#TeamMom: The N@Wies

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, women who’ve known each other before they even got married journey together through motherhood and beyond.

Weddings are the stuff of daydreams. Lurking behind the wedding preparations, however, are all sorts of potential disasters, from suppliers who don’t deliver on time to wedding gowns which suddenly can’t fit. When then newlyweds John and Bennette “Benz” Rana put up Weddings@Work, an online community for couples getting married, they did not anticipate how popular it was going to be. They also did not expect the relationships and friendships it would foster and nurture through the years.

Jenki Fernando was a member of Weddings@Work. She so enjoyed the friendships she made in the community that she eventually moved on to Newlyweds@Work after getting married.

After a woman gets married, her concerns change, explains Benz. She’s now thinking about pregnancy, breastfeeding, finances, in-laws. That’s why Newlyweds@Work was created. It is there to provide support to newly married women. Benz says, “What we did not anticipate is that it will last this long. So even if some of the members are already 15 years married, they’re still called N@Wies! We never thought it would last this long.”

Through the years, the connection between the N@Wies would only became stronger. Online conversations found their way offline in real-life meetups for merienda or coffee. Online concerns found real-life solutions. Online exchanges of photographs came to life as they met each other’s husbands and children. The online community came to life, and for the women, it had a most empowering effect.

Clarice Avinante says, “Whatever you’re doing or whatever stage you’re in, it’s always important to have support. Motherhood is so challenging. It’s one aspect of life that you thought you’d be very good at. Prior to becoming a mother, you may have already thought that you’d be this or that kind of a mom. But when you’re there already, it’s very different from what you had expected. Normally, you become different than what you thought you’d be. Having a #TeamMom, a support group, would make you realize that what you’re going through is normal.”

 

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#TeamMom: The Homeschoolers

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, meet three mommas from Bacolod who share the common objective of homeschooling their children.

Homeschooling has started to become an increasingly popular option among parents who want to be more directly involved in their children’s education. However, it doesn’t mean that homeschooling has become any easier for them, especially those who are just starting out.

Fortunately for families residing in Bacolod, there is a group of homeschooling mommas who are more than happy to support their journey.

The Bacolod Homeschoolers Network is a non-profit organization of families who are already homeschooling their children or are planning to start their homeschooling program. Founded by Maria Sigrid Dugeno-Lo, it aims to facilitate extracurricular activities for homeschooled children as well as provide information for families interested in homeschooling their kids in Bacolod.

 

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#TeamMom: The Students

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. These first-time moms met through one of Rome Kanapi’s childbirth classes, and eventually made the journey from pregnancy to motherhood together.

Every pregnancy is different, but nothing is as mystifying perhaps as the first. When a woman gets pregnant for the very first time, she experiences so many milestones during those heady nine months that it could leave her slightly confused, if not downright overwhelmed. It is a blessing then that childbirth preparatory classes like those of Rome Kanapi’s help decode the whole process, giving the infanticipating mom a boost of confidence. Rome, of course, is not only one of the country’s pioneering childbirth educators, she’s also part of Mommy Mundo’s Board of Experts.

It is in one such class that first-time moms Kaia Mesina, Ann Santos, and Elain Subido met. Kaia and Elain are actually relatives but they hardly saw each other until they enrolled in Rome’s class.

On the first day of their class, Kaia recalls that their class, consisting of 12 mommas, formed a Viber group immediately. “But no one was talking during the class. We started talking after we gave birth. The circumstance, being first-time moms, brought us together,” she says.

Elain, the third one among them to give birth, gave the group a blow-by-blow account of her childbirth journey. Elain started experiencing contractions on her 37th week but did not give birth until her 40th week.

She says, “I was giving them real-time updates with pictures and a detailed explanation of what was happening. I only got an epidural in the last three hours because I wouldn’t be able to push anymore. I was so tired.”

Despite her arduous journey, Elain was still able to have a normal delivery. Her strength and perseverance proved to be a big inspiration for Ann.

