Thursday, January 18, 2018

Alone and Happy in Macau and HK

Hey, I have not come to terms of converting this online space into a practical travel weblog after I got hooked on trips abroad recently; there are just too many online which I thankfully used as my travel guide. Don't expect me to share about my favorite places. I still want to keep this space sound personally and hopefully more reflective. So, what brought this writing into introspection are my personal insights as I went alone in this journey.

Anyway, every friend back home and each stranger I met abroad always find this trip surprising as I traveled solo. Yes, I traveled SOLO and abroad! And take note, these are Chinese territories where English is scarce both in print and spoken. As a matter of fact, I experienced some locals shooing me away like a fly once they hear me speak. Thankfully there is a huge presence of Filipino workers in these territories I could ask help when finally lost.

It takes balance between the elements of preparation and excitement. Before the prelude of my adventure, of course, I had to research all these better ways to visit the tourist destinations, but the detours actually led to more wonders and surprises. I must tell you that I did not accomplish all my trip plans right; the rest were mistakes, but definitely great! The same goes with our lives. It is important that we lay the cards of our desire open but still we must be receptive to grander plans above.

This trip also changed my perspective in a way  that not every one who wanders is lost but is actually found. Others may think about it as just some fancy thoughts they hear from showbiz people. But hey, I am serious!  I think that I learned about myself better in the emotional aspect such as the realization that I can be happy with wonderful thoughts alone. It was the first time I felt genuinely happy because I found and learned a better aspect of myself through this travel.

Reflecting on this whole trip, I realize much as other people said that it was very brave of myself to ever travel alone in these distant and foreign places. Indeed, gone are the nights as a kid when I had to fight the monsters under my bed and in my head. I realized I have grown up that I can wrestle with the real challenges in life. I felt as though no valleys and aches can stop my dreams, are there? This should inspire more outward sojourns in the future.

Serene and contented. Pictures taken at Hong Kong Disneyland
and Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral in Macau. 

At the end of this trip, I can only thank God for the traveling mercy and for all the learned things. Travels, indeed, are teachers that impress valuable lessons meaningfully.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Black Butterflies

And truth must be told... I decided to give it a try...  I got tattoo etched on my left wrist last December 30. 

At least to me, it was one of the hardest decisions I made to consider the profession that I am in. I expect some stern eye brows would ask: And why butterflies? 

A butterfly symbolizes serene transformation.  I feel like I have gone through and still going through many changes at this period of my life; some wonderful and others outrageous. But in all these changes, I have willingly surrendered and experienced for the better, just like the butterfly in its stages of metamorphosis.

And I remember freedom as the needle kissed the surface of my skin. It was pain that I allowed to kiss my soul, too. I endured the prize, not consequence, of such freedom! I proved to myself that I can stand to my decisions and that no pain that I cannot endure out there. 

I know that in the code that I pledged allegiance, I am bound to show decency including in how I appear physically. But who must define what is decent and not? I am a human with the right to self expression and I remain resolute to such right as long as I do not harm others. 

Let the butterflies fly....

And truth must be told... I have not one but three tattoos ... The other two are mine to keep and your nosy minds to figure out where.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tall Orders and New Journeys

If I will describe the immediate past year, the title of this post would best capture it all. It was the year of turning points, characterized by tall orders that I needed to conquer bravely and new journeys to an exciting spectrum of experiences. I can only look back at all those memories with a smile at this moment, knowing that such events made me a better person today.

Here are my six tall orders and new journeys last year that I will forever cherish as part of my summer years:

Getting my Ph.D. Curriculum Studies in UP. When I was removed by destiny from the comforts of home away to a "foreign land", all I could muster were a sigh of shock. I was shocked that all of a sudden I had to get out of my comfort zone out to the unknowns. I never expected this scholarship too soon and I started packing my things and emotions early last year. But I thought about the confidence of my university to my capacity, the prayers of my family and friends, and my passion for the profession that I share with the humanity. Voila!

Learning the ropes of curriculum. An advantage when you are in a top university is the access to knowledge. When I was teaching a course in curriculum development in the college, I have always wondered how is curriculum developed from scratches. Books would tell the theories and principles but not the process based on the experience. Being a curriculum apprentice, I learned the process of planning the curriculum considering the different sources and influences. I got the chance to learn from reading books in curriculum development, workshops in our classes and frequent observations in the curriculum reviews of my program adviser. "Kung babalik ka na sa MSU, marunong ka na gumawa ng curriculum," my program adviser once told me. But honestly I am not still very confident that I feel there is still really so many things to learn out there. More!

