Saturday, August 28, 2004

just sharing 2

These are two of my works. One done in 1999, the other in 2000. I painted these with a crayon resist technique using what else? crayon and watercolor. I am attaching a poem that goes with the first one. The waterfall, on the other hand, has a very inspiring story beneath it which I am not ready to reveal yet. Both these paintings are now owned by my good friend and soul mate, Arlene Lawson, an American poet who lives in Richmond, BC, Canada. She used to own the Country Garden Mouse until she handed it over to her daughter, Trudy. She was gracious enough to send me pictures of my works so that I can share them with you. I'll try to post other styles I paint in next time. Hope you like these, too.

the wall Posted by Hello

The Wall

laden with heavy artillery
shows its might

repels unwanted

mute witness
to many crimes,
crevices draped

with dried blood
of gallat men
in war

in peace
hides lovers
at nooks none can see

scribbling their
names inside
a broken heart

baked under the sun
stitched with a bow
of a naked boy

on its floors
rubbers of every
sizes, different kinds

to me
it is a
cultural parapet
separating you
from me
i strike this barren wall

with hammer
of peace, understanding
and love

Waterfall Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Just sharing!

As you probably know by now, classes have been suspended, albeit late, of course, by the DepEd due to inclement weather. Yes, right after I woke everybody up at 4:00 am, prepare for school, traverse some flooded areas just to get to school much earlier than we normally use to. Why? Because Mickey had to play violin in the mass and most of all, Kim, my youngest daughter, was to go on outreach to a place I don't know where to be with a foster family just so they can share food, some groceries, etc... I was urging the head of the activity to cancel as the weather was not good. However, since the skies cleared this morning, they went ahead as planned. Come lunchtime, I received a call from top management that classes are suspended. So, everything went haywire after that. Amid all these, my daughter was still at the site and was just about to leave. (good thing coz they were supposed to stay there the whole day)

So you see, there are a lot of things I have to be annoyed and be angry at. But that's not my style. I'll only die young from all that fretting and tension. So, instead, I'll blog and share with you a picture I took during our exhibit at Heritage Center of Shangri-la mallm Mandaluyong sometime in 1998. This is one of my paintings and it's entitled "Hala Hila". Looking on was my first principal (Mr. Ed Cadlum) and his wife, (Mrs. Cadlum, who else?) who happens to have been my wife's boss for sometime, and a very good friend of ours, Marissa. Hope you like it.

Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 21, 2004

How deep are the roots?

I wouldn't be surprised if most students would doubt the relevance of some rules imposed on them in schools. In my school alone, there are rules that would seem impractical if not non-sensical to their young minds. One of these rules, for example, is to always keep right when climbing up and down the stairs and using only one from among four for each year level. Well, maybe not a good example because there is a good reason for tha: to decongest the stairway and preventing from bumping one another. But impose it even when chances are high that nobody's going to go in the opposite direction?

Or why should boys have a prescribed haircut? They're not in military school, are they? Well, if I am to gauge it during my high school days, I know the teachers of today would certainly be living a nightmare had they lived during the 70's. We grew our hair at shoulder length, even longer. Pre-martial law days saw teen-aged boys sporting long hair in schools like San Beda, San Sebastian, UE, and FEU, and even tolerated at a certain extent at La Salle and the Ateneo. This is the reason I was having second thougths of prescribing a #3 guard on students who wished to go "semi-kal" or semi-bald. It seems like we are not after the hair, we are after the fad.

Then it dawned on me. Never mind the rationale of every rule. A this point of our lives, it is imperative that every young Filipino learn to follow the rules. We know very well that we lack discipline and not doing something about it. Our hard-headedness has been the cause of our problems to boot. Just look at pedestrians crossing the streets everywhere and anywhere at will. See public commuters running after a bus, pushing and shoving one another just to get a ride. Look at the litter in the streets. Look at drivers who snake their way in traffic. Need I say more? All these things manifest lack of self-discipline, don't they? And we complain endlessly at discomforts brought about by these phenomena.

Why do we lack self-discipline as a people? Poverty? Lack of education? Laziness? Maybe, but where did all these traits come from? Sadly, I believe the problem is deeply rooted. I think that these characteristic traits are embedded in our psyche as a result of having been a colonized country for so long. Three centuries of Spain, fifty years of American education and three war torn years from Japanese imperialism will surely take its toll on a people abused, tormented and made to believe that they were inferior. Just look at our concept of beauty. We look in admiration at the mestizo's acquiline nose, white skin and blonde hair. When I was growing up, mothers marvel when their young had these features. "Uy, pwedeng-pwedeng artista," they would say. Look at how we go gaga over whitening lotions and soaps?

