Saturday, December 26, 2009

Here Comes Manila

Raised in the island province of Bohol in the central part of the Philippines, the Filipino addage "Huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan." has always struck a chord in me. Having been in Thailand for more than three years now, I have realized that there is so much to explore about the Philippines. Apparently, there are still lots of things that could be discovered from the other corners of the archipelago. They are beyond the naked eyes of the mass media and much better when seen with one's eyes. And yes, I have always been wishing to explore my very own country especially the capitl city Manila because, I believe, it is one of the ways that could complete my Filipino being.

This day, I just turned my wish into reality as I started to invade Manila with my parents. Malls, historical parks, government centers and urban shops -- they're all in one roof under the historical city of Manila. Part of my heartfelt Christmas greetings to everyone, I would like to share some photos of the Philippines' capital city. Merry Christmas to all my blog readers especially to my fellow OFWs. Here comes Manila....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winning Myself

I just seriously went back to my thesis recently hoping to polish it by the end of this month. It’s been quite a long time that I never sternly get into it as I have been pointing my focus on some other things hoping that I could hit a flock of birds with my lone stone. I have been telling my students to focus on what’s important for finishing something is much more fulfilling than doing everything and finishing nothing. At this point, here I am realizing that I showed myself the other way. Actually, I found it to be one of the most challenging parts in teaching – finding yourself caught in the middle of your words.

Well, reasons are reasons and we have lots of it. I could make a bulk of excuses if I only want to but I know that in the end, the consequences would hunt no one but me. I need to finish what I ought to finish without compromising other significant things. I only need a bunch of self-discipline this time to get into the tasks that I need to do and not the ones that I want to do. I need to influence my environment more than my environment could influence me. I remember the analogy of the brain with that of a fertile soil. Accordingly, a fertile soil would never complain which kind of crop should be planted into it that even the worthless weeds could abundantly grow. However, whatever we have planted into it, we would harvest the same. It’s all the same thing with our brain. It would accept whatever kind of information is coming and whatever planted into it, the same would be harvested. So why plant negative thoughts?

I wish I could make things done now. I believe I would.

"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... self-discipline with all of them came first."-- Harry S. Truman

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lessons from the Christmas that Was

As a child, Christmas had always been the most meaningful celebration of the year. I admit, the celebration had been so meaningful and festive to me not because of the season itself but because of parties, Christmas gifts, caroling with my friends and most of all, the food that I could only taste during this time of the year. I always felt excitement everytime this season of the year would come. In fact, my heart used to tremble in excitement and happiness when I knew that BER-ending months were coming and Christmas songs were starting to invade the airwaves.

Christmas had always been so meaningful to me because of the material things it had always brought until I woke up one day realizing that I wasn't into posh gifts, entertaining parties and delectable food anymore. My ideal Christmas celebration has literally changed as I grew older and became more matured. It’s not more on the price of gifts anymore but on the reason behind the gifts I receive. It’s not more on the fun that parties could bring anymore but the warmth of people I am going with. It’s not more on the taste of the food anymore but the sweetness of my loved ones who share a simple Christmas dinner with me. Christmas had become different ever since I learned that I could already have what I used to want for Christmas.

For the past three years, I had been celebrating Christmas away from home. For me, it had been a part of my life as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) – be destined to celebrate lonely Christmases away from my loved ones. I wished I could celebrate Christmas the way I wanted to celebrate it during my younger years but realized I could not.

Last year, I had my salary before Christmas and immediately sent some for my family to have a merry celebration of the season of faith, hope, love and happiness. I thought my parents could have more bountiful noche buena than we used to have but they actually never had because only three of them were left in our house. While me, on the verge of Christmas eve, was in the comfort of my bed watching the pricey (compared to what I used to receive) gifts I received from my colleagues and friends while listening to Christmas songs when I realized that my previous Christmas celebrations were too expensive to be shelled out by the funds I am earning abroad. I have always thought that I needed to sacrifice in order to achieve my dreams but I realized that not everything could be sacrificed in exchange of something deemed significant. Our dreams could be too big that it would cause us to sacrifice little things in life but it could also be too big to conceal the life’s little but precious moments.

This Christmas, I would never be in the same affliction again for I have decided to be with my parents to celebrate the most festive season of the year. I am afraid to wake up one day chasing for happiness but only to realize that I already lost a great deal of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How Much Sacrifice Can We Offer?

Of all the problems that we have been facing in our country, I am still very hopeful that the Philippines will still shine upon the earth to claim once more its glory as progressive country.

The election is coming and, once more, we would exercise one of our essential rights as Filipino citizens -- our right to vote. How much are we willing to sacrifice to ensure that the Philippines would have a brighter future? How much are we willing to sacrifice for the future generation?

Like the child in the video below, let's do our share in rising our flag as we journey through the change which we have been longing for. Let the change start in ourselves. It's not a matter of you, he, she, or we. It's a matter of "I". Let's all acknowledge our responsibilities for our country because we are the hope that we have been talking about.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remembering Andres Bonifacio

November 30 is a national holiday for Philippines in honor of the national hero Andres Bonifacio. He is the founder of the Katipunan and is known as the father of Philippine revolution. During the colonization of the Spaniards, Bonifacio was one of the heroes who devoted their lives in exchange of the freedom which the Filipinos have been longing for.

However, Bonifacio has almost entered in the "hall of forgotten heroes" especially that many of today's younger generation has been hooked to modern fantasy heroes like Captain Barbel, Super Inggo, Batman, Spiderman, Superman and so on. The heroism of Spiderman in annihilating his destructive opponents could be remembered better than the heroism of Bonifacio during the revolution against the Spanish conquerors. The entertaining and heart-pumping moves of Spiderman is much more popular than the gallant stand of Andres Bonifacio who strongly fought for our country's freedom which we are still enjoying at the moment.

If we want to impart the sense of nationalism to every Filipino then we need to make them realize the sacrifices done by our national heroes like Andres Bonifacio. With appreciation to the deeds of our national heroes, comes intense nationalism to uphold the ideals of the Philippines as sovereign nation. As said by Bonifacio, "What kind of love is more pure and more majestic, like the love for your native country? What kind of love? There's nothing more, nothing." We're Filipinos who do believe that Philippines is worth loving for. Let's continue the fight! Move Philippines! Move towards glory and fame!

Simple Deeds, Great Impacts

We have just seen and experienced the powerful retribution of nature through natural calamities which occurred in different parts of the world. Tsunami in the American Samoa, earthquake in Indonesia, typhoons in the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam – these were just few of the natural disasters which shook the entire globe because of the huge damages they have brought which included desolation of lives and destruction of properties.

In the recent years, we felt how the seasons have changed and it’s almost unpredictable. Summer could be filled with rain showers and sometimes heavy rain. Winter fashion would not necessarily mean thick jackets, gloves and boots for one might eventually go out realizing that his/her winter outfit is making him/her feel like bread plunked in an oven. Scientists call the phenomenon global warming or climate change while others consider it as another conspiracy circulated by the first world countries who are threatened of the impressive escalation of the economy of some third world countries (they could hinder third world countries from producing particular products).

