Wednesday, December 04, 2013

For Mama on Your 70th Birthday

My dear Mama,

As you read this, I am still about 1, 700 miles away from you. But, I know that you’re thinking of me since I am your favorite (As stated by M.A. when she asked you :D). I am not there which is a bit painful since tomorrow is your big day, your 70th.

I just want to say what every child must say to his/ her mother. Thank, you. Thank you for a very simple reason that I owe you who I am today. Perhaps, I did not grow up in a perfect family or raised by a perfect mother. But, the fact is, nobody did. I know that with all your difficulties in raising 11 children (8 girls and 3 boys), you have given your best. There was a time that I forgot what you did for all of us because I just simply wanted to fly out of the cage that our home represents. But, God brought me closer to you when I got so sick. I was given another opportunity to know more the mother who lost countless nights of sleeping just to be able to provide everything that we needed.

One fond memory I could remember is our travel together going to Legazpi for my scholarship. You told me then, be somebody so nobody would step on you. Probably, that is why you worked so hard for our education. Remember how when you were gone for several days because of work, you arrived that night discovering that we had our NSAT the next day. Immediately, you gave us money to buy things that we needed and snacks during the test. That somehow inspired me and could probably be the reason why I became the top of the test. Yes, you used to nag us too much but don’t worry, I understand now what are those for. They made me who am I today and probably who will I be in the future. 

There are many more reasons why I must be thankful for having you as our mother. You see, despite of all the intricacies raising so many children entail, not one of us was given away. Yes, you had your shortcomings but we had too you know, as your children. What matters most is that you tried your best. You did not give up on us. Whenever one of us fails, you remain steadfast on your resolve to understand and just simply forgive.

Yes, makulit ka. Minsan masungit. Most of the times you talk too much. But, you are our mother and we owe you all our accomplishments. You cry so easily which sometimes irk us, but, it also shows your compassion. I know you miss already being tickled by me, just wait and 10 days more you’ll experience it again (with vengeance :D).

On your 70th birthday, I want to wish you a longer life. We will lose the light if you leave us so be mindful of your diet. With all your imperfections, there will never be another mother like you who raised eleven children without giving up in all the difficulties. Thank you, Ma for my life and I will be forever indebted to you.

Happy birthday, Ma. I miss you and I love you. See you in ten days. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Written by my youngest sister from one of our sisters. :)


I rummaged to an old stack of documents and letters earlier and I found one I considered to be my most prized possession.

A letter from one of my most fave sister, I was in a convent when she sent me the letter dated Oct.6, 2001. She was working in Malaysia.

The first part says;

"Dearest Candy,

I've been wanting to write you for a long time. For you alone. How are you? The truth is I don't know a damn thing about you. If truth be known, I can't really understand you. It's like you're from another world, different from mine. I regret that I never bother to reach out and seek your world. Maybe, if I was a better sister I could prevent what happened but being selfish and cold I let you down..."

At the mid part of the letter she told me that 'Eternity' by Robbie Williams was playing and she dedicates it to me.

The song goes like this:

by Robbie Williams

Close your eyes so you don't fear them
They don't need to see you cry
I can't promise I will heal you
But if you want to I will try
I'll sing this somber serenade
The past is done
We've been betrayed
It's true
Someone said the truth will out
I believe without a doubt in you..."

She asked me to try to understand the lyrics, I obeyed her after 12 years.

Only now I realized that the letter she sent me helped a lot more than anyone can whenever I needed reassurance in life.

Some of us, like me, lived in our own little world. But what's important is that we are willing to share it to those who care enough to be part of that silly little world.

To my sister, you know who you are, remember the letter? It was appreciated and treasured.

Looking forward to seeing and spending time with you. So many things happened but one thing remains, we are connected by our own blood and that 'something' that only you and I can understand.

I love you :)


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Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Memoriam: Jesse M. Robredo (An Essay)

In commemoration of the first death anniversary of the late Sec. Jesse Robredo, I am posting this essay which my former student wrote with my assistance.

Jesse and Jose: The Tale of Slippers 

(Chryz Angelo Jonathan Bagsic) 

At a young age of fifteen, there are two important lessons, which I know would help me in my whole life of existence. What is ironic is that the two J’s whose lives were intertwined by slippers exemplified them. Jesse and Jose- their tale of slippers.

My mom, like the mother of Jose Rizal believes that parents must teach the first lessons in life. She planted in me the value of selfless sacrifice thru the inspiring story of young Pepe on the boat. Mom shared how the national hero, after losing one of his slippers, was said to have thrown his remaining slipper with the hope that somebody might find both slippers and be able to use it. Unknowingly, her story told with much ardor taught me that we could detach ourselves from useless material things. That seed of rectitude planted at the age of six would haunt me when I finally reached high school.

