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Monday, February 28, 2005

Father and Son camp

Every February, me and my boys look forward to one event the school undertakes. The reason it's just me and the boys who are excited over this event is because it's an exclusively "men only" activity. It's an activity that is full of games, adventure, endurance and survival tests, explorations, skills and team building and, most importantly, lots of fun! Yes, this is the activity we call "Father and Son Camp."

The activity is anchored on scouting principles and so is replete with knot tying, water and land games, nature tripping (sometimes having to take a bath in improvised toilets and yes, that also may include "kybo", the scout's term for egesting body wastes), and many more that can be participated in by both the father and the son. Understandably, the biggest benefit of all is the bonding that happens between father and son/s and the camaraderie that is built between the campers. You see, we always divide the participants into different patrols. The patrols are very impressive this year. They now have incorporated galleries showcasing trophies and medals garnered from past years, tools, a segregated waste disposal, an altar, and a clinic.

This year, we went to Blueroze Farms and wildlife in Lodlod, Lipa City. It's a big coconut plantation with lots of space, a swimming pool, a maze and assorted animals like ostriches, wild boars, different species of fowls, turtles, an eagle, and a tweny or thirty foot python. We thought we would be in for a spectacle when the caretaker threw a live chicken on the python but the python didn't eat the whole time we watching. I swear I must've waited for hours with my heart pounding like crazy everytime the snake moved but it didn't happen. I even went back in the middle of the night but prey and hunter were both sleeping. The following day, I came back but the chicken was already gone.

This camping was a revelation to me. The good news is that I get to bond with my children for free because I am a member of the staff who assists the legendary founder of the FS camp, Mr. Moses Lozada, the thing is we couldn't join any of the games. The revelation is that I got to see how close the brothers are. While I can see that my two girls are very very close, I haven't the idea that these two would be just as close. Whereever Mickey went, Coby would tag behind. I even caught up with them where Coby sat silently alongside his brother who was drawing a composition in his sketch pad, making suggestions here and there. That made me borrow another sketchpad (he brought two) and sit down with them and practice sketching, too.

Another revelation is how Mickey is turning out to be responsible. He took the lead in putting up and striking down the igloo tent (thanks to my compare, Redjie Jimenez who owns it) and fixing our things inside. As always, lessons in life is learned in all the experiences we encounter and I'm glad I had done this again with my two boys.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Netiquette on blogging

Since the advent of the computer, communication between individuals has been raised to a much higher degree. If we are to believe guru Alvin Toffler we are now in another age known as the age of information.

Finally, the age of information! Don't you find it interesting that in the course of our history as a human race, the age of information should only surface at this day and age? I feel we are a bit late as wars could have stopped had we mastered the art of proper communications early on. But as it is, we were more pre-occupied with war (stone and metal ages), making things a lot easier for us (wheel and the industrial revolution) and soaring to new heights (space age) that we forgot the most basic tool given us by the Great Provider which is the ability to communicate.

Late or not, communicating with one another is a lot faster today where interaction between two or more parties is more instantaneous. As a consequence of the computer revolution, the world becomes smaller as people all over the globe can interact with one another at a much faster rate. Other than the email, one of the offshoots of the internet is blogging. Blogging started out as a personal diary where one records daily events online which later on developed into personal commentaries on current events, personal notes on issues, etc. As Andrew Sullivan puts it, "But there are also news blogs and commentary blogs, sites packed with links and quips and ideas and arguments that only months ago were the near-monopoly of established news outlets. Poised between media, blogs can be as nuanced and well-sourced as traditional journalism, but they have the immediacy of talk radio." Blogging has been so popular it has been dubbed as person of the year in 2004.

Just like any other undertaking man indulges in, there is certain code of ethics that we should follow if we want to join the bandwagon of bloggers who interact with one another. Arlene Rinaldi writes about "The Core Rules of Netiquette" and these can be found here.

