A few hours from now, it will be September.  That means Buwan ng Wika (month-long celebration of Filipino Languages) will be over.  For the past two weeks, I wanted to write a post in honor of Buwan Ng Wika or Linggo Ng Wika (depending on how long you want to celebrate it) but I have been too busy finishing up all my trimester requirements for grad school, i just couldn’t find the time for it.  Nevertheless, as they say… huli man at magaling ay magaling pa rin… um, that’s not right …ano nga ba yon? …huli man ang matsing ay magaling pa rin? or huli man at magaling ay matsing pa rin? …oh, heck, di bale na…ingglisin ko na lang: Better on the last day than never!

(AFTER TWO HOURS OF THINKING…)

As it turned out, I have nothing to say pala!  Haha!  So I will just do what all bloggers do when suffering from ‘writer’s block‘ (or so they claim, hehe)—pose pictures instead!

Here’s to all things Filipino:

In schools, Buwan ng Wika is celebrated with programs, contests, fiestas, etc.  It is an occasion to mainly celebrate Filipino languages but as it turned out, we celebrate anything that is traditionally Filipino. Students and teachers are tasked to wear Filipiniana costumes, too.  Over the years, the only costume i can come up with during occasions like these was a malong draped over black t-shirt and jeans.  Not very imaginative, I know but if I were to wear a Filipino costume for Buwan ng Wika, I would wear this:

filipino tribal costume

…But not this:

If I were to eat a Filipino snack right now, I would like to snack on this great combo of crispy-thin ukoy (shrimp fritters) dipped in spicy vinegar and puto biñan:

puto ukoy binan laguna

…But not this (I haven’t tried balut or duck embryo and probably never will):

balut duck egg embryo

If I would want to see a Filipino movie right now, I would choose this (classic suspense 1971 film noir, Lilet by Gerardo De Leon-remake! remake!):

lilet gerardo de leon movie

And this, too… 1961 ensemble fun movie, Beatnik (feeling nostalgic):

Before: At TLC eleven years ago, I was usually tasked to make stage decors and props for Linggo ng Wika (and sometimes, to host as well):

Now: Still doing it, a prop (100 peso bill painting on a 20″ x 60″ illustration board) that I made for Linggo ng Wika stage program at my practicum school eleven years later:

And lastly, if I were to try out a Filipino ride, I would try this (but not when I’m in a hurry, of course):

Pinoy funny picture photoshopped

Sakay na!

Maligayang Pagtatapos ng Buwan Ng Wika!

My former co-teachers held a reunion get-together last week.  It was because Charles was back from NY!  He’s the only one with the uncanny, fisherman-like ability to reel us all in– no matter which direction we’re coming from and from whatever hole we’ve dug ourselves in.

There are unsaid rules when we get together:  (1) No one should mention anything that deals with age and weight (a MUST!);  (2) No more mention of bad times…just the good times; (3) And no talking about our own personal issues and stuff that are deemed uncomfortable…except pertaining to the ones who were absent.  Kaya kung ikaw ay kabilang sa grupo namin at di ka nakadalo…Hala ka! Malamang pinag-usapan ka namin! 😛 Kaya ‘wag nang mag-aabsent next time!

Also present were Rose, Mama E., Del, Grech, Liza, Bel, Myra, Jenny, Joy and me.  We all came from this wonderful school called tlc.  The reason I’m mentioning the name is because I am hopeful that people we know from this same school could stumble upon this post by any chance that they decide to google it.  We would love to hear from them, especially from our former students, where they are now, what jobs some of them have…oh, yes! We’re that old…yikes (sabi nang walang banggitan ng edad e! 😡 ).

Here are some of the kadramahan that took place 😉 :

Of course, labasan na ng pictures ng mga anakis: Bel showing off her pics of her cutey brood.Tatlo na po!

Joy B, now Mrs. T, taking her young Baby Snooky look-alike daughter for us to meet and to marvel at!

Oh, my! Is this Del’s youngest? It IS!…It’s Ella, now all grown-up–slim and pretty!

What did we talk about?  We talked about how things have changed for the last…what? eight to ten years?…The kids of today, their attitudes, the mores, how technology seemed to affect everything that we do…

We also talked about how things HAVEN’T changed at all…teacher issues, the educational system and the ineptness of it all.