It was during my Journalism class in high school that the second important lesson was embedded in my heart. It was that of “Jesse”. My teacher who is a native of Naga City asked our help to gather votes for a man introduced to us as, Sec. Jesse M. Robredo, the then acting secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government. He was one of the finalists in the World Mayor Contest joining other leaders from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, Mexico, and other European countries. My teacher’s accolades about her former mayor somehow amused us. After all, in the world defined by materialism and power of the politics, who would believe that the mayor of a first class city would attend government functions in shorts and slippers and walked along the streets devoid of armed men to protect him?

Though my stubborn mind refused to accept the veracity of what she was saying, the tale of young Pepe on the boat reminded me of the secretary. In the deep recesses of my mind, I was hoping that my teacher’s story was true and it was not only told because of over loyalty to her native land. When my teacher added though that when she was still in Naga City, Sec. Jesse would be the last person to go home during typhoons and the first to go out of the house after the storms wreaked havoc to the city, doubts lingered. I was a young person whose idealism was trampled by endless controversies on corruption and dirty traditional politics. Unbeknownst to both of us, she was instilling in me through the secretary’s kind words and deeds the value of simplicity and honest service. 

I have finally forgotten my teacher’s story or so I thought when most of my times were eaten by academic demands and pressure of coping up with different extra- curricular activities. Until that one fateful day when the country was shaken by the news, which captivated not only the Philippines but also other countries as well.

Tears, wails, grief’s, and unfathomable pains embraced the Filipinos with the news about the plane that crashed in the vast ocean of the province of Masbate. The secretary’s fate turned into upheaval with his sudden death. Surprisingly, I was one of those strangers who cried with his death. Little by little, while the search and rescue teams were scouring the colossal waters and islands of Masbate, all the amazing deeds of the secretary were dramatically unfolded. I have never shed that much tears in my whole life.

I cried with the loss of his children and wife. Their pain might be agonizing, thinking of his love and devotion for them. I cried with the people of Naga City, whose loving hands transformed the sleeping city into a multi- awarded first class city. I cried for the country, losing him was like an end to the long fight against dark tunnel of corruption and thievery in the country. I cried for myself. I felt like I was robbed of a good future. Who would continue his fight for good governance? I was angry and filled with desolation. Then I was reminded of the stories of my teacher about the good mayor of Naga City. I cried more and wept for losing one good man from the government.

It was the shadow of misery that brought me back into contemplation of the story told by my mother. Young Pepe and his slippers. If Jose Rizal is alive today, he must have felt so proud to write about a man of integrity. Jose once exemplified that, “The example could encourage others who only fear to start.” Jesse undeniably set an example which is slowly encouraging people to start the quest for good governance.

Paradoxically, the more than century old Jose must have felt amused that just like him, Sec. Jesse received part of his education in other country but opted to come back to the Philippines to continue his service to his fellow Filipinos. The path trekked by Jose is the same path trodden by Jesse. Only slippers intertwined their lives but both hearts were embraced by ardent love and commitment for the country.

The country has been cloaked with dark colonial mentality, greed of power, and helplessness of the dirty hands that once fed the foreign invaders of the country. Despite of this, Jose Rizal fought for sovereignty while Jesse Robredo fought for good governance. The former said, “Filipinos don’t realize that victory is the child of struggle, that joy blossoms from suffering, and redemption is a product of sacrifice.” While the latter explicated, “The most important ingredient of leadership is character. Most of the proficiencies can be learned, but what’s inside you is something that is difficult to change.”

For many years, the country has been embraced with shadow of uncertainties. Probably, majority of the Filipinos has given up that change would eventually bring progress and hope to the country. With everyday news about wars, poverty, and countless plagues that haunt the country, Jose with his death showed that change could be achieved. While Jesse, fought a different battle to free the country from the shadow of doubt in administering the government.

More than one hundred years ago, Jose Rizal freed the country from the oppression of foreign hands. With his words, he bravely fought the Spaniards against their tyranny. This caused him his death but just like what he said, “One only dies once, and if one does not die well, a good opportunity is lost and will not present itself again.” On the other hand, Jesse Robredo continued to fight the same battle that Jose Rizal fought. Jesse’s fight however, was not against the enemies with foreign hands but with the people in power subjugating the ordinary citizens. He championed good governance and in doing so represented the poor and the oppressed. He “walked the talk” as elucidated by all his accomplishments.

Amidst the turmoil that brings confusion and wretchedness to the country today, Rizal clearly elucidated what he would have considered as the main obstacle to the country’s progress when he said, “He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.” Unless the country acknowledges the contributions of the past, we will never be able to move on toward the progress that we are all hoping for. Jesse however showed that he learned from the lesson of the past with the way he lived his life.

Two different lives. Two different eras. Two different persons. Each with unique achievements but very much alike with their wisdom, character, belief and aspirations for the country. Two lives whose experiences and legacies formed my values at a young age. 

