Sunday, January 18, 2015

Video Links: Pope Francis in the Philippines

(Credit is given to Rappler's Youtube channel.)

The visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines is something different compared to other papal visits that I have observed through television and the internet.

It is different because the effect is two-fold. His presence has a positive, energetic and enthusiastic effect on the Filipino. The Filipino spirit also has a positive, energetic and enthusiastic effect on the Holy Father.

I have tried to rummage through internet media and collate links. Credit is given to Rappler's Youtube channel. I have posted them here for the benefit of other Filpinos abroad who wish to keep track of Pope Francis' Apostolic Visit to our country.

I did find the days moving and renewing. To a degree, it renewed my faith.

Day 1 : January 15, 2015

Day 2: January 16, 2015
Malacanan Palace
Mass at the Manila Cathedral
Meeting with Families at the MOA Arena
Press Conference

Day 3: January 17, 2015
Mass at Tacloban
Tacloban and Palo, Leyte
Press Conference

Day 4: January 18, 2015
Dialogue with the Youth at UST
Concluding Mass at the Luneta Grandstand
Press Conference

Day 5: January 19, 2015

There is no intended infringement in the posting of the above links. I have just compiled them for the sake of other Filipinos and faithful who wish to look back on these glorious and faith-filled days. It was the time when the sun shone even when there was rain.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hey! FIlipino dude, which type are you?

The past week has been a disheartening one. News of the effects of Typhoon Yolanda (international code name: Haiyan) has swept all over the world. Different nations have pledged aide in different forms in order to help alleviate the life-threatening effects of the recent disaster.

My school has organized a community-wide effort to help victims. Churches, businesses and individuals have also made different efforts in order to help. Everyone's efforts, regardless of how big or small is never insignificant. 

I wish to focus my attention now in the realm of social media. I realized that there are three types of people that emerged in the cyber world through social media: (1) the "passive optimist"; (2) the "ranting idealist"; and, (3) the "propagandist." Let us all assume that all thee types of people have done their part to help our "kababayans" (countrymen) back home. 

(1) these are the people who would say "stop blaming and talking. if you want to help just help." they have a point. and i think that is self-explanatory.

(2) these are the people who have used social media to blame how slow the government is working to respond to the affected families. they air their sentiments on how they dis trust the government with the financial aid coming in from other countries. can't blame them. social media has become their avenue to air their sentiments since they believe that the government no longer listens.

(3) these are the people who would fabricate stories just to be noticed, to make people feel worse about the situations back home instead of raising awareness and giving people hope. this group of people might have re-tweeted or shared posts which they felt was cool and others might want to see it too without asking the question, "is my source reliable and true?"

Being a Teacher: My 8th Year Reflection

(a late re-post from my FB Notes dated October 5, 2013)

This school year marks my 8th year in the Teaching Profession.

In a few days, most of us will mark the first month of the opening of classes. In countries like the Philippines, teachers and students have already been in their classrooms for four months; while teachers in Singapore and Malaysia will soon be wrapping up the school year in two month’s time.

What point am I trying to make? Education systems may change, but amidst all of these differences is one constant – the Teacher! As educators, many of us may share stories, which make each of us distinct; but there will always be stories that we will find in common.

In this commonality, many of us will agree that we do not just educate our learners so that they have a mind to fill; but we are educating them so that we can have high hopes for a brighter future.  We do not just look at the content of what we teach but we also look at how much our learners will appreciate what they know and change the world to a much better place.

In my last school, where I was involved in training and coaching teachers during my last year there, my boss asked me before I left, “Don’t you regret leaving? You won’t be able to do there what you did here.  You will be back in teaching.” Deep inside me, my answer was, “I don’t regret leaving because I am leaving this a much better place compared to when I first found it.” I guess we feel the same way about our learners and how we want them to respond to their generation’s challenges. We want them to leave a world much brighter and peaceful from the one that we have passed on to them.

Up to now, I still remember the words of my college rector, “Embrace a world with a purpose much larger than your own… Born for greater things, choose the better things.” We should remind ourselves and our learners that we are all accountable.

All of these things which I have just said are all aspirations, “too ideal” as some may put it, but I guess that’s what we are tasked to do and I guess that’s why we have chosen to become teachers. What does it mean to be a teacher?

Being a teacher is working more than the usual working hours that may extend beyond the call of duty. Time used for planning, correcting, corresponding and many more. I wonder how my classmate in graduate school in the Philippines managed her time. She was a Social Studies teacher in Rizal High and had more than a 100 students in one of her classes.

