Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

My wife is returning from a week long work with students at Baler, Quezon.  She left on Sunday, October 25 when I have just returned from a two day stint at Naga College Foundation with Robert Reyes. My wife and I have not seen each other from the time I left on October 23 until today when she arrives here in DLSU where I have been waiting since 2:30 pm.

It is good enough that I was with Henry when I got here at Taft. This made the library accessible to me as I don't think I could have stayed here waiting for my wife on my own. I don't have a library card and although I worked here, the people I know are no longer here.  Anyway, while waiting for my wife, I figured the best place for me is to tinker with the computer. I can go on for hours in front of this remarkable machine.

The long wait gave me time to ponder the eve of what we know as All Saints' Day and its transformation. I say transformation because how we celebrated November 1 is by far way different from how we do this today.  During my childhood, I have always wanted to become a Boy Scout thinking what a remarkable job they do at cemeteries doing their best to assist elders with the mayhem on what we celebrate as All Saints' Day (or is it All Souls' Day really? I am a bit confused!) All I know is that living beside the Tugatog cemetery, growing up jumping from tomb to tomb while flying a kite. On the last days of November, I would see my friends earning a few cash painting the tombs with white and marvel at Boy Scouts having to camp out at the cemetery so that they could help (I was of the impression that they look for lost children, send them to the station where the parents could pick them up).

I know that the celebration has had some sort of transformation already. How many, I don't know. I recall my sisters talking about a tradition where young men would go from house to house to what they call "mangaluluwa".  I don't know how this goes but if I recall correctly, these young men would go to a house, maybe sing or do something while one fellow would go to the "silong" to steal some eggs.  The source of fun will always go with the times, won't it?

In the nineties, when I was still a budding teacher at DLSZ, trying to learn the ropes, I noticed that the children has started going Trick or Treating!  For several years, this has been going on at Ayala Alabang until the nearby villages caught on.  Several years thereafter, the practice spread like wild fire and now, trick or treat has infected most of Metro Manila.  Ah yes, Bob Dylan's right when he sang "The Times they are a-changin'! And how fast they do!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Naga College Foundation

Tomorrow starts a new journey for me as a LASSO Supervisor.  My stint as a consultant in Academia De San Francisco Javier in Nasugbu Batangas is over.  The parochial schools in Batangas have formed some sort of a system just like, probably as I can imagine it, De La Salle System and part of the changes brought by the merger is the severance of ASFJ from the LASSO.  I have known about this when I attended the school's graduation.  It was too good to last.

This year, I have been assigned to a new post, the Naga College Foundation.  This school used to be under the care of Ms. Suzette Dahilan.  I am  to be introduced tomorrow and the documents shall be turned over to me. I leave for Bicol at 11:20 am. As if to draw first blood, I am due to give a talk on the Legal Responsibilities of Teachers on Saturday.  I have already made the necessary adjustments (thanks to my eldest daughter, Kraiganne) to my powerpoint presentation.  As first impressions are very lasting sometimes, I have to put my best foot forward. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A pearl as white as snow!

I am having mixed emotions right now.  I am both in ecstasy but at the same time sad.  First, the whole family has just got back from a three day respite at Pico de Loro to celebrate my wife's birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary.

First, living with the woman I love for thirty years n all these years, we have produced a loving family as we bred four angels who are now grown ups and have joined the work force.  They are now trying to find their own niches in a world full of drudgeries and sham but we are sure that they can weather any storm as we believe we have raised them well. 

What does it mean to be married for thirty years? It means a lot! It means that the children are all grown up by now and possibly having grandchildren running around the house by then.  Well, not in our case, at least for now.  The perfect gift for this time is a pearl.  After all, it is known as the pearl anniversary.  For many years, pearls have  been considered to be the most valuable.  It is an organic gem as it is derived from a living creature.  An irritant comes into an oyster or mollusk which then produces a "nacre" or what we call a "mother of pearl" that will produce either that black white smooth substance. 

I have tried to purchase a real pearl not knowing how costly they could be.  Needless to say that I was really disappointed that I could not buy my wife a simple luxury.  However, I didn't feel I have lost the battle just yet.  I found the next best thing. I could still buy my wife pearls which are not as expensive.   I found south sea pearls which I bought with Kim.  And so during the eve of my wife's birthday, the whole family had a fantastic dinner at the hotel where I gave her my gift.  She seems to be pleased with it.  And surprisingly enough, she also had something for me which turned out to be a Pierre Cardin wrist watch.   So you see, we can celebrate, too sans the fanfare of really expensive gifts.  What is important is that we are all together as one happy family. 