In deeper retrospect, Jose and Jesse’s similarity did not end with the tale of slippers. Theirs were intertwined with the way people celebrated their lives and accomplishments and mourned their deaths. My life on the other hand has just started. The way I will live it would be defined if I can be a Jesse and Jose in my own way by letting the seeds of values planted in me grow into a beautiful tree of hope and sacrifice. Then, the shadow of doubt as to the country’s future would vanish completely. Perhaps the tale of slippers would one day continue. My slippers would one day find the light illuminating hope and love for our motherland. Then, I could follow the shadow of hope of Jesse and Jose.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

In totality: The Face of Fraud

"Parang nadudurog ang puso mo na, kaya bang gawin ito ng tao sa kapwa tao? Kaya ba talagang sikmurain na magagawa ang ganito kalaking kasiraan para sa bayan?”
-Cardinal Tagle

Apparently, the answer seems to be yes for Napoles, the woman behind the 10-billion pork barrel scam. I know everybody is innocent until proven guilty under due process of law. But, evidences and witnesses seem to affirm all the allegations against her.

Despite the fact that I’m far from the Philippines, news about this woman greets me everyday. At first, I just shrugged it off as another scam which seems to be so common in the country. Reading more and watching videos about her shed light on what is truly going on. Greediness at its worst for Napoles family. Ritz Carlton for a home? Wow. She had it really BIG.

What irked me most though was the verbatim transcript of a roundtable discussion between Inquirer editors, columnists and reporters, and Janet Lim- Napoles. There, she averred that most of their wealth came from their coal trading and housing business in Indonesia. However, she also said that she never visited Indonesia BECAUSE OF FEAR. Obviously, she didn’t know what she’s talking about.

The woman has the nerve to talk about fear when she did not even exhibit any fear at all while she was robbing the Philippines. For somebody who got most of her wealth (as she claims) in Indonesia for coal trade, it’s such a wonder why she is afraid of going here. Why will you invest in a place which you think is dangerous and something you must be afraid of?

Well, I’m fuming in rage for many reasons. While her family was swimming in the tub of money (LITERALLY), many of the nation’s poorest of the poor are suffering with scarcity of basic needs to have decent living.

With the rate things are going on, I can’t help but to think, does she know it’s definitely safer to be in Indonesia than to be associated with her? Somehow, I can’t stomach her face which speaks of nothing but FRAUD.

Disclaimer: I do not own this photo of Janet Napoles. Credit to ANC Yahoo News.  

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When Goodbye is Forever (Letter for My Dead Brother)

August 15 is yet another day to commemorate the seventh month of your passing. I thought that the months would teach me how to just simply let go. But sometimes, my thoughts drift to the time we could have seen you still alive instead we were greeted with the sight of you lifeless covered in a sheet. The pain is still raw especially at times that I am alone in my room, miles away from home, and nobody to talk to.

I guess, I would always be plagued by my conscience for failing to see you during your last moments. I traveled for 14 hours just to bring Mama to you while you were still alive but we were late for about 30 minutes. Before leaving the Philippines, Mama would always ask me after your funeral, “Why did I not see him alive? He’s been in the hospital for several days.” The answer is quite painful but I tried to amend in ways that I know you’ll be proud of.

Try as I might, the memories of what happened in the past continue to haunt me. Sunday when I woke up around 3:00 a.m. to prepare for our trip in another competition when I read the post of my eldest sister, Nene. It was the news about one of my brothers being brought to the hospital. Immediately, I tried to call her but the call was not able to go through. I then tried around 5 a.m. when I was already in school waiting for our departure on the way to the contest venue. I was surprised to learn that the brother she was referring to was Nestor, I always refer to him as the high and mighty. Not only because of his physical built but also his perceptions about things which seemed to be always inarguable. What he said was final and irrevocable and indisputable so it seemed.

Around noon time, his condition continued to deteriorate according to my sister. I tried to make arrangements for my coming home knowing that my mother would not be able to make the long travel without me. By Sunday night, my sister told me it was inoperable and Nestor was unconscious. His condition then worsened and the news was the same, he wouldn’t be able to make it. By Monday night, I received more calls from my siblings urging me to go home so Mama could travel from Batangas to Bicol. My brother then, was already brain dead.

By Tuesday, I was awakened by a very loud bang of a door in the classroom where we were staying coupled with the howling of dogs. I left the school 5:15 a.m. to endure the long travel from Nasugbu to Rosario and Rosario to Bicol. It was 11:30 when I arrived in Rosario and immediately packed the things of my mother telling her we’re going for a vacation in Bicol. She was too happy with the news to even bother asking why I was back a day earlier from a contest. On that day, my eldest sister was calling me nonstop. Hurry. It would not be that long anymore.