Now, what has all that got to do with our lack of discipline? Why not? I could just imagine our ancestors doing all they can to evade the oppressive Spanish fraile or guardia civil just to spare humiliation or even death. I can almost see wily Filipinos using their imagination to put one over their oppressors. After all, our literature is replete with characters like Posong of the Pusung tales, a trickster who uses a lot of tricks just get the upper hand or just to get even in a certain situation. Furthermore, I strongly believe that our hard-headedness to follow rules is an offshoot of our ancestors' defiance towards authority. These are reenforced when the Americans and the Japanese came. These are what we inherited. These are what we are living today.

But it need not be so anymore. We are beginning to listen to more Filipino music, albeit its western influence. More and more public commuters are falling in line to have a ride. But we have a long way to go. WE should learn again how to follow rules, blindly, if need be. Let it start with our students now. Teach them the way of good followers so that they would become good leaders of tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Caped crusader to the rescue

Maybe some of you don’t know that I am maintaining two blogs. This one where I talk about education, my life as a teacher, the other, my first blog which I call soft grumbles where I put my attempts at poetry and other things.

I blog for several reasons. One is to keep abreast with the times. I am not a young man and lest I become obsolete, a dreadful state for a teacher like me, I try to learn the rudiments of technology. I try to learn as I watch in awe my 15 year old son, Mickey create works of art using the Adobe or make musical notations on a program called Finale, both features he downloaded on our computer.

I blog because I derive pleasure in making articles, something I didn't know I was capable of, in the hope that it would help me increase my vocabulary and probably be a better poet. Furthermore, I get a kick reading comments coming from readers, especially when they happen to share my views and appreciate it when they correct a wrong perception I would have.

Lastly, and most importantly, I blog because I want to leave something to my children even when I am long gone. You see, when you are a father who is not well-off and certainly won’t be able to leave material things for your children to inherit, the next best thing is to leave a legacy behind. My first idea was to publish a book, but the cost of printing a single piece is too expensive. Knowing that I am not a respected writer, publishing a hundred is out of the question. Hence, I thought of ways I can fulfill this dream of leaving a legacy behind.

The internet provided me with the right venue. First, I joined a group of writers in a virtual university called writersvillage where I was accepted to be a student of poetry.

Then blogging came along. And as they say, "the rest is history."

Yesterday, I got the shock of my life when I tried to open this site. For no apparent reason known to me, nothing appeared! Not a single entry was here, the site meter gone, and only a portion of my links was present. I panicked. It seemed like a work of a lifetime was washed away. I felt weak in the knees, perspiration dribbling from my forehead.

I went to another computer and tried opening it hoping that it was just my office computer that broke. Nada! I went to my account and discovered that something wrong happened to my template. It did not seem right. The links I made - gone. I wrote blogger support but I know it would take sometime before I can get an answer.

In cases like this, who do you call? Nobody else but the caped crusader,
Batjay! He simply told me to republish because it seems that my template was corrupted. Even offered to send him my username and password so that he could take a look. (Well, the idea did cross my mind but that would be imposing too much) I followed his suggestion to republish. First I clicked on edit so that I can get to the "republish" button and voila, they appeared. Although the links were no longer there, at least, the entries and comments remained in tact. What a relief! So, bloggers out there, I hope nothing of this sort ever happens to you. But anyway, if it does, don’t despair. There are a lot of good Samaritans out there ready to help. After all, we are just one big community.


If I have forgotten to include you in my links, don’t hesitate to call my attention. I would appreciate it very much. Thank you.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The speech that never saw the light of day!

Yesterday, the Philippine Art Educators Association, (PAEA), conducted a seminar/workshop for its members in my school. As the name implies, it’s an organization of Art teachers in the Philippines. I have been a member of the organization for sometime but was never that active. Anyway, yesterday’s topic was about creativity.

I was asked by my former boss, the art coordinator, to give the welcoming remarks as she couldn’t give it herself as she had to attend her graduate studies at the UP. I prepared a speech thinking that I will be talking to a big number of people. However, maybe due to the inclement weather and the fact that our school is not that accessible, only a few showed up. Well, it was very intimate with only five people from other schools participating. Together with the teachers in my school plus the officers of the organization and the speakers, there were about twenty of us inside the lobby of the school’s theatre.