Being a teacher is being proactive, to seek solutions as challenges come. We are called to live as solution seekers and not problem magnifiers. Every educational system or environment will have its flaws. Accept it, and be the change that you can be. One of the things in my bucket list as a teacher is to be able to volunteer for a few weeks in a rural region of the Philippines. There are places where they have a50 to 100 square meter school building with about two to three classrooms that hosted several grade levels. The students would travel hours by foot from their homes to reach school and back. In stories that I have heard, there are students and teachers who leave home at 4:00am in order to reach school by 7:00am in time for classes. And I guess, where most of us are right now is a hundredfold better than the teachers in these places.

Being a teacher is being able to give and give until our learners are capable of taking accountability and passing on the things that they are expected to do.

Being a teacher is living a life of sacrifice. We always try to live a life of balance. Friends,relative, peers and superiors may tell us to “balance our lives”, yet sometimes this balance is tilted to the side where we have to do more for the sake of our chosen profession. We will remember stories when we have given up social time and play for our learners’ needs.

Being a teacher is realizing that we are one of the least paid professions; yet, our rewards do not come in terms of financial gains. Our rewards come when we see our students carry on in life to make significant contributions to the world. My first pay as a teacher in 2006 was a little over three hundred US dollars, but the richness of the friends and experiences that I have gained in the past years could never compare to my salary.

This list could go on… I will end it here.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk said, “A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.” Are we good teachers?

Happy World Teachers’ Day to those who are, were and will be teachers!

October 5 is the official date set by UNESCO to commemorate World Teachers’ Day!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simbang Gabi... Truly Pinoy!!!

Misa de Gallo… Simbang Gabi… Aguinaldo Masses… Christmas Novena Mass… I am now back in the UAE. This is the country where I grew up. A country 6,000 kilometers away from my beloved Philippines. Today was the first time I attended the Simbang Gabi in my Parish here. It is quite ironic since I live right across the church compound, and was not able to make the nine days for 2011. Attending the Simbang Gabi was something that made me proud to be a Filipino. It is one of the Filipino People’s contributions to the Roman Catholic Church. It gives us a sense on zeal, a sense of faith to those who turn to God in preparing for the great feast of Christmas. In my eleven years of stay in the Philippines, I was able to witness the richness of these nine days of preparation. This gave me several reflections and realizations.

First, the Simbang Gabi is an expression of one’s Faith. Many believe in myths that this practice is something that can make WISHES come true. “Pag nakumpleto mo and Simbang Gabi magkakatotoo ang wish mo.” Yan ang paniniwala nang marami kaya sila bumubuo ng Simbang Gabi. Wishes are based on the paradigm of chance. If you make wishes, you lack faith. Therefore I believe that Simbang Gabi is more than a practice of WISHING. It is an act of FAITH. Faith will allow us to move mountains. Faith will allow us to work with the will and power of God. Those who received answered prayers on these nine days did not just make a wish, they had FAITH.

Second, it is an act of self-discipline and sacrifice. Whether one attends the dawn masses or the anticipated masses, I am overwhelmed by the determination of those who complete these nine days. I commend you. It shows how much you are willing to sacrifice rest or long hours of sleep just to be with the Lord on these nine days. I guess if we are able to sacrifice nine days for the Simbang Gabi, then we can make further sacrifices for our Faith in the future.

Third, it is a communal act. It gives us Filipinos a sense of identity and belongingness. Whether I am at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Mandaluyong or St. Michael’s Church here Sharjah, the atmosphere of festivity and faith combined is simply something that is automatically realized. You will immediately feel that you are with your own. That need to belong is answered by this communal act.

Fourth, it is an act of giving. I say this from the perspective of a server. In the mass, I observed the servers here in Sharjah. I could relate to these servers. They are different from the servers in the Philippines. They are different and special because the servers here, many of them, are far from their loved ones. They are far from their loved ones, yet they are still capable of giving something to the people. In their brokenness they still have the willingness and courage to share. They are something that I look up to. For all the lay faithful serving at the altar, they do not just part take in the celebration like the usual mass-goer; but, they are privileged to be facilitators in uniting the rest of the faithful. They help the priest and the congregation unite in one voice to actively participate in this sacred mystery of faith. It is a gift of the server to the Catholic faithful this Christmas.

The Simbang Gabi is almost over. For those who have completed and have served in these nine days, I feel happy that you are doing something Filipino, something Filipino for your faith. May your Christmas be meaningful as these nine days of preparation.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A World Much Larger than One's Own

(From my Facebook Notes, October 5, 2011, World Teachers' Day)

Education is indeed a dynamic phenomenon. It makes or breaks an individual. It is an endeavor that becomes a meaningful reward to both the learner and the learned.