We talked about a former student of ours who is now in a certain TV show that has something to do with a ‘dream’ and an ‘academy.’

We talked about experiences of a Filipino teacher in the states (Charlie); well-kept secrets (Liza and Charlie’s), and current love lives (and still, of course, Charlie’s).  Charles’ in charge of everything, naturally…And we love him for it!  His life is a complete fruition of his dreams and I always find inspiration in his love for work, his focused determination and go-getter attitude in making all his dreams come true. 🙂

In a way, we all have changed and at the same time, haven’t changed.  We may be older yet wiser…more at peace and generally happier.  But what we had created as a group, as a unit in tlc, it’s still there…THAT will never vanish, wherever we go and whatever path we take.  Kahit saang school kami mapadpad at kahit saang panig ng mundo, yung samahan sa batch naming teachers sa tlc ay kakaiba, wala siyang katulad.  This is the thing that binds us.  And I’m lucky I was a part of this group, and always will be.

Keeping in touch: updating our email addresses (left) so as to maintain friendships and to further strengthen the bonds…

Here are some more photos from the reunion (slideshow via rockyou.com-this site totally rocks!)…hope you like it!

[rockyou id=119180811&w=324&h=243]

My practicum class just had a culminating activity for our Community Service project last July 26.  It was a memorable experience for all of us.

The site was the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Onyx, San Andres Bukid, Manila. Gawad Kalinga, which means “to give care,” is a movement that was first started out by Couples For Christ.  It aims to bring out the best in the Filipino spirit by promoting unity, cooperation, sharing, and generosity which are all embodied in our “bayanihan” values.

GK has many projects, including community-building.  My classmates and I were at the Onyx site for their Child and Youth Development Program (CYDP) which provides education and assistance for the Filipino disadvantaged youth.  It has three programs, namely: SIBOL (“grow”) for pre-school children, aged 3 to 6 years old; SAGIP (“to save a life”) for elementary aged children, from 7 to 13 years old; and SIGA (“to light up”) for teens aged 14 to 17 years old.  Their programs include value-based education, free academic tutorials, sports and creative workshops, counselling and rehabilitation program, and scholarships for those with the mental aptitude to pursue higher education.

Mr. Raul Ramiterre, of the GK-CYD Program and our practicum supervisor, Dr. Bautista (right)

The children, teens, and teachers had a great time.  They took part in the games, and received gifts and prizes.  They performed as well–singing, dancing and rapping their own original GK theme songs.  Some of the kids were talented and creative.  We all had fun and enjoyed ourselves immensely!

“Salamat sa mga ate at kuya…di n’yo kami pinapabayaan…” SIGA teens, rapping and singing from the heart. Bravos!

SAGIP kids: Promoting core values of pro-God,pro-country, and pro-humanity

“So long as the children are allowed to suffer, there is no true love in this world.” -Isadore Duncan

“For in the final analysis, our most basic common link, is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s futures, and we are all mortal.” – John F. Kennedy

It was heartwarming to see the children bringing along their younger siblings, and the older teens assuming leadership roles by guiding and leading the younger ones during the program.  These kids are forced to grow up fast, and take in big responsibilities at a young age.

Teen Role Models (right): Kuya Joel and Ate Aileen (with the dimples) can make promising future leaders if given the chance to pursue higher education through scholarships.

Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.” -Benjamin Franklin

If you want to help out, donate or volunteer your services, click on the Gawad Kalinga website for more information.  Wherever you are in the Philippines, there may be a GK site near you. Be a GK Bayani and make a stand against poverty…Less for self, More for others, Enough for all!

Thousands of Filipinos (including teachers), desperate to work and earn abroad, easily get their hopes up as they apply in a job fair like this (right) for work overseas… (photo courtesy of schm714)

I would like to share a part of a recent exchange of thoughts on our on-line teacher group discussion.  This is between two of my teacher-friends about working in the US:

Teacher A:

Meron ako friend nasa Baltimore na ngayon. He’s looking for work. Teacher din siya. Medyo confused nga ako eh, kasi they were interviewed here but then he said they are still going around on job fairs to look for work.. wawa cause hindi pala sagot agency nila housing kaya they’ve shelled out so much already. Kabado kasi baka maubusan daw siya ng pera. Normal ba yun, ganun ba talaga?

