Monday, January 28, 2013

Bicolored Flowerpecker

After I wrote about the chestnut munia and its nest in two separate posts here, it seems that I have been enjoying watching different frequent visiting birds in our garden. I have decided as well that I might add "birds" label in this blog as birds really engrossed me recently.

The original zoomed shot with my camera (left) and a close up shot  from the internet (right).
This morning there is another kind of bird I spotted in our garden. Usually with a pair, I seldom see them so they are a very welcome sight. I observed though that they are a bit bully because they drive away the chestnut munias. They eat a lot and seem to have been enjoying our ripe guava fruits more than we do.

To describe it exactly, I googled about endemic bird species in the area and found out that this small bird with short bill is a bicolored flowerpecker. Although races vary slightly in color, it has glossy blue black upperparts and white throat, breast, belly and undertail. It prefers to stay in canopy of tropical forests and second growth trees with fruits and flowers. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

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Those awkward moments when I find myself unable to utter anything but brief banalities and I realize that I am behaving like a zombie on obituaries...

Sometimes, I think of the other side. Topics under the sun can range from mammoths to economics. Sometimes I cannot relate myself to some topics yet I must force myself to respect the speaker by making sympathetic noises if needed. Responding to the topic may sometimes get delayed, not really cancelled, because I usually reflect before speaking my mind. I cannot expect myself to talk like there's no morrow on trivias about football. Surely, we all have our own line of interests.

At other times, what holds me from opening my mouth and eventually fail to keep up is mistrust. When I am with my intimate friends, I am comfortable talking especially sensitive topics like lust and other dreadful things I could imagine. Yet when conversing with new people, I usually don't open up everything especially personal matters that might touch principles of others. When I am forced to make a comment or share an experience, I do but with reservations. 

Many instances also, I am having an emotional lag. Gauging my maturity level, I can say that I have not so far reached the ideal stage to be a sensible adult. When my colleagues in work talk about topics like family life I usually find myself able to relate some times and unable to relate at other times. Maybe because I cannot expect or force myself to speak on something I did not personally experience like taming a partner or rearing a child.

I think that it is normal that as humans we experience a period of fixation in this planet that is drowning with words. I must admit that oftentimes I get mercifully slow and run out of words to say, and well, even words to write like for this blog.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Halo Effect

We live in a world of impressions. When we form mental image about a person, thing, place, or idea that we encounter, we make cognitive judgments that are usually bias. This situation is called halo effect.

I, for one, have a share of halo effects in life. I am usually not a judgmental person but I am like anybody else who naturally have impressions about everything.

I have always defied myself over choosing ordinary books to read. I only have the eye to those novels that bear the names of Sidney Sheldon, Mary Higgins Clark, John Grisham, Lawrence Sanders to name some of my obsessions. Their novels are few of those I instantly loved after reading. Several other novels written by familiar authors flood over the shelves in the bookstores that they become so common and ordinary. It is my impression that nobody buys them because they not that catchy.

Months ago, I randomly added persons in my social networks to increase my blog audience. I have noticed that in the sea of profile pictures appearing in the choices, I tended to favor adding those men and women who look good in their picture as the ones who might be intellectuals. I ignored those who have pictures like animals, flowers, cartoons or quotes because I assume they are the ones who are not interested in reading.

This effect seems to apply the same in my food preference also. 
Remember the once Pipo with a Batang Pinoy seal by Department of Health? For example, years ago I prefer to pick this group of junk foods with health seal claimed to be healthy compared to those other junk foods. Among my health conscious friends, I have observed that they tend to pick canned or packed products that have seal like "it's good for the heart" and the likes over products with no such guarantee.

And the list of halo effects could go on like forever. I am just wondering if I am only too aware of this cognitive thing called halo effect that I become more prone to practice it or do we, humans, just have natural tendencies to make general impressions that bleed over into specific judgments.

Any thoughts about this halo drama?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Keep Calm

Week ago I came to conclusion that life is an irony. I decided that the way to hang on to one's sanity with a sweaty grasp is to take things easy - keep calm.