Talking about unity as a family, while my wife and I knew that we will not have our children by our side forever, I was still caught off guard when my second daughter announced that she will be leaving for Brazil to join her boyfriend.  While it will only be for three months at the most, I know that losing my children has started.  They are all grown up now and will soon leave the nest that my wife and I tried to build over the years.  One by one, they shall flap their tiny wings and fly. All I can do is watch and pray that they could fly the highest mountain or even conquer the heavens as they do. 

Just like a pearl symbolizes a tear from the moon, my gift to my wife are my tears for years past, the glory days and those times when I was at my weakest.  Where have all the years gone?  They are forever etched in my heart and in my mind as I recall the years when we were still struggling to build a family. We hope that we have taught them well and continue a legacy of simplicity, humility, perseverance coupled with hard work and patience with each other.  AS my daughter leaves tonight, I bid her goodbye and send her a kiss that shall be eternally hers until death. 


Friday, February 13, 2015

a village raising the child

            It is interesting that in a far-flung village in Africa there exists a philosophy that I think is filled with wisdom that I take to be entirely correct.   There is this saying in Nigeria: "It takes a whole village to raise a child!" For me, this is a sound belief that is as loud as the clanging of the huge bell of an ancient church announcing to the town that mass will start soon.  This belief could have been spawned by very observant elderlies of the village watching a pride of lions, composed of sisters, as they share in taking care of the young.  This system is seen especially when it is time to hunt.   The cubs shall be left to one female lion who is an aunt, while the others hunt for food.    So too is it true in the wild forests of America or in Europe where a pack of wolves live. For wolves, only the alpha male and the alpha female are allowed to mate; bear pups and those with lower ranks share in taking care of them.  What they would do is hunt, eat the food and regurgitate it to the young on their return.  This sharing responsibility of taking care of the young is also the reason why ant and bee colonies thrive around the world.  I have been thinking, if this is true anywhere, then this should be a universal truth, don’t you  think?

 There is a big problem brewing at Ayala Alabang Village where De La Salle Zobel school is located.  Traffic congestion has always been a perennial problem in any locality where there is a school.  I have been going to Greenhills every Thursday, once a month to attend a meeting and I know it is a commuters’ nightmare that from one to four in the afternoon, cars occupy at least two lanes waiting for students to be dismissed.  This chaotic problem where there are schools is true everywhere and Ayala Alabang is not immune to it. 

This traffic situation has never been a problem before but De La Salle, as one of the country’s leading schools in providing quality education, has grown dramatically both in its physical layout and enrolment size.   With La Salle’s stance of keeping up with global standards, more and more parents are investing their children’s education to the said school.    In return, De La Salle, in its effort to make its brand of education available to as many students as possible, could not close its doors to worthy students regardless of whether they are residents of the village or not.   The increase in enrolment is the root cause of the traffic situation, or so they say. 

It is easier to blame the traffic situation on the escalating number of passers-by.  It is always so easy to point a finger on a single culprit.  As a matter of fact, it is the most convenient.  However, on closer inspection, this may not necessarily be correct at all times.  While it is true that traffic congestion can be attributed to sheer volume alone, I believe there are other factors involved that contributed to the mayhem.   Before this nightmare, there were more roads available to the commuters.   There were streets such as Maria Cristina, Agno, Pantabangan, Ambuklao, etc. which could be used to get to Zobel.  However, these streets were closed one by one to commuters bound for Zobel which left only Madrigal and Acacia roads open to University Avenue as the only ingress and egress to the school.  Naturally, these roads will not be enough during rush hours which will be from 7:30 till 8:00 in the morning and 3:30 till 4:00 in the afternoon. 

With all this traffic turmoil, the Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) Board of Governors has only De La Salle Zobel to blame, not as the main source but the only “culprit” and hence made all it deems as necessary measures to only refer to the school albeit the fact that there are more schools  inside the village.  As such, the Board has made several demands “suggestions” to the school to help ease the traffic to which Zobel has willingly complied even if it had to spend millions of pesos.  I would like to spare you the details and make the long story short.  The Board claims that none of the solutions adapted by the school worked and as a final solution, will implement a color-coding scheme on vehicles coming to and from De La Salle Zobel.

