Gratitude

It takes effort to find things to be grateful for every day, but it keeps one grounded and appreciative of even the smallest things.

Gratitude list:

  • Grace Poe: I’m not sure I’m voting for her, but I’m grateful to her for the impressive character she’s showing. She’s tough and she comes to debates prepared. Despite her inexperience, she’s popular enough to hold influence over a significant number of people. Plus she hasn’t resorted to bullying during her campaign which is very impressive. The drawback? Her family’s American. Kind of problematic if the first family isn’t Filipino.
  • Galcris: Galvin and Cris are the wonder couple behind the community Every Teacher A Reader. I met them again at the FIT2016 conference and they shared plans of having another gathering of teachers at the beach. Provided that my schedule permits, I am completely on board with this plan. Books and beach? Perfect combination!
  • Gentlemen: they are a dying breed, so I’m grateful that my SO is part of that rarity.
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Brain vs. Heart (again)

Listening to more senior colleagues last Friday night talk about life, love, and work over a refreshing ginger-lime fizzy drink got me thinking about MY own life, love, and work.

And I still got zilch in the love department.

When I was younger I thought I’d be an old maid like my dad’s older sister. I like her. She doesn’t fall under the cool aunt stereotype, but she was cool in my books (ahem) because she ALWAYS gave me books (there you go) as presents. She’d give me an occasional piece of clothing, but she knew me well enough to know that I loved my Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley. I thought that if I’d end up an old maid then I’d be cool like her.

My dad recently asked me if I were the only one left in my circle of friends still single. (Fortunately) I wasn’t; there were two of us, and I told him so. He merely grunted in reply.

My mom on the other hand used to be relentless in asking for a granddaughter until I stopped showing her all my friends’ babies.

My colleagues keep teasing me about guys who supposedly have a crush on me, but they never say who. Makes me doubt if these guys DO exist because I haven’t heard from ANY of them.

AT ALL.

My brain says it’s okay, but my heart says I need a man (screw you, oppressive society expectations). My colleagues have backed up my heart and wiggle their eyebrows at me, saying I should go after so and so or some other so and so.

And I’m like…

Give me a book na lang.

E.M. Tippets

I am reading her (his?) book Someone Else’s Fairytale as a break from all the fantastic creatures of Pratchett’s world, and I have mixed feelings about this book. I’m not yet done–I’ve been reading  for three hours now, but I skipped whole chapters because… I can’t tell if I just can’t wait for the ending because I’m excited or it got too boring and I just want it over with.

Maybe it’s both.

And now on Google I find out that there are two more stories after this one.

WHY? I’m close to the end of this first book, and it seems like a pretty open-and-shut case/story/whatever to me.

Okay. Now I’m just disgruntled. I think I’ll go back to Pratchett again now.

My history with books

My mom is a reader–not a huge one, but she was the first one to encourage me to begin and continue reading. She and my dad got us this whole ten-volume collection of texts, but the only one I really loved was volume #3, which contained oh so many stories from fairy tales to absurd ones to classic shorts to legends to OH. MY. GOD. I just want to read them all again.

I had this, and I read this. 😀

 

Then my mom bought me my first pop culture novel: Sweet Valley. I forget, though, if it had been a Kids or Twins book. Either way, I got hooked. I borrowed every single one we had in the library, and I borrowed whatever I could from classmates–never mind that I was in no way close to them. I had books they wanted to borrow and vice versa. The books brought us together.

I remember during Intramurals (week-long sports activities) that fellow bookworms and I would sit along the hallways instead of cheering on batchmates as they went head to head with other levels because we preferred to read. I had an endless supply of Sweet Valley (Kids, Twins, High, University, Saga), Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Dreams, Love Stories and probably some less known other book series.

I also remember that when my mom gave me my first Nancy Drew book, we were on our way to Cebu. It was an overnight journey by ship, so I had my new book to keep me company. 🙂 Before that time, I had been reading only the Nancy Book stories from the library–the hard-bound classic ones–and then my mom got me my first “contemporary” Nancy Drew paperback. I was giddy beyond compare. On the way to the port I had already been sneaking peeks at the pages. I had to do it secretly because my mom wouldn’t let me read in the car because she said it would ruin my eyes (and she was right, huhu), but when we were on the ship and settled in, I had that book out quicker than Superman could catch a speeding bullet. I was done long before we had stepped off the ship the next day.