I recently attended a three-day training about language teaching. As the young and new teacher in the group, I was always made the bullet by my groupmates to reporting, as was the case in other groups. 

During the first day's afternoon session, my groupmates handed me a manila paper with some sorts of figures which they did while I was away. The way they told me that they assigned me to report it was as if they had a council meeting to appoint me unanimously to do the task while I was out. 

I wanted to make things simple and smooth, so I accepted the task with as much resignation. While staring at the mind map in the paper brought me cold feet, accepting the task was an encouraging opportunity to stand in front and speak my mind.

Then we also had a part of the closing program where each district was asked to pick a representative to give an impression about the whole training. It caused disturbed faces. This is a normal scenario among the teachers in a formal program which many called "microphonephobic" - a morbid fear in microphone?

Many members of our district suggested that any of our senior teachers and master teachers be given that task. But in the end, my name was listed for it. I sat back and organized my thoughts. Boy, keep cool, I told myself confidently.

I thought the week must have ended as a welcome relief. Until it got me off that our district heads would be coming to observe our classes next week. Instead of juggling in frenzy, I spent my whole weekend sleeping like a log. I heard cool rain outside sang: Keep calm.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Prayer of Teacher

Most gracious Heavenly Father
I humbly kneel to You as a teacher
Grateful for the precious breath of life
You bestowed for my work's strife.

Help me always consider in the world
Youth's mind more precious than gold
That I fill them with things not wrong
But with beautiful as a flower or a song.

Give me a patient and understanding mind
And a heart that is firm yet kind
To teach not just how rivers flow
But also how Your path to follow.

I ask Your guidance so divine
As I touch that miracle called mankind
Midst winds of challenge of this noble job
Help the world's morrow in my hand.


Friday, January 18, 2013

17th National Autism Consciousness Week

The 17th National Autism Consciousness Week, which will be officially observed on January 20 - 27 as set by the Autism Society Philippines, banks on the theme: "Autismo Alamin: Pagtanggap at Pag-unawa Palaganapin."

Click to view large size. Banner courtesy of Autism Society Philippines.
Having been a teacher of children with autism for two years before moving to the public system, I have always been asked by people who get to know my previous work. While it is good to know that I get to correct their wrong perceptions, it only proved that the society is still misinformed, and even unaware, about autism.

One of the misconceptions that people usually think is that autism as a mental and emotional disorder. While the actions of children with autism may suggest that they have behavioral and social impairments, autism is actually developmental condition, which means that it is biological in nature affecting the brain's development.

There is a metaphor I always use to compare the child with autism when explaining. Imagine the brain activities of the child with autism as having a traffic in the road. A traffic does not necessarily mean that the road is broken in the same way that the brain of the child is damaged. The brain of the child does not only processes properly.

How I wish there would be more SpEd schools and programs in our city - both public and private - until such time that autism and other disabilities would draw serious understanding and full acceptance. I believe that social responsibility can be achieved if there will be individuals and institutions that will be willing to move for this cause.

As for me, I might not be practicing my experience in handling children with autism as of the moment although I would love to if ever there will be an opportunity for it, but I know that in my own little way I am continuing to propagate the seeds of autism awareness by replacing those commonly twisted beliefs with right ones. 

Little act such as this, if we all would be doing it, the world would be a lot better for all - regardless of whatever condition, status, position one has.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Seminar and Sleep

I listen to the lecture of gods
But why I hear the midnight?
I see vision of dancing ideas
But why these eyelids dance too?

So, I hold this private pleasure
And seal it with a sweet kiss
Hush, my world, I whisper
As unto sleep I did surrender.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Long before the latest low pressures, I already had a grand raincoat, but which I have not fully used since we always managed to escape the burden of the clouds before it poured.

And then the recent days of unstoppable rains came and alas, it was the moment to show it off. Preparing to leave with my school colleagues even if it was raining, I pulled out my mint green raincoat.