Meeting my maternal relatives in Abra. There was another point in my journey away from home: to meet my relatives in my mother side. Some people are nostalgic about sciences; others about cultures. Are there people like me who are nostalgic about family relationships? It was truly a wonderful time finally meeting people I have never seen in my life but are people who belong to my "family". Xoxo!

Organizing international conference in curriculum studies. It is nice to rub elbows with people who are passionate about their discipline. This year, I am truly grateful for having the opportunity to head one of the committees of the 1st Asia Pacific Conference on Curriculum Studies and Instructional Designing. I learned so much about my discipline as it is one of a kind conference that is solely dedicated to discuss trends in curriculum studies. I knew great people like Dr. Murray Print who was our keynote speaker and actually the author of Curriculum Development book. The conference also opened opportunities to learn from the curriculum researches of presenters. And most of all, valuable lessons from event as organizers are well taken to experience. Longlive!

Two ancient civilizations in Thailand and Cambodia respectively.
Conquering borders of Thailand and Cambodia. I have always been a culture junkie but I really have not traveled abroad to experience the culture of the world. Our travel to Thailand and Cambodia was a blast to consider that it was a single journey but hitting two countries. My favorite historical place in Thailand includes the Grand Royal Palace located just right at the heart of the city. It boasts of old palaces and temples that show the culture of Thailand. When in Cambodia, it is like never having been to Cambodia without roaming around the ancient complex of Angkor Watt. It is big complex of cities that depict the history of the country and perhaps of the region. Traveling is education!

Moving on and a closure. Late last year, I finally had the guts to talk to the former love of my heart. Moving on from that person is one thing but I will admit that I have not really moved on from the affair. I think time and distance have their own ways of healing broken hearts, and it did to mine. After a lot of heavy ruminations on nights I spent alone, I have forgiven the person and importantly myself in that journey that had to end. The light feeling over our serious conversation recently must be a sign that I am in the right path of my emotional state. Alas!

For all these things, I thank God for all His goodness to my life and the lives of the ones I dearly love. My fervent wish for everybody is very simple that:

May our new year be filled with wonderful dreams and good madness. I wish we travel to places, hug people who think we are awesome, and read good books and stories of inspiring people. And I hope to hear surprises from everyone. 

Thank you for everything! Keep the new year awesome as you are!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Of First Times and Some Times

Our brief sojourn for our outreach activity will remain as one of the most unforgettable experiences living a life of a student here. It was especially special because I had memories of some first times and probably throwbacks of some of my related  experiences in the past.

It was not simply the first time that I set foot in San Narciso, Zambales but it was also my first time to see Aeta tribe right under my nose. I was quite surprised though because they are not as what the part of my “book educated” mind expected them to look like physically. I have always read in books that they are short and dark skinned with curly hair, thick lips and pugged nose. I saw that Aeta people nowadays especially in Zambales have been assimilated to the mainstream society and have intermarried with other tribes.

Observing the rice paddies side by side as we entered the sitio, I felt I instantly had a taste of life of our own province. They use water pumps as source of water. However, water pumps are public properties as they are shared by several families. As we passed by, we saw also farmers use the concrete road to dry their crops. It is mainly an agricultural community and people survive mainly by farming. The single motorcycle is also reminiscent of the barrio life. It is the common mode of transportation, if not the kalesas!

It was my first time though to engage in an outreach activity in which the focus is health. I believe it is a timely theme since health is a basic service but most of the time a concern in remote places. I enjoyed how our respective activities closely revolved around health concepts and I learned a lot also from my fellow facilitators. We did the children things like playing different games. We we’re lucky as well that the children taught us how to dance their native dance! I enjoyed participating because that is one way of showing the hosts that we accept them and their culture. It was truly a first time!

Immersing myself with the children, I felt like I had a throwback of my experiences in the past. I used to teach in a remote school in Mindanao for some time where my pupils are even poorer. They are children, so they naturally love to frolic. Some children exhibit vestiges of inferiority complex, so they are shy at the first time we approached them. But eventually, they participated in the activities. Who the kid would not want? We prepared a lot of exciting prizes! Children are always children. I miss teaching the most challenging age group in the world.

Interviewing the teachers and parents about community health and with human ecology in my mind, I systematically got to know the layers of contexts that interplay the health ecology of the Aeta children. Of all the interacting systems, I took note of some of the indigenous health knowledge and practices of the Aeta people. I was not so much surprise with the practice of going to the traditional healer and the use of herbs for healing. I was born in this time and space.

This is my personal illustration of the Health Ecology of children.