While there are so many speculations on the awkward natural phenomenon that mankind is experiencing, it’s always good to look back those old times and trace how our little deeds contributed the dilemmas that we are facing in this day and age. Let us replicate those old days and learn how we could contribute in healing our world which has been wounded by our very own actions. There’s always a solution to every problem that we are facing and we do not have to hit upon the government or media (although they are helpful) just to find them because the solution is just residing within ourselves waiting to be expended for a better purpose. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change that you want to see.” We can start it in our own like lessening the use of plastic cellophane or we just have to put the 3 simple R's in our minds. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Let's do whatever we can to help preserve the beauty of our world for we don't know how great the impact of our actions would be if done collectively. Let's create the world that we want to live and the future generations to inherit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

PHILIPPINES: The Good News and the WORST News

The Philippines has been in the global headline for a couple of times this year. Earlier, the typhoon Ondoy which flooded Metro Manila placed the country in the headlines of global news. Different stories were told which included some acts of voluntarism and unity in helping the victims of the catastrophic typhoon. Many lives were claimed in that natural calamity which made the entire country weep for the loss and the damages caused by such calamity.

Few weeks after the catastrophic typhoons hit the country, the Philippines, at last, had seen the light again when Manny Pacquiao won his match against Cotto. Once more, the Philippines was in the headline as the home of the best boxer the world has ever known (7 boxing titles in one person was truly remarkable in the history of boxing). Lately, the Phillipines triumphed again when its very own Efren Penaflorida was declared as the CNN Hero of the Year. Manny and Efren brought the Philippines into the limelight especially during the time when most of the Filipinos had become hopeless.

And now, the Philippines is shining in condemnation from other nations for the ongoing political warfare which resulted to the killing of more than forty individuals. Why do we have to end it this way? Did power became more valuable than lives? Do we have to kill people to serve people? Plenty of questions are starting to flow from the oasis of my wits down to the stream of my spirits. The recent incident only shows how dirty and dreadful the Philippine politics is. Politics is even one of the reason why hundred of journalists are being killed in the country making it one of the most dangerous places for journalists. Aside from those, there are still many undocumented politically-motivated killings in other sides of the country. Only time could tell when that ever-wanted Filipino hero could come to save the country from the arms of these inhumane individuals who rival for the hypocritical public service that they always mention.

Wits and Spirits is joining the entire Philippine nation in praying for the souls of those people who have been killed in Maguindanao. May justice would prevail.

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
-- Albert Einstein

Monday, November 23, 2009

Efren Penaflorida: There's a Hero in Us

Efren Penaflorida (Kuya Ef), a young Filipino who initiated "Pushcart Classroom" through the Dynamic Teen Company which he instigated to divert the youth's attention from gangsterism to simple act of voluntarism was named CNN Hero of the year.

I have been following Kuya Ef's inspiring story of heroism in helping the children in the slum areas in the Philippines by providing them education. What made his story more inspiring is when I learned that Kuya Ef did not come from a well-off family. Like the children he and his co-volunteers are helping, Kuya Ef was raised by his father who is a tricycle driver and his mother who is a plain housewife. He was able to finish high school and college (with a degree in BS Education) through Club 8586 -- a Christian people development organization committed in reaching out to families, campuses and communities. As I read and watched the video of Kuya Ef's extraordinary commitment to help people, I learned "again" that we all have something to share if we only want to share.

During the awarding night, as Kuya Ef accepted the honor as CNN Hero of the Year, he left a very astounding statement which is, for me, a wake-up call for all of us. With simplicity and all modesty, he expressed, "Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need. So to each and every person inside this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. ...You are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream, and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be." It was a very simple yet profound statement that would always be engraved in this blog and in my heart.

As an educator, Kuya Ef's life is a great inspiration and I do agree in him that the hero in us is just waiting to be unleashed. It's not all about how much we have but it's all about how much we are willing to share. A simple act of heroism could take many forms and could mean many different things like an encouraging word, a helping hand, an appreciative expression and so on. We only have to believe that there is a hero within us.

"True service to others is not an issue of scope or scale, for we may serve one, some or many -- through the smallest act of kindness or most noble feat of sacrifice."
-- Matthew May

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Power of Media

The Mass Media has been proven to be a very powerful tool which could transform simple thoughts into different actions and reactions. The latest advertisement of Thai Life Insurance Company which has been recently aired in Thai television stations is another testimony of the tremendous impact that the Media could bring.

The advertisement features young children singing the infamous "Que Sera Sera". At first, you would only notice their smiles and their enthusiasm in singing but as the storyline would reveal, you would discern that they are not ordinary children for they actually suffer from disabilities. As the advertisement goes on, you would eventually notice the reason behind the children's happy faces despite their disabilities. You would see in the latter part of the advertisement how proud their parents are which is more than enough of a reason for the children to be happy. The parents look at their children full of admiration.

The message of the advertisement is so inspiring and for me, it has served beyond its purpose which is to promote life insurance among parents especially to women who are planning to give birth. More than conveying to the audience the importance of life insurance, Thai Life Insurance Company has also imparted an important lesson to the masses especially in judging people with disabilities.

Luckily, I found the advertisement uploaded at Youtube and I would like to share this to everyone.

And here's another thing.This song is very popular in Thailand now. It has been sung by people from different walks of life. Actually, I learned about this advertisement when I heard some of my second year students singing it in the classroom. I was so amazed when I heard them singing the song because I seldom hear them singing a classic English song and another they do understand what they are singing. This advertisement, indeed, did not just advertise a product for it also imparted values and lasting English phrases in the heart of every Thai learner. Actually, I just used this advertisement last week to remind my students our classroom rules.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Hello everyone! Thank you for the unending support you have given to this blog. Indeed, I became so inspired to blog in the past few weeks when I learned that the number of visitors dropping into my blog has been increasing. To all the readers who dropped by especially those who promised to keep an eye in this blog, you're my inspiration and I will continue to blog because of you. I do hope that my life would be more interesting than ever in the following days so I could post more interesting articles. Well, I know that being interesting is so relative so I need to keep my fingers leashed and feel free to accept comments from my beloved readers.

Much as I want this blog to be updated on a regular basis (like twice a week), I need to admit that the following days would be a difficult struggle in my blogging career (yes, it's been a career for me). Midterm examination is fast approaching and it simply means that I need to prepare and consolidate learning evaluation tools and at the same time I have to keep updates of my students' progress in the classroom so they would become aware of the things which they need to improve and sustain. In addition to, I got an additional responsibility for the proposed Language Camp this March as I have to coordinate the planning of activities among Mathematics teachers in our program. You might be wondering why Math teachers need to be involved in the Language Camp. Well, few of us may have known that Math is just another language and for the speakers of English as Second Language, so much could be explored in Mathematics on the contextual usage of the English language. I do hope that our team would be able to come up with brilliant ideas that would encourage the learners to study Math.

Added to my jam-packed schedule in school is my thesis which I need to finish by last week of December so I could be ready for the internal panel defense on January. Completing this master's thesis would mean more online research hours, more library period and, of course, INSPIRATION to keep things going during the process.

So in advance, I would like to apologize for the delayed updates of this blog (as if you care... hehehe). Well, just in case you have been following this blog, we will still keep things going but we will be doing it one step at a time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Fashion undergoes constant cycle. Right now, I don't know if English is also into fashion. Is it fashion or just another marketing strategy?

The mall where I personally took the picture above is one of the malls in Bangkok visited by hundreds of foreign tourists everyday.

What's NEW?

You might have noticed some changes in this blog. For the followers of Wits and Spirits, you might think that you stumbled in a wrong blog. The content of the blog is almost all the same. However, some widgets have been removed especially those which are related to teaching.

I have been planning to put my personal and teaching blog together in Wits and Spirits but as I thought of my plans for putting up these blogs, I realized that they existed for two different reasons. Originally, my personal blog was intentionally made to be an outlet of my personal thoughts and opinions towards life's amusements and perplexities. On the other hand, my teaching blog has been established to express my passion for teaching and education (as a whole) with a hope to inspire fellow educators and education practitioners. Although keeping these blogs updated is not that easy especially during the times wherein I need to work with my students on my extra hours and catch up with different reports and learning evaluation criteria and tools, I understand that there are still ways to update these blogs on regular basis (although not that frequent).

