Mar 30, 2015

41 things I love about my 41 year-old husband


My dear husband just had his 41st birthday and because he doesn’t want me to greet him in social media, I’ll be shouting out my greetings to him in the world wide web. lol Here are specific things I love about the man I married.
  1. He has taught all of our three kids to read and write as early as they were 3.
  2. He is man enough to do the laundry.
  3. He doesn’t know how to cook and so I have absolute freedom in the kitchen.
  4. He knows his way around the wet market.
  5. He lets me do the grocery.
  6. He says “I love you” to me everyday so that I don’t get chills hearing it anymore - which is a lot better than breaking down each time you hear it because you only hear it once a year.
  7. He brings me along to watch NBA finals each year. He enjoys the game, I just enjoy the college date-like feel. (Though we never had that, as we dated after college.)
  8. He shares my love for farmer’s markets.
  9. He has killer dimples.
  10. I always see him kneel down and pray.
  11. He has persisted in his calling come rain or sun, storm or drought.
  12. He is level-headed and sensible, he gives the family stability.
  13. He reads and knows and lives his Bible.
  14. He obliges my love for gardening.
  15. He gives me time to go out one afternoon each week and do what I want.
  16. He brings me potted plants for my garden every so often.
  17. He knows when and where to buy me fresh lumpia.
  18. He drives the kids to and from school and dishes them out advice while doing so.
  19. He knows more verses than most men and pastors I know.
  20. He has a good, deep and manly voice.
  21. He takes our sons to basketball games.
  22. He teaches our kids to pass out gospel tracts at the city park.
  23. He brings our kids to the city playground.
  24. He treats us to dine-outs when he gets love gifts.
  25. He preps ginger tea with lemon for me.
  26. He loves what I cook.
  27. He knows how to keep privacy for our family amidst a very public ministry.
  28. He has chosen to keep silent in the face of criticism.
  29. He has encouraged me to nurture my hobbies.
  30. He knows how to deal with different personalities, especially mine.
  31. He sees each person as a work in progress and in so doing becomes compassionate and understanding.
  32. He is tall, strong and hunky.
  33. I often find him kneeling down and it gives me a sense of calm.
  34. He reminds me always to live by faith.
  35. He reminds me to look beneath and beyond appearances.
  36. He takes time to help our kids with school work.
  37. He lets me sleep an hour or two during mornings when I lacked sleep because of a fussy baby.
  38. He gives a balance of love and discipline for our children.
  39. He is frugal, but not too much.
  40. He is generous, too, and not too much as well.
  41. He is really a good man, and remember this comes from somebody who really knows him, and is quite critical at that. I love him for that, especially.
(The blurry pic is intentional as he is as private as I am, and would probably force me to take down this post. I am stubborn though. :)

Mar 29, 2015

Guest Interview: Menchie Santos of Solar House Systems Phils.


Solar and other forms of renewable energy have been an interest of mine for some time now because I have worked for about a year as a lead copywriter (remote) for a UK-based solar energy company. I wrote up various pages for the company’s website and also created daily copies for the blog section. That copywriting stint opened my eyes to the wonders of solar energy. Why, the sun is a boundless, free and clean source of energy -- way better than fossil-based energy sources which are non-renewable and highly polluting, not to mention expensive and monopolized by a few Middle Eastern countries, at times for political and economic machinations.

I was impressed at how the UK, for example, has provided grants and subsidies to households and commercial establishments which have opted to go solar. There were also tax exemptions and other forms of incentives that encouraged the uptake of solar technology. Excess energy produced by their panels were also bought by the government grid. This is a country which hardly ever gets the full brunt of the sun the whole day, and even has dark winters.

That got me to wishful thinking about my sunny, winter-free Philippines. While Europeans have to orient their solar panels to track the sun, I think our country is blessed with the bright smile of Mr. Sun all day long, almost all year round. And so when I came across a fellow-WAHM (work-at-home-mom) who is into solar business, I reached out to her for this interview. I hope to see more and more Filipinos including me, who would consider going solar, a step at a time. I hope the government would subsidize solar uptake so more Filipinos could afford solar technology.