As seen above, the health ecology of the Aeta children consists of the child and the contexts. The center of the health ecology is the child. The contexts, consist of layers of interacting systems in a nested arrangement of structures, emanate outward from the center.
Microsystem. The first level in the health ecology is the microsystem. It is the relationship between the developing child and the health environment in immediate setting containing the child. The setting in this ecology is the place with particular physical features in which the child engages in particular activities in particular role as a son or learner. 
Mesosystem. The mesosystem comprises the dynamic interactions among various microsystems containing the child. The mesosystem, essentially a collection of microsystems, for children could include interactions among parents and teachers, health environments such as the classroom, school and family. 
Exosystem. The next level outward in the health ecosystem is the exosystem. It encompasses other specific social structure such as barangay health assistance, media portrayal of health, health related outreach programs, health concepts embedded in school curriculum and family socioeconomic status, that do not themselves contain the developing person but impinge upon the immediate setting in which that person is found. 
Macrosystem. The macrosystem is the broadest level that is farthest from the center of health ecosystem. This consists of the overarching institutional patterns of the societal messages about diet, nutirion and lifestyle, the indigenous knowledge and practices related to health, political programs on community health, and the cultural understanding of people about health. 

As I posted on social media, at the end of the day, we took away more than what we brought to them - especially all the memories of first times and some throwbacks that I took away home.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Tribe of Curricularists

When he scrutinized my application paper, he asked: "Ano itong major in curriculum studies? Wala bang mas mahirap diyan?" I was disappointed with the questions and to the person. I crashed him in my mind and consoled myself by quietly cursing: "Of course, a person not from the tribe has myopic view of the culture." Little did he know, curriculum studies is one of the toughest degrees in the UP College of Education.

This opportunity to study came like a manna from heaven and served in a silver platter. Since I was teaching curriculum that time, I thought it would be an ace in the hole if I choose a specialization that I know the ropes confidently. But with my stock knowledge that I thought was enough, I writhed in shame when I discovered that, among so many dreadful disciplines that sprout like mushrooms of Egypt nowadays, curriculum studies is a discipline of its own worthy of scholarly study with its culture common to education but unique to its own. 

If I will randomly ask thirty strangers using maximum variation sampling about what is curriculum, I am a hundred percent sure of the probability of success that I would generate thirty unique answers, too. Even if one will look at the literature, there are just as many definitions as many authors. But the dramatic saying "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" does not apply in curriculum studies; the case is different. Curriculum must take a precise definition when in practice. As teachers who are supposed to be taking the curricularist role, we cannot develop a curriculum if we do not know it.

A curricularist, more than an educator, is a professional specialist interested in the process of developing, implementing and evaluating the components of the curriculum. Hence, curriculum studies is a discipline that is procedural in nature studying the intent, content, approach and evaluation. Procedure is very important. Ever wondered why many curriculum migrations often leave educators hanging in the midair in the end? It is because trainers are usually oriented to the theory only, not on the procedure which is very important in curriculum studies. 

Many teachers assume that because they are teachers, they can speak the language of curricularists "fluently". In our discussion about curriculum, somebody commented that " order for us to implement a responsive, appropriate and relevant curriculum." I had to correct him that implemented curriculum should evaluated based on its effectiveness and efficiency; intended curriculum on its responsiveness, appropriateness and relevance. There is thin hair in curriculum concepts that only curriculum studies can critically illuminate. 

UP Curriculum Studies Department. 
This was actually taken during my birthday at Fisher Mall, Quezon City.

People should not talk about it as if curriculum studies is any plain soap in the shelf. I encountered the same acquaintance who earlier commented about my degree. "Nakaka-intimidate naman ang course mo," he said this time. I did not crash him in my mind and hurl curse in the wind again. It is a challenge to multiply our tribe and educate people on the discipline of curriculum. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lost in the Missing

"Is it possible to miss someone you do not know?" That is the question that has been haunting my soul. Because I have been missing someone so terribly lately.

Impressed with the discipline of philosophy here in UP like I have never been in my previous philosophy classes, I came with this question of reality of a human feeling. There are just feelings in this world that are antithesis to the normal feelings we know as humans. It is like an elephant learning to fly. Or like black as the new pink.

But what if, indeed, these feelings we know as normal is only a manifestation of our subjective human understanding and the real normal is the exact opposite of everything? What if missing someone you know is only a feeling influenced by what our culture of emotion is used to feel and the reality is that it is possible for us to miss another human we never know at all? I do not know. But who knows.

How does it feel to miss someone you do not know... is yearning, wanting, hoping, desiring... of a person you never know in your life personally, not even in a closer space or time. It happens when you are obsessed with the idea of the identity of that person... the look you never saw, the voice you never heard, the feelings you never felt. 

It is not perhaps the object of that person I miss but the essence of that person... the existence of that person whether that person exists in either kind of reality. But would it matter to argue the nuances between the object and essence of that person as the point of missing? That would be useless because I miss everything about that person....