Same thing happened in the car. She was calling me nonstop and during the travel, we didn’t even think of having stop- over. I whispered many times to the driver to make it fast and thankfully, my mother did not even notice. Around 20-30 minutes before arriving in Naga City, my eldest sister called me again to go directly in her house instead of the hospital. Thinking that she was just probably wanted to have Mama rest first, I heeded but opted to just stop first in Jollibee nearest to her home for dinner. It was beside the hospital.

While waiting for our order, the children of my brother, Nestor arrived also. They immediately cried and my mother looked puzzled but again she did not ask anything. I needed to make eye signals to them to make sure that nobody would say anything about the condition of my brother since my mother didn’t know yet.

I called my sister and told her to meet me outside of Jollibee. Within minutes, she went out of the hospital. She then told me that my brother was already dead and that he would be brought out of the hospital. I was in shocked but couldn’t cry since Mama who was inside the Jollibee would notice. The inexplicable raw pain same with the one brought by my father’s death engulfed me. My youngest sister joined us but again we control our emotions for fear that Mama may not take it well with her frail condition. My eldest sister told us that arrangements were just being made and my brother will be brought back in our hometown.

I told her I wanted to see him first then we all ran in the hospital. Everything was happening outside Jollibee with our emotions concealed only by the car. As we neared the door of my brother’s room, everything crumbled and I finally let go of my emotions. It was a very painful feeling knowing we could have seen him alive if we only arrived 20-30 minutes earlier. I remember the blinding pain and when I remembered the last time we saw each other, when he gave me a pat in the shoulder and told me, they’re leaving already, I never thought that it would be the last time I would see him alive. What’s more painful? It was knowing that my mother was just in the next building oblivious to the fact that her son has just died. There were many what ifs. But, I know despite of my grieving heart, that God has reasons for everything.

Death is part of life. However, the circumstances that embraced it are what bring more pain. My brother was not a saint. We fought and argued a lot just like what he loved doing with my other siblings. But, deep inside him, I knew how much he cared for us. When I was so ill six years ago, he gave me a call and told me to ask for another opinion in Manila. More than the financial support, he made sure that he monitored also my health progress.

It’s been seven months. The brother who probably never got sick, never complained about any pain, and acted as if he's the king of arguments, and told me so smugly back in first year high school that I would only win in the Regional Chess competition if I defeated him first, and the one who's constantly annoying his sisters about boyfriends and husbands, was really gone. The pain was the same yet there was also that dawn of understanding. Had it not been with his death, where am I now and what am I doing may be totally different. I knew that with his demise, we just gained an additional angel in heaven. It pained when you knew that goodbye you utter was already forever but God has ALWAYS reasons for everything.

Tor, you rest now. We miss you and Papa. Thank you for everything…words I failed to tell you before you passed away. 

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Proficiency in Communication through Campus Journalism (The book I have written)

Life is a myriad of experiences put together through spheres of learning. Each day is an opportunity of exploring limitless pathways of unearthing new discoveries. We ponder on things unknown to us then wonder more as we find answers to our questions. Learning is a never-ending travesty of innovations…and communicating our thoughts, principles and realizations.

Communication has evolved through the years. The advent of technology has also contributed with its changes. Whence forth, this book is created which purports primarily to provide a more perceptive way of harnessing once proficiency in communication through campus journalism.

The role of campus journalism when it comes to communication is undeniable. As explicated in its legal basis, The Campus Journalism Act of 1991, it provides a venue for a free expression which in some way helps the students to become more adept with the language.

With this book, more meaningful activities are provided to enhance students’ proficiency in communication. Their grammar proficiency, vocabulary adeptness, and skills in sentence structure, writing mechanics, and paragraph development are given focus through the use of campus journalism program. Hence, learning is more effective since the technical way of teaching journalism is made more interesting with creative activities that would propel students’ proficiency in communication into distinct improvement.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Architect of Hope (Oratorical Piece)

(One of the oratorical pieces I wrote back in the Philippines for the LPU Inter- High School Competition.)

Architect of Hope

Third world country. Most corrupt government in the world. These seemingly nexus of loaded negativity hurdled the advancement of economy of the Philippines. The ubiquitous presence of bad omen was thrown like vultures in the society that destroys the image of our country in the whole world.

The furtherance of the quality of education has always been the thrust of any educational institution especially that of higher portals of learning. After all, what defines a society is the eminence of instruction which consequently could define what kind of future the country would have. LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY. It Leads. It Transforms. It Defines the Future of Education.

Though our country has been under the havoc of various regimes, and never found stability with a range of aspects of its political resilience, one University has not lost its eye on achieving its goal. Lyceum of the Philippines University aims- society heeds the call. Be recognized internationally not with the cynicism that history of corruption and despondency stained our country’s name but with excellence the University has lived for.