At first, my worry was on maintaining traffic in these blogs because I was thinking that I really need to update them on regular basis especially if I would like visitors to keep on coming. However, as I analyzed the live traffic feed I have installed in each blog, I noticed that my teaching blog has been generating a good amount of traffic although I was not able to update it regularly. Moreover, I am starting to realize that my mission for starting my teaching blog has been achieved little by little so why should I stop? After all, everything boils down to the advocacy of the blog and the blogger.

So for those who would like to read my articles on teaching, you may visit my teaching blog. See you there! On the other hand, I would still be posting my teaching reflections here from time to time as my focus in my teaching blog is more of "professional articles".

Friday, November 13, 2009


Bohol’s first and only state college, Central Visayas State College of Agriculture Forestry and Technology (CVSCAFT) System, is now Bohol Island State University (BISU) per Republic Act 9722 principally authored by Bohol’s first district congressman Edgar M. Chatto. CVSCAFT System, composed of former Bohol School of Arts and Trades (BSAT), Bohol Agricultural College (BAC), Bohol School of Fisheries, Clarin School of Fisheries and Calape Polytechnic College, was converted into state college last June 2008. Since then, the institution continuously provided quality graduates in different fields like engineering, education, forestry, agriculture and industrial technology.

The success story of CVSCAFT (now BISU) could be attributed to the dedication of the college’s mentors who have been so keen in producing topnotch professionals who would excel in different National Board Examinations conducted by the Professions Regulations Commission (PRC) and in the industry as well.

As one of the alumni of CVSCAFT System (from Tagbilaran City Campus’ College of Engineering then to College of Teacher Education), I am so proud for this another milestone of my beloved alma mater. I hope through its new status as state university, it could serve better the greater Bohol especially to those poor but deserving students.

Long live CVSCAFT! Long live BISU!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Believe When Nobody Does

I started writing when I was in high school. Writing was just a part of my hobby and a way of expressing my frustration to be one of our school's representatives in the press conference and be trained on the basics of campus journalism. It was my dream to have one of my articles/poems published in our school publication but it never came into reality. I finished high school without experiencing the joy of having my name printed in the school paper.

Although frustrated, I never stopped believing that I could have my name printed in a school publication someday. Since I already graduated high school that time, my only chance was to achieve such dream in college. I was hoping that my English teacher would send me to the local campus journalism workshop one day so I could hone my writing skills and would have chances to join campus-based writing contests which were the only key toward joining the staff of the school publication and have one's articles published. I already took two English classes during first year but none of my teachers recommended me in any of the campus journalism workshops held in the college. I was a bit frustrated but I never lost hope.

When I was in second year college, I joined the campus journalism workshop sponsored by our college publication even if it would cost me two consecutive days of absence from my classes. I was not recommended by any teacher. I was just asked by one of the publication staff if I was interested to join and without hesitation, I said "YES". I knew my limitations in writing (especially in grammar and correct usage) yet I also knew that it was my only way to achieve my dream and taking that opportunity for granted would be the worst decision that I could ever make because I knew that the days were counting and too soon I would be leaving that college and I could not afford to leave without having my dream fulfilled.

I attended all the workshops on that two-day activity and joined every contest I was qualified to join. I had my shot on feature writing, editorial writing, news writing and copy reading, photojournalism and poetry writing. Of all the contests I've joined, I luckily got third prize in poetry writing. My poem "Unleash Me!" which was written on the spot (right after the poetry writing workshop) got the third prize and that qualified me to become one of the staff writers for our college publication in the same school year. From then on, I had my articles and poems published in our college publication and was given chances to improve my writing skills by attending in various seminar-workshops.

Unexpectedly, on that same school year, because of my active participation in our school publication, I was luckily chosen to be one of the school's representatives in a national youth leaders' seminar in Baguio City (Philippines' summer capital). There, I had the chance to meet youth leaders and fellow writers from all over the country and became a part of a timely national youth leadership newsletter. Indeed, I had my works published not only in a school paper but in a national newsletter as well. I thought, "This is more that what I imagined."

The following school year, I became a literary editor for our school publication and attended more writing and literary workshops like Literary Criticism Workshop with a group of Boholano poets and Film Appreciation Workshop presented by University of the Philippines film professor and director Nick de Ocampo.

With those experiences in life I learned that when no one seems to believe in us, we could still run to ourselves and keep our dreams alive with strong conviction that with passion and hard work, we could still make our dreams into reality. In the same way, we always have to do our best and show that we are capable so people would know. I admit, I was not that good in writing and I do commit a lot of mistakes but deep within me, I had a dream and I continued to believe in it.

If we want people to look at us with belief, respect and admiration, we need to look at ourselves that way first. We need to understand that we are what we believe we are. It's not other people's criticisms that make us feel down but it's our way of perceiving those criticisms and comments that build or destroy our character. Apparently, we need to maintain a positive outlook towards life for we are the molders of our own dreams.

"No one can stop a man with the right attitude but nobody in the world can help a man with the wrong attitude."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are We Ready?

Thailand's English as Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) industry is, without doubts, a Filipino-dominated industry as most of the foreign teachers employed to teach English and other content subjects are Filipinos. The ESL/EFL industry in Thailand is not that promising compared to other countries but, nevertheless, it's easier to come to Thailand for a job than in other countries. Most of the teachers here, came to Thailand as tourists who then applied for a working permit after finding an employer.

However, the salary that one could probably earn here is not as high as those who are working in other countries but because of its cheaper cost of living, it is not that difficult to make both ends meet. Many of us here could still send a good amount of money to help our families back home and we could send and save even better if we are hardworking enough to accept additional classes during non-working hours. We could go for private one-on-one tutorials or small class tutorials in learning centers. However, no one is assured of a stable job because most of the foreign workers here are working in contractual basis and usually we work under one-year contract and the thing is, most of the learning centers and even some schools do not provide work permit to their foreign teachers.

No one is assured of a lifetime job here in Thailand. Recently, a huge government project handled by two big universities in Bangkok made unlikely changes in their employment contract causing exodus of foreign teachers for some of them left while others were unfortunately evicted from the project. I don't know if it's another bad news from Thailand's ESL industry but I have read an article that a big English language center in Thailand would be ending its operation this year because it's planning to move to another Asian country where the business could be more promising. Over time, we have seen how the industry dropped that no wonder a time would come that only very few of the foreign teachers would be needed here.

In reality, the future is not ours but we could do something for our future by preparing for it as early as today. We have to face life positively and we could only do that if we know that we are financially secure. The future is not ours yet the present has been given to us so that we would be ready if ever the inevitable moments would struck. Make every moment of today a preparation of tomorrow for no one knows what would happen the following day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Make Failure Your Best Friend

Oftentimes, we are so afraid to try because we are afraid that we might fail. For most of us,failure is an enemy that we need to avoid. However, the truth is human beings are born imperfect and the only way for us to move toward perfection is to try all the possibilities without having much focus on the failures that we would surely encounter along the way. We need to learn from those failures. We can make failure our best friend.

According to an e-mail forwarded by a friend, we need to maximize our day. Thanks to Sir Rolly, one of my mentors, for forwarding this wonderful message from John C. Maxwell which I believe worthy to be shared to everyone.


When you are able to learn from any bad experience and thereby turn it into a good experience, you make a major transition in life. For years I've taught something that I think gives useful insight on the subject of life:

People change when they...
Hurt enough that they have to,
Learn enough that they want to, and
Receive enough that they are able to.

