About FLAG

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Educate, Enrich and Empower underprivileged girls in the Philippines

Thursday, March 29, 2012

doctors without borders

Our first medical mission for all the girls at FLAG. Thanks to our own guardian angels (they do exist!)

Here they are donating their time to conduct the check-ups for both medical and dental.  All of them very seldom (or not at all) visit a doctor.  Imagine your children not seeing one since the day they were born. 

Results: enlarged lymph nodes, underweight and allergies. ALL of them. They need chest x-rays and fast!

Vitamins and supplements are what we need for now to at least boost their metabolism. Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin D anything! We are now in a serious crisis. 

4 to 6 tooth extractions per child. Permanent teeth most of them are gone! Solution, dentures?? or just go by living without your molars. How would you chew your food?

Dr Marion Sanchez, (on my right) and Dr Thess Venturina
Angelica , open wide!

I knew they needed medical check-ups but didn't realize how sick they are.  I need help and soon.


Thank you for stopping by,



For complete photos and updates, please visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/flagphilippines



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

tough love

Going on our second year here at FLAG, it is an ongoing learning for us.  My husband and I have big hearts however running a school is still a new experience.  The purpose of this visit is for us to build guidelines and processes for everyone to abide to.  That’s one of the strengths Jon has – building processes and growing a business.

Jon's meeting with the  parents ( apologize for the quality of this pic, couldn't upload the pic from my camera)

He didn’t waste any time to speak to the girls’ parents as soon as he arrived in Manila.  We have been receiving reports that there is a huge absenteeism problem at the school.  It is unfortunate although we offer free education, food and clothing, there are still parents who do not want to commit their children to go to school regularly.  It is sad but true. This is just the beginning.

Thank you for stopping by,



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 1 . 19 hours on air

Already I am frantic! My carry on is too heavy. Check-in luggage both full (a tad bit over weight, damn corned beefs and SPAM) kidding!
What to wear? Elastics everywhere! Push-down and pull- up! No belts, no frills. Who travels like Victoria Beckham? NOT ME!. Sigh!

More like this! I swear. No i didn't bring any boxes, I shipped 2 months ago! smart eh!

 Right here waiting. No I am not singing Richard Marx song.  A sea of Filipinos fill the seats. Love it when they go home to the motherland. One "lady'' brought in 2 carry ons, what? She was not allowed.  Oh well, we always have one of us who will break the rules.

Bye for now! Here we go.
Thank you for stopping by,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I will be back

(singing out of tune) " I am leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again".
It will take me a few days to update my blog (fast internet is hard to find).  I can’t wait to share those pictures with you. For now, here’s a look back on what happened last year.  

Summer programs.. they love doing arts and crafts

our 1st Graduation
Jon and Irysh before the ceremony.. just goofin around

Please check our updates (don't forget us)  I will make sure to share the journey as soon as I can.

Thank you for stopping by,


Saturday, March 17, 2012

it's more fun in the Philippines !

It is more fun always when I go back to the motherland.  Despite the traffic, smog, pollution, smell, heat. I could go on.

On the flip side (no pun intended) the beauty of our country is also breathtaking.

Underground caves - Palawan.
El Nido Palawan

How time flies so fast! We are now celebrating our one year blog-anniversary. We want to start document our trip and experience. Hubby started writing but it was kinda boring. I had to take over and save the day.
One year later, here we are for another exciting documentary of our journey together.  Our journey with our FLAG family, friends and family.  Chapter begins one more time.

Thank you for stopping by,


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

a little goes a long way

It took me two years to add this “donate” button on our blog and our site -(www.flagphil.com).  Friends, followers have been asking how they can help and I always say anything will do. We have received used clothing, toys, school supplies and sometimes monetary donations.  I rarely ask people for money especially during current economic conditions. Donations have been down since the recession in all charitable organizations.  We do understand.

For those of you who asked me how much to donate, a little goes a long way! Less than $25 a month you can feed, educate and support one of our girls.  Jon and I give more than 90% to run the school that includes:

Our staff - one teacher, one assistant,cook and our director. They are our family back home.  Without them, we will not be here.

Utilities - clean water and electricity.  We are very lucky our church clean water to provide for the children.  Clean water will help prevent the spread of germs. Healthy kids are happy kids.

School expenses - we have 3 girls who are attending the regular public school system.  We are responsible for their weekly allowance, food, transportation, books, uniforms and any other fees that the school asks for.

Food - 3 meals a day and snacks. We make sure the kids are fed with proper nutrition. All of the girls are malnourished and under fed. They don't have a proper meal at home so we make sure they are well nourished when they are in our care. We have feeding programs on the weekends for the street kids as well in the neighborhood. 

Medical and dental expenses - kids do get sick from time to time. We don't have free health care back home nor their parents have medical insurance.  We pay for prescriptions and all medical check ups.

