Category Archives: Tips

My Hero is You: How Kids Can Fight COVID-19

My Hero is You – Storybook for Children on COVID-19

Published Date: 31 March 2020

“My Hero is You” is a book written for children around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My Hero is You” should be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher alongside a child or a small group of children. It is not encouraged for children to read this book independently without the support of a parent, caregiver or teacher. The supplementary guide called “Actions for Heroes” (to be published later) offers support for addressing topics related to COVID-19, helping children manage feelings and emotions, as well as supplementary activities for children to do based on the book.

Sara’s mum is her hero because she is the best mum and the best scientist in the world. But even Sara’s mum cannot find a cure for the coronavirus.

This book was a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG). The project was supported by global, regional and country based experts from Member Agencies of the IASC MHPSS RG, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries. A global survey was distributed in Arabic, English, Italian, French and Spanish to assess children’s mental health and psychosocial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. A framework of topics to be addressed through the story was developed using the survey results. The book was shared through storytelling to children in several countries affected by COVID-19. Feedback from children, parents and caregivers was then used to review and update the story.

Over 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world took the time to share with us how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. A big thank you to these children, their parents, caregivers and teachers for completing our surveys and influencing this story. This is a story developed for and by children around the world.

As the sun rose, they landed in a lovely desert by pyramids, where a small group of children were playing. The children cried out in joy and waved at Sara and her Ario.

This IASC MHPSS RG acknowledge Helen Patuck for writing the story script and illustrating this book. Source: Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Leila decided to travel with Ario and her new friends. Sara was glad Leila joined them because she knew that sometimes we need to support each other. They flew quietly, without words, but Leila knew her new friends cared a lot about her.

