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.


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