                The color-scheme the AAVA Board wants to implement is, at the very least, impractical to downright ridiculous.  First of all, why implement the scheme when there are barely two months left in the school year? Granting in arguendo that it has been the plan since June as alleged by the Board, nevertheless, to have it implemented today will not serve any purpose but cause a lot of trouble and mayhem to our young students.  The residents, who the Board alleges to be complaining about the traffic, have already managed to bear with the discomfort for practically the whole year -  two more months would cost nothing more than what they have already suffered.    Secondly, the plan needs to be studied more.  In the proposed scheme, there will be cars which will be allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a total of three days; while on the other hand, the others will only be allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays!  That is totally unfair.   Why will there be students who are blessed with more days to come and study than the others?  On what basis shall a non-resident car owner be awarded a three day slot?  Who decides who will be given a sticker that will allow access to the roads of AAVA on those three  days?

              It  takes the entire village to raise a child.  There is wisdom in that adage.  A child may not be born completely in tabula rasa form but nevertheless, it grows into the kind of environment it lives in.  As such, every child is our responsibility.  We cannot complain about that drug dependent menace or that village thug that constantly disturb the peace.  They are that way because they lived in an antagonistic and uncaring society.  We cannot just blame their parents for raising them that way.  We let them down.  They are our responsibilities.  Should we deprive the little ones in our care of education and have them witness how terrible we treat one another? It takes an entire village to raise a child.  We are trying to raise our future leaders and raise them differently than how our present leaders have been brought up.  Should we let a minor discomfort that lasts for barely thirty minutes be the bane of our existence? Or should we consider our small sacrifice be our contribution to nation building?  To me, the choice is obvious. I hope it is with you, too.   










Tuesday, January 13, 2015

South Korea, the third time

The prospect of going to another country for the third time might seem less exciting.  Of course, the first jitters of travelling to a new country is no longer there. My first visit to the country was as  a tourist in June of 2008.  It was the second country we visited via the credit cooperative of DLSU.   The second time was as an emissary of the school and companion to then DLSZ President Br. Dennis Magbanua and then Cultural Arts Director, Ms. Lani Maderazo.  Having been to a place twice would seem like you've seen it all and that it has nothing new to offer anymore.  However this was not what I felt on my third trip to South Korea.  I still had the jitters for, believe it or not, it will set several milestones for me.

1.  This is the first time I am going to experience real winter.  In all my trips to Canada, (I have been there four times) it hhas always been spring time.  That is because vacation time in the Philippines falls on that lovely season.  I cannot complain. Spring for me is the best season the northern hemisphere has to offer.  My last visit was in 2012 when I was (lucky me) gifted by my niece, Rommella Moss, who is now a councilor in that little paradise known as Kaslo with yet another tour of BC but (even luckier me) only after I have made a trip to LA and San Francisco with that harrowing experience at the airport enroute to Canada.  In all these times, my chilling experience was only in the higher than 0 degrees temperature.  My   first winter and  experience below zero was in Beijing in 2010 with Nitz, my two daughters, Kuya Ben with his wif, Ate Lilia and their son, Jan, Gregor and Leslie.  The coldest was at minus 2 and it was only late November.  So there was no snow yet.

2.  This is the first time I will not be using a tour guide and commuting in an unknown city.  All throughout my travel, I have been pickedup from the airport and has been toured either by a friend who resides in the area and driving a car  or by an official tourist guide.  This time, we only have Kim's friend, Kaite and her boyfriend, Evgeny who is a Russian born Korean, who are both in the country on a study grant.   

This is the first time that instead of being picked up at the airport by a car, we are riding the train.  There are many airports where you can ride a train to the city.  There's Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and other cool destinations.  Not in Manila though.  Maybe  if and when we transfer the airport to, say, Clark.  But that would be a long time coming. 

3. Most of all, this is the first time we are traveling as a family.  While we have made trips abroad individually, and that I have traveled with my wife alone and with our two daughters, this is the first time that my sons are joining us on a tour.  This is really what made this trip special. Not every family has experienced traveling as one.  We have been blessed and we are taking this blessing and enjoy it while we can.  Soon, the children will have their own family and it will be just me and my wife, the same way when we started.  I am just happy that we were able to do this and hoping this is not going to be the  last time.