As it was very intimate, I decided to forego of my prepared speech and just welcomed everybody, introduced the teachers of the school so that they would know who to approach should they need assistance and thanked the organization and the speakers for coming over. I also decided to stay the whole time to give my support to those who attended. (I planned to supervise the cleaning of my room then go home afterwards.)

I am reproducing part of the speech I prepared here for safekeeping. One never knows when it might come handy. And besides, I can use feedback to improve this one. Here goes:

Good morning to all of you, colleagues.

It is very timely that today's workshop should be conducted in this institution. We are, at this point, intensifying our integration program knowing that each of the subjects being taught in school should re-enforce one another. But before I go on to the nitty-gritty and pre-empt today’s speakers, allow me to just share a few personal observations.

Undeniably, most schools today give emphasis on Math, Science and, to some extent, English subjects. These are the subjects perceived by many as the more important disciplines taught in school and yet, studies show that these are where Filipino students are deficient in as compared with their counterparts around the world. Hence we see schools strengthening these subjects in their curriculum to uplift students' performance in these areas. In the process, the Arts may once again be relegated to the background. Sadly for us Art teachers, if this trend continues, we may be seeing the brink of a total disinterest of academicians' of the arts. This should not be so for it would mean a collapse of our cultural fiber and loss of our soul as a nation.

Realizing the importance of the Art curriculum in learning, the Philippine Art Educators Association has come up with this workshop entitled “Art integration as a creative teaching strategy.” In so doing, PAEA aims to introduce innovative and creative strategies in teaching the art subject by incorporating elements and principles of the arts to different subject areas. I believe this is the right path we should travel in for we will learn to make the discipline suit the country's needs for individuals ready to address emerging problems brought about by technology, globalization and the socio-economic and political upheavals we are facing via education. By so doing, we make the art program more relevant in nation building and place the Arts in its proper perspective... Thank you and a pleasant and creative day ahead of us.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Not everyone was born to be a rocket scientist!

I am happy with how this blogging thing is turning out to be. Not only am I beginning to hone my writing skills (whatver there is) but also gaining a lot of friends via this medium. I am glad I have started and have joined pinoy blogs, a community of Filipino bloggers, a new set of intellectuals of today who are either residing inside the country or those living outside, friendly, courteous, and ready to extend a helping hand to a fellow blogger in need.

I have just befriended one student, Rachel an Ateneo student, who gave me something to blog about. In our repartee via the forum, she reminded me of a distant past, painful but proved to be enlightening in the long run.

As a Fine Arts student in a School of Music and Arts sharing two floors in a building occupied by Dentistry and Medicine students, we could almost feel the sneers and raised eyebrows as we passed the first three floors in order to get to our domain. Maybe we were paranoid but we knew, or thought we knew what they would have been thinking, "Okay, studying to be painters, but hen what?" On a few occasions, the bolder among the lot would call us "squatters." I'm jsut glad we were the last graduates of that school. It has been moved to a new location in Caloocan City. Anyway, although we did not admit it, at the back of our minds, we knew they had better chances of becoming rich. Sure we dreamt of being big someday, probably earning the title of national artist, but hey, one among thousands of students learning how to paint? Chances are practically nil!

Then it came to me. Not everyone was born to be a rocket scientist. Each one of us has been blessed with a talent. The gift of gab, a magic hand that can do wonders, fast feet, a sweet voice... to each his own.

In a meeting several years ago, I sat with a school production of a musicale as its sceninc artist which saw me arguing with some subject coordinators who would not allow a particular student to join the school's play because said child was failing their subjects. I'm sure this is nothing new. We have given emphasis on Math, Science, and to some extent, English, with good reasons. These are the subjects where studies have proven that our students are deficient in. But in our quest to improve on these skills, should we forget about the other disciplines? With my given example, should we deprive the boy to make something of himself by way of his special talents and interests? If the boy can really act and sing well, that would give him a good boost to his ego and it is imperative that we provide him with an avenue to show what he's got. What we could do is to give him some sort of remediation or even tutorial sessions in order to help him with his grades. Stifling his creativity is not an option.

