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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