10 Survival Tips in 2020

  1. BE GRATEFUL BUT DO NOT EXPECT GRATITUDE FROM OTHERS. Human beings are naturally ungrateful because of pride. In your life, you will come across individuals who will reach out to you for their needs and concerns, but as they attain their goals, they will forget your efforts to help them. Live a life without expecting anything, especially gratitude. But always have a grateful heart. Value the people who were there for you. It will give you inner happiness. I call this the Thanks But No Thanks App.
  2. ONLY SPEND TIME FOR INITIATIVES THAT DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME. Human beings and activities will find ways to get the most out of you because of practical reasons. Regardless of your contributions, there will be those who will downplay and undervalue your contributions. They will also put more premium on monetary wealth, instead of the ideas you shares, your time, your efforts – the things you have to sacrifice to support the completion of the goal. Many of these things will be unappreciated or under-appreciated. People will only value money – which is the cheapest of all things. Be selective with your initiatives so you do not waste your precious time. Instruct others how not to waste your time but never exert more than enough energy to lower yourself and become an idiot for the sake of other people. This is the Day and Night Timesaver App.
  3. TALK ONLY AS MUCH AS YOU WORK. Human beings talk more than they act. Physiologically that is how our body seem to be structured. Our mouth has a only few muscles but it often always out-do our body. Learn to speak only as much as you work or act. And only believe people who have put into action their words. It is not important that they succeed – the most valuable factor is that you know they actually believe in what they are saying enough to do it. Beware of people who say one thing and mean another, worse and does another. Only say what you mean. If by saying it, you will hurt others, exercise the option not to say it. I call this the Talk and Motion Study App. Its higher version is called the Shut App.
  4. PAY ATTENTION BUT DO NOT GIVE ATTENTION TO THE UNDESERVING. Human beings want attention, even when they do not deserve it. People will be slighted when you forget to greet them or smile back at them. Be careful with those who have an overdose of this nature. They will only fancy the likes of those who are also overly mindful to the point of fakeness. Remember to give everyone his or her due. And only what is due to them. There is grave danger in giving in excess especially to people who ae not aware of what is due to them. In turn, learn not to naturally seek attention – that is how you win over yourself. Remember Confucius’ “seek to be worthy to be know rather than to be known.” This is the Presencing App.
  5. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS REMEMBER. THERE IS VALUE IN REMEMBERING. Human beings are extremely forgetful. They like to remember events, names and places, but refuse to remember important milestones. Many of us lived in a the moment – one that is fleeting. Just like a social media timeline, you see the present but oftentimes forget the past. Nonetheless, understand those who forget important moments and be kind to yourself – if you likewise forget. Always learn from past mistakes but do not killy yourself for it. Believe me, you will soon find these mistakes amusing. They say the way to be happy is not to live in the past, but I say the way to be happier is to remember the past so that you become stronger as your face the future. I call this the Rememberer App.
  6. BE AS HUMANLY KIND TO ALL BUT CHERISH THOSE WHO ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Only a few human beings will truly be your friends. Only a few will understand you as much as you understand yourself. In fact, we may even go through life without having a single friend, except ourselves. You will have hundreds or even thousands of acquaintances, but only a few individuals will be there when the storm hits you hard. Pray for your real friends – those who suffer not from any envy, jealousy or mischief against you. Those who laugh with you not with their minds but with their hearts. Those who know the reason for your weaknesses and the source of your strength. Cherish your time with them. All things will come to pass, even friendship.  This is the Fake Friends Tracking Device App.
  7. BE HAPPY WITH YOUR ACHIEVEMENT NOTWITHSTANDING. Human beings will always think pride is a sin. Pride in your achievement. In your skill. The moment you share your accomplishments, your milestones – the fruits of your arduous rigors, unthinkable sacrifices, seemingly endless debacles – they will call it pride. They will call it pompousness. Believe in your talent anyway. Do not allow one naysayer to pull you down unless his or her thoughts are constructive. If so, evaluate and use their suggestions and ideas, but do not let them get into your head. They would love that. Go placidly, as The Desiderata, yet go purposively in your life. You owe it to yourself and to God who has given you these talents. Use it for good. The bad will come back to you. It is like the trash you throw to the sea today which your children will eat tomorrow. I call this The Desideratrix App.
  8. NEVER ALLOW ANYONE TO TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE. Human beings are usually envious, fond of comparing themselves with others – something which separates us from animals. The lion never compares himself to the ant and vice versa. But people compare themselves, regardless of their genre. Hence, they will crush your spirit at every achievement, without realizing how much they already have. There will be ants who will constantly be jealous and bite you to death. Usually their death. There will be lions who will constantly be bothered by ants until they begin to think they are also ants. We look at what others have and feel jealous, yet we often fail to realize how much more we possess but never value. Look at what you have today and appreciate it. Both the lion and the ant have each so many things to thank for. Like a true Jedi, “your strength lies within your heart” – not internally. It is not who you are but who what you make of your life – whether you want to be a Skywalker or a Palpatine. Your decision will not matter to the world but it will affect some lives. This is the Rainbow Saber App.
  9. SEEK THINGS THAT REQUIRE YOUR HIGHER SENSES. Human beings want more color instead of depth. We want to see fanfare or things that can be highly perceived by ordinary human senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell – we commonly shun from things that we need to “sense with our inner being”. In fact, we always say – to “see is to believe”. We have become highly empirical and practical beings – we almost no longer pursue things that cannot be perceived by ordinary senses. This year is a year to open our other senses. Open yourself to the possibilities of the new decade. There is more we can do when we listen, that just hear. Understand, than just see. Speak, than just talk. And there are so many ways to speak. Pray. Always pray. This is the Sixth Sense and Beyond App.
  10. START. KEEP ON STARTING. Human beings never want to fail. We are want a “fail-safe” life, but sadly there are experiences that can only come when you enter doors that say “you may fail”. So we don’t open it and get to see the sign at the other side of the door that says “you may succeed”. That is why oftentimes they do not want to start anything. We will always say “starting something is the most difficult part.” We should constantly cultivate a culture of “starting”. Every new year is a new start. But we fear to start things. 2020 is another year that is about to start. List down everything you wish to start. Create a “start list” – not a resolution list. You have a 12 month time frame. When this ends and you are still breathing, start again. I call this the Start App.