Teacher J:

...About your friend in Baltimore (listen everyone and pass this on to those who are applying for a job here in US), my heart goes out to him.  Mahirap mag job fair and ibenta ang sarili mo at higit sa lahat makipagkompetensya sa ibang applicant.  Iba-iba ang mission vision ng agency.  Marami namang vacancy sa Baltimore but i guess giving them (Filipino applicants)  specific placement in terms of the grade level, specialization and school is not the “responsibility” of that agency.  Baka ang trabaho lang nila is to process their papers and visas and the placement depends on the people who will take you.  The interview that was done there was probably an informal one.  Basically, to check your content knowledge, your diction, your over-all english and to see kung kaya mo bang magturo sa school system nila.  Yung survival mo, bahala ka na.  Probably, they were not given time to prepare on what to expect in Maryland.  Tayo pa namang mga Filipino, masaya na tayo pag may visa at job d2 and we tend to miss out what are the other things that we need to know and find out which is very vital to our own survival.  As an applicant,

  • scrutinize your agency
  • check the agency’s track record by interviewing their previous applicant who have been here
  • What is the scope of getting you a job here in US (if there’s a vacancy, will the agency place you as in put you in that school or will it be your job to find placement for yourself)?
  • is my money worth it?
  • compare diffferent agency in terms of services that they will do for you and your money’s worth
  • check the visa (H1B vs J1).  I suggest, think of a long term.  Yung peace of mind na mabibigay sa yo ng H1B and your money outweighs J1- that’s the truth)

Hope this serves as a warning to those teachers who apply in agencies that can lead you nowhere.  The bottom line is to be wary, and do some research please…Huwag padalos-dalos dahil ikaw din ang maaaring matalo sa banding huli.

Scattershot. Now, that’s one word I learned today. According to the Collins Essential English Dictionary (2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006), scattershot means “wide-ranging but indiscriminate” as in a scattershot approach to conversation. If I have to visualize it, this word probably came about when a long time ago, a reckless and impulsive hunter liked to fire indiscriminately at all directions hoping to hit his target regardless of whatever or whomever he shoots at…hence scattershot. Hmmm, he probably must have had a hunting party of one.

Anyway, I got this word from an article of Maggie Jackson who has a column at the Boston Globe, “Balancing Acts.” In her column, Jackson talks about the need to narrow down our scattershot world into a more focused and insightful existence; the value of balancing our work and private lives; the social impact of technology on our lives; and the importance of family life, focus and paying attention.

Working with children (as well as adults) with ADHD for a number of years gave me a lot of insights as to how attention (or the lack of it) can make a huge impact in our lives–emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. It has become a topic of great interest to me that I figure that this so-called science of attention should really be given, well…more attention.

According to Jackson:

The ability to pay careful attention isn’t important just for students and air traffic controllers. Researchers are finding that attention is crucial to a host of other, sometimes surprising, life skills: the ability to sort through conflicting evidence, to connect more deeply with other people, and even to develop a conscience.

Before I read her article, I just gave a talk about this recently with a group of my co-teachers, emphasizing the need for attention-management training and that it should be a part of every school’s curriculum, even starting them young as in preschool-young. I also voiced out the need for more uni-tasking and lessening of multi-tasking but in this fast-paced, profit-driven, get-your-fix-at-the-click-of-a-button world (of which I am also guilty of), who will listen to me?

Jackson is calling out for a “renaissance of attention.” Attention training can make children grow up to be reflective thinkers, and better life-decision makers. I agree when she also said that we as adults should serve as role models as well–and not offer our kids a land of distraction but a land of less TV and more reading and quiet contemplation. She cited experts who say that attention-training is “critical” as well as an “exciting” thing; and with good attentional control, one can “do more than just pay attention to someone speaking at a lecture…(one) can control (one’s) cognitive processes, emotions,” and have better articulation of one’s own actions.

Imagine a “renaissance of attention…” I’m excited about being a part of it (actually, I’m excited about being a part of a renaissance of anything)! And as an educator, I can even actually DO something to help make this happen. Do you feel the excitement, too…um…hello…you’re still there? Sigh…