This is our second year and no sign of stopping. From 15 girls to 22 since we opened, we feel we had made a big progress.  Our goal for this year is to have 30 girls. That's a very small number compared to the number of little girls back home who are in school today.  The number is in the thousands.  Maybe one day, there will be none

Thank you for stopping by,



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meet Briony

As much as I love sharing uplifting stories to you and I do want to share some of the challenges we face at our school. 

Meet Briony. She was our poster child. The camera captured her smile when we first met here in 2010.  It was unanimous that her face will be in all our posters, flyers and website.

Smile melted our hearts

Loves to read , she is so engage!

Briony has been attending the regular public school system after completing her one year at F.L.A.G.  We knew she has a lot of potential and can break the cycle of poverty within her family.  She is one of the 3 siblings who are currently in our school. While the other 2 are still in school, her mom needed help at home.  She is pregnant with her 7th child and going through a difficult pregnancy.  Carol ( the  mom) pulled her out of school to look after their youngest sibling (1 year old).  We are all heart broken when we found out about this.  No word on when she will come back to school.  This will pull her back another year since she did not complete the Grade 1 program.  Briony is 9 years old. 
As of now, we don't know all the details. Within the next 3 months while I am in the Philippines, I will be on a MISSION.  I need all the prayers and girl power from everyone to make a difference not only to Briony's life but for every girl that deserves this second chance.
Celebrating International Women's Day !
Thank you for stopping by,


Monday, March 5, 2012

Report Card

We are celebrating “Educate a Girl” month via (www.becauseimagirl.com).  I am so excited to announce 6 of our girls from F.L.A.G are ready for their next adventure.  They are smart, funny and willing to learn to take on the world.

Our F.L.A.G girls who will be attending Grade 1 as of next school year, June 2012. 

Angel Ann



March 30 is our Graduation Day.  I can’t wait to see all of them once again.  I
know I will cry during their tiny speeches of gratitude.  It is the greatest
feeling knowing I have changed their lives forever. I can feel my heart getting bigger
every second I hear " thank you" from the girls, their parents and families.  There
will be a song dedicated to us for sure.  At this time, I will be sobbing and can't
even speak.
Thank you for stopping by,
Monica and the F.L.A.G team

Thursday, March 1, 2012

L.A ( but not so Confidential)

What does one do during her spare time if you are given an early retirement?  Enter contests. I DID and   I WON tickets to see Live with Kelly in L.A for the after Oscar Show.  It would have been better if they paid for my flight and accommodation.  No, they didn’t.  My skymiles did so it is kinda free. Who cares?  I am going to the Oscars! The Oscar gods were listening, Thank you!

Who would be the best person to take with me? - Val, my good friend for 16 years and my fellow retiree!   We both got packaged out from our corporate jobs and we have ALL the time to do what we want and so we packed our bags and flew to Hollywood!

Mug shots

Both L.A virgins, we are off to be in the mecca of the stars and the Superbowl of

 Hollywood – the Academy Awards.  So we need outfits, right? We are told from

the Live with Kelly people to dress appropriately. 

We did not expect the weather to be sooo cold in L.A.  It was a good excuse to go

shopping though. Off we go to the closest store from our hotel.

Because we are both fab and almost forty ( Val's turn this July), we crossed the

street ( actually jaywalked) on Sunset Blvd. Who does that? WE DID!

On the first day an hour from arriving in L.A, look at what happened to me and

my good friend? DROP, ROLL and TUMBLE.

Big gash on my left elbow ( this is just  one of them)

 Val's right knee

Can you believe that? 2 grown women jaywalking on Sunset Blvd!  Oh yeah if you see my butt on Youtube, say hi for me, okay? Just type, “2 women jaywalked on Sunset Blvd on their way to Ross” (not sure if we are on youtube, I won’t be surprised if some jerk did take a picture!) ELLEN! Are you watching?

 After 3 Tylenols ( hydrogen peroxide, bandaids), trip to Santa Monica Pier, Venice

 Beach and 2 gay friends later, here we are at the Chapter 11 (Kodak) Theatre.

Long waits and 10 or more shuttle bus trips, we are sitting on the second

balcony.  Not sure how many people were there, probably about 20,000 plus

people there. It was insane!


They were serving mini In N out burgers at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, while we

eat ours at the restaurant with paper cups, plastic forks and red table trays. Sigh!

In spite of lack of sleep and our injuries, we hopped on a double decker bus and
toured Hollywood and Beverly Hills. 

Because the Oscar Gods were watching over us, "He" sent a limo to pick us up to take us to the airport. No, we didn’t ask for a limo, our guy got stuck in traffic and the limo was the closest to our hotel.  Finally, we felt like Movie stars. I can just imagine TMZ waiting outside our limo waiting to see who is inside?  Oh they are the "2 women who jaywalked on Sunset Blvd."!!!
So, TMZ photographer asked " what did you learn from this trip?"
Val's quote " it kept me grounded on the trip literally :) cause in hindsight I may have been crazier had I been without injury which could have lead to worse outcomes". Well said Val!
Thank you for stopping by,