August 17, 2017

#AmreenNurlailah is 8 months old today. Alhamdulillah ❤️

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August 13, 2017

On Parenting

My eldest, Yamyam (Amina Mariam), is turning two years old in few days which means it’s been two years since Jabar and I became parents! The fun part is becoming parents to TWO KIDS in a span of TWO YEARS! Hahahaha! No guys, I’m way too far from being an expert in this parenting business but I’m going to share with you bits of what I’ve learned as a Mom.

Yamyam playing with stones
1.)  Each child has a unique pace of development

You know how when you’re pregnant for the first time and you download all the apps that tracks your baby’s development? We’re so excited, right? When the baby is still in the tummy, I think it’s alright to keep track every single minute that your baby is growing his ears or opening his eyes, etc. But when he’s already out in this world, there’s a certain age range for him to achieve his developmental milestones. So don’t fret when he’s not yet rolling over at 4 months, or not yet sitting on his own at 8 months. Your baby’s just finding his perfect time and eventually he’ll get there.  

      2.) There’s no manual for parenting

I wish there’s one so we can just follow the steps especially on the troubleshooting part aka tantrums, unfortunately, there’s none. All the parenting articles out there or even books and apps are merely GUIDES. I believe the key is to not compare your child to other kids and even yourself to other parents. You may have breastfed your child while others may not have for some valid reasons. Baby-led weaning may have worked for them but not in your household. Others may have raised their children in a Montessori environment but unfortunately for you, you don’t have that kind of environment. THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE. Do what works for you and for your family.

Amreen at 4 months old

3.)  Kids do not need fancy stuff

We, parents, want the best for our children. However, what is deemed best may be quite expensive. There was an instance when I bought a quite pricey toy because apparently, it is good for an infant’s sensory and visual development, a perfect teething aide and it garnered excellent reviews and even endorsed by celebrities! But when I got home and so excited for my little daughter to play with it, she threw it and didn’t even like getting a grip of it! Ugh. See? Most often than not, we buy stuff for our own satisfaction, stuff that our kids barely need in actuality. Whenever I am in the kids’ section, I always ask myself: am I buying this for my baby, or for my own satisfaction because it is Instagram-worthy? *rolls eyes at myself*

4.) Every child is different

As well as every pregnancy. Yes. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was expecting the exact same experience as with my firstborn. I was even expecting them to look exactly the same! Hahaha! Oh boy was I wrong. I have now two daughters who are completely different from each other, and in some ways, raised differently. Yamyam was delivered normally but was only breastfed for two months while Amreen was delivered via CS (she was a breech baby!) but exclusively breastfed until as of writing time. Yamyam is mini-Jabar while Amreen is mini-me (although a lot of people still says that she looks more like her father. Ugh. No way, I insist she looks like me guys!). Yamyam is the rowdy one while Amreen is more quite and lady-like (yes, I can say that even though she’s only 8 months old. Lol!). I hate comparing them two, or even hearing other people comparing them, because they are two unique individuals. Children can be raised in a single household by the same parents but they’ll eventually grow up with different inclinations, wants and needs.

Yamyam enjoying a book at the day care

5.) Be in the moment, they’re not going to be the way they are now forever

Several months ago, I deleted my Twitter app on my phone followed by my Facebook app. Being detached from social media and all the negativities it brings gave me more time to be mentally present with my kids. I got to observe their little nuances and even the arrangement of the pores on their skin. As I was scanning through Yamyam’s infant photos, I felt a little nostalgic. It wasn’t too long ago (that was just last year!) when I was holding her in my arms swaying her around until she falls asleep. I don’t do that to her anymore and most of the time she doesn’t want to be carried any longer. She even pushes me because she wants to run, run, and run around. Aaaawww… so I cherish every single second that Amreen wants to be carried by me especially when she yearns for my breasts to be able to sleep. The time will come that, just like her sister, she won’t be breastfeeding anymore and won’t be needing me as much as she does now.  

6.) They’ll eventually learn to be independent

There were moments before that I thought I should have practiced baby-led weaning for Yamyam so it would be effortless on my part to feed her. I find it so difficult to spoon feed a child who refuses to eat! There’s too much drama and stress. Until two months ago, I realized that she refuses to eat because she wants to hold the spoon by herself! She wants to eat alone and drink from her glass of water without needing much assistance from me! Oh my child, how you’ve grown. So moms, don’t stress out when your baby seems over clingy. You’ll be surprised one day they do their own things alone.

