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

Three Years in Thailand and Still Counting

I thought I would never be in this foreign land this long but unbelievably, I am already here in Thailand for exactly three years. On board the Philippine Airlines, I first arrived here September 6, 2006. The country was so strange to me then -- the food, the people, the place. But now, it seems like I am already well-adjusted in the Land of Smiles for I have been doing what Thai people usually do.

Being here for three years now, I already have a good grasp of the Thai language. Apparently, I won't hesitate anymore to answer back when somebody would greet me "Sawatdee Kha/Khrap!" I do eat the hot and spicy Thai food from time to time and have been used to eating raw vegetables together with the delicious somtam (papaya salad). I have ridden tuktuk (Thai vehicle with three wheels like the one in VISA Electron advertisement before). Yes, I have done so many things that the locals do and for that, I am happy that I was able to adopt my host country's culture and ways of living although I still have complaints sometimes.

Remembering, I had my first teaching job in a government school in the smallest province of Thailand. I first taught English as Foreign Language (EFL) to Grades 1, 2 and 3. That was really awesome! I am glad I did it. After working there for one year and six months, luck has stricken me when I was hired in a prestigious Catholic learning institution in Bangkok. I first taught Mathematics to Grades 2 and 4 students and then presently, to Grades 8 and 11.

The number of years for me to stay here is not yet fix but I am planning to stay here for a maximum of five years. It all depends to my work. If I could see that I am continuously growing and earning good amount of bucks then I would probably stay although my heart is whispering me to go back to my country and serve my countrymen. I do hope to do that. I am very positive on going back to Philippines for good for we all know that there's no place like home.

For now, I could do nothing but thank all those people who have helped me in every step of my life abroad. To the strangers I met who became my close friends and even my family here in Thailand. To my unexpected acquaintances who unexpectedly lend their support when I was struggling here. Indeed, they will always be a part of me. I am still here in Thailand because of their generosity. May they will be blessed more and more!

My online community, Siam Pinoy, is really worth of a mention. I am so blessed to have found this online community which later became a part of my growth as a professional in Thailand. The trust and the online network support with my fellow kababayans Siam Pinoy has given is more than what I could ask as neophyte . I hope that the community will continue to grow and will endlessly help other Filipinos in the kingdom.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Learners, My Teachers

It's been a while since I opened my friendster account as I have been recently hooked up to facebook wherein communicating with my colleagues and keeping updates of them is faster and easier. My friendster has almost become a forgotten social network account when I decided to open it to explore my friends' latest updates. Looking at my network activity, I found my student who was under my advisory class back in the Philippines who just added his classmate during sophomore years.

Curious of their latest happenings as they have been part of my life as a teacher, I browsed the pictures in their album. And then, my eyes started to gloom as I saw them capturing life's memorable moments including their high school years. The faces I saw were the very students I left and cried for when I decided to leave for a teaching opportunity in Thailand. They were the very students I have exchanged with what I called 'greener pasture'. They have been a part of my life and looking at them taking bolder steps towards their dreams gave me a sense of happiness and a piece of regret for not being with them for the rest of the sophomore years.

I could still remember the first time I met those innocent faces in the classroom. Their frowns every time I release them late for a Mathematics enrichment class still leave a picture in my mind. Their complaints every time I ask them to speak English whenever they talk to me is nothing but memorable. We all had our moments shared inside the classroom as we learned and prepared for our future together.

Now, they're grown-up college students and they will soon have their own part in our community. I am happy for I was once a part of their lives and they also became a part of my existence. As always, I would express my heartfelt gratitude to my students for helping me realize the real meaning of my existence. I would not become a fulfilled teacher as I am without my students for every encounter that I had with them was both a learning experience and a moment of awakening. As a teacher, leaving my students in the Philippines for a teaching job abroad is like leaving my very own children. As I watched their pictures, I have seen that they're much better now than they were before.

Being a teacher, I have to be honest that I got most of my insights in life from the realizations brought by my students to me. Each day, I consider every learner not as empty tablets who impassively enter the classroom for they usually come with rich experiences, thoughts and feelings which need to be heard, appreciated, and learned from. They are more than just learners; they are teachers as well for oftentimes, as teachers, we get the best lesson in teaching from our learners.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seminar for High School Mathematics Teachers

The Center for Human Research and Development Foundation, Inc. will be conducting a one-day national seminar-workshop on "Making High School Mathematics Real and Relevant" at the Institute of Social Order (ISO), Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City come October 24, 2009.