It is not like any other raincoats for aside from its coat that stretched bodice and sleeve lengths, it also has one piece pajama set, which made the entire habiliment look like a... jumpsuit?

Well, I was wearing a backpack inside and it nonetheless gave a realistic look of oxygen packs. I also sported a pair of elevator shoes that said N on each of the heel counters, just above its thick spikes. 

Then I finally covered my head with the suit's skull fitting cap and wore my dramatic rounded eyeglasses.

My colleagues were all grinning widely as they looked at me, and we had exactly the same thoughts before we cried: astronaut!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Cradle With No Baby Yet

I found this newly built nest in one of our plants in the front yard. I always spot the chestnut munia hopping around the plant for some moments before entering it, acting as if not to be too obvious about its little hideaway.

It gives a special feeling of contribution to our nature, knowing that at least our garden provides a suitable and secured place for these birds to make their homes. We know that our forests, which are the natural habitats animals like birds, are continuing to disappear. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Feet Up

Friday is here again and I am just relieved and happy! Despite yesterday was a local holiday, this week seemed to have stretched on insane proportions. Two low pressures raged up the skies, so I have to wrap up myself literally from the rain. Yet my poor shoes were not able to escape the mud along the way.

Yes, yesterday was a local holiday, but the teachers were required to participate in the parade. Although I was able to save a few kilometers of walkathon because I was late with my friends and just inserted at the middle of the procession, not only my legs but also my shoes were eventually worn out. And it rained again in the afternoon.

Now, what makes this Friday relieving is that it's time to just sit down and lean back. I have just finished washing my shoes which were soaked with water and mud. Not only raising my hands up as a gesture of willing surrender, I am putting my  feet up, well, including my shoes, for a real rest.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Continuing Saga

I "cheated" by deliberately coming late with my friends for the parade. We just inserted in the middle when the procession was at KCC Mall where we were waiting. But I am equally thankful because I was able to save a few kilometers of hike. Fair enough?

Aside from I skipped breakfast, the smell was inviting so we headed for merienda. It was one of my few tastes of the famous Trisha's burger. It is yummy enough to satisfy my darn hungry stomach.

Alright, my alma mater which was the only school to represent the city, lost in the drumline contest. Well, not really bitter because I should say it's a deserved defeat. As people behind us said, better luck next time.

It poured in the afternoon just after the show in the sports complex. I have no rain shields except my poor bucket hat. Sorry but I just could not help but hurl curse in the wind while riding the tricycle back home.

Welcome this new addition to my growing collection of cactus at home. It is called "banana cactus" as the garden store owner said. Well, it really looks like a bunch of bananas - reasonably.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hinugyaw Festival

Photo Courtesy of City of Koronadal on Facebook.

Who is going with me? Come Thursday, 10th of January will be the the 13th Hinugyaw Festival and 73rd Foundation Anniversary of my beloved hometown City of Koronadal.

As stated in the program, there will be Cheerdance Competition and Drumline Contest which will be participated by different schools. 

Also, if you would like, Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV will be melting your hearts out as he will give a keynote address.

To read more details, please check out the page of the City of Koronadal by clicking this link HERE.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Celebrity Bird

We were all delighted to see this bird flying inside our home tonight that we chased it with a camera like a sought after artist in town. It hopped to some shrubs in the balcony, then stopped for a while in the window pane, and finally flew to this lagundi plant outside.

We have seen its kind among the shrubs in our garden, building their nests. My Dad call it "maya", and we all in the family have protected them by warning all those curious kids in the neighborhood not to sling these teeny souls or maraud their nests in our backyard.

Just to give more information about our "little celebrity" tonight, I would like to share these words from an article written by Don Sausa.

"One of the most widely spread misinformation in the Philippines is the identity of our formal national bird. Before the Philippine Eagle was declared as the official national bird of the Philippines in 1995, the title previously belonged to the Philippine maya."

Everyone thinks it's the brown bird.