7.) Subsequent babies are easier to handle than the first ones

Of course because we already know the drill. Besides, I want to believe that we’re correcting our mistakes this time around so we’re doing things better than what we did with our firstborn. With our second babies (and the succeeding ones), we become less of a worrywart. We know that it’s ok if they lose their balance and hit the floor while trying to master the art of walking, we don’t get cyanotic first when our babies gag on their first few solid food intake, and yes, your baby is completely fine if he gets bitten by mosquitoes once in a while or accidentally sustained an abrasion on his knees. It’s not always your fault, Moms, it’s just your kids being kids!

If you’re the kind of Mom who fret at every little thing concerning your children’s upbringing, well, you’re not alone but first, chillax. Breathe. Tantrums will eventually cease and your children will grow and you will miss them. Always remember to be in the moment. Play with them, laugh with them, shower them daily with lots of hugs and kisses. Give yourself some me-time, pamper yourself, eat good food and be healthy. What really matters is our family’s happiness and saving our own sanity. I hope some points here did help and may we raise our children gracefully and lovingly. Have a great day, Mommies! 

August 11, 2017


We received the saddest news yesterday. The news we've been dreading since the siege commenced. As the war stretches on, all our hopes are thinning out.
We lost her to false ideology.
My heart is crumbling to pieces.
Who am I to judge her intentions?
She's always been a very good person to me and to everyone around her. Well-loved by many. Her soft voice and laughters.
Her beautiful face.
Such gentle soul.
Her memory will live forever and will forever leave a scar in our hearts.
Nobody's coming home yet.
There's no point in coming home.
We have no home.
She won't be with us forever.
May Allah forgive her and grant her jannah.
May we meet again in jannah.

August 6, 2017

Thoughts On The Marawi Siege

Can you imagine the place where you were born and raised reduced to rubble and ashes?

Photo courtesy of Najib Zacaria (Facebook)

I can’t. Never in a million years. But, it happened.

Two months ago, our city was attacked by young men claiming to purge Marawi from the heavy burden of major sins it carries and ultimately let Islam, their definition of Islam, rule the city. Chaos ensued. The high and mighty Meranaos left their turf and found themselves in evacuation centers or in houses of relatives in the nearby cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. The government forces started to bomb the city to get rid of the terrorists. Airstrikes and bombings continue to rain as of writing time. It is unfathomable.

Photos courtesy of Marawi City Pulse (Facebook Page)

A divine punishment?

I have long been anticipating an end to the madness of the unruly Meranaos. I was guessing of a major calamity to hit like the one I saw at Leyte (typhoon Yolanda) or at Davao Oriental (typhoon Pablo). Just like anything in life, Allah’s plans are unpredictable and way beyond our imaginations. Any Meranao who have observed other cities in comparison to ours will definitely agree on one thing: ours is regressing to anarchy. I do not want to highlight here all the bad stuff going on my beloved city before the siege happened but in a nutshell, major corruption and abuses from the grassroots to the top is undeniable.

What are they fighting for?

The perpetrators of the attack were young idealistic group of young Meranao men who were disappointed by the society, significantly by our leaders and the people who are following them blindly. Knowing that Islam is perfect and is the only solution, they wanted to truly raise Islamic law (shari’ah) in the “Islamic City” of Marawi. However forcibly and violently, out of the teachings of Allah (swt) in the Holy Qur’an and of the Prophet Mohammad (saw) in his hadith (traditions). As the siege continues, the story slowly unfolded. The attackers were not only composed of Meranaos (Maute Group) but they were joined by Tausug bandits (Abu Sayyaf) and even foreign-based terrorists under the flag of ISIS. Several conspiracy theories even rolled out, that President Duterte has his hands on this in order to declare Martial Law in the island of Mindanao as his only way to capture big time drug lords who are hiding in Marawi and in the mountains of Lanao del Sur.

I strongly disagree with the attackers' extremist ideology, that is not the Islam I was taught of. The Islam which taught me to be merciful and forgiving of other people even to those who do not share the same faith with me, the Islam which taught me patience and respect, the Islam which taught me to be gentle and loving. I do not understand which part of the Qur'an or which hadith they are fighting for. Who misled these people? Who planted hatred in their hearts? Why are they so full of it? Jihad? Is it not that the major jihad that every Muslim must fight is his own ego? His own evil? They're spreading evil and mischief and yet they do not know it. They're the hypocrites that Allah (swt) has mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah. 

"And when it is said to them, 'do not cause corruption on earth', they say, 'we are but reformers."
 "Unquestionably, it is they who are corrupters, but they perceive it not." (Holy Qur'an. Surah Al-Baqarah, 11-12)

The fall of the Meranaos.