This is the feeling I am feeling right now... lost in the missing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Abra in Time: Meeting My Family in the North

I never personally knew my maternal relatives. Back in my childhood, I only read them through snail mails that my grandmother shared with them and through her stories. But my hope of meeting them personally - to share stories of our family, to know how they are feeling - has never left me since then.

The drama of my UP journey came as a mission of many purposes. There was one important purpose: to personally meet my family in the North. And last Holy Week was indeed the perfect chance to finally get to know them although a few of them were home.

I did travel the roads of Ilocos Region three years ago, and passing again by that long, dry road made me realize how hard the journey of my grandparents was. As I posted, I saw harsh landscape of undulating plains, whipped by blistering winds... and this could probably describe also the journey of my grandparents many decades ago. That was the time when they had to leave the region in search for a place in Mindanao to build their new home... and their new dreams.

On the second bus that I took aboard, I was seated in front - a perfect spot that I was able to capture the iconic tunnel of the province of Abra. This welcomed my very first sojourn to the land where my forebears came. And it was just so amazing, knowing that finally I am home for the first time!

My Lolo Porcing, the youngest brother of my grandmother, waited for me in the capital of the province. I immediately recognized him, and I hugged his beautiful wife, Lola Norma. He looks like the handsome male version of my grandmother. We drove for about an hour before we reached the ancestral house where my great grandparents and grandmother once lived. "Ito ang bahay natin," said Lolo Porcing. It was so sweet.

I spent the three days with the family, talking about how life has been before the family migrated and how every one is doing in Mindanao now. I also lived with one of my uncles and his family, and we frequently bonded with my first cousins, Manong John and Jhey, who were there. Life is very laid back in the province, and these are the things that I missed most... the silence, the food, the home. I can never forget how they graciously made me feel a part of the family.

I thank God for this once in a lifetime opportunity. It feels so good that somewhere else in this world, you belong to a very wonderful family. I cannot even imagine until now that I trace my roots in this corner of the world, that  wonderful feeling of a place where a part of my humanity came from.

Clockwise: The Abra Tunnel; my Lolo Porcing and Lola Norma;
the old house where I stayed; and with Manong John and Uncle Chet.

On the day I was about to leave home, I hugged them with all my heart and with teary eyes. They told me to come back as often as I can, and I promised them that I will.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Library Afternoons and Personal Annotations

Between the rigors of UP in the new chapter of my life and the times when I felt the tendrils of loneliness embrace my soul being home away, I spent my afternoons in the quiet libraries of the university amidst the heaps of books that contain wonderful epistemologies and metaphysics. It has brought my perspectives to wider dimensions of life and it amazes my human existence every time I come to realize that such realities of ideas exist in this world. Indeed, in this seemingly small geographic enclave, there is still so much worlds to come, to see, and to conquer.

One of the tree lined streets in UP on holy noons going to the library.

Here are some of the most celebrated, at least to me, annotated bibliographies that I managed to write:

Rorty, A. O. (1998). Philosophers on education: New historical perspectives. London: Routledge
The implicit paradigm of Freud to learning was the way children conducted “sexual researchers.” Children should discover sex in their own ways based on their own needs at particular stage. He further illustrated a war between curiosity and education. Children want to know sex but adults tell them to learn education to distract them. Hence, education teaches the child to get disinterest in what really matters most to learn – sex.

Edgerton, S. H. (1996). Translating the curriculum. New York: Routledge
This selfish love is the one where the lover soaks as much experience into the self from the other who is loved though not in intrusive and obliterating way. It is different from selfless love which involves emotional investment that includes risk of rejection at the same time. But in order for love to grow, it should be selfish that it cannot risk to be rejected... it must require reciprocity and the lover must get in return of that investment. This deconstruction of hierarchy of love is found in the transference love – a love that is peculiar to pedagogical situation. This love here does not function as analogy for teaching and learning; it is real and important condition for pedagogy.

Orata, P. R. (19780. Self help barangay high schools. Quezon City: New Day Publsihers
If Mohammad cannot go to the mountain, then the mountain should go to Mohammad. If the children cannot go to the schools, then the schools should go to the children. We desire the same philosophy in our educational system today. We should stop looking at the other side of the fence, the educational systems of other countries; the grass is always greener in our own backyard, the unnoticed margins of our education history.