The seminar would run for the whole day (from 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM) with Mr. Ricardo M. Crisostomo, a renowned author of different books and articles in Science and Mathematics and has been in the academe for 25 years, as resource speaker. As I glanced at the seminar's program, the topics include the following:
1. Mathematics: Reality and Relevance
2. How Students Learn Mathematics
3. The Joy and Art of Teaching Mathematics
4. Developing Real Relevant Teaching Frameworks

For this, I am planning to rebook my return ticket to Bangkok from October 23 to October 24 so I could join this seminar which is geared towards equipping high school Mathematics teachers with progressive knowledge on the teaching and learning of Mathematics. Aside from the reunion with my loved ones, my attendance to this seminar would surely add meaning to my three-week vacation in the Philippines. At least, I will be back with my teaching track in Bangkok with renewed interest and enthusiasm in teaching Mathematics to my Second Year and Fifth Year high school students.

For more information, download the details HERE.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lea Salonga in Bangkok

Bangkok Symphony Orchestra Foundation in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Bangkok, Thailand present the world-renowned Filipino singing sensation Ms. Lea Salonga come September 12, 2009 at Queen Sirikit Convention Center, Bangkok. After her very successful Cinderella musical at Esplanade, Bangkok, Lea would be back for another moment of goose bumps and boisterous applause.

Leah would be performing with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra wherein her brother, Gerard Salonga would be the conductor. it would be a night of the magic of Disney and Broadway musicals featuring the impressive songs from The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Oliver, Miss Saigon and Les Misérables.

Tickets are available at 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 and 3,000 at ThaiTicketmajor. They are giving discounts to early birds (those who bought ticket before August 21). However, if you failed to buy ticket before August 21, I heard that you could also buy tickets at discounted price at the Philippine Embassy through Mr. Randy Arquiza. Just try to give them a call for you might still be able to catch Lea's another amazing live performance here in Bangkok.

Click HERE for more information about the event.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

On Philippine Blog Awards and My Teaching Blog


I just received an e-mail from the organizers of Philippine Blog Awards 2009 confirming that my blog has been reviewed already and it's now an official nominee to the Philippine Blog Awards 2009 under Personal Blogs category. If my blog would be chosen as one of the lucky winners this year, my excitement to go home this coming October would be added for sure.

I know there are lots of good personal blogs in the list of nominees but I am still hopeful that I would win. Should I start preparing my speech for the awarding night? hahaha!


I am afraid that I would not have enough time to update my blogs these days so I am planning that instead of separating my personal and teaching blogs, I would just merge them. For that, starting next week or any time this week, I would be lifting the articles that have been posted at my teaching blog and post them here.

Since this blog, Wits and Spirits, is more general and easier to update as I have been posting random thoughts here, I decided that I would keep this blog and would just add a section dedicated to teaching. If you have been following my blog, you might find the sidebars different in the following days because I would be adding other widgets to be lifted from my teaching blog.

The only problem that I foresee right now is my blog lay out. Any suggestion about easy blog layout customization?

Why We Need Leaders?

History itself has proven that leadership is inseparable to mankind. Since the inception of society before the dawn of civilization, leaders have been existing.

Needless to say, we are living in a very unique society where individuality is the only thing common among every people. People tend to have different attitudes, traits and characteristics due to the upbringing of the community where they live. Diversity is found in every level and every corner of the world that even the smallest of the smallest society enjoy it. Different we might be, we cannot deny the fact that this world is meant to be a world of happiness where everyone enjoys while in harmony with each other. Whether we are in Asia, Europe, South America, North America, Africa, or Australia; we are one and we should work as one. In order to do this, we need leaders who possess strong leadership attitude to guide and inspire every people in the society.

Leadership is needed in every corner of the world. Leaders are important in every organization. A world without leaders is like a ship without lighthouse. It would work yet it would be undirected and possibilities of naval accidents would be very high. In a society, a leader is equally important to the lighthouse of navigating ships. Without a leader, fight against each one’s principles and philosophies would be more rampant and misunderstanding would be more prevalent. A sound leader is needed to create a sound society and the good thing is we can all be leaders. We can all be leaders of ourselves by possessing strong leadership attitude. We can all be leaders by leading our inner self and leading others by example. We can all be leaders by taking initiative every time needed, by being proactive to every situation, by taking part in the solution and not the problem, and by taking responsibility in our actions. Everybody is meant to be leaders. Leadership is very necessary. If the jungle animals have their lion king and the colony of ants have their king and queen; how about, we, people?