• My Favorite Books: What's on Tootsy Angara's Bookshelves

    The senator’s wife also gives us a peek into their family life.
  • Tootsy Angara

    Tootsy Echauz-Angara, marketing executive at ABS-CBN
    Wife to Sonny, mom to Manolo, 9; Ines, 8; and Javier, 2

    What Tootsy is reading now:
    On my leisure time, I really like fiction. Now I’m into the Catching Fire and Mockingjay series, only because it’s a form of escapism. When I’m reading those books, I’m not a mom, I’m not a wife -- I’m really just me. And I really enjoyed reading that entire series, from Hunger Games to Mockingjay. That’s only about 10 percent of my time though. Most of the time, I read a lot of parenting books.

    How they are raising readers:
    The only way you can raise readers is by example. I’m very lucky because Sonny is a reader. I am not -- I only read magazines and certain books. But it’s also a conscious effort on our part to make our kids readers. Before they sleep, we ask them to read 2 books each. We started reading to them at 2 months, and that’s why many of these books are torn, pero tinityaga namin.

    Their biggest splurge:
    Travel. It’s our reward to ourselves because we work so hard. I work full-time. I’m usually out at 8 and I’m home at 6, and it's the same with Sonny, so when we travel, that’s a reward. The kids hardly ever ask for toys, so when we travel, we allow them to buy one toy each, or two toys this entire trip. When we travel, it’s all good memories, kasi dun kami nag-spoil for anything they want.  

    Their bonding time with the family:
    Our weekends are very precious, we spend it with family. Sometimes we don’t even leave the house. Surprisingly, too, we have time to have dinner as a family almost every day, so I try not to accept dinner invitations.

    Tootsy's favorite books:

    1. Sibling Without Rivalry by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
    I read it because (as an only child) I have no experience with sibling rivalry. It sort of became my bible on how to manage my two older children when they have arguments.


    2. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
    I’m reading it again because I haven’t had a toddler for six years. Javier is now in the terrible two’s stage, so my husband and I kinda have to remind ourselves how to deal with him.

    One of the tips in the book is to make them just feel that you love them even when they make mistakes. You really have to tell them that [what they did] is wrong, so [it teaches you] how to say no the proper way, and how to punish them without them feeling unloved. The old style is to say no, and then take [the privilege] away. It’s teaching them that you disagree with what they did but not with them as a person. Actually, when you think about it, that’s really our parenting style -- we’re really happy parents. For our 9 and 8 year old, the biggest punishment they’ve received is no electronics on some weekends, which is the only time they’re allowed to [use the gadgets or] watch TV. We don’t believe in spanking, and we don’t even believe in screaming / shouting.

    Maybe it’s because we were also raised that way, so for us [spanking and shouting is] an extreme way of parenting. I think once I did it accidentally, I couldn’t help it, and their response was really negative also. We were at a family vacation in Japan, our two older kids were running around the street and my 2-year old was having a tantrum in the middle of Tokyo, the quietest country in the world. So I shouted, ‘guys, stop it!’ All the onlookers were really shocked, because the kids in Japan are so well-behaved, and the moms are so quiet and elegant, and all of a sudden, here’s a Filipina mom who was raising her voice in the middle of Ginza! Now the kids talk about that incident all the time and make fun of it, how Mama lost her cool. So now I really have to watch it so it doesn’t happen again.

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    3. Rafa by Rafael Nadal & John Carlin
    I read Nadal’s story because [I like how] he attributes his success to his family. It’s about how he leaned on his family’s immense love, from his mom and his dad and his sisters. They were really the wind beneath his wings. When you watch him on the hardcourt, you really see his resilience and determination. They’re like a Filipino family. All-out support talaga sila from the training, to the tournaments, and [I love] how after he wins the first thing he does is hug his mom and dad.

    [I’m also reading it because] Our son Manolo is into tennis and he competes nationally. When he was 3 or 4, like most parents, we made our kids try everything from taekwondo, to football, to tennis, to basketball. Si Manolo, you could see that tennis was his choice. He would wake up early to practice, and we were concerned if it’s good for his health, since he’s only 9. S’ya pa ang magsasabi na, ‘yes, as long as I rest in between and I’m hydrated’ -- he’s so driven. When we watch him in his tournaments and he loses, we all feel bad of course, and he’ll be the one to comfort us pa, he’ll say, ‘it’s okay, it’s just one tournament – I have a whole lifetime.’ Nakakatuwa.