Today is the 76th day of the siege, 76th day of our nightmare and it seems that the end is not about to happen soon. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that my own family are internally displaced people now. My aunts and my 80+ y/o grandma left our ancestral home in Lilod Madaya on the 4th day of the attack, they put Ina on her wheelchair and hiked from Lilod crossing Mapandi bridge up to Old Capitol and down to Emi (almost 6-8km) where a car was waiting for them to bring them to Pantar. I cannot fathom what they had to go through, the emotional and physical pain. My sister-in-law and my nephew and niece had to walk almost 2 kilometers where my brother was waiting for them as cars cannot pass through their barangay. My mother-in-law left their house with only her handbag and the clothes she was wearing. My cousin even left the money she was keeping for her children’s enrollment thinking that they’d be coming back after 2-3 days. I’m in tears now. Pause.

Everyone has a depressing story to tell. My parents are left in our house in MSU, they refused to leave no matter how strong I urged them over the phone. The military secured the campus, they told me. They felt safe. But the earth-shaking sound of the airstrikes and bombs are very loud from our house, I can even hear it over the phone everytime I call Mama. MSU is the only stronghold left for the Meranaos. If they take it away from us, then they just dim the light that put Meranaos on the Philippine and even on the world map.

The Ruins of Marawi.

Photo courtesy of Marawi City Pulse (Facebook Page)

Every time my father and I go downtown Marawi, we notice all the bad stuff all around us. Garbage, narrow streets, tarpaulins, lawless elements aka motorcycle drivers and even unruly motorists. He once quipped that the only solution is to leave Marawi and create a new one. That’s why, I told him, a lot of Meranaos flee to live in the metro or abroad and vowing never to come back. Others return several decades later to attend a loved one’s funeral or to see their loving relatives. It is like a prophecy coming to life. Seeing all the destruction, it is eerie to return to the city and live in it again. If my father and I can have our way (which is one million times impossible), we want to leave the ruined part of the city as it is. The ruins will remind us and our children of what we were as a people and how we rose (speaking from the future) from the rubble and ashes of destruction.  I hope we can build a new Marawi elsewhere, where we can apply the better change we were clamoring for, where true and just governance can take place, where we can truly change anew. Lanao del Sur is a wide and a beautiful province, we can choose anywhere around the Lake. Just please, don't take MSU away from us. 

July 25, 2017

Meranaos. IDPs.

via Instagram

July 18, 2017


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July 17, 2017

My little girl is 7 months old today. On 7/17/2017. πŸ˜† #AmreenNurlailah

via Instagram

July 3, 2017

Piece of heaven. πŸ€“ #library #igrewupinalibrary

via Instagram

June 27, 2017

White Flag

via Instagram

My sister-in-law sent me this photo of our gate (our house is within the premises of MSU campus) where a white flag is raised to indicate that civilians live inside. Among us, Meranaos, a white flag hanging outside a house means death and mourning. My SIL told me that almost all houses and cars wave white flags. How apt in this time of mourning for our dying Motherland.πŸ˜₯ I terribly miss home. I badly want to "hug" Marawi if I can only do so.


June 22, 2017

via Instagram

Two of the million things that the #MarawiSiege taught us are 1.) detachment from the material world and 2.) valuing real and genuine relationships. In spite of everything, alhamdulillah for decades-long friendship. @lilidmd_md πŸ‘­πŸ‘©πŸ»‍⚕️πŸ‘©πŸ»‍⚕️ #jaigufriends

June 13, 2017

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June 12, 2017

via Instagram

What breaks my heart about the Marawi siege is the fact that I will no longer walk my children through my childhood in the place where I was born and raised. It hurts me because all my plans of raising my kids in inged are all gone. I'm not even sure when will we return to the place we call home. I am more resolved now to raise my daughters in a very Meranao household (language and the good in our traditions) to plant their identity in their hearts, in shaa Allah. The future maybe dark for us now but let us not lost hope in the mercy of Allah (swt). Rebuilding Marawi will start with us and will continue in our children's generation, and hopefully they're a lot better than us. In shaa Allah.

June 9, 2017

via Instagram

Several nights ago, had an iftar with these two ladies whose presence in my life means so much. Was able to finally let out my feelings about the Marawi siege. @leiremd, who is a Psychia resident thought I may be having an acute stress disorder. If I'm going through this who's thousand miles away from Marawi, ano na lang ang mga nandon mismo at yung iba na-trap pa in the middle of yhe firefight and bombings? Subhanallah. I hope and pray the Marawi siege ends soon because this is too much already. Kawawa na ang mga nasa evac centers. I cannot imagine the emotions when the Meranaos return to Marawi, when most houses were either deliberately burnt by the militants or bombed by the military. Yung mga nakasurvive naman na bahay, ninakawan ng mga oportunista. Subhanallah. The civilians have suffered so much. Realistically speaking, physical rehabilitation of Marawi will take decades. I pray that along with this rehabilitation, may we also put our characters under rehab and may we stand united for a better Marawi. Ameen.