In 2012, Ann had brain surgery. So when she got pregnant, her family was, not surprisingly, nervous about her condition. Her loved ones were afraid that she might not be able to withstand the rigors of a normal delivery.

She says, “I was the last mom to give birth. I was so nervous because I wanted to have a normal delivery. Since attending the childbirth classes, I gained more confidence. But my spirit grew even stronger after what Elain accomplished. I am so thankful because she became my inspiration. I don’t usually talk much in our Viber group but she inspired me.”

 

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#TeamMom: The Breastfeeding Advocates

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, meet our mommas from Bacolod who think that breastfeeding is one of life’s most important endeavours.

There are many ways to be a mother. Though motherhood is universal, the experience of it is unique for every mom. But when moms believe in a cause greater than all of them, they bond together to reach out to many others. The Bacolod Mom & Baby Club, a breastfeeding support group for moms and families in Bacolod City, was formed precisely through such a manner.

Jireh Grace Poquita, Yolly Mae Hortillosa, and Krystyna Quimpo met each other through the Breastfeeding Pinays group on Facebook. When they started bumping into each other at breastfeeding-related events, they eventually thought of holding their own to help their fellow moms. It was inevitable that they’d attract other women who believe that breast milk is best until they formed a #TeamMom of eight passionate and dedicated individuals: Jireh Grace Poquita, Maria Althea Rose Mauricio, Dr. Kat Villapando, Yolly Mae Hortillosa, Krystyna Quimpo, Cata Ereneta-Manaloto, Katherine Maguad, and Joyann Yngson.

Jireh explains, “We have a very unique relationship. Though we differ in parenting style, we all unite for breastfeeding.”

The Bacolod Mom & Baby Club is dedicated to protecting and promoting breastfeeding. In this regard, it conducts activities and breastfeeding awareness campaigns like its quarterly Mommy Meet-ups to educate and correct misinformation, especially among mothers and expectant parents. The club brings in resource speakers and breastfeeding experts from Manila to give talks or conduct trainings. It also considers itself as a protector of the The Milk Code (EO51) and reports violations to the proper authorities.

It’s good to note that all members of the core group are Arugaan-trained Peer Counsellors, equipped to provide support and counselling to mothers experiencing problems in breastfeeding. For difficult cases or for other needs, they have a network of breastfeeding experts, lactation consultants, and breastfeeding-friendly pediatricians which they could count on and refer moms to.

 

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#TeamMom: Yogi Mommas

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, meet our mommas from Cebu who found a common passion for yoga.

A few months after giving birth to her first child Alex five years ago, Trixie Ortiz-Renggli found herself looking for an exercise routine which she could do at home as she was breastfeeding, which wouldn’t require any complicated equipment as she probably wouldn’t know how to use it, and which would be kind to a mom who just had a C-Section.

“By pure chance or maybe divine intervention, Jen invited me to do yoga in a small yoga studio called Shanti Shala,” Trixie recalls.

Jen is Jenifer Martinez, a good friend from college. Jen says, “We are part of a big, boisterous, supportive barkada called the Woos and if I had to describe us in one phrase it would be sisters at heart.”

 

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#TeamMom #TeamFamily

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Meet Feliz Lucas, a mom who found comfort and solace in her many communities as she went through a most heartbreaking challenge.

The world is certainly what we make of it. Life can throw us a bunch of curve balls, but what’s important is how we address the unexpected. From sadness, there could be joy. From anger, there could be forgiveness. From pain, there could be redemption. From death, there could spring forth life.

When Feliz Lucas shared her daughter Caitie’s courageous battle with a rare form of leukemia, she did not expect her family’s struggle to resonate with so many people. From friends and family to colleagues, acquaintances, and veritable strangers, Feliz was surprised at the outpouring of encouraging words and solid assistance. She says, “I never thought that people from work or people you don’t meet as often or people you only know by name could become a created community because there was a tragedy that came.”

