. She started training with plastic dishes and cups. At six, she could wash all the dinnerware that the family used at a meal, plus an occasional pot or pan.

2. Clean the house. Bea is in charge of sweeping and mopping the kitchen every day and the children's bedroom every week, and she does a better job of it than her dad, ha ha. (Yeah, that room gets cleaned only once a week. So sue me!) 

3. Prepare food for cooking. Bea loves pancakes. Since she was four, I have let her help me make the batter. For half a year now, she has been making the batter all by herself, without any supervision. (I still do the frying, though.)

She also slices meat into little pieces for soup, and she coats meat pieces with breading (flour, then egg, then bread crumbs) so Mommy can make Rabbit "Chicken Joy."

4. Fold the clothes. I admit, my children's drawers are not models of neatness. But when the chaos reaches the point where the drawers could no longer be bullied shut without physical intervention, Bea and her big brother Josh can be relied on to fold their own clothes and restore some order in their drawers that will last for almost 24 hours.

5. Take care of the baby. Of course, I do not recommend that you let your six-year-old take care of your one-year-old, but – bless me, Father, for I have sinned – I must admit there have been times when I relied on Bea to watch her sister while I finish my work on holidays, when the yaya does not come to our house.

Yesterday, Bea went far beyond the call of duty: when she returned the baby to me, the baby was bathed, diapered, and combed! (I don't even comb my kids' hair; if you don't believe me, ask my mother-in-law.) 

Now those are not all that Bea can do. She can also keep the toys, set the table, and feed the rabbits; but I did not include those in this list because those are the jobs of my four-year-old.

Am I saying that your children should do what my children do? Definitely not! Children develop at their own pace – but one thing the modern-day mom often does is underestimate the domestic capabilities of her kids. 

If your children are not helping out at home, maybe you're just not giving them a chance. Don't limit your children's abilities in your mind. Your child may be the extra pair of hands you have always wished for.

Happy 7th birthday, Bea!

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 21, 2013

The Weirdest Online Store in the Philippines (a.k.a. Anybody Looking to Buy a Home Endoscope?)

Sonic Keyfinder  
As I was looking for Christmas gifts online, I found the most interesting Philippine-based Internet store I've ever seen: LatestGadget.net. (Advance disclosure: This is an un-sponsored post.)

What makes it so interesting? Here's a quick sampler of the merchandise you can find there:
  • Wireless remote key finder, for people who wish their keys were as easy to find as their cellphones
  • Water-powered calculator, because the solar-powered variety is just too cliche
  • Portable deep fryer, when your craving for bad cholesterol simply can't wait 'til you get to the restaurant

Sep 5, 2013

Want Taller, Smarter, Diabetes-Resistant Kids? Drink Milk While Pregnant

(Image: kris69)
Danish researchers have found that children have a better chance of growing up tall if their mother drank at least 150 ml of milk per day during pregnancy. 

And it's not just that the babies are born bigger; they retain the growth advantage when they are teenagers.

The study was started in 1988 by monitoring the milk intake of over 800 pregnant women. When the babies were born, their lengths and weight were measured. Then, after almost 20 years, the same children were measured again.

The results showed that both male and female children of mothers who drank milk were taller than their counterparts whose mothers who did not drink milk.