The university indeed cultivates excellence. LPU thrives high in the field of global distinction- with its wide range of scope of experience in transforming the students into globally competitive individuals no matter how diversified cultures are. The university is the link that waves magic to make the image of country’s graduates a hallmark of excellence.

With the University’s collaborate efforts in sustaining quality in other parts of the orb; graduates are being assured of a brighter future in the global arena. We are no longer the “domestic helpers” being defined in a dictionary. We would be inventors of the correct praxis that would stir our beloved country into a more decent future.

Being the source of future professionals of the globe, LPU has leaped out of the corners of our country opening wide array of opportunities to every Juan dela Cruz longing for change. Lyceum University of the Philippines encapsulates the very essence of sustaining the networks and linkages through its various acts of international activities.

Hail to LPU, architect of hope.  

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Are you a ‘Philippine’?

Amusement was written all over my face when I first heard this question in Jakarta airport. For fear of being asked more questions though which might lead to deportation, I just opted to merely nod my head in agreement. The next time I was asked this question was in an international Christian school where I would be spending two years of my life as a teacher. I then launched into lengthy discussion what the people in the Philippines are called. I explained that the country where I came from is called as Philippines but the people are called as Filipinos.

Soon enough though, I got tired explaining. Indonesians simply refer Filipinos as ‘Philippine’. Who started it? I have no vaguest idea.

However, what the ‘Philippine’ means to this country was slowly unfolded for almost four months of my stay here. I was in Carrefour with a friend one time and I was inquiring about modem when I was asked again that famous question, ‘Are you a Philippine?’ Of course, I just smiled and said yes. One of them scurried off looking for somebody who can talk to me in English. Something was very evident- respect and admiration.

The warmth hospitality of Indonesians whenever they ask me if I am a Philippine did not end in the airport, groceries, or in the school where I am teaching.

It was during the end of the year holiday last June that I was able to completely grasp what the word Philippine means for them. Being left alone in the huge house was not in my vocabulary so I endured the travel almost everyday just to stay with my friends in Citra Garden and City Resort. I traveled by taxi and though I have this habit of pretending to sleep as soon as I give the address for fear of being asked so many questions, the effort was futile. Taxi drivers in Indonesia have this warm personality that they seem to know that I am, a Philippine. As soon as I nod my head, the smile is instant, the respect is written all over their faces.

One taxi driver who knows how to speak little English told me, ‘Philippine’ teachers are very good. They speak English so clearly and all those who come from the Philippines are teachers.

The conversation with that driver was only the beginning of many other encounters affirming his statement. It’s overwhelming how highly respected the Filipinos are in this country. In my four months of stay here, I noticed that Filipinos have two kinds of jobs here- either teachers or administrators. It is no wonder then that Filipinos are receiving this kind of deference from this country.

When I traveled to Singapore twice for processing of my papers, I did miss that instantaneous smile and admiration whenever I affirm that I am indeed a Philippine.

The high regard for Filipinos is highly evident in this country. If it were not for the warmth hospitality of the Indonesians, I would have found it impossibly difficult to adjust in a country where most people don’t speak English. But, their always ready smile helped me a lot with my adjustment here. The kindness emanates from school to roads, and odd places where you would never expect to find good people. Surprisingly, I am in a foreign country but I feel safer traveling even late at night knowing how much respect we are getting here.

I have only spent four months here, but the love and kindness of the Indonesians has rubbed off this wave of inspiration in me to spread the richness of their culture, the kindness of their heart, and the simplicity of their lives.

Now, I no longer feel amused whenever I receive that kind of question. Early today, after spending days in a friend's house and on my way back to my own place, the taxi driver told me, "Oh, Philippine. Very good ya." I just smiled kindly at him. I know Philippine connotes something which I must be so proud of- respect. 

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crossroads of Destiny (My Student's Essay about Me)

I promised myself that once I return to blogging, I would do it regularly. However, this day was such a busy day so I never had time to write a new blog entry. While cleaning up my files, I found this feature written by my former 3rd year high school student, Chryz Angelo Jonathan Bagsic, currently a college of medicine student at the University of the Philippines. His words are truly gems of wisdom so I decided to post it here...

Again, thank you Chryz for this.

Crossroads of Destiny

Chryz Angelo Jonathan Bagsic 

Students happily chatting and rushing. Bells ringing. Everything brand new: pencils, books, bags, pens and others. Everyone was seemingly nervous while introducing themselves. What day is it? It is the first day of class.

The same scenario occurred on that unforgettable day when I was in grade six. I was surrounded by a crowd of happy faces, but that did not bother me at all. What bothered me most was my dark complexion, with a dry and flaky skin; obviously, a result of the sun’s scorching rays. In other words, I was sunburnt.