I am a relatively new blogger having started in January of 2004. And in the course of my blogging, I have befriended a lot of intelligent, talented and warm people I would not have known had I not started with this endeavor. I have also learned a lot of lessons along the way and as the teacher that I am, I would like to share them with you so that you can enjoy the benefits I have reaped, in the course of what I would say, my writing career. :-)

1. People will eventually read what you write. When I started blogging, I never thought I would be read by other people. I was thinking that the blogs I read which have comment boxes actually had comments from readers because they are established writers and have been blogging for a long time. I was insecured and paranoid that what i have written was pure garbage and that I was late in joining the ride. As anybody who writes, I needed affirmation, a pat on the back that what I have written is not for naught. But how? It took me sometime to figure out that in order for me to be known in blogosphere, I would have to go out and invest time. And that i did. I commented on blogs and eventually, they, too came for a visit and stayed. Now, I still visit new sites as it is through this means that I discover wonderful people and excellent writers, thinkers and opinion makers. I comment on them and yes, they come to me, too. This world is full of wonderful people.

2. Be origina! Remember these lines? "Listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant, they, too have their story." Why blog if you haven't a thing to say yet? It is a mortal sin to plagiarize. Copying another's work and passing it as your own is a big no-no! You are not only dishonest to other people, you are being dishonest to yourself Remember, we ahve different outlooks in life, different experiences, different backgrounds. Write about them, somewhere out there, there will be someone who will be interested. I think I have covered this extensively here

3. Be nice! This is the crux of the entire post. I have had occasion to ahve read nasty comments from readers in other blogs which were really way below the belt. For whatever reason, there are readers out there who find it fun to irritate a blog owner by putting nasty comments. If you get your rocks off by doing that, you are one perverted, pathetic soul. Example, "implying that going abroad is a sure way of a husband and wife eventually separating" is nasty. You are not helping the couple ease their pain but only aggravate the loneliness they feel for the absence of one another. I shall give that commenter the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was just trying to be funny as the blog owner in particular is popular for his funny antics and writings. That's fine. Maybe you are trying to out do the blogowner or just plainly wanted to share the fun. But we must remember that we all have varying degrees of humor sense. It could be possible that we don't have it at all. So, my suggestion is to read and re-read your comments before hitting that "post" button. I know I may have posted something that was inappropriate one time or another but it was either unintentional or that I dind't know any better. Believe me I couldn't sleep when it dawned on me that i've hurt someone. But at least, I identified myself. The offended party can always get back to me and if the complaint has merit, I can and will apologize. That's the main problem with these nasty commenters. They hide under an alias and post anonymously. That's very cowardly.

I am still lucky I haven't gotten a nasty comment yet. But who knows? My blog had been threatened before. During the height of the Patricia Evangelista controversy, my good friend the Cat was ganged up in a forum where they threatened that I and other good friends Batjay and Sassy shall be next. Should that happen, i know what i am going to do. I am not going to argue and give you the fun that you long for. I have my picture and my children's pictues in this blog which make me very vulnerable. I wouldn't erase your post as i want people to know how rude you are but i won't dignify your nasty comment with a reply. If you are picking up a fight, go someplace else as you're not getting any from me.


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Saturday, February 12, 2005

pinoy poets

At last! I finally hooked up with Filipino poets, thanks to fellow blogger and now, friend, poet Jardine Davies in last night's general assembly and poetry reading at juliano's. Of course, I do have my own writing group and I'm proud of them, but none of them could speak my language, read as "my soul" for they are either Americans or Canadians. Why shouldn't I be proud of my original poet friends when it was through their patient tutelage and proddings that I discovered I can understand, feel and breathe poetry! Most of all, it was through them that I first realized that the internet is not composed of cold geeks but of people who care.

When my American friends got word that I was going to Canada to visit my best friend, Arlene, owner of this ezine, they immediately packed their bags, got on the next plane to Vancouver and came to meet with me. How can I ever forget my meeting with Tom Spencer and his wife Kathy, Karli Shanklin and her Fil-Am hubby Alfredo, Molly Critchlow and Canadians from Manitoba, Glennis and Harry Hobbs? It was truly a joyous one week celebration that got Arlene so inspired, she prepared an off-season Thanksgiving party in May right after we had given a poetry reading at Serendipity room to some 14 walk-in guests.

So, you might think that last night was nothing new to me, right? Wrong! I have never come close to a real Filipino poet except those who had been my professors in graduate school. So, you see, my impression of Filipino writers are super "laiteros" who would have nothing good to see in my work, (should I gather enough guts to show it to them), throw it to the ground and stomp on it to tiny, little pieces before tossing it to the garbage can. And I wasn't even studying to be a writer under them, mind you. I was trying to learn literature! How I got the idea of enrolling in a language and literature masters program after ten years or so of having graduated from Fine Arts is beyond me.