I learned the truth of that statement on a whole new level on December 18, 1998. While at my company's Christmas party, I felt an excruciating pain in my chest, and I went down for the count. I suffered from a serious heart attack. My heart attack was a painful and surprising experience, but I feel that God was very good to me at that process. Several excellent physicians rallied around me and made it possible for me not only to survive but also to avoid any permanent hear damage.

My cardiologist, Dr. Marshall, told me that men who survive an early heart attack and learn from it live longer and healthier lives that those who never suffer a heart attack. I am determined to learn from the experience. I changed my diet. I exercise and try to live a more balanced life. I had to admit that it's sometimes a struggle, but I'm persevering. I've taken to heart Jim Rohn's comment: "Don't let your learning lead to knowledge; let your learning lead to action. "

-- Failing Forward


I hope that this message from John Maxwell will make your day and will lead you bolder actions toward your dreams. Life has never promised us that we will be traversing a smooth road. However, life has always been teaching us that we can make the best out of everything. LIVE LIFE and ACHIEVE your GOALS!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I have been blogging for quite sometime now and I have been thinking how to turn this hobby into an income-generating chore which would somehow help me in increasing my cash flow to support my future plans. I have been reading plenty of articles on how to earn from blogging and of all the recommendations given, adding Google Adsense tops the lists.

I was very convinced by most of the writers who placed Google Adsense on the top of their list that's why I started to create my Google Adsense account. However, my application has been rejected by the management of Google for various reasons. Several times, my application was not approved because the address which I provided was invalid. I tried my address in Thailand and then in the Philippines -- they were both rejected. I decided not to re-submit my application anymore for I have been rejected for many times until, lately, I re-submitted my application and took extra care not to commit the same mistake again. At last, my address was accepted but still my application for Google Adsense was rejected!

This time, the management found problem on the content of my blog. According to them, they could not approve my application for the contents of my blog do not qualify for Adsense. I have reviewed their policy and I don't know which of the policies I violated. Well, I guess my blog is too personal to be visited by people from different walks of life. I accept, my life is not that interesting as Barack Obama, Leonardo da Vinci, James Bond and other celebrated icons in the industry. However, I am still hopeful that I could still find other ways to earn some pennies through my blog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teaching: A Joy or A Challenge?

Teaching should have been the most fulfilling job but why is it that we seldom see teachers who find fulfillment in what they are doing?

Back in the Philippines, most of the teachers were actually regarded as penniless people who do not have time for themselves. Oftentimes, teachers go back home with loads of paperworks to finish -- that is aside from the regular preparations that one has to do for the lessons to be presented. However, it is very sad to say that these paperworks only add burden to the teachers for they are only required for filing purposes and not for the learning of the students which is supposed to be the most essential concern of every learning institution.

A very typical example is the lesson plan. Most of the educational institutions have been adding ambiguity in the preparation of lesson plans without giving emphasis on the lesson itself. Instead of giving the teacher a chance to develop the lesson so that learning among the students could be maximize, much focus have been given on adding redundant parts of the lesson plan that the preparation of the lesson plan would take much longer than the presentation of the lesson and in the end, the lesson plan is much better than the lesson.

If we believe that teaching should be focused on the enhancement of students' learning then we have to change the current system of education wherein too much emphasis is given on documentation as part of the supervision process than on teaching and learning. As we move towards the new era of the human revolution, we need to understand the changes that has been brought to us by the ever-changing landscape of the society. The present generation demands us to become more practical as we don't have to waste any single moment of our life and so of our career. After all, everybody would find fulfillment when the end has been justified and that is, the students have learned something.

In the end, all we need to understand is the joy that teaching could bring to every teacher and not the challenges which only try to build the endurance of the teachers. If we fail to address such problem, then we fail to communicate to our learners that school is not a chamber of torture which would only test how determined they are.

Monday, November 2, 2009


This is something that my spirits could never contain and my wits could never imagine. I never had a big 24th birthday celebration but the greetings I received were more than just what a huge birthday party could offer. Words were very simple but as I started to jot down the names of those who greeted me, I realized how tremendous a word could become especially when you know that it came from the heart of the person who told it to you. I could not bear it that I wanted to share the joy to everyone. It's not all about the businesses that we transacted. It's not all about the works that we did together. It's not all about the laughter that sparkled our hearts. Instead, it's all about the relationship that we shared for a moment or a lifetime.

As what Kuya Banjo said in his birthday greetings, "We need some attention from time to time to ensure to ourselves that we are existing and our existence is needed." Indeed, he is so true and the simple greetings I received were more than just enough to remind me that I am still existing with everyone. A genuine wish from colleagues Mr. Khem and Ate Cecil reminded me of the life that I always wanted to live -- a simple yet challenging life that would never be wasted. Somehow, they reminded me that I am not alone in achieving my dreams for as they wished, I would be more inspired to follow the desires of my heart. Krishna and George's prayer for God's help would truly help me in every decision that I am going to make as I chase my dreams.

Addie's and Diana's simple greetings reminded me the value of friendship -- a kind of relationship that I would always treasure for the rest of my life. I am becoming more confident and inspired to do what I believe is right because of my friends who always see me as winner and inspiration. Little did they know that they are more than just inspirations to me. They are what they are and they are always winners because of what they are.

My family who has always been there and witnessed my life for the past 24 years were more than just ordinary witnesses but molders of dream as well. My life could have never been the same without them. I did not hear greetings from all of them yet I know how happy they are that I reached this age with something that could be proud of. 24 years were not just 24 years with my family for they meant a lot. It means 24 years of learning, 24 years of bond, 24 years of love, 24 years of happiness, 24 years of abundance and the list has no ending. My family has given me more that what I have wished for they showed me abundance in the middle of scarcity.

1. Own a Business in the Philippines
2. Travel Around the World
3. Build my Dream Rest House in my Dream Farm Before I Reach 30
4. Own a Condo/Apartment in Tagbilaran City
5. Finish my Master's Degree
6. Avail Australian Government Aid for my 2nd Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree
7. Teach in Another Country (most likely in America)
8. Achieve Financial Freedom at the Age of 28
9. Write a Self-Help Book
10. Write a Mathematics Textbook
11. Publish a Book on Professional Studies
12. Build my Own Foundation for Needy Children and Families
13. Retire at the Age of 40.
14. Island Getaway in the Philippines with my Family
15. Maintain a Popular Blog
16. Family Reunion with the Saraspes
17. Family Reunion with the Cerbitos
18. High School Batch Reunion by 2012
19. Meet and Connect with my relatives as I can
20. Teach Professional Subject/s in a Popular University in the Philippines
21. Travel to Phuket, Changmai and Krabi
22. Travel to Singapore, Malaysia and Hongkong
23. Climb one of the peaks in Thailand
24. Conquer Mt. Apo


1. Kuya Banjo Cleofe
2. Ate Cecil Lacson
3. Ate Maejoy Sinsuan
4. Sam Barrete
5. Raziel Felix
6. Master Khemapat
7. Zhen Marcojos
8. Donna Ucang
9. Ate Rosie Arcillas
10. Diana Salivad
11. Addie Paredes
12. Krishna Reyes
13. George Terrenal
14. Donna Rebugio
15. Ivy Salarza
16. Fely Padilla
17. Dolly Grace Nanit
18. Levi Saraspe
19. Franco Tatad
20. Adelaida Cabahug
21. Lorna Coral
22. Ivy Sarabosing
23. Angelita Lumor
24. Fritzie Galleos
25. Lilibeth Jeminos
26. Azel

Sorry for the names which were not mentioned. What is important is you made my day more special and you know that. Thank you so much and may God will bless you all!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


With all the scandals, copyright infringement and cyber-bullying issues lurking in the internet nowadays, it's still good to know that there are still people whose kindness and passion for serving others help billions of internet users from around the globe. It's so uplifting to hear people's testimonies on how the internet helped them earn additional income, meet long lost friends and relatives, make communication faster and even prevent an accident which was about to happen. What makes it more genuine is when you personally experience all these things like what just happened lately.