This school year is very different compared to the last five years of my teaching profession. I am now teaching in the school where I spent most of my basic education. It is meaningful in several ways. The school was a second home for me from the years 1990 to 1999 (Grades 3 to 12). It has contributed to my well being in several ways. Within those years, it has molded me trough the many challenges I faced and through the good people I have met along the way. This year I am back no longer as a student, but as a teacher. It is great and feels great to be back. To be with my past teachers and to be able to work with them.

I would remember back then, my teachers were the best source of knowledge and in many instances wisdom, which allowed me to see things from a different perspective. Many lessons that were considered significant always stayed with me. Straight grids for graphs that Ms. Ayesha Shaukat draws using free hand on the board while teaching Physics... Mr. Jerry Lovette's interesting stories and facts that supplemented the boring English Literature material... Mrs. Seema's long standing patience... Constructiveness of the Math lessons that I still remember to this date, Mrs. Sandra Qazamel's English portfolio during the Elementary years and many more.

But there is more to lessons in being a teacher. A teacher is someone who chooses to live his life so that others may also live. They are here not just to impart what they know, but also to impart their whole being. They share themselves so that their students may also live. It is a cause more noble than choosing to live for one's self. It is choosing to embrace a world much lager than their own.

To my fellow teachers in the academe, we must remember to keep hope burning every time we deal with the challenges of our profession. Let us continue to believe in what we do and in the potential of the young minds that we are molding. Who they will become is a reflection of how much we have really given them. We live in a globally challenged society that yearns for more free-thinkers that will allow humanity to survive amidst the social collapse and economic turmoil now and beyond. Let us have hope and give hope for we cannot give what we do not posses.

Today, October 5 2011, is our day. Let us continue to remind ourselves how significant we all are.HAPPY WORLD TEACHERS' DAY.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bending Values

We belong to a generation where values are continually distorted. Many now try to compromise their "values system" by how they want the world to respond to them and their preferences. The so-called social norms are now placed at stake because people are driven to come up with their self-declared norms. And all these are done for the sake of making one the god that he or she wants to be recognized as.

I am a teacher and I believe that students should be given a chance to grow and be formed holistically so that in the future he has his own sense of direction. I will recall the time when I wanted to apprehend a group of students because of cheating. I was teaching these students how to create basic webpages. Out of my three years of teaching the subject matter, I could tell if a student has cheated or not. Well to cut the story short I was not able to apprehend nor correct the students because of so many reasons that pointed out to one ultimate truth - I was not able to teach these students the value of honesty because the school administration "feared" what parents might say. If you are an educator reading this, you might thinks it's crazy but yes it does happen.

Schools should be the place where students are taught enduring riches. Values are embedded through schools so that the child learns how to make every situation count. This should be a part of the student's learning curve so that he will be capable of becoming a great individual in a world where everything is being compromised for the sake of personal gain. That is the wealth a school can give its learners. Values are not just taught through plain words but through difficult moments that would serve as crossroads in determining what truly is right and erroneous. This should hold true for both the student and the educator. People who operate schools should realize this difficult reality; if not, then they should not even consider running one.

The Gifts of Being An Educator

It is not an easy task to be an educator. It comes with several things in the package. Difficult bosses. Difficult parents. Difficult students. Difficult situations. Name it, so many things can be considered "difficult" in the day to day undertaking of a teacher. What makes teaching so rewarding? Teaching feels rewarding when...

...students come back to you one day and they recall one of the lessons you have taught them.

...students thank you for something that you didn't actually think would have an impact on them.

...students recall simple gestures that wasn't really a big deal for you, but still they have grown up to appreciate it. day you realize that your past students in high school are graduating from their tertiary classes and are soon to be part of the roster of professionals. Suddenly you get a feeling that you have given the world a contribution through the knowledge you have imparted on these professionals. are given great mentors in the field. They make work easier because they have a great tendency of "lighting up the path." get to pause for a moment and you get to laugh at jokes and pranks with your students.

...your immediate superior or principal appreciates the small things you do and you get to realize later on that those small things contribute to the "bigger scheme of things." handle a set of primary students, you will start to feel that there is still a child inside you. are challenged to be creative so that students don't end up snoring in your class, and suddenly you realize that you can be a stand-up comedian in the spur of a moment.

If teaching was NOT difficult, then there would be no avenue for us teachers to grow. As I grow in this industry called teaching, I know that my list will go on and it will get longer in time. For the moment, "that's all folks!"