I don't know but I have this feeling that Filipinos, much more artists, are very very hard to please. It's like, "uhm, I bet you, their pee is a lot higher and farther than mine" and believe me, with men, it's always about who can pee the highest and the farthest... Who has bigger balls, uhm, better yet, whose got the biggest peter around!!! Well, the General Assembly for "pinoy poets" and the first poetry reading was set and I said to myself, I better do this or forget about poetry. My only consolation was that Jardine will be there and I knew the guest poet, Sid Gomez Hlldawa, a poet and painter par excellance. I have worked with him before when he was curating Kulay Diwa and I had my students exhibit their best works there.

So, while I was on my way to Shangri-la mall, the agreed meeting place, I was kind of a nervous wreck not knowing what to expect once I'm in front of all these young, very talented, word weavers. (peeps, that's a term I borrowed from writersvillage before plagiarists get the wrong idea that it's okay to just borrow words and/or ideas without acknowledging where they were taken from) Once I got to the place and as soon as I shook the hand of the first guy introduced to me, I knew I was home. All my fears vanished for none of them fit my stereotype of a writer. They had smiles all the way to their ears and not even one of them was a snob.

The poetry reading was a success. Gee, I was even asked to read a Tagalog poem by a very beautiful, young poet by the name of Kathline Tolosan and even got to jam and play some blues with Jardine, and two others who I wouldn't dare identify at this time lest I commit a mistake. Should I say I enjoyed myself, having stayed until two in the morning? So, if there are any poets out there lurking in silence, why not check us out? You can access the site here!

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fourteen years hence!

Coby Posted by Hello

Today is my youngest son's birthday. Fourteen years ago, at this time, my wife was huffing and puffing air out of her system. Coby is, she believes, the hardest of them all. It was a breach birth (or whatever is the term used for that kind of birth). The doctors were baffled because though they felt the baby to be round, it didn't feel like the head. They ran xrays and found out its the butt that's going out first.

Coby, young as he is, is trying to find his place in the sun. Like his siblings, he's independent and has a mind of his own. He's more into sports. He did try the violin and even gave a recital but because his kuya is deep into it already, I believe he wants to something else. Sports! That's what preoccupies him. He plays basketball constantly and trained in swimming. You should see him do the breaststroke. While all the children in my family swim, he swims the longest and the fastest.

One of the amusing stories I tell about him is that episode where he had a crush while he was in Grade 5. First, he asked his mom to buy him Ferrero Roche chocolates. The big one! This made his sisters quip, "Naku Coby, tama na ang chocnut no!" All this happening behind my back. Then Christmas time, he asked his mom again to buy him a teddy bear. When my wife picked up a small one, he refused and picked a bigger one and a lot more expensive. His mother gave in. My wife secretly showed it to me and whispered, "your son is becoming to be a man now, look!" And then shows me the teddy bear. Now comes the eve of the school's Christmas party. I went to the gifts section of the house and pretended i didn't know a thing. I picked up the teddy bear (now wrapped) and asked, "Ma, who's gift is this?" Coby ran to his mother inside the kitchen and giggling, blaming his mom for not keeping the gift.
Then, he went out and guiltily pointed at Kim. "That's for Kim from her secret admirer!" Kim looked at Coby and said, "You want me to tell the truth?" I was already laughing at this time.

Dinner time, Nitz, my wife, forgot all about it and reminded the children about the gifts they're bringing to school for friends. She goes, "Fix your bags early and put the gifts inside them so that you won't forget anything tomorrow." And the clincher, "Coby, have you put the your teddy bear in your bag?" At that, I shouted, "GOTCHA!!!" Coby was so red in the face.

The following day, I spoke to Coby man to man. "How did you decide you wanted to give her a teddy?" Then he answered, "She asked for it." I said, "Wow! She must be your girlfriend already, no?" He smiled and said, "No, I'm just starting to court her."

Funny no?

Happy Birthday Coby! We all love you very much!

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Giving credit where credit is due!

AS you know, I have been an Art teacher for the past twenty years. As an Art teacher, allow me to share some misconceptions about my profession. First, while it would seem that I am teaching my students to draw or paint, that is really not the main focus of my lessons. I believe it is unfair for a student to receive a failing mark simply because he/she does not have the talent for drawing. Any student of mine would tell you that I am not very stingy with grades. As a matter of fact, during a reunion party, several alumni who said hello intimated that my subject was their ticket to make their average higher.