How about meeting a very close relative you've never met in your entire life? It sounds impossible but FACEBOOK has just shown me the possibility when a person of the same last name as mine added me as a friend. I did not spend even a single minute looking at this person's info because I think he's just another unknown individual whose last name just happened to be the same as mine. Good that I gave a try in opening looking over his info and leaving him some words. He is just a very close relative I never met before. He's a grandchild of my uncle who died many years ago without even giving me a chance to see him in person. What happened was a reunion of an uncle who has never met his nephew before. It was, indeed, a cyber-reunion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I got a feedback yesterday from a fellow blogger that it took time for her to view the contents of my blog and, unfortunately, I experienced the same thing about two weeks ago. I encountered similar problem for a couple of times but since I was too busy to wait for it to upload, I closed my blog and did other chores instead thinking that it was brought by poor internet connection.

However, as a tried to scroll down my blog few days ago, I discovered that the problem was not just an internet connection failure. It was a blog malfunction brought by the generated blog banner. As I logged in, I found out that the script went wrong and so to fix the problem I did not hesitate to erase the script and I immediately made a new banner which is so simple. I felt bad at first because I invested time just to generate that blog banner and only to find out that it would only cause trouble in my blog.

So right now, you could see a very simple blog banner which I instantly created days ago to make sure that my blog would go back to its normal running condition (like a utility vehicle). It might be very simple but still I saw to it that its simplicity would not fail to communicate the expressions and information I posted and will be posting in here.

My apology to everyone for such problem and I hope everything will be back to normal although I have been so busy these days for the second semester has just started and I just came back from my three weeks vacation in the Philippines.

Financial Education for Overseas Filipino Workers Urged

Financial education is deemed necessary for overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) nowadays in the wake of the looming global economic meltdown, officials from a marketing group said. Jose Enrique de las Peñas, International Marketing Group (IMG) president, said he believes that financial education, especially among OFWs that are lucky to still have jobs abroad, helps them offset the fears brought about by the ongoing financial crisis.

"What OFWs and Filipinos, in general, need right now is financial education. They have to increase their knowledge on the right way of savings and on how to take care of their finances and reduce the risk of losing what they have," he said. De las Peñas underscored the huge significance of financial education for Filipinos, "where everyone seems to be in fear of the negative prospects of the future."

IMG, a marketing company dedicated to serving the financial needs of individuals, has close to 20,000 OFW members nationwide who have availed themselves of their free financial education seminars. Majority of these OFWs are working in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Middle East and Europe. IMG Chief Executive Officer Noel Arandilla said the common misconception of financial education is that it should only be limited to the elite or the well-educated.

"Everyone has their equal rights to be wealthy but the masses are afraid to go out of their comfort zones and be educated on how to increase their finances. The lack of education is keeping some of us unequipped to the possible effects of the crisis," Arandilla said. IMG seminars, facilitated by their own financial advisers, are now starting to attract people from different professions including doctors, engineers, teachers, factory and office workers, among others, Arandilla noted.

"A lot of businesses are already facing fears and signs that their companies might not survive the crisis. They ask our help to educate them and help them build their financial foundation," said De Las Peñas, adding a significant interest among corporations seeking their advice. He said that at the height of today's financial turmoil, many companies from industries such as information technology, electronics and education have sought their financial guidance as these sectors have been hit hard by the crisis.

"Fear of the uncertainty of the economy could be battled through financial education. With this, you can take positive, proactive and informative actions and will not be in a panic mode wherein you cannot do right decisions," De las Peñas said.

SOURCE: Manila Bulletin - February 8, 2009 (Sunday)

Friday, October 9, 2009


It's my sixth day here in the Philippines and so many things had happened that I could say I have been here for a longer period of time. If I am enjoying a fast-paced life in Bangkok, I do have to enjoy a slow-motion track of events here in Bohol as I have been confined to the place where I belong and it seems that I am repeating history by my own. I wear the shirts I used to wear three years ago and bask around the place where I used to hang out and so much more.

When I was in Thailand, I missed this place and now that I am here I understand why I have been missing home. Talking about comfort, I am much more comfortable lying in a soft bed in a fully furnished studio type condominium. Life here is so different but the moments where I exchange stories with my parents is nothing but incomparable. Different it may be, I have been used to it because I came from this place.

Not minding my teaching job abroad, I went back to my old routines. I help my father drying the grains of rice, assist my mother in our small variety store, feed the hogs, read sometimes... I am actually repeating history and I am enjoying it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I was not able to update my blog for several days and I did not even left some words on my whereabouts (as if you will be interested... hehehe). For my facebook friends, they knew for sure why I have been offline these days. I just arrived home last Saturday. I flew back here in the midst of the threats of super typhoon Pepeng and when people were still busy sending relief goods to the millions of victims of the typhoon Ondoy which severely flooded some parts of the Metro Manila. Thanks God for he spared Pasay and Bohol on the day of my flight and brought me home safely. Thanks to the powerful prayers of my friends!

Getting into the groove of the cyberspace has been so difficult these days as I have been struggling with the snail-speed internet connection caused by poor signal transmission in the rural areas of Bohol. Yes! I am finally home enjoying my family's company and savoring every quiet moment in our place which is 72 kilometers from the the city.

I've got plenty of articles to be posted as soon as I go back to the city. Pictures, stories... Yes, they are all in store for you and I will try to post more on my hometown in Bohol and the happenings in Bohol.

I was not able to go online on regular basis that's why I was not able to check my current standing in the 2009 Pinoy Expats Blog Awards. I just checked the poll result and was so surprised that I am now in the top ten. Thank you very much for those who have voted! This is our fight! :D :D :D

Right now, I have to do my best to create that personalized blog video that would let you know more about me. I want to finish it now but I remembered that we will be having a reunion this coming Sunday for my eldest sister's birthday and so the family would be complete. It would be nice if our family picture would be included and so I have to wait. :D

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happenings at the Bangkok International Film Festival

The Bangkok International Film Festival (BIFF) is one of the events that I never missed since I started working in Bangkok although I was not able to watch any of the screened movies last year. Aside from showing support to our very own Filipino independent films, this event is also a great chance to meet different Filipino personalities from bloggers to award-winning writers and ordinary people who just show passion in the world of films.

Due to an invitation of a colleague who happened to be a friend of the leading actress of this movie, I watched "Kinatay" of award-winning director Brillante Ma. Mendoza. Although the movie was horrible and destructing to every man's senses, I still appreciate the movie for the casts were able to justify their roles as they have brilliantly portrayed the character they were playing in the movie. No question, Mendoza is worthy of the award as Best Director in this year's Cannes International Film Festival.

After the screening of the movie, the audience was given the chance to ask questions to the director who answered every question in a way every artist should answer. Carried out by the ugly reality of the Philippine society which has been shown in the movie, I asked the director what message was he trying to convey to the international community when he screened such kind of movies in international film festivals. Brilliante Mendoza answered back as a talented and witty artist when he said that in making a film, he does not think of any audience, instead he only wants to tell the truth to everyone that the world is not as safe as we have thought. He further expressed that such reality is not only true in the Philippines but to every corner of the world and he was referring to the odd truths in our society wherein life has become so cheap. Killing human beings became as easy as slaughtering animals. Sad, indeed!