Help me welcome, Ms. Menchie Santos of Solar House Systems Philippines. Find them on Facebook here.

1. Please tell us about your solar business. When was it created? What led you to create a solar business?

Menchie: SHS Philippines was established by the end of the year 2010 by two OFW family friends looking to venture into a Philippine-based business. Mr. Joel Chua and Mr. Ed Rowin Santos are each exposed to the China manufacturing and export juggernaut for a minimum of 13 years which includes the production surveillance and quality control of electronic and solar-related products like garden lights. Knowing that Philippines is richly-blessed with longer sunlight hours, it is just a matter of time when technology and cost-effective production will increase the Filipino awareness and appreciation of solar use.

2. What products or services do you offer? Where are your solar panels manufactured and what can you guarantee regarding their quality and durability?

Menchie: We offer any solar-related products from DIY solar kits, customer-specified designs for ON or OFF grids, solar street lights, solar irrigation, solar lanterns and solar power banks. We are always on the look-out for any upcoming solar projects that may be deemed practical and usable for the Philippine market.

Our solar panels are made by experienced and audited China manufacturers. Our solar cells are made from German cell manufacturers like Bosch or Taiwan-brand cells. Then the assembled solar panels (or Photo-voltaic or PV panels), are sample tested and approved by prestigious test laboratory companies like TUV and Bureau Veritas.

We only sell grade A solar panels and are confident about their good quality. And we are proud to claim that we still do not have any customer complaint regarding our solar panels installed since we started selling them 4 years ago.  

Finally, we offer excellent after-sales services that some competitors fail or do not provide at all. When a solar component fails within its warranty period, we will replace it immediately with a brand new unit without any condition and we will visit their location site once a system problem is confirmed by the customer. Our warranty period for all solar panels is 3 years while the remaining solar parts are for 1 year.

3. How much is the cheapest solar installation you offer and what devices does it power up?

Menchie: Well, we do have solar lantern kits that has SRP value at Php 2,500 only. It is a 3W solar panel powering a 3W solar lantern that has 3 brightness settings and can also be used as a mobile phone power bank charger. However, this cannot power any home appliance.

By design, we can make any small to medium solar set-up depending on the client’s actual need and target savings. We also have easy DIY solar kit configurations to power TV, electric fans and LED bulbs depending on different hours of usage.

4. Do you offer instalment plans? Please describe them in terms of term duration and interest rates.

Menchie: We have not yet offered instalment plans to individual clients. We do offer 50-50 term payments to established entities like cooperatives. By 50-50, we mean 50% payment deposit and 50% payable in the succeeding 6 months at a very minimal percentage added.

5. How much do you charge for installation? Are solar panels maintenance-free or do consumers have to contend with repair and maintenance issues?

Menchie: There are no fixed amount to charge for the installation as this will depend on varying factors like total numbers of solar panels to install, the location of the project and the mounting method the client wishes to have like roof mounting, wall mounting, elevated mounting. But as a rule of thumb, the installation cost should be between 30%-40% of the solar project investment.

Solar panels can be easily maintained by simply wiping the front glass with wet towels to remove dusts and dirts. Using any soap or cleaning agent is prohibited as this would eventually cause the glass surface to blur thereby reducing the light transparency.

Above all, solar panels have a life expectancy between 20-25 years in which the output efficiency gradually declines from ca. 95% conversion rate to well within 80% conversion. With this endurance, solar energy systems should have return of investment between 8-10 years with the remaining yield-years providing FREE electricity.

6. I'm sure your own home has a solar installation. Please describe it in terms of how much you spent and what appliances and devices it is backing up.

Menchie: Our home office in Malolos has 1 x 3W, 1 x 10W and 3 x 50W = 163W of solar panels mounted on the roof. In terms of prevailing market prices, this would be around Php 24,000 worth. The complete system is powering up a total of 30W of LED bulbs that we use every night time for 11-12 hours.

7. How much do you save per month in terms of electricity bills?

Menchie: Theoretically, we can save Php 260 pesos with our complete solar set-up.