Ballenger, B. (2007). The curious researcher: A guide to writing research papers. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing
Tourists still buy bags of seeds for about a dollar and pose for pictures drenched in appealing flocks of pigeons. On the other side, officials of these cities continue to wage war they call “pest control” against these birds that decay cultural monuments and drop dung fungus. It is hard not to admire the traits of these pigeons, but it is also undesirable for these creatures to earn a negative label when it is only a normal part of their pigeon existence. Some wars we encounter today, either personal or social, are some wars that we cannot win because humans just know that the rewards of winning will not be worth the cost. Like the pigeon battle, our wars are futile endeavors that we cannot win because we also battle our own conflicts: our political responsibility to protect the great works of humanity and at the same time our moral obligation to share space with other lives in this planet.

Pratt, D. (1994). Curriculum planning. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace, Inc.
Knowing has always focused on the objective study - dispassionate and detached. This objectivity fails to create harmony of relative realities, which in turn produces a crippling isolation of dream and reality, ambiguity and certainty, thought and action, poetry and science. This is the concern of the feminist movement in curriculum. The modes of thought and action experienced by women are process rather than product, social rather than isolated, facilitating rather than competitive, intuitive rather than rigid, supportive rather than difficult. What the feminist pedagogy offers is not simply a curriculum that responds more fairly to the needs of women, but a curriculum that reflects fully the nature of humanity.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My MSU Journey

Life is an unwritten metaphor of communal undertaking called journey. Along the road are inevitable bumps, rough patches and unexpected detours. But the most prized part is when at the end of it, one finds that he has arrived at the destination.

And such is my long journey to the place that with pride I call my second home. After years of intellectual struggling and uncertain dreaming, I just found myself again in the middle of this semi arid dessert among the bright imelda grasses.

Welcome back to College of Education, Mindanao State University, General Santos City! A dream so long waited to come.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A City Frozen in Time

It is an irony that though I am a self confessed culture junkie myself, I have never been to many cultural places. So, when this summer road trip came, I took the liberty to witness at large the heritage treasures of our country that I have always wanted to visit.

We reached the world famous Spanish colonial town of Vigan on the third day of our road trip to the north. Vigan City was such a welcome twist from the nature adventure we had in Baguio City after five hours of butt burning travel.

Vigan was the seat of politics, religion, culture, economy and education in the north during the Spanish colonial times. As we entered the town, I felt I was transported back to the past with its cobbled stone streets, crumbling pillars side by side, and imposing house architectures. We were toured by a horse drawn carriage and everything just felt nostalgic.

We saw old houses, many of which were converted into hotels, restaurants, botiques and shops. The city government though has taken care of these treasures. According to a resident whom we had a small talk, any house repair by the owner has to secure permit and acquire design from the city. Thanks heavens for this kind of preservation efforts.

And although there are a number of modern Spanish inspired buildings around Vigan notably the fastfood chains like Jollibee, Chowking and McDonalds, there are a good number of authentic Spanish era houses dotting all over the city. The best preserved ones are those that are located in Calle Crisologo, a seemingly time frozen section of the city that tourists should never miss.

Aside from Calle Crisologo, another corner any visitor should never miss is the pueblo, a plan itself so characteristic of Spanish towns of the olden times. It is where the public plaza, the city hall, and the central church could be found. Until this day, this planning can be attested exceptionally conserved in this old city.

Well loved cultural and educational destinations in the city also include museums. The house of Father Jose Burgos, one of the three priest martyrs, and the mansions of famous illustrado families of Syquia and Quirino were converted into museums. It was only unfortunate for us to visit them late in the afternoon and they were closed for public.

We stopped a while at Bantay Church, another well preserved religious structure. At first I thought it was only a reconstruction of an original old church because its facade looked very intact, but viewing its colossal pillars I confirmed it was authentic. Beside the church, the iconic century old bell tower located on top of the hill is a must view.

It was dark when we went back to the downtown. What made Plaza Salcedo buzzing was the multitude of spectators and alike waiting for the spectacular dancing fountain show which I can only describe as world class.

Having toured the entire heritage city, I realized that its real charm is more than its material culture, but the tenacity of its people to safeguard a historical treasure that remains remarkably well preserved amidst the challenge of time.

Strange realization but that was how it felt Vigan for the first time, and I vowed it will not certainly be the last.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Exploring Up, Up North

Okay, back to the abbreviated travelogue I promised to spin before I took another unexplained hiatus from this blog.

Aside from travel account, I should be writing an obituary for my feet after a day of walkathon with my buddies. On our second day of summer vacation, we headed up north for an exquisite cultural and history trip this time.

Batac in Ilocos Norte is a lesser known spot for tourists. But after visiting this thriving city, I would say that it was worth the trip. 

We spent lunch at Jollibee. We walked across Marcos Museum which is just a stone's throw from the fast food chain. The museum is more likely of a gallery filled with framed clippings about the late dictator president Ferdinand E. Marcos.