I was busily chatting with my friends when an astounding lady in black entered. She was wearing a black coat and black slacks. I half- expected her to wear black glasses, as part of her motif. She looked so professional and high- esteemed. The way she entered our room froze the noisy class, and automatically made us greeted her with a smile on our faces… an angel who manifested in her human form.

She introduced herself as Niña A. Buena from Naga City. She was our new adviser. She was beautiful, though I felt like she imposed an unreasonable strictness. She told stories about herself, her former students, and her life and experiences in Naga, along with all her talents and abilities, much like a walking curriculum vitae. At first, I felt like she was boasting but soon, I learned that all things she said would be helpful someday.

That year marked the blossoming of a happy year. We had a really pleasant experience with each other. However, she may be extremely temperamental at times, often leading to her saying the class- renowned words of hers, “Ignatius! My God!” Despite her usual indignation and anger at St. Ignatius, my section, we eventually learned to love her as our second mother.

Her loving nature easily encapsulates our worrying and afraid heart, and so, we felt very comfortable. She is very caring, and to some extent, let me use the word “vigilant”, for our safety. She motivates us most of the time, by using various quotes from blockbuster movies like, “There are no accidents in life.” from Kung Fu Panda; and “With great power comes great responsibility.” from Spiderman. She is really amazing, for she is able to enchant our last year in the lower grades with a special spark which made us eager to learn more.

“There are no accidents in life.” That’s what she always says. She is a true perfectionist, and she taught me a great thing” never to use “etc.” for it means “end of thinking capacity.”

Well, till I reached second year high school, Teacher Niña was my teacher, and she really touched my life. She is one splendid teacher, overly dedicated to nurture the abilities and talents of her students. The way she entered my life was sudden, but she instantly touched it with flocks of motivation and quotations. Truly, the deep friendship this eleemosynary woman created will never fade, and will be cherished through the years.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Faces of Poverty

Clad in dirty clothes, oversized shirts, and barefooted, they walked in groups or sometimes wander alone like lost children in a big city. Mothers carry their babies staring at you with begging eyes. Other times, you would hear them knocking at the car windows singing while entreating for alms. It was a sight so repulsive that looking at them is such a big sore in the eyes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against them nor do they look so gross because of their appearance. It is their situation which somehow fills me with incredulity as I think of what the government is doing to alleviate their quandaries in life. Though truth be told, no government can totally eradicate these impoverished people, I can’t help but to think also what can be done to at least ease their malady. 

The same thing is true in the Philippines where poverty can be seen in many people in the streets. The faces of destitution are too much to comprehend. Poverty is the greatest illness of the society. If it can’t be addressed, it is the very thing that would bring down the country.

Whenever I look at these unfortunate people in the streets and some major roads of Indonesia, I can’t help but to wonder how can one be a catalyst for change to combat this infirmity of the society. Perhaps, something may be started with a simple practice of sensitivity. Now, don’t ask me how to do it because it is something that must come from the heart.

Poverty comes in different forms. But, the worst kind is seen with the poverty in spirit. Something that we need to focus on if we want to address the different issues of these less fortunate people not only here in Indonesia but in other countries facing the same difficulty.

I wish that I can look at their faces one day no longer feeling the pity but hope.

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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Traverse in Diversity (First Time in Indonesia as an Expat)

More than a month after gazing at the city of lights from the window of the plane bound to bring me in Indonesia on that fateful night of April 22, I couldn’t help but to reminisce the indescribable feeling that enveloped me at that time. I remember wiping my tears when I thought of my Mother whom I have taken cared of for many years and I needed to leave in the Philippines. The uncertainties of what the country would bring me were too overwhelming to even think about. I am starting anew in a foreign country and the experience might be a bit heady but definitely exhilarating.

For one month, I was transported into the world of discovery as my eyes were awakened with different cultures and languages. I must admit that when I first laid eyes in Indonesia, I fell in love with the people. I remember asking the security guard the moment we finished in immigration how far is the place that I was supposed to stay in. He replied in Bahasa, a language so foreign to me and yet I could feel his kindness so whether I understood him or not didn’t really matter.

Taken in Makassar, one of the provinces of Indonesia. The trip was a treat from one of the parents of our students. 

The next experience was being enclosed in an elevator with people speaking in Bahasa, English and Chinese- the three languages that seem to be commonly spoken here.

The first ride in the taxi alone was very challenging also. The driver couldn’t understand English and we both resorted to silence after I gave him the address of the school where I needed to go. The next instructions were given using hand signals. However, challenging as it may, there was never a time that I met a taxi driver who was rude or disrespectful. 

That seemed to be the common trait of Indonesians as I vividly recall last May 1 when the driver of the school car braved the traffic and some flooded roads on the way to the apartment where I was staying. He drove in silence though tired since it was already late at night but never did he utter a complaint or frowned even when the car halted several times.