5 Inexpensive Ways to Learn As A Child

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou

My main purpose of writing this article is to share some techniques to young people, preferably high school students, or maybe their parents, so they can get tips on how to motivate their children.

This is not supposed to be an emotional, but more like an empowering piece. But I need to lay down the premise by starting with my story to inspire young people out there who think they have enough miseries in life to simply throw it all away. Guess what, if you are facing a lot of challenges today – embrace the mission to survive them. Like lifting weights, more weight will test your strength. Pick up yourself everyday and train your mind.

My childhood years were very challenging. It was difficult to grow emotionally, mentally, even spritually in a family environment where you are expected to be self-reliant at age nine. My motto as a child – sad is normal. At a tender age, I already knew that I will have a small chance of living a normal life. My mother died when I was nine, and the eldest of five other siblings. My father was a difficult man whose life was made more difficult by having to take care of so many children all by himself. Our house was always emotionally charged. Our life was like a “survivor series” TV show. So I made it my mission to survive but first to teach myself how to survive despite all the odds. And I was of the strong belief that learning, learning new things, learning consistently will help me cope. As the saying – “what does not break you, makes you stronger.”

So buckle up. Here are some of the major techniques I developed as a child to help me learn and survive despite the lack of resources. Many would have the same experience or even harder but I want to take time to write mine in a very simple way so I can share and inspire other children.

1. Read. Read like you need to eat everyday. And do not read only because you are told (the most boring books are what they assign you to read in schools). I read aloud in front of the mirror to observe my mouth. Read according to your own imagination. Stretch your mind by memorizing subjects you are fond of. I used to borrow books from neighbors and relatives and rent from stores. There was a “book club” somewhere in Plazamart which rented books for a week for 5 or 10 pesos per book.

I am lucky to have a grandfather who was a teacher and so had several books at my disposal. In grade school, aside from the scahool-prescribed Storytime Teller, I enjoyed reading hard bound medical books and law books. I was so engrossed by the colored pictures of the human cardiovascular system. My brain cells were jumping as I trace how the human blood flows back and forth our hearts. Reading exercises your imagination and brings you to places. My bed was definitely not as soft as other kids my age but when I read I was ransported to beautiful castles where it felt like I was sleeping comfortably as a queen.

Today, young people watch movies or listen to audio files like it can substitute reading. Not quite so. There is something surreal in holding a book as child. I also enjoyed watching shows on TV and movies when I was a child but reading is something I knew will help me more. Indeed, fast forward to the future, something that I probably won’t understand in grade school but there are benefits that can be derived from reading:

  • Mental Stimulation
  • Stress Reduction
  • Knowledge
  • Vocabulary Expansion
  • Memory Improvement
  • Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills
  • Improved Focus and Concentration
  • Better Writing Skills
  • Tranquility
  • Free Entertainment


2. Read aloud. At around age 11 or 12, I conditioned my mind to learn how to speak and write, to express myself concisely and effectively. I was conscious of the fact that there were children my age who spoke well in English because of upbringing or family environment. Understanding that children belonging to well-to-do families have a headstart, I trained myself to catch up. Even without a trainer, I practiced speaking in front of the mirror. I read aloud newspaper stories, mostly written in English but I also read the ones written in Tagalog (or Filipino eventually). I needed to hit two birds with one stone. My goal of training to be eloquent and to comply with my father’s daily test about current events and issues. We get an earful from him everyday. I can still hear him say “dugay-dugay magiyera na sa kalibutan, wala pa kamo ya kabalo!”

3. Write. Write incessantly like your hands needed to hold a pen everyday. In these modern times, I think, I should rather say “type” but then again the feeling of holding a pen and staring at a crisp blank paper in front of you as your brain starts to load up is really therapeutic. True because diary writing saved me from depression and made me love writing up to this day. Writing for me was like visiting a colorful carnival for a child who loves carnivals.