We walked further to the Marcos estate which consisted of their ancestral house and the mausoleum of the late president. What was intriguing were the swollen veins, as if live, in the hands of the late president. Too bad picture taking inside the dark mausoleum was strictly prohibited.

From the ancestral estate, a view of the imposing facade of a century old church looms over. It is beautiful but I think it has been reconstructed many times that it is not as quaint looking as those other Spanish churches.

We then side tripped to Paoay, a fifteen minute ride by a tricycle. It was a beautiful small town. Located at its heart was the grandeur of the century old Paoay Church, enlisted as one of the few UNESCO world heritage sites.

From our nature trip in the summer capital, it was really a three hundred sixty degree turn going further north to Batac and Paoay in Ilocos Norte. If I have a regret, it was that we had no enough time to linger more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Travel of Twists and Turns

I welcomed summer with a bang this year by packing my bags for a long trip to the north with my friends. Contrary to the smooth journey I imagined while planning our travel itinerary, our first destination turned out to be a ten hour long road trip of strangers filled with twists and turns in the middle of dark road.

Waiting at the airport baggage lounge.

We arrived in Manila by eleven in the morning after an almost two hour flight. We took aboard to a bus and then to the popular street transport called padyak, a bike with sidecar, going to the bus terminal.

We never expected that riding to a padyak, with our big and heavy bags on top load, we would be charting the narrow streets of this urban jungle and then crossing a few highways among swift cars. The sun was scorching and the polluted air was open. Nonetheless, we were amused and just laughed it out.

When we finally reached the bus terminal in Pasay City with beads of sweat on our foreheads, we were shocked by the long queue of passengers for bus ticket. We were calculating an arrival to destination by dinner time, so it was quiet frustrating to read the sign board that the next trip will be by five late noon.

The good thing was a samaritan tipped us to wait by the area called chance passenger. Not all out bound buses are filled with passengers by the time it departs and through being chance passengers, it meant we just filled the few vacant seats of those out bound buses. So, we knew the strategy.

We wish a happy road trip.

The travel going out the metropolitan was smooth. I saw some of the household names of places I only heard in the idiot box, notably towns of Bulacan and Pampanga. The roads side by side the barren fields were wide and there was no sign of traffic jam along.

It was getting dark as we stopped by Tarlac City for a quick snacks, muscle stretch and nature relief. After fifteen minutes or so, we were all seated inside the bus when the conductor announced that we needed to transfer to another bus because of mechanical troubles. 

The delay caused some angst among passengers as we had to haul out our baggages and wait again for the next bus, but we were thankful enough that the difficulty was discovered early and danger was avoided.

It was dark when we arrived in Pangasinan Province and I was a bit excited because I knew it was the hopping point to our final destination and it would take just over an hour. But my excitement was popped like a bubble after we wasted another long hour on the way because of the jampacked traffic caused by road repair. Alright, time to view that funny movie on board or take a nap.

Now showing on board.

There was drizzle as we stopped over the last town before our final destination to feed our hungry stomach and freshen up our faces. On the windy road later, we could already view a dotting spots of light beyond the cliff like a constellation of stars in the dark sky. As we stepped out on the unholy hours of about one in the dusky dawn, we were greeted by the chilly wind and we knew we were in the City of Baguio at last. 

It was a long drive filled with surprising breakdowns and unexpected delays, but it was definitely one of my most unforgettable road trips I had. After all, as the old wisdom says: Focus on the journey, not on the destination.

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Love Nicole the Mistress, Don't I?

Monica (wife), Adrian (husband) and Nicole (mistress). Photo credits:  

Nicole Esquivel, the anatagonist played by Maja Salvador in the teleserye entitled The Legal Wife aired on ABSCBN, is gaining more and more haters as the story unfolds her hole and corner relationship with a man named Adrian Devilla played by Jericho Rosales, who is married to the protagonist Monica Santiago played by Angel Locsin.

Many of the bashful comments I read and heard, especially for Nicole Esquivel played by Maja Salvador, are mostly based on personal life of the artist playing the role. Unless you are living under the rock, we know in real life how the friendship of Maja Salvador and another actress Kim Chui was broken because of a man in the person of actor Gerald Anderson.

Gerald is the former lover of Kim, who seemed to have been most heart broken in their decision to separate ways. Now, Kim and Maja are two good friends, the latter known to be a confidante of the former during her very painful days. Until one day Gerald and Maja came out as lovers, leaving Kim more hurt than ever and Maja being painted with the "traitor" image.

Now, back to the drama on screen. Why this so much hatred? Some avid viewers hate Nicole not simply because of her wickedness in the story but because of the untangled story of Maja behind the camera. My friends on social networking sites, with smoking ears, write that Maja is the most ideal actress for role of a mistress because she is an experienced one; not an experienced actress but an experienced "mistress".