    Our whole family is now into tennis. I’m a beginner, but my husband, who used to play in high school and college, went back to it so he could play with our son. Nadal’s family is like our model on how to be a supportive family to an athlete. It’s really a family thing. Our Sundays are dedicated to spending with him on the hardcourt.

    Related: Dad we Love: Senator Sonny Angara

     

    4. Drive by Daniel H. Pink
    It’s about what motivates you to do better at work, for your family, and even for yourself. It says in this book that it’s not money, or recognition, that drives you inside; it’s really improvement and self-acceptance. It’s not about who you want to become but how you feel after you do something. Kunyari, I feel so tired, and the kids want me to read to them, but you know naman they can read on their own. The motivation there is when you actually go and get the book and they sit on your lap -- the love that you feel when you’re reading together. At work naman, let’s say you feel lazy today, and you want to sleep one more hour, the motivation [to get up] is getting to work on time and setting a good example to your team. It’s something in your blood that tells you, ‘game, let’s do it.’

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    5. The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine, Ph. D.
    My mom bought this for me because she was worried that children now are growing up with everything, and everything is just too easy for them, unlike in my time. We played outdoors, we didn’t have TV – I wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I was 16 – so I was ‘forced’ to be creative, to play with leaves outside, write on my diary, etc. Sometimes my mom would say, ‘your kids don’t even have diaries.’ Because there’s so much to distract them in their everyday lives, they don’t have time to do nothing. So she bought me this, she made me read it, and nag-book report pa kami after to check that I really read it. It’s really how you keep them grounded.

    This book also says that it’s very important that your kids are closer to the family than their peers, so you have to make them want to be with you. Kunyari, on a Saturday afternoon, if they had a choice to go to the mall with their friends or to watch a movie with the family, you have to make family the first priority in their eyes, because family is where they get their values. Parents have to make it seem that no toy, videogame, or event outside is better than being at home. You have to make them understand that even when you have nothing, it’s family over friends, or anything else. It's not saying that you raise your kids to be anti-social; it's that you want your kids to feel, ‘I love my family, I’d rather be at home’ instead of ‘I’m dying to get out of here’.

    It also says here how you should be on guard against materialism, how you should restrain yourself from buying them even a piece of candy if there’s no reason why you should do it. It’s that discipline also with parents. Sometimes, it’s just a 10-peso chocolate candy, and there’s nothing wrong with buying it for them, but it’s teaching the lesson that they can’t get everything they want. Sonny is very, very strict with that. When the kids are with their lolo, he brings them to expensive restaurants, but when they’re with us, we’re careful with the way we spend, so the kids are very money-conscious.

    This book also highlights the importance of why kids have to know the value of work through the parents. Like Khalil Gibran said, ‘Work is part of life’. It’s not to say, get a job; it means, do something. Put up your own business, or join a foundation -- the kids have to see their parents working at something, whether it’s self-improvement, or painting, or a corporate job, kailangan makita ka nila na you’re working for something, so they would see that you need to put effort in order to get something. That’s why when the kids say, ‘you’re never here,’ I tell them, it’s because I’m at work, and they understand that I need to so I could contribute to the family budget. They know that half of the household budget comes from mom and half comes from dad, so they understand that I need to help out.

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    Related: 5 Tips on Raising Kids who Love to Read


    Tootsy's tips on raising a reader:
     

    1. Make rules.
    ...and you’ll see that that rule will turn into a lifestyle. We have a ‘no electronics’ hour. Before dinner, we have to put away our phones and tablets away. You have to let them know that you’re serious about it. When you do that, you’ll really see the big shift in terms of attitude, in their aura.

    When they’re not using electronic gadgets, they’re so well-behaved, so adaptive, less temperamental. I noticed that when the kids are not allowed electronics and they start reading books, they become calm. When you call them for dinner, ‘okay mom I’m there.’ But when they’re watching TV or they're on their tablet, you have to call them 10 times. I think reading really refreshes their brains .

    2. Lead by example.
    It’s difficult because it entails sacrifice on your end also, but it's worth it.

    See the 5 favorite books of Tootsy and her kids by clicking 'View Slideshow'!

    Photos by Pia Puno. Makeup by Angie Cruz of shu uemura. Hair by Borge Aloba of L'Oreal Professionnel




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