For one month now, I go to school dealing with people speaking different languages- Bahasa, English, Chinese, Thai, and of course, Filipino. The challenge that dealing with different languages pose seemed to be nothing compared with facing differences in cultures. Everyday, I need to remind myself that respect is the key to understanding. There are times that the acts may be somehow rude in the perspective of the Filipinos especially how I was raised, but I am learning to embrace everything as part of God’s magnificent plans for me. I learned not to harbor ill feelings since most of the times, the people I meet are kind and good-hearted people especially the Indonesians. It's overwhelming how much respect they have for Filipino teachers.

Everyday, I wake up with a thankful heart for being in this country. I met new friends, found new families, and my faith to God is further being deepened.

Being in an international school is both a blessing and a challenge. I take everything in stride and I appreciate more the blessings since I know that I would learn in the process. I am thankful that I don’t need to traverse alone in diversities of languages and cultures. I am blessed to be part of a community where I would not only grow intellectually but most especially spiritually.

Cliché as it may sound, the roads are truly long and arduous. But, I know, God’s graces would continue to be with me and make each day a blessing in diversity.

Being an expat in Indonesia has given me so many opportunities more than I could ever imagine.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blaming God Vs Faith

Dear God,

As futile as it may sound, I want to say sorry for constantly blaming you in everything bad that happened to me. It seems such a long time ago when I started doing it that I lost count of the instances I needed to blame you so as to feel better.

I vividly remember that first time I was crying feeling so despondent when I was about six years old because of being scolded by my brother. I blamed you then. At my age, I was thinking that ‘God’ could do everything so you must be responsible for my pain.

That time when my mother brought me to this rich relative and she was showing off high-tech appliances, I blamed you then. Why did you not make us richer so we could have things like what they enjoyed?

When my two sisters and I had chicken pox and I had the most severe case, I blamed you then. How could you see me suffering with all the blisters on my little body?

During one of the times that I was walking on the way to school, and my shoe opened up. I looked up and sighed blaming you again. Why couldn’t you give me enough to have a decent life?

When disappointments over family matters came in succession and I was feeling helpless to do anything about them, I blamed you then. I was old enough to understand things but not wise enough to acknowledge you had nothing to do with our problems since we were responsible for our own actions.

During one essay writing contest and I was praying so intently to win because of the prize and I failed, I blamed you then. How could you deny me of the very things I needed so badly?

When I had barely enough to finance my college education, I blamed you then. How could you repudiate something I was dreaming of since I was a kid?

On that cold night of December 19, 2002, when I got home from a grand Christmas party and I saw my father lifeless in his room covered with a blanket, I blamed you then. I was too angry. Why did you not even let me say my final goodbye to him?

With tears flooding my sheet in the hospital, I blamed you then. Why did you inflict me with a silent scourge that brought me the biggest and the most profound kind of pain ever imaginable physically and mentally?

Then, came one of the biggest blows. My brother died and again I was not able to say my goodbye. With bleeding heart, I blamed you then. Why did you take him 30 minutes before we arrived in the hospital?

More disappointments. More tears. More pains. More sufferings. More blame.

However, never was it known that you leave me whenever I lay the blame on your shoulders. Never that you made me feel that I needed to take the brunt of the blows of life alone. I failed to acknowledge everything that you have done for me because I was too busy blaming you.

I forgot that with all their flaws and imperfections, you have given me a family who have accepted me and supported me in everything. I forgot that without them, I wouldn’t have survived all the ordeals of my life.

I forgot also, that I lost counts of the times that you listened to my prayers to succeed in everything I do. After that essay writing contest wherein I failed, you have given me much more than I would pray for. Medals, trophies, certificates, rare recognitions, YOU gave them all to me. There was even a time that I thought, what? I won? Really? Is God playing favorite? Too many times that winning was impossible yet you made them happen. Because of Your unfailing love for me, you have built these stairways that would pave way for my dreams in life.

I was too busy blaming you that I failed to acknowledge the wisdom of everything. Life is much more colorful and beautiful because of all those intricacies I needed to go through.

I did not only finish college but also my Masters degree. Since graduation, you did not give me any difficulty at all in looking for a job. I had my first job like a dream-a director who was like a father, school officials who are good friends, and co-teachers who made me feel many times they were proud of my accomplishments. After three days of officially resigning, you have opened another door for me to rediscover myself in my second job. Then offer came right after I submitted my resignation letter in my second job. You are too busy making me feel blessed that I lost sight of what is truly essential. Being thankful in all my blessings in life.

But, with all the blames, I never lost faith in You. You have silently held my hands to assure me that you’re busy working for what is good for me. I didn’t get all the paradise of life. But, You did make me feel that I didn’t need to go through difficult times alone.