But I partially digress to that. It is hard to set aside personal feelings and I admit I am no big fan of Maja. But viewing the literature angle, I cannot deny that I love Nicole after all. She is giving justice to the mistress role as evidenced by my rising blood pressure.

What is a masterpiece without villains like Nicole? Civilizations have traitors. Plays have villains. Tales have witches. In a nutshell, if Nicole and other minor villains are not part of the casting, then end of the story! Turn off the idiot box because there is no complication to give denoument at all and there ought to be no story to spin in the first place. 

And are mistresses in real life not like Nicole? She flirts and dates with a man she knows she can never have. She loves to settle for second. She fell in her own trap of love and lies. In short, we know that Nicole is a stock type of character based on reality. And if she hurts, it only shows she effectively connects to real life. Truth just hurts, does not it?

If we get all these purely to our emotions, we will all taste like a bitter gourd. Admit that we just too taken away, which is the true measurement of the effectiveness of the character. Try to take a glimpse at the other side of things - the literature. Separate the the water from oil, so that maybe then we will find something worth appreciating after all.

Things are clearer to me now. I love Nicole because that is how I should expect of her to fit the bill. However, I am still no big fan of Maja in real life by my own personal feelings, which I am sure is understandable.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ang Balay ni Mayang

Contemporary Bisaya songs are among the few songs that does not only capture the bare scenes of our country life, but also connect to the heart of anyone amidst this music industry that is turning into a gritty business.

ANG BALAY NI MAYANG, by Marianne Dungog and Kyle Wong, is a very simple song, with a genuine meaning; this strummed its way to my head. It offers simplicity but gives depth with poetry, rhythm, harmony, and melody.

Kyle and Marianne: The hearts behind the song.

It is one of the most romantic songs I heard these days about missing somebody. "Anhia ko diri sa balay... Kay gimingaw na ko nimo gamay..." from the first stanza strummed on guitar conveys that feeling humans all yearn - the bitter but sweet feeling of missing that someone who completes our hearts.

The song also utilizes figurative language probably derived from novelty lines so popular nowadays. "Amigason mura ug kamay... Mura ta ug dugo nga dili mamatay..." which roughly means "We will be slinked by ants like sugar... Like blood, our love will never die..." I find it just so sweet.

It sounds very folk with a laid back tandem of voice that makes one believe every word that the couple in the song says. I am sure that the fact that the couple singers behind the song are actually lovers in real life helped in making the song more sincere. 

I just hope we will hear more songs of quality like this - not hardly trying but simply genuine.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Holiday Bonding at Gerry's Grill

When was the last time we hang out and never did anything but just hang out? It's been ages for sure since we graduated from our gritty college days until this recent holiday.

One, two, three.

I chilled out with Janice and Madina at Gerry's Grill at Veranza Mall. I saw them the last time at the culmination party in a subject we later took together at the graduate school. But those were only nodding meetings since we were also busy as beavers in our respective careers at the same time.

Janice is still the same shy type person I knew in college. I best remember her for portraying the role of Sisa, the lost woman in our stage play, and for topping our graduation class, not to mention her photographic memory that could memorize an entire book of jargons in just overnight. 

She was my constant victim over intended unreasonable principles eversince. She was out to the gym to support her sister the time we were supposed to meet, and I allegedly accussed her for having no word of honor and threatened that she pay all our bill. Laughs.

I can also recall her funny heart break days before, but she has now a steady partner, which puts my own love life to shame for being zero in that department. Laughs.

Toasted ice crem, anyone?

Madina, on the other hand, never runs out of her witty banters, which I love the most of her. She is the person you can never tell about "dull moments" because this girl is just bright and natural. She is one of those I can accept criticisims, both constructive and desctructive.

She is a teacher now who seriously interrupts her pupil in a timed silent reading because she has to scroll a phone text for a lunch date with friends and then tells back that pupil to resume because the message has been sent. Laughs.

I guess she knows it well that it takes a bitch to be a bitch because she always tells me that I was the one who trained her how to be. Sue me, singing I'm only human born to make mistake. Must you be the mistake, my friend? Laughs.

The serene falls brimming in a distance.

I really enjoyed the time. It is always nice to have friends to laugh and say: Hey, this is really a mess, but thank you for the grand day.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

4th Regional Research Congress

I was fortunate enough to be hand picked as representative of our division to the 4th Regional Research Congress which was simultaneously celebrated with the SBM Congress and Communication Festival at The Farm, Carpenter Hills, Koronadal City last February 10.

As I have said, I was happy to be part of the congress because it is really an avenue to express my passion for research. But what came as a more pleasant surprise was the 3rd place finish that I can't just help but beam with pride and humility.