"When I was a child, I was told all of those tiny brown birds were all mayas. Everyone around me thought the same. My friends, family, and teachers, all of them thought the brown birds were mayas. Unfortunately what I was taught was incorrect. These brown animals, the most widely seen bird species in the country, is not actually endemic to the Philippines. It's found all over Asia and Europe and was introduced here. The official name of this bird is the Eurasian Tree Sparrow."

The real maya stands out - it's red in color.

"The Philippine maya is otherwise known as the Black Headed Munia also known as Chestnut Munia. 
While it's family is found throughout Asia, the maya bird subspecies particularly belongs to the Philippines. When they are young, the color of their feathers are brown but when they mature, they turn red."

So, aside from maya being a real celebrity to our home tonight, there we read the truth. Let us spread the reality out and help educate everyone. Teach our friends, relatives, and children the correct information.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It Will Rain

The rain is falling outside with no apparent meaning but the realization of its nature which is to drop, drop, and drop. While I'm waiting for Morpheus to embrace me away to the dreamland, may I sing my own rain...

Alright, back bed.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


When somebody declares that he is feeling imbyerna, we instinctively understand that the person is annoyed. In informal conversations, the word has popularly come to express a person’s annoyance towards another person, thing or situation.

Before I decided to write down this post, I have always thought at the back of my mind, if my trying hard Spanish would allow me, that the expression comes from the Spanish word '"invierno" or "invierna" which means winter.

In the novel entitled Nothing Lasts Forever written by the master storyteller Sidney Sheldon, when Ken Mallory was naked and hard, and Kate Hunter just stared and left him all alone, Ken Mallory must have felt imbyerna - literally for feeling wintry with nothing on the body and figuratively for getting angry being toyed by a woman.

But what probable connection is with the annoyed feeling and winter season that they seem to have the same vein in our parlance?

In my own putting of one and one together, probably our ancestors back then were so pissed towards the injustices of Spanish conquistadores that they exaggerated their cold feelings to a complete icy season. Instead of just describing the feeling as cold, they overstated by illustrating it as something winter.

In a short piece in Wikipedia discussing about Tagalog loanwords from the Spanish language, it mentions that some words have acquired an entirely new meaning, such as imbyerna (invierna) once meant 'winter' but is now a word for 'bummer'.

Imbyerna mode. Just cold, not incensed.
Some time during the course of my thesis writing, I asked a close friend to enlist his cooperation in the data gathering since he is working in a SpEd school. After a month, we planned to meet up so I can personally retrieve the questionnaires, which were actually the last batch, as the deadline is lurking horribly on the calendar.

"And the accomplished questionnaires?" I asked with a final sigh of relief.

"Oh, I forgot them in town!" he answered in a totally stunned fashion.

 "Imbyerna!" I cried before he could explain in front of my wintry look.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rosy White Lie

As you sit on the couch and turn on that idiot box, you see on scene a woman in pink walking through a passing crowd. Then, fate crosses her path to a man with whom she had a relationship in the past. The man notices her rosy white skin and is instantly love stricken as though saying: "Can you be mine again?" The woman looks at him longingly as if implying her sweet approval. Then they are lost from each other's sight. The music plays fast with thrill. The woman runs up a room of a skyscraper and opened the window. And presto! There she sees the man in opposite building proposing a marriage to her. The huge cut letters spell out: WILL YOU MARRY ME AGAIN? Or so that is how the commercial director wanted to spin the yarn.

If you were a couch potato some five years ago, surely you are not a stranger to this commercial skit. It is the advertisement of Ponds, one of those whitening products that promises a rosy white skin - in just two weeks! So, how does that grab you?

Ponds and among others like Silka, Vaseline, Maxi Peel, Metathione, Belo Essentials... these are just some to name whitening products so widespread in the markets like the frogs of Egypt. These whitening stuffs include facial creams, body lotions, soaps, fluids and capsules.

As there is nothing wrong with craving to have a rosy white skin nor with being naturally light skinned, the horrible side of it is how in our lives today that beauty is wrongly perceived. There is a growing "misequation" of being beautiful and having white skin.