Let's admit it. We are fond of measuring success by how much money we can put into our pockets. If this is the sole gauge of success, do you remember the time when Jun Limpot was drafted to the PBA? He was offered millions of cash. And that was not because he knew algorithm or the laws of physics but because he was good at what he does.

And yet, through all these, I still say that the key to a successful career is not the monetary gain one gets but with the happiness one derives from it. I don't care anymore if my contemporaries in that college building are now successful doctors and dentists. All I know is that I am happy with my wife, my four kids, my old Lite Ace that can only be best described by sayint that it is something that runs on four wheels, my very own little house, my contented ego and my humble blogspace. And these are already a mouthful by my standards. :-)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Can someone tell me I'm wrong!

Just as I have blogged about being left behind in modernizing education through the use of technology because of power outtages, guess what I read in the papers today.

THE Philippines needs 400 billion pesos (7.18 billion dollars) over the next 10 years if it is to avoid recurring power shortages, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo warned Friday.

So, we are definitely not out of the woods yet when it comes to power shortage. We may not have had too many brownouts in years since 1993 when we would have 6-8 hours of brownouts but this only seems to be a lull before the storm.

However, is it really that bad? Or better yet, should it really be that bad?
With a Php100 billion deficit, the country's economy looks even dimmer. What makes me cry is that we are faced with this problem not for lack of resources but because of inefficiency and corruption. Hence, this is man made. Sad but we have to admit it, we are being governed by the most inept, power-starved, greediest bunch of people. If only the late Rev. Jim Jones were still alive, I would have suggested for all of us to just join him and drink that poison to save us from further shame and too much trouble.

In response to the situation, GMA has urged Congress to speed up a bill privatizing the Napocor. Passing the buck, eh? It is too bad already that the private sector had to shoulder education, a very important requisite to national development. Now, we also have to privatize basic commodities like water and electricity. What this means is that these commodities can skyrocket to high proportions because we know that government will still be inutile in controlling it, just like it is doing with the oil price increase. Besides, with that kind of debt, what Philippine company would have the ability to purchase and run the operations of Napocor smoothly? I'm seeing the possibility of another multi-national corporation taking the helm. What this means is that just like Citra, Malaysian firm, running the South Luzon Expressway increasing the cost of using the highway from a measly Php2.25 to its present rate of a whopping Php 42.50 from C5 to Alabang in only three years. And traffic is still there! Prices of power skyrocketing high? No, double that.

Now, can someone please tell me I'm really way off here and make my day happier?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Welcome sunrise!

Batjay emailed me and Sassy, who likewise blogged about it, about Secondary 1 students at Crescent Girls' School using PC's in lieu of pens, textbooks and paper. Being a pilot class, these girls will be among the first students to use this high tech PCs, which come loaded with digital textbooks, multimedia learning tools and note-taking software. You can read about it here.

Whether we like it or not, computers are here to stay. This will naturally bring a big change in how education will be in the next decades to come. For one thing, we may be seeing the final stages of the traditional classroom where students ranging from a minimum of 10 students to as big as 70 per class come to learn all at the same time. At this very moment, actual universities are going online and offering virtual schooling for college and post-graduate courses. I alone, am a member of one where I try to learn how to write poetry.

What will be the implications of having a virtual university as against the traditional schools? One of the main arguments against this scenario is that students will lose the chance to socialize with their peers. In one of his latest entries, Doc Emer in his blog entitled, Do you think Dr. Emer has "Poor social skills? presents us with a study of children without siblings as lacking in social skills. While commenters agreed that this may not be so since these children may have grown up with friends of their own age, a virtual school will deprive them of the needed interaction with their peers. And because one has no need to go to school, what this means is that there will be no more games to play with one another during recess and PE. No story telling during breaks, no need to look decent and be careful with social manners.

Another argument is that there will be no instantaneous interaction between student and teacher. True, they can use cameras, but this may be very impersonal. Hence, gestures, hand signals and body movements which betray ones true feelings and sentiments may be hidden from view.

Lastly, the syllabi, methodology, testing and evaluation will have to be altered to adapt to the change. For one thing, we must be wary of safeguarding that students are the ones doing the work and not anyone else. Tests will be more open-ended and memorization will be minimized as the student can easily pick up the book and check sources. Hence, studying will be more on the analytical rather than merely identifying by rote and mnemonics.