Dear God, life is a lot better because of You. Life in the future will definitely be more challenging. Probably more pains and disappointments. Maybe my expectations will be crushed to the ground with nothing but bitter regrets left in my heart. But, I know one thing will remain constant, You.

I’m sorry for all the blames. Now, I am ready to move on in another chapter of my life. Thank you for making me strong and never giving up on me.

Your ‘Not Anymore Lost Child’

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Who Am I?


It is a paradox that I have looked at myself in deeper perspective only now after more than three decades of existence and what is more ironic is because it is part of a course requirement. I guess, this is a fraction of who am I. The ‘I’ is often ignored because ever since I could remember ‘we’ and ‘they’ hold more responsibilities since they denote more number of people involved.

As a person, I hold true in my heart the most important thing in life, which is leaving a lasting impression of morality and sincerity. With the combination of these two virtues, I am bound to have a life well lived. I do not claim a saintly- life. As a human being, I know that I am fallible. No space can accommodate for details of the mistakes I have done in my life. However, I can claim that the two main ingredients of a contented life are deeply planted in my heart and clearly define who am I as a person.

Being a teacher for me is evidently elucidated in the speech of one of my top students. A teacher embodies the value of her untold influence. It does not merely mean teaching per se but bringing dawn of understanding in the minds and opening hearts for greater yearning to learn. Further, he explicated that through me, he learned the importance of initiative and generosity. That is exactly what a teacher must be. Generous in sharing everything she has even if it means getting drained in the process. The real essence of teaching is creating greater individuals. Probably, bigger than what a teacher is. I can claim with utmost certainty that my former students will be better in their chosen fields in the future. Some seeds last long and I am glad as a teacher to be one of those responsible in planting tiny seeds of knowledge and virtues. Their feats are affirmations of my essence as a teacher.


With the seemingly endless possibilities and changes being thrown to us in this age of technological evolution, I think it is no wonder why I sometimes feel lost in a shuffle. In a social context, I find it incomprehensible that a person may bully her way to fame using the aid of 21st century ways of communication and get away with it easily. Politically, I have this liberal way of thinking. I think that since the people who are in power were elected out of the will of the society, then we must believe with the government’s laws and actions. Though I don’t close the possibility of going to streets should the government abuse their power. 

My classroom is usually filled with openness when it comes to ideas. I believe that aside from providing conducive environment for learning, the teacher must also give the students opportunities to express themselves without inhibitions. Though I get so strict at times, I make sure it is within reasons.

I was practically raised as a Catholic. Coincidently, my first and current jobs are both in Catholic schools. Thus, the way of my teaching and belief is greatly influenced by Catholic beliefs.

Where am I then? At the heart of the dreams I have carefully woven for many years.


Ever since I started teaching, I have this very strong conviction to give only the best in this field. Thus, I purge myself to the point of exhaustion hoping nothing but giving what the students deserve whenever they go to school. I won’t claim perfection because clearly, flaws are part of who we are as normal human beings. But, what I lack in other aspects, I make it up with efforts and sincerity with whatever I do.

There is this dream however that seems to be elusive until now. That is, publishing my own book. Perhaps, with more training and more inspiration, I can finally finish the book that I am working on. If that becomes a reality, then all my efforts being a teacher would not be futile.

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Rhythm of Life

There is somehow a marvel with the cadence of life. When we were born, there was this wonder and celebration. Then when somebody dies, there is this grief and lamentation. During moments of triumphs, shouts of exhilaration. During times of disenchantments, cries of anguish and bitterness. The tempo goes on like a rhythm of an old song.  

The journey of life may be challenging, exhilarating, or simply frustrating. But, that's the beauty of it. Those are the flavors that make each day meaningful and unforgettable.

I remember as a child, I would sit on the windowsill trying to grasp why do people need to experience pains and sorrows. Why not just happiness? I found the answers several years ago. Pain then became my constant companion. But, at the end of the tunnel, I found the light of hope.

Now, I understand more why pain is part of life. Getting hurt makes you understand the reason for life. I understand why I needed to taste the bitterness of disappointments. That was for me to brace myself for anything that may happen in the future.

Year 2007 when I made a life changing decision. I think from that on, I learned everything that I needed to comprehend about life. I won’t be enumerating them since until now, I am still in the process of putting them into actions. But, my point is, the second life that I have become more meaningful because of that crossroads.

Though the moments of sorrows, disappointments, grief’s and regrets continue to hound me even after successfully weathering the odds, the strength and faith I have gained from that experience keep me as a survivor.

Now, I have just made another major decision. What makes this different from before? I am armed with the knowledge that whatever happens, I would survive in one piece. I know that deep in my heart, I have committed myself into service and purged myself into offering the best of me. I know that with the rhythm of life, something better and brighter is waiting for me in the future. After all, Victor Marie Hugo said, "hope is the only word written in the brows of every man". With that, I keep my fingers crossed. 


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