Before the screening of the movie started, I had a chance to meet a two-time Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature awardee Dominic D. Manriquee. He won third place in One-Act Play Script Writing for "Wanchaiyuki" in 1999 and third place in Full-Length Play Script Writing for "Me Esep o Wala, Sa Pera'y Lahat Namangha" in 2000 both of which fall under Filipino Category.

With international award-winning director Brilliante Mendoza after the screening of his movie Kinatay.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Help for Ondoy's Victims

There are millions of Filipinos in the other parts of the world and they are just part of the Filipino community who were not directly affected by the destructive typhoon Ketsana (local code name Ondoy). Ondoy, in my very own Bisaya dialect, is supposed to be a term of endearment for young boys and even old ones. However, in the case of this destructive typhoon, calling it Ondoy would really sound ironic. Looking at the devastated victims makes me hesitant to call such catastrophic typhoon Ondoy.

Being in Bangkok and counting the remaining days before I would finally get on an aircraft that would bring me back to Philippines, I could not help myself but worry about the circumstances that Ondoy might bring in my most-awaited reunion with my family. However, as I do all the chores that I need to do before I leave, I realized that beyond these chores and my unwavering excitement to go home is a personal responsibility which has been attached in me so long before when I was born as Filipino. Confident of the help of my Filipino colleagues, I did not hesitate to initiate a donation drive in our school for the victims of the devastating typhoon Ondoy. Before I went home from the office, I was able to print some posters about the donation drive and with the director's approval, they could be posted around the school campus very soon. I was so happy when other teachers began to ask how they could send their donations and a Thai coordinator promised to translate the posters into Thai so that the locals could also share what they have for the rehabilitation of the damages brought by that very sudden catastrophe.

Hopefully, we could sort out the goods as soon as possible and send them to the Philippine Embassy or any organization genuinely extending help to the victims. We hope that the goods that we could collect could be transported back to the Philippines as soon as possible.

It just so happened that the calamity struck the country few days before my scheduled visit to my sickly father. The time is too short for me to contact all possible donors here in Thailand so we could send as much help as possible to the victims. However, I know that there are still people out there who are very willing to continue the cause. The best thing is, I have done my share as a Filipino citizen for I believe that democracy does not belong to those people who are in power only. We will be able to understand the real essence of democracy when we do our best to give the best effort for the betterment of the Filipino people and the Philippines and this typhoon could be an eye-opener for everyone.

Updates about the ongoing donation drive in our school will be posted soon. For the now, those who are outside Philippines and would like to personally give some donations to the victims, you may click HERE for the details on how you could send your donations. For the Filipinos in Thailand, our Embassy in Bangkok is currently accepting relief goods for our countrymen who were affected by the typhoon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Joining the Philippine Blog Awards(PBA) has never been a dream of mine until I came across a blog which contains a logo reading 'Philippine Blog Awards 2009 Nominee.'

A full-time high school Mathematics teacher and a post-graduate student, maintaining a personal blog could just be a part of those not-so-important chores. Besides, I have been spending so much time facing the computer making reports, workbooks, lesson plans, worksheets and keeping an update of my class' online resources.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Philippines National Schools Press Conference Advisory

A press release from Philippines' Department of Education (DepEd) dated September 14, 2009 emphasized this year's focus for the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC). The said press release mentioned that this school year's NSPC will be heeding on the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly the MDG 1 (Alleviate Poverty and Hunger), the Department of Education (DepEd) mobilizes schools support by advocating and integrating them in related school-community initiatives.

According to Education Secretary Jesli Lapuz, they will be enlisting the ative participation of young journalists for such advocacy for they know how to optimize the power of communication. Lapuz believes that there is a power in the pen and so they highlight this in their school journalists and their publications.

This school year's NSPC,a national gathering which draws thousands of campus journalists from public and private elementary schools around the country, will be held on February 22-26, 2010 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Individual and group writing contests in English and Filipino will carry the conference theme: “Campus Journalism as a Catalyst for Change: Achieving the MDGs by 2015 (Pampaaralang Pahayagan bilang Instrumento ng Pagbabago: Maisakatuparan ang MDGs ng 2015).

Good luck to our young journalists who would be participating this year's press conference. Way to go for their coaches as well who dedicate their time and effort training these young writers who would soon influence the world through their pens.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Reading my blog and citations I earned in other web pages, my sister has reprimanded me for the sensitive blog posts I have posted over time. She specifically meant my commentaries on the Philippine government and politics and the corruption cases back in my own country. I understand her... She's only worried about the consequences that I might face because of my blog posts.

I just want to remind everyone that Wits and Spirits is a personal blog and so everything posted here are my personal thoughts. I never meant to stir somebody's ego, lest I was only expressing my thoughts as a result of different articles I have read and situations I have witnessed. Anyway, I really could not help those people who believe that I am being subjective in my blog posts or I am abusing my freedom for expression.

The people, especially political icons, mentioned here know who they really are so they don't need to be very reactive and act like little kids bullied by their playmates. I am not a heckler as I am not good at it. I am just opinionated and again my opinions never meant to hurt you and if your were hurt, help yourself. It's difficult to accept but "reality really hurts."

I just hope that the 'famous' political icons in the Philippines will become more mature this time. You know, it's so awkward to see leaders acting like a sensitive child. Wake up for you might not have realized that you are public icons and everybody's watching every action that you do. If you could not grow, step down and give way to those people who could maturely lead our impoverished nation.

And now... ELECTION is coming! My piece of thought for those who have always wanted to run for a post in the government is so simple. I will just put it this way: "You are old enough to discern whether you are useful or not. If you could do nothing but brag your achievements and talk against your rivals, better rest. Our country's badly in need of a leader who could put words into action. And again, you should be mature enough. I believe that our constitution has stipulated age qualification for those who would be running for a post in the government because the Filipino people would like to make sure that they will be led by mature individuals. If you are 30 or something but think and act like 10 or 15, better play with Jollibee and enjoy the moments for that would just pass by.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Agora's Finally Done But the Political Battle Goes On

Couples of articles have been published concerning the ever-controversial Agora Market of Tagbilaran City, Bohol. A range of issues and opinions have permeated the public even during the early operation of Bohol's "local bazaar" before it was reduced to ashes almost fifteen years ago. The blaze that took millions worth of properties was even a controversy.

Years after the structure waned, it became a popular public figure especially to the watchful senses of the media. Ironically, the useless Agora Market still served to the many as it has become a subject of criticism, an affront against political rivals, a public urinal, a famous eye-sore of the capital of Philippines' number one tourist destination and most of all an avenue much loved by corrupt government officials to dope the public through an ambitious yet never-been-done rehabilitation projects. The budget of the country's below par economy has been wasted by this single infrastructure which could have been a very rich source of income that would alleviate the country's budget deficiency.

In 2009, the Agora controversy almost came to an end when the "City Square" was finally opened as commercial hub in the downtown area of the city. Not to mention, the completion of the mall-like infrastructure has added glamor to the "City of Friendship" as it's only facing the pioneering BQ Mall along the city's main road, Carlos P. Garcia Avenue. In addition to, it has helped in fattening the hungry purse of the city government as well as the province of Bohol. However, a bigger controversy has sprouted as people had never been satisfied to what they have seen. Controversies are just in almost every corner waiting for an icon that could be bitten. There were complaints from the so-called concerned tax payers of the city of Tagbilaran. They questioned the 'anomalous' transaction between the city mayor and the developers of the City Square. The rehabilitate-operate-transfer (ROT) contract is said to be a great loss in part of the city government.