There are several ways where one can receive a very good grade from me. When I say high, I really mean high. Grades ranging from 92 - 100. Yes, I even give a grade of 100. There are only two criteria for a student to get within this range. First, that the work is truly outstanding or, a relatively mediocre work but which I know was done diligently and with a lot of effort by a student to meet the requirements of the project. At the other end of the scale, a student can also fail in my class. This may be seldom but a student will if: 1) he/she failed to submit the project and no attempt has been done to make up for it, or 2) he/she submitted something which is not his/hers.

I had been telling my students that I would prefer for them to hand in the ugliest (if there is such a thing) piece of art work as long as they made it for they would still pass, even get a good grade for it rather than submit an excellent project but was made by somebody else. More than anything, I have to teach them the value of hard work and gaining confidence and self-respect and pride over their capabilities.

Claiming somebody else's project as yours is wrong. That is intellectual dishonesty or to be blunt about it, thievery. And it has a name. It's called plagiarism. The reason I'm writing this is because it seems that there are people who think they can do away with murder and go unnoticed in the internet. I'm talking about Sassy's food blog being stolen and passed off as somebody else's. You can read the article here Sure, it's as easy as copying and pasting a work to another window but is the facility by which it can be done a license to plagiarize? Surely not! How hard is it to acknowledge the real owner of the piece? And that is all that is required;. That we give credit to where credit is due! As a result of this phenomenon in pinoy blogging, a fellow blogger condemns the practice lest other unscrupulous people would have any idea of doing the same. You can read the Cat's take on the subject here.

It really amazes me how someone can steal another's work and put the same on his website. Where's the dignity in that? Does one feel pride in the accolades of people who do not know that what they aer applauding for was stolen? How would a plagiarist feel if suddenly he/she is found out? As far as I'm concerned, there are two people who can answer these questions now. And you know who you are! Shame on you. Had you been my students, you would have gotten a zero in my class...Blogging Ethics 101!

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A gamble I took and should not lose!

This is one post i wouldn't let my children read. At least, not for the moment. So, if there's any student of mine who knows any of my children, please don't divulge the information I am about to reveal. Now, that's a very simple request, right? I hope you take heed. Thanks.

I have blogged about my decision to quit smoking. It's part of this entry. So, I've been doing some counting and realize I had been smoke free for more than two months now. Quitting is no easy task especially during Christmas when i met for the first time my idol bloggers Sassy, Jet and BongK, who smoke. I could feel every puff they made and was almost tempted to ask for a stick from Bong. Good thing was that Batjay was also there. He had quit eight months ago after an appendectomy. I was thinking, if he can do it, so can I.

Anyway, there's a reason why I had to quit. During one of my trips to my diabetologist/endocrinologist, he suggested I have my thyroid checked by ultra sound. I did. The test yielded that I have several lumps on my thyroid glands again. I have already been operated on for tumors which, fortunately, proved to be benign after the biopsy. So, thinking that I might only aggravate further the lumps on my throat, I decided to quit.

Now comes to the picture my third child, Kim. From among my children, she is the one who is super "lambing" to me. However, like any other teen-ager, she tends to be laxed with her studies. Sure, she's had her glory in some school contests like this one. But generally, she wouldn't even touch her books on a weekend. Naturally, she was getting poor grades in important subjects like Math, and Science.

She had been pestering me about my smoking. She would even tell me it seemed like I didn't love them for I didn't care for my health. (medyo articulate talaga yun e. Maarte na, makulit pa.) Then an idea hit me. One time we were together, I told her I was going to quit smoking if she would be serious with her studies. I asked her to calculate how much grade she has to earn for the third ter so that she could get a really good grade. Afer some calculations, she came up with 90! So, we entered a deal. If she gives me a 90 on practically all her subjects on the final term, then I am definitely going to quit. (Of course by this time, I have already quit for about a week). Now comes the hard part. I realized this ploy might have some adverse effect. First, what if she failed to deliver and I failed in my resolve? What would be the effect of that on her? Will she blame herself for my weakness? Certainly, that would not be fair. If, on the other hand, she pushes through and I didn't? What will that become of me? Her image of me might crumble and she may lose her respect for me. Lastly, what if she didn't push through? Will i have to smoke again to prove a point? These are the questions I have to find an answer to. I definitely regret having made that pact with Kim but since I already did, I know I have to turn this into a win-win situation. sigh!!!

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Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
Posted by Hello
Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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