One of the first groups to come to her family’s assistance was members of her church. More than helping raise funds for their daughter’s treatment, they visited them physically and supported them emotionally. Almost instantly, the Lucas family gained honorary aunts and uncles, lolos and lolas, and brothers and sisters as they were wholeheartedly embraced by the community.

 

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#TeamMom: Sisters

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, two sisters share their motherhood journey with each other, making the adventure less challenging and a lot more fun.

There is nothing quite as intimate as growing up with another person. Because you knew each other from when you were still little, you are naturally privy to one another’s likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests, quirks and temperaments, goals and ambitions. Janice Villanueva, founder of Mommy Mundo, and Jaymie Pizarro, publisher of The Bull Runner, are sisters.

“I’m four years older than Jaymie,” says Janice.

Jaymie corrects Janice: “Five years older.”

Janice asks, “Five years?”

Jaymie insists, “Yes, five years. What year were you born?”

Finally, it dawns on Janice that she is five years older than Jaymie, and she ends up laughing.

“I do that all the time ‘no?

It is moments like this which Janice and Jaymie’s friendship so precious. As Janice says, “We grew up together. We grew up as playmates. We also grew up as frenemies, fighting for toys.”

Jaymie says, “Janice has always been my ate, my Ate Nice. Growing up, she’s always been motherly.”

Jaymie recalls how Janice would always watch out for her when they were in school and when they started working. But as the sisters grew older, their relationship began to change. From one sibling watching over another, it became two women having each others’ back. When they eventually became mothers, they naturally became each other’s #TeamMom.

 

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#TeamMom: Brave Moms

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here, three mothers bounded by something extra special draw strength and inspiration from each other, allowing them to lead fruitful lives filled with hope.

Michelle Ressa Aventajado, Neva Arboleda Santos, and Betty Ching Sy crossed paths because of something extra special. Each of these three different women leading three entirely different lives have been blessed with a child with an extra chromosome. In particular, Betty says, “The extra chromosome refers to the extra chromosome in the 21st set that causes Down syndrome. It’s extra special, extra everything.”

Rather than sulking about this extra something, these moms have taken what many perceive as a challenge into something truly inspiring. The three women are not only hands-on mommas, they are also actively involved in organizations working to improve the lives of children with Down Syndrome like Best Buddies and Night to Shine. As they worked to make things better for their children, they were happily surprised to find friends in each other as well.

 

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#TeamMom: The Mompreneurs

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here is one such group initially brought together by Expo Mom but later on found solace and strength in one another as they tackled the challenges of mompreneurship.

It was inevitable. Entrepreneurs all, Joy Astilla, Kim Dy, Meryll Dy, Minnie Jumaquio, Paola Loot-Bronfman, Geraldyn Perez-Chua, and Tiffany Tuazon found themselves bumping into each other, at one time or another, in Expo Mom. In the beginning, they merely exchanged smiles and glances. They were all in the same boat after all, manning their booths, engaging potential customers, and hoping to break more than even at the end of the day.

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#TeamMom: The Pilates Moms

As Expo Mom celebrates its tenth year, the longest running event of its kind pays tribute to #TeamMoms that have served as a lifeline for mothers all over the Philippines. Here is one such group, initially brought together by social media but later on bonded by their commitment to lead healthier, happier lives.

It all started in Twitter. For one reason or another, mommy bloggers Chessy Alejandro, Jackie Go, Michelle Lim, and Cai Sio started “bumping” into each other in Twitterverse. One would reply to another’s question, or another would agree with one’s tweet.

“It was all so random,” Jackie recalls. “I can’t remember the exact topics but I’m pretty sure that they were about motherhood.”

When they started meeting each other at blogger events, they found so much more to talk about. More importantly, they found out that they really, really liked each other.

However, it would take an Instagram post to cement the friendship of the four moms.

 

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