8. How do you describe the level of awareness of Filipinos when it comes to solar technology?

Menchie: The Filipinos in the past 2-3 years are becoming more aware of the long-term benefits of this renewable resource. More solar projects, as big as solar farms and as small as scales torch lights are being featured in media and are being sold openly in electronics shops. The main drawback for the Filipinos to fully embrace and utilize solar energy is the seeming high-initial cost of investment.  

9. What do you think should the government do to encourage more Filipinos to go solar?

Menchie: In my opinion, the government should take the cue about enticing consumer incentives mostly found in first world country wherein the extra on-grid power generated by a domestic home would be justly compensated or paid by the distributing company. The first step is now being realized with the introduction by Meralco of their net metering scheme but this only allows the solar user to get a zero monthly bill as the maximum benefit. No payments to consumer by Meralco will happen.

The net-metering payment must be encouraged nationwide by legislation and cooperation of all power distribution companies.

10. Please tell us a few clients that you have serviced and their inspiring testimonials.

Menchie: For reason of privacy to our clients, we will refrain from openly stating their names here. However, from our existing clients, we do have repeat orders, especially for our DIY solar kits. We also have follow-up inquiries regarding our customer’s plan to upgrade the solar energy system that we have installed for them.

How about you, dear readers, have you tried solar energy? How has it been? Please share your experience.

Mar 26, 2015

Negative ions or anions -- what are they and are they for real?

anion-rich beach
Negative ions or anions just may be the most positive that can happen to you. Most of us have heard about negative ion generators or the so-called ionizers and the plethora of anion bracelets and charms being peddled online, but are negative ions true? Do they exist at all? Are they really good for us?

What are negative ions?
Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that are abundant in certain surroundings such as beaches, mountains and waterfalls -- places which are incidentally very relaxing. In fact, negative ions may be the reason why these places do us so much good.

The theory is that when we inhale these anions and they get into our bloodstream, these negative ions create a cascade of biochemical reactions which increase the blood level of serotonin, a powerful stress- and depression-relieving substance and one which improves energy levels.

The science behind negative ions
You know how pristine beaches, cool mountain air and windy panoramic views make you feel, right? There’s nothing quite like it inside the four walls of your home, no matter how beautiful your abode may be. What could have spelled the difference? Well, apart from the wondrous sights and sounds of the great outdoors, the distinguishing elements are negative ions -- negatively-charged particles which are circulating at levels of around tens of thousands as against the measly hundreds or even flat zeros that are found indoors.

How are negative ions created?
  • Sunlight, radiation, the pounding of water and the currents of air are all said to break apart molecules in nature so that these molecules either lose or gain an electrical charge. Dr. Michael Terman, PhD, ion researcher at the Columbia University in New York, explains it this way: “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods.”
  • Negative ions are also generated by certain minerals such as Tourmaline and Germanium.
  • They can also be generated artificially, hence the proliferation of ionizers and ionizing technology in air and water filters, air conditioners and air fans.

Another evidence of the existence of anions is the prevalence of depression during winter when people are forced to stay in anion-deprived situations that is, indoors almost 24/7. Columbia University studies show that negative ion generators have as much anti-depressant effects as anti-depressant drugs.

There are said to be 5,000 studies to date on negative ions and they are all available online for all and sundry to investigate.

How anions purify indoor air:
Nearly all particles suspended in the air -- minute dust, dust mites, etc. -- have a positive charge. When there are negative ions present in the air -- either naturally existing or generated by ionizing devices -- the positive and negative ions bind to each other and the union becomes too heavy to float on air so that they settle on the floor, making them easy to sweep off or vacuum out.

As of the present, I have heard of fans, air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines which generate negative ions. I have also come across tourmaline wristbands which emit anions. If you are a maker or seller of any of these items, I would be willing to review them here. Please drop me a note via my Contact page.

I still maintain, though, that the best way to get our dose of anions is to hit the beach, hike up the mountain or breathe in the fresh, cool air of the great outdoors. Experts suggest that for optimum health, we have to spend at least an hour each week in naturally anion-rich places. It’s free, and it comes with other sensory delights as well.


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