In an article published at the Bohol Chronicle, the lawyer complainants expressed that the said project is the biggest case of corruption at City Hall in the entire history of Tagbilaran City , costing hundreds of millions of pesos in lost income to the City and its taxpayers. Well, looking at the cheap rental fee, the government would really lost a huge amount of money but considering that the Agora square has been useless for a couple of years, the opening of the City Square is a relief to the continuing economic downturn. Now I am wondering why these people spend much of their time filing a case against the city mayor. I should appreciate their concern for the 'common-good' if they are really doing such thing for such a selfless cause.

Considering the present condition of the Philippine politics, I could not blame myself if I could be honestly skeptical of the current surge of the complaint. I am just wondering where were these concerned Tagbilaranons when budgets were wasted for the failed rehabilitation projects. Forgive me but, naturally, I believe that dogs would not stop barking unless fed. Mr. Mayor, should you have shared your blessings from the project which had been done at last, you would not face this kind of dilemma at the Ombudsman.

This undone structure in the heart of the city has been an eye sore for the tourists and the locals alike. For years, this structure has been an ugly figure in the "City of Friendship".

The used to be landscape blot Agora square after it was developed by a private developer through the controversial rehabilitate-operate-transfer (ROT) contract with the city government.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Teachers Become Complacent?

I could still remember those days when I was still in a teacher-training institution preparing myself for my future teaching endeavors. When I was in fourth year and about to graduate, I was exposed to the real teaching atmosphere by having me attend a daily observation and participation session in our college's laboratory high school. I observed and assisted my cooperating teacher's high school Math classes for four months. At the same time, I learned to prepare those teaching materials like lesson plans, teaching reflections, assessment and feedback forms and others. That time, the importance of those materials in assisting the learners' need was clearly introduced to us that's why, as future teachers, we adhered on making the best possible output because we believed that those things were not just mere chores but a huge help to our learners as well.

When I had my teaching practicum during the second semester, I passionately prepared my lessons and promptly did all those paperworks considering that they were of great importance for the learning of my students. I used to enter my classes carrying loads of visual aids and full of enthusiasm to teach. I have observed that the same attitude could also be observed from other student-teachers. All of us were very enthusiastic to teach and we loved to share our teaching experiences every time we go back to our college. Personally, when I had my off-campus teaching practicum in a government high school 72 kilometers away from the college I was attending, I took bundles of references with me. I had my portfolio, professional articles, notes and a variety of Mathematics book which guided me throughout my nearly-independent teaching practicum.

With all the enthusiasm I and my fellow student-teachers had during our practicum, a sense of confusion struck my head when I saw how 'experienced teachers' had become in their profession. Most, if not all, of them had become complacent in their respective fields. The enthusiasm that we had, could hardly be seen to these experienced teachers. Unlike the passionate sharing of teaching experiences evident in every student-teacher, professional conversation could hardly be heard in the faculty room where these experienced teachers stay during their free time. These teachers normally have complaints against their students and the tasks which they were mandated to do. It's very sad because those things directly affect the learners.

Why do teachers tend to become complacent during their service years? What are the factors that demotivate teachers to pursue their passion in teaching?

Like other professions, teachers need support in order to grow professionally. Everybody needs constant motivation to sustain one's passion. However, we know that teachers are the least paid professionals and most of the times very little support is given by the management of the school to meet the professional needs of the teachers. Professional development trainings are provided but they are not actually given to those teachers who need them. Instead, those who already have the potential and the passion for teaching get the best support from the administration. Aside from that, teachers are not considered as collaborators in the planning stage. Plans are usually done by those who are on the top and teachers are just asked to implement what has been planned.

For instance, if there are changes which need to be implemented in the classroom, teachers are usually asked to implement the changes without enough information that would help them understand the urgency and the importance of the implementation. Changes in school forms and giving of additional loads to teachers are ordinarily given without considering the impact of such change to the teachers who directly influence the learners. Some of those forms and paperworks are just additional loads for teachers and they do not even contribute to students' learning. Instead of focusing on the support that every teacher could possibly give to the learners, much focus is given on asking teachers to provide unneeded reports and documents and sad to say, these reports are not even read by anyone. They're just kept as a files. Most of the times, it leads to teacher burn-out as teachers would eventually find out that they spend much of their time making those unnecessary reports than finding fulfillment through helping the students out in the learning process.

I hope that administrators would be awakened and would realize how the current surge of the system negatively affects the teachers. Teachers need support and encouragement to reinvent their teaching and be motivated with the help they are providing to the students. I hope everybody would realize such thing before it's too late. One day, we might witness a huge number of dedicated teachers shifting careers for they do not find fulfillment and happiness in what they are doing anymore. After all, it's the desire of every human being to find fulfillment at what he/she is doing and I believe that such fulfillment can only be achieved if we see impact of our efforts. Such impact can be seen in the number of lives we have touched and not in the bundle of irrelevant files we have finished.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Decision is Yours

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." - Henry Brooks Adams
This quotation is not just an accolade for teachers. More than that, it reminds every teacher how tremendous is his/her role. With teaching, comes a great decision on how should you make use of the influence that you have among the learners. One could make the best decision of making use of such influence in making the learners' lives worth living or another could choose to lie in the sea of complacency and destroy the learners' expectations, thus, the successes that they could have achieved.

I believe, every teacher is a hero to every learner because teachers possess tremendous power to build or destroy every learners' future, hence, the society's. However, one has to remember that together with that power is a huge responsibility. As what the superhero Spiderman said, "With great power; comes great responsibility."

As teachers, we are responsible in making every learning situation as enhancing as possible and it all starts with our passion and dedication for such responsibility. We might have found our teaching chores boring and disgusting at times but a little reflection of the things that we are doing as teachers would help us realize that our chore is not just a chore. We are teaching not just because we want to make a living but we make lives as well. However, as a teacher, the decision is yours. Would you mold lives while making a living or be obsessed on making a living and forget the lives of the learners? As teachers, the best question that we could ask ourselves every time we teach is, "Is this the kind of thing that I want my learners to bring for the rest of their lives?"

Teachers, the decision is yours!

Friday, September 11, 2009

TEN Networking Night: A Talk on ADD/ADHD

A way of rejuvenating one's passion for teaching and unwinding from a very hectic schedule, I attended last night's networking event of Thailand Educators Network (TEN) held at Roadhouse Barbecue in Surawong Road. It's good to meet fellow educators of different cultural backgrounds, interests, and fields of expertise and exchange ideas on different issues related to education. As we took pleasure of each one's favorite drinks and a variety of snacks, a casual chat flourished the cozy atmosphere.

A talk from Ms. Maxine Ping of Acorns to Oaks Children's Center on "Understanding ADD Minuses" started the event last night. Maxine justified her intent of helping educators understand ADD/ADHD in more detail so that teachers would be able to distinguish ADD/ADHD from just a bit of being hyperactive by giving an overview of the learning deficiency. It was followed by putting into the picture the symptoms, diagnosis and how the students, friends siblings and parents can deal with related stress and its management.

What is interesting in Maxine's talk was the examination of practical solutions and the possibility of turning a learning disorder into a skill. She even cited famous people who belong to the ADHD Hall of Fame which include Thomas Alba Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Ernest Hemingway. Teaching a mainstream class with some students diagnosed to have learning disorders, Maxine's talk enlightened me on how to handle these students better. Remarkably, children with ADHD should be given extra help for they are not far away from achieving success in life.

TEN conducts monthly networking event every tenth of the month at Roadhouse Barbecue. To keep an update of their coming events, visit TEN's website.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Voice of Esa

Esa (not her real name) was one of my students during my first year of teaching here in Thailand. She was under my Grade 1 English as Foreign Language (EFL) class when I first taught in that government school in the province. Like the other kids, Esa has a very little grasp of English language but her physical features, which are apparently different from the other children in the class, made me wonder why it's difficult for her to speak English. At first glance, you would notice that she's not pure Thai and I learned later that she's half British and half Thai.