Needless to say the media as a culprit, the print media is an agent which shares a part in sowing these seeds of misconception in our  minds. As you turn the glossy pages or look at the screen of gigantic billboards, you can see a massive circle of melanin deprived women topping. Seldom you spot morena beauties in the scenes. This leaves Juan Dela Cruz misconstrue that the only ideal to become beautiful are those with light skin.

However, one cannot blame such a crook to the media alone. Such a lie has been an old business down our racial experience. Tracing the roots of foreign conquests in the country, you can find how the Spanish made the Filipinos feel inferior in almost all aspects of life. Over the course of history, this very same inferiority complex was impressed in the concept about beauty of Filipinos.

Today it is apparently natural that when you hear that a person is a foreigner, you logically think that he is handsome or she is beautiful, and for that, superior. This could be the reason why medical tourism is becoming a popular culture nowadays. Many experts are on the research of discovering faster and easier ways of achieving white skin.

Unfortunately, in spite of this, not many determined people are making solution to alter this kind of mentality. The stigma is even stronger. It is seemingly a trivial issue but it is in fact a social malady; subconsciously accepted as a social norm.

Somehow, it is a fact that the society demands every person to look beautiful. Being beautiful is a prized symbol. However, it should be understood also that being beautiful does not necessitate a rosy white skin. You do not need to horse around and look for ways to attain what is the crooked view about beauty.

The reality is that, true beauty is the one that is what we are inside our hearts; not about having a rosy white skin - artificial or natural... for what is then beauty but a blossom that never lasts....

P.S. Yours truly wrote this during college and is not bitter once and for all. Peace.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cactus Collection

Distinct. Easy. Therapeutic. These are just some of the adjectives that would describe cactus collecting. If one wants to be a collector of it, he needs to be meticulous looking at the differences of styles of the spines - the most unique feature of cactus.

Personally, I have been a cactus enthusiast for almost 10 years. I have not been so lucky these past months, so infuriated actually, as many of my plants were plagued with fungi and pests recently.

These are just some of my collections at home. So sad I have removed
the old ones which were unfortunately plagued by fungi and pests.

In this tropical corner where palms, ferns, orchids and many other leafy plants rule, just how many people have real thumb for cactus? Everytime my friends visit the house, they can't help enough but wonder at how I came to grow these prickly plants. Because of its "rarity" value, it becomes a prized symbol to me.

Moreover, even busy people can have a bee in a bonnet with cactus, because these thorny plants do not need to be tended all the time. One can just leave it grow. They do not need too much water, so once a week watering is enough. As a matter of fact, they need more amount of sunlight than any other plants.

And just as gardening is a healthy hobby, cactus collecting is a way good emotional exercise as well. In my personal experience, it is real fascination just looking at them around especially in the morning. On weekends, if my graduate studies don't drive me like a busy beaver, I spend my days releasing my stress by checking out my weeny collections.

So, thorns, anyone?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Of Beginnings...

Beginning... It evokes a kind of mixed emotions every time it slithers like a snake in our thoughts this very moment that marks the first day of this another brand new year of our lives.

For some people, beginning produces a tinge of excitement. Yet for others, beginning poses a feeling of apprehension. And for more others, beginning creates a vision of uncertainty.

For those who are eager about making a step into the new day, hold your horses and take time to truly live each coming day. Life is not always about bed of roses; remember that roses are not without its thorns.

For those who are afraid about facing their destiny, cast all your fears away and be bold enough to stand against the odds of life. At the end of the beginning you take, you will reap the fruits of courage and realize that everything was worth the risk.

And for those who are unsure about what life holds for them in the future, look at the positive side of life and take comfort of the crossroads you are situated now. In the nick of time, you will see the purpose and all will make sense.

Whatever our perceptions, we cannot avoid beginning for it is itself an inevitable  part of life. Every goal, plan, mission or endeavor that we take is commenced with a prized process called beginning.

So, on this brand new year upon us, I wish everyone an awesome beginning of life!