Now, let's talk about advantages. If and when this virtual schools happen, students, as well as teachers, will not have to leave their houses anymore. All they have to do is turn on the computer and read the lesson. Ergo, no traffic to contend with, lesser kidnappings if not nil, no need to declare a no class day during typhoons, etc. Furthermore, it will be a lot cheaper to maintain a school in the long run, as we no longer need classrooms with blackboards and everything that comes with the traditional package.

Again, at the rate we're going, this phenomenon may not be far from coming. When this day comes, I wonder if we can pick it up easily. I guess not when we have not gotten rid of our fear of long brownouts happening again like it did before. Not when most of the populace is reluctant about change and refusing to leave our comfort zones. Not when our students are not mature enough to be left alone and study by themselves.
We must be ready for we are about to see the sunrise of tomorrow. Wag na tayong magpa-iwan kung saka-sakali.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Medium of instruction revisited

In his column Separate Opinion at the Philippine Daily Inquirer today, Isagani A. Cruz touches once again the issue of the medium of instruction. He observes the sudden decline of the english language since the inception of the bilingual policy of the DepEd which started either during the late 70's or early 80's. I vaguely remember because I didn't care then. He stated that the public schools have seen to the quiet murder of the English language in the Philippines. Maybe this is inaccurate. I wonder if anyone has done a study on the effects of the change of the medium of instruction in private schools. What I know is that I've read some years back that Law schools have been complaining about the decline in the quality of their students in speaking and writing the english language, a language that is a vital tool in the practice of the professsion.

Cruz started his article with when english was the medium of instruction in our schools, practically every Filipino, including those in the barrios, understood and spoke the language Although he did not deny that ...Some of them used what was then carabao English Talking about murdering the language, I had a work ed teacher in elementary whose pronunciation we fondly imitated. "For exampel, the pineppel is on the tebwel." I am not divulging what region he comes from, though. I guess he would be very old by now, if he hasn't died yet. Anyway, I wonder who murdered the english language more. Them then, or us now? Or is it a matter of meaning? I guess it will all depend on what murdering the language actually mean.

I have not really formed an opinion on what the medium of instruction should be. I have heard a lot of debates on the issue and true to my nature, I see each and every point, I jsut couldn't make up my mind. Maybe writing about it would give me ample time to review the pros and cons. If you have other points for me to consider, I shall welcome them with open arms.

The greatest proponents of using the lingua franca (whatever that is as Visayans will deny that it is Tagalog or the new Filipino for that matter) as the medium of instruction, are the nationalists. They claim inter alia that the language is not ours, and on the contrary, is that of our oppressors. I had a friend who went as far as claiming that the language is a form of bondage and that our mastery of the language only serves us to be better yayas and servants in other countries where english is widely spoken. I shall not dignify that with further scrutiny. Also, it is stated that together with our fondness for the english language comes our penchant for everything American. Care to dispute that?

On the other hand, we hear proponents of english as saying that it would not be practical to change the medium of instruction as it would mean changing our books and inventing new terminologies, etc. That we have an advantage over other nations in terms of providing manpower in other countries because of our mastery of the english language.

There are more but I think the issue have been debated upon time and again that you are all familiar with them by now. So, what do I think about all these?
I wonder what would have become of the Philippines if we were not colonized. There would have been no Jose Rizal to write the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo? No Franz Arcellana or Nick Joaquin? But that would be lame. No matter what language they would have been taught with, they would have written just as eloquently, in my opinion. We would have not accessed more books? But what about Japan, Malaysia and other asian countries? They did not use english books, did they? What about European countries like Germany? They never used English references and yet, they are much better off than we are.

And yet, I think to change the medium of instruction at this time would be too late. We see our Asian neighbors trying to learn english with much interest. Why, because no matter what we say, America is still a force to contend with and their language is widely spoken in most countries than any other. As the world is getting smaller everyday by globalization, we are entering a new age. An age of information, as foreseen by Alvin Toffler, that guru of world trends who wrote Future Shock and the Third Wave. If this is true, as it is, language will play a major part in world trade and right now, english is common ground. While I don't deny the fact that we should change our medium of instruction, I say we should have done that several decades ago. Perhaps just right after we gained independence in 1946. If my assessment is right, then, there is still hope for the Filipino because we once wrote and spoke english well.

And as an afterthought, with the proliferation of the Chinese in different countries and controlling trade everywhere they are, do you think we ought to learn Mandarin, as well? So, Mandarin anyone?