I did not expect much - that is an honest confession because there were other stellar presentations. My research was a simple classroom based assessment on relationship between attitudes toward mother tongue and academic performance of my pupils. 

As panelist Lynou Zacal, Dean of College of Education, Notre Dame of Marbel University, commented: It is a timely research midst debates on whether mother tongue should be a part of the curriculum.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cactus House

Oh, this must be the longest hiatus that I had for this blog after the holidays. Whatever hit my life big time, what is more important now is that I am still kicking after all, and mind you, I am just as happy as I should be.

I was always anticipating weekends with bushy tail from my busy teaching career because I had garden make over at home this month. After years of experimenting for effective practices and mastering the art, I am overwhelmed by the result of my personal desire to build a terrarium for my unique dessert plants.

Extended beside our newly constructed concrete wall is a knee high concrete rectangular plant box that measures about eight spans long. I filled it with soil and then landscaped its top floor with many stones of varying sizes.

I used corrugated bars for its arch roofing and covered it with a seventy percent weaved net. Since cactus plants don't like heavy amount of water, I doubled its roof area with plastic cover to prevent excessive water during rainy days. With this roofing, I also love the gentle amount of sunlight that penetrates the terrarium which does not cause sun burn to the plants.

I designed the back portion of the plant box that is leaning to the concrete wall with big rocks to give an arid look that I typically imagine of a dessert biomes that have hilly parts and plain areas. I think there must be high and low points within the terrarium to give something variation to its overall dimension

I arranged all the plants considering their heights. I placed the tall and long ones atop the rocks at the back part while I simply arranged the round and flat ones just below the plain area. I have some small potted cactus and I used them to fill in the dead spaces in between the larger pots.

Now that I have almost reached the plateau of my obsession, it is my wish that my cactus collection will grow even better - no plant pests and no growth gaps. I love to imagine something bigger soon.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sounds of December

I am really saddened of how December is not the way I hear it many years ago. I have as many fixations about things of the past and I really feel nostalgic about the lively sounds that I used to hear as a kid every time this once dubbed merry season came. 

Instead of cheerful jingles and loud fireworks, my ears are recently fed most of reports about hapless situations of people crying for help. But with this, I realized that we need more than just a pair of ears to truly hear the real essence of this season.

We witnessed the horrible siege of the whole City of Zamboanga for over a month by the armed rebels. The system of the city was paralyzed and so was life in this Chabacano speaking community. Many people were trapped in hunger and others were also held hostage, and the scare it caused to the entire city was immeasurably traumatic.

After that siege, we then saw how the massive earthquake wrecked havoc to the entire island of Bohol and some parts of Cebu. It caused large damage not only to the lives of our countrymen there but it also ruined the once glories of our century old churches that are treasures to the world.

And as if those were not enough, just recently we mourn together for all the lost dreams and hopes of our brothers in Leyte who were devastated by the dubbed super typhoon Yolanda. What came more disappointing were the rifts and fights between our politicians who must have been helping out instead of slinging mud to each other amidst the social crisis in the province.

With all these threats of both human and nature, I am conscience stricken to think of my personal desires while other people out there cannot even afford to be happy in this joyous time. I realize I must be double grateful for I am still one lucky dog in life after all.

In this miserable moment of our life as a country, all we ever need to find the real meaning of happiness is a heart that can hear the most profound sorrows of other people and ready to sympathize with them in any humble means it can.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sad Christmas Songs I Love

Very few songs of this modern era of our music world really never fade in my ears. I think it does not only have something in effect to their awesome background, but more to their meaningful themes.

BACK TO DECEMBER and CHRISTMASES WHEN YOU WERE MINE, both composed and performed by Taylor Swift, are real creative pieces, given their melancholic themes in a supposed to be merry season.


Back to December is a beautiful detour from the usual songs of Taylor Swift that oftentimes talk about vengeance. It is a lonely story of a person humbly asking for forgiveness for separating with a former lover.

This song is melodramatically touching, especially when you feel alone and just mooning about nothing when you must be enjoying this supposed to be happy time. Some things in life really turn to awry in a snap and many times learning a lesson is too late.


On the other hand, Christmases When You Were Mine is another melancholic Christmas song. Almost everyone, fresh and seasoned ones, can relate so much to this nostalgic song of missing someone special, which turns the season colder even.

It is definitely a throwback to one season we had in our lives when we ought to be happy but we couldn't just afford. Through this song, others might also reflect in pensive how different this merry season would be without their loved ones.


Oh well, I know this shouldn't be lonely time and I don't intend to make it lonely either. I love these sad Christmas songs ever though I am not sad at all. Just slipping into the other side of the world for a light change this season, I say.