There are so many benefits in writing as a child – you learn to journalize your daily life and imprint in your head the memories you wish to remember. It also helps you study like when you take exams. I practically wrote down in several notebooks my whole Remedial Law text book during my bar review, knowing I am weak in that area and it is subject which weighed the highest percentage on the total bar results. Writing is an extremely useful habit. If you love it, it will surely love you back.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

— Virginia Woolf

4. Converse with older people. When you always talk to people your age, you miss the opportunity to see the lens of the older generation to expand your horizon. I love sitting and listening to people older than me, especially the intelligent ones. I love sharing insights from the latest books I read or my plans when I grow up and just picking the other person’s mind.

Today, many young people seem to focus their attention on gadgets like phones and computers. Though these gadgets enable them communicate with others there is no subsitute for human presence. That feeling when you look at the eyes, the face, the expression of the other person and listens to his or her every word is simply surreal. Human conversation is indeed the highest form of human activity.

5. Experiment. Create prototypes. It was fun “creating” things with my siblings when we were young. These moments were the fun parts of my childhood. We get a lot of sermon and spanking but it was all worth it. Experimentation is among the best way to learn. Maybe because we lost our mother at a young age, we had no choice but to learn to cook – but we are thankful we had no choice. Cooking is a lifeskill everyone must know.

As a child, I would experiment creating a radio drama by recording it in casette tape with all my siblings playing a role. We had a good laugh listening to the end product. Our specialty was action and horror dramas. I also remember how we prcaticed and visited houses doing Christmas carols even when we were not gifted with good singing voices. One can create a lot of things from scratch even as a child. We should allow creativity as means to learn. As Pablo Picasso says ” “Everything you can imagine is real.” Creativity is a very important skill today.

Studies show that “kids’ imaginations helped them cope better with pain. Creativity also helps kids be more confident, develop social skills, and learn better.” This site provides helpful insights.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Leguin

Today, I continue to learn. To read, read aloud, write, talk to older people, and create. From 6 to 46, my life has been about surviving and learning is the best tool. Life is a never ending series of learning. When I read my diary many decades ago, I cannot help but admire my younger self. It is to my younger self who chose to survive that I owe to keep going today, no matter how difficult life becomes.

Me and my Mom.
The Author

Lessons At 45

(Lessons you will not usually know until you’re “fortyish” and had enough)

  1. It is better to be disliked for being genuine than to be liked for being fake.
  2. Let your work speak for itself, but when others destroy your work for the wrong reasons, speak.
  3. You cannot push yourself up by pulling other people down.
  4. Talk less work more. Or if you talk more, word harder.
  5. Appreciate other people but never flatter anyone when you don’t mean it. Between hollow flattery and honest evaluation, the latter usually fosters more understanding.
  6. People will tend to judge you according to what they hear from others, so always expect errors in translation.
  7. It is better to be alone than to be part of a mob composed of people pretending to have independent minds.
  8. Leadership is never measured by age. It is measured by how much percentage your words are compared to your actions.
  9. Collaboration is just a word for people who don’t see the value of other’s works aside from their own.
  10. Life is just too beautiful to spend with people who hate you. Spend it with people who want to make their life count in the same way you do.
  11. It is hard to sell ideas, but it is harder to sell ideas we don’t personally believe in.
  12. In a ship, one single loose nail can cause a lot of damage. And if you are the hull, you will feel the biggest pain from the damage, but you have to keep sailing, until the boat finally sinks.
  13. Perspectives and attitude may depend on which generation you belong, but values will depend on how you wish to see yourself, your life and the world around you. That’s why there will always be organisations of people working together despite the variety of ages.
  14. Do not ask the wrong question when you want the right answer.
  15. Egotism is self-respect pushed beyond the limit of your own value. Misplaced humility is self-respect lying cold in the morgue.
  16. Sad reality is many leaders start as sparkplugs but eventually end up as screwdrivers.
  17. The most dangerous poison one can drink is comparing yourself with others.