She was still under my class when she was in Grade 2 that's why I was able to personally observe her progress in using English in communication although her being shy was still obvious. From her little grasp of English vocabulary, she has gradually widened her skills as I have seen how her confidence to speak English in front of the class has improved in the following year.

As part of our lesson in Grade 2, after having them master the basic vocabulary words and simple sentences related to family, which was our focus that time, I asked them to draw a simple picture about their family. After that, I instructed them to use the vocabulary words and basic structures learned in telling something about the picture they have drawn. Most of the students were eager to present their works in front and the feeling of fulfillment for being able to tell something in English about their family were evident in the faces of the innocents except for Esa.

When it was Esa's turn, she slowly walked towards the center of the platform in front but unlike the other children, she was hesitant to show her drawing. As her teacher, I approached her and sooner I noticed that her drawing had only two persons which is not a case of typical family. In her artwork, I saw a young girl which was obviously her self and an old woman holding the young girl. That time, I knew what she was feeling deep within as I saw how gloomy her face had become. As her teacher, I still encouraged her to present her drawing by showing genuine appreciation to what she has done. She was convinced but when she started to show her drawing, mixed emotions started to conquer the learning-enhancing atmosphere of the classroom. To make Esa's presentation worthwhile like the previous presentations, I asked the children to pay attention to Esa as she would present. However, before Esa could tell something about her drawing, tears started to fell into his rosy white cheeks. I knew what was happening and so I immediately consoled her. Esa, with her demure look, slowly told me that the persons in her drawing were her self and her grandmother. I did not ask anymore where her parents were. Instead, with my broken Thai, I told her that she's so lucky to have a grandmother who loves her so much and she should be proud of it. I thought Esa got what I wanted to say as she had thrown back a fancy smile.

Later, I learned that Esa's parents left her to her grandmother since she was only four. I could not imagine how could they abandon a lovely and beautiful daughter like Esa. But still, Esa's very lucky to have a very caring grandmother who even asked me for an individualized English lesson with Esa after school hours.

Esa is just one of the learners who carries heavy loads in their hearts - they all need a caring teacher who would help them ascertain the best of themselves amidst their burdens. They need teachers who would inspire them and help them grow. I hope that many teachers would answer Esa's call. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Way We Should Teach

"Good teachers are simply good peers to their students. They know the kind of experiences students go through in the classroom and respond constructively to these experiences. They identify with students by being a learner. They constantly express to students that they are 'with them' -- in good times, in bad times, in successes, in failures, and above all, in the process of learning."
-- Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan

I could not agree more to this statement from Dr. Krishnan in his book 'It Takes a Learner to Teach a Learner'. As teachers, we have to understand our students and remember that we were once students like them. Although were were raised in separate generations we have to understand the complexity of our students' emotions and thoughts brought by the changes which ate up the recent generation. Thus, give them the appropriate treatment. Learning could be easily carried out if the learners feel that their teacher is for them and not against them. We love to learn with our friends (somebody who is related to us) and not with the people we hate -- the same is true to our students.

Teaching Mathematics in the Vernacular Language

The present secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) has signed the Department of Education Order 74 nullifying the three and a half decades old Bilingual Education policy which directs the use of Filipino and English as the only media of instruction from basic education to higher education. Take note that none of those languages mentioned is the mother language of most of the Filipinos.

It might take ages before this policy could be implemented but I appreciate the current administration for redefining the Philippines' surge of education. I believe that such policy, if properly implemented, would not only help in preserving the cultural values of our nation but it would also lessen the frustration of our learners. If carried out, the order would bring out the teaching of Mathematics using the learners' mother language as medium of instruction.

If we have noticed, the Philippines, in general, has been poorly performing when it comes to Mathematics although we stood out in recent international Mathematics competitions. Learning the concepts is very essential in Mathematics yet mathematical concept formation has been a problem for most of the Filipino students. The reason behind is that, the students have to understand the language first before they understand the concept and most of the times when they fail to understand the language their frustration in understanding the concept arises.

If our goal in mathematics education is for the students to enhance numeracy (which involves understanding of the concepts), I do not see any point of teaching the subject in a language which is strange in the part of the learners. Concepts could be better understood if taught in a language that is comprehensible. Instead of adding frustration to the students by teaching Mathematics in English, our government could focus more on enhancing the teaching of English as a separate subject. In fact, the teaching of English in the Philippines is a problem because it is very structured (grammar is given more focus) instead of teaching it in communicative approach.

Monday, September 7, 2009

From the Philippine Countryside to an International Degree in Thailand

Almost five years ago, I dreamed of pursuing my post-graduate studies in another country. I knew that such dream was so ambitious for a man whose parents' fickle income only depends to a very little farm in the remote area away from the Philippines' irrigation program. If pursuing bachelor's degree in a state college through a government aid was that tough back then, how about an international degree in another country? Such dream was so pathetic for a struggling part-time crew in a fastfood chain.

Not minding the resources that we have, a very strong lesson on valuing one's dreams (whether big or small) has been taught to us by our parents. As a child, whenever I told my parents about my dream of becoming a teacher, a lawyer, an owner of a nice vehicle and a beautifully landscaped concrete house and other things that an innocent child could think for the future, my parents would usually answer back with the word "POHON" which means "in the future". For sure, they knew what they could only afford. I understood that they did not try to give me false hope. Instead, they instilled an inspiration and strong conviction that with patience, hardwork and faith I would be able to achieve all my dreams. My mother, a religion teacher, used to tell me, "Iampo lang." (Just pray for it). Her statement inspired a resounding faith to me.

Bragging aside, me and my four siblings were able to finish college not because my parents had all the resources to send us to college but because they all had the desire and the vision to see their five children finishing a college degree no matter what. As students, we were always reminded not to indulge ourselves into unnecessary things because all of those could be enjoyed by us in due time. If we want to achieve our dreams, we need to sacrifice for nothing is instant in this world. Everything that comes to life, you have to work for it.

Last year, I have embarked for an international master's degree in Educational Administration here in Thailand, still, with my parents continuous encouragements. Although trials came along the way and some are still coming for sure especially for a self-supporting student like me, I still believe that no limitation could hurdle a determined dreamer. Right now, I am on the final stage of my study -- thesis writing. While working as full-time Mathematics teacher, I also have to work for my research study which will be hopefully scheduled for internal panel defense soon.

I could not imagine how I came this far. From a simple dream woven by a poor man from the Philippine countryside, thoughts are gradually turning into reality. I know it's not something that I could brag about but I am sure that this story of a dreamer could be an inspiration to hopeless individuals who think that we could do nothing with our present. Precisely, as my parents have taught me, we can always choose which path to trudge and do the best that we could to turn our dreams into reality.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Suroy Suroy by Missing Felimon

It's another pride of Bisaya Rock (BISROCK) by my favorite Bisaya Band Missing Felimon. Ever since, Missing Felimon has caught my attention because of their meaningful songs and various genre of music. Besides, they never failed to tickle my fancy.

Suroy Suroy is another song from Missing Felimon worthy of fans' boisterous applause. It talks about the realities of life in Cebu, the Philippines' Queen City of the South. The song portrays a variety of dilemmas that affect the future generation. I encourage everyone to listen the song and have a little time for reflection on what is happening with the hopes of our fatherland.

Here's the song from Youtube...

Other songs of Missing Felimon that I really like are Inglesera and Principal. The latter reminds me of my students who do nothing in my class but make sure that they look physically good while their mind is just milling around the corner. My advise to them, "Pag-artista na lang, ayaw na ka eskwela...." hehehe