I don’t remember much anymore of the different book titles I read in my youth, only that they were mainly Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew books.

I started reading more serious stuff when I got to high school. I remember reading Austen’s Persuasion after I graduating from grade school (I think) and Pride and Prejudice a few years later. I didn’t understand them, to be honest, mainly because Austen’s prose was too much to handle for a pre-teen. I watched the movies when I got copies, and they helped me understand the stories when I read them again.

When it was time to apply for college, I was torn between taking up Psych or Literature or Japanese Studies–all these being my main interests at that point in my life. It was when my senior English teacher commended me on an essay that I decided to go for Lit. In hindsight, I realize that I only chose Lit because I loved to read. When it was time to read those tough but beautiful stories and critique and analyze them, I found myself way out of my league.

I persevered and survived. I discovered a love for children’s literature and young adult stories, but it didn’t mean I had turned my back on the more “serious” literature. Right now I have DFW’s Infinite Jest on my TBR pile. I’m 50 something pages in and I’m nowhere close to making a dent in this tome. Among the books on my TBR pile are Chocolat, Lolita, and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Um. Yeaaaah. The only reason I still haven’t cracked these books open is that I’m not sure I’m ready for the earth-shattering emotions I’m sure I would encounter. There’s something intimidating about emotions, isn’t there?

If there’s one thing about literature I love, it’s that it makes me think and imagine and FEEL, no matter how strong the emotion is. Literature is true, and it is powerful, and I love it.

 

Shakespeare and I

Been reading Shakespeare recently to prepare for class, and I realized that it wasn’t Shakespeare himself I hated but his characters.

Especially the ones in his tragedies.

Take Romeo and Juliet. Just absolute stupidity running through their heads which got them and people they care for dead. This is why I’m having so much trouble planning for class: I hate the text.

And then you realize how brilliant Shakespeare is because you still feel passionately about his work hundreds of years later.

Wrapping up the year with more movies

Persuasion (1995)

It’s Austen; come on. Of course I had to watch this again.

9 years they put their emotions on hold, and they thought they were done with each other. Fate, in the form of an extravagant minor royal of a father, brings the two back together in each other’s lives. Anne Elliot knows she still has feelings for him, but what of Wentworth? Has he gotten over her?

I always love watching this movie because it was in the little things that showed how both characters truly felt for each other: the nervous glance, the glare, the helping hand, the indifferent look, the angry message, the restrained and stiff stance, the dismissive meeting,

THE LETTER.

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It’s the polar opposite of Austen’s most iconic work, Pride and Prejudice, which was all about big and grand gestures. I find myself appreciating the nuances of the protagonists’ actions.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Local and formal balls and sweeping declarations of love (albeit faulty and prejudiced and biased) and loud family members and love, love, LOVE.

As far as romances go, this could be the ancestor of modern-day romantic-comedies. Miscommunication and misunderstandings and bruised egos. This could easily be turned into a comedy of errors, but because Austen has written this so well, it would seem sacrilege to turn this into anything but a beautiful romantic film.

Oh just thinking of that sunrise meeting once again makes me melt.

English Only, Please (2014)

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I’ve gotten glimpses of reviews that have declared this as THE romantic comedy for the A/B market here in the Philippines. I’d agree with them if I hadn’t seen That Thing Called Tadhana first, but that’s for a different post.

In any case, I agree with the suggestion that the romantic-comedy films in this country are substandard and unintelligent and cheesy. There is no wit in the storytelling nor beauty in the cinematography. Horrible wigs proliferate in the local romance films (comedy or drama, it’s the same horrible wigs)taking one’s attention away from the story and directing it to that mop of turd on the actors’ heads.

In THIS movie, though, there are no such distractions. You can focus on the story, on the characters, on the dialogue. You can focus on male lead Derek Ramsay as his character tries in vain to speak Filipino well even though in reality, he actually speaks the language fluently. You can focus on Kean Cipriano’s role as the asshole boyfriend and scream, “TANGINA MO!” at him in the cinema (yes, it really happened). You can focus on Jennylyn Mercado who really is just perfect for the role. She was feisty and intelligent but stupid when it came to love.

Which brings me to the writer, Antoinette Jadaone.

She has three films that I know of under her belt: Beauty in a Bottle, That Thing Called Tadhana, and English Only, Please.

All three movies seemed to revolve around how people become stupid in love.  It makes you wonder how long she can work this angle without getting formulaic (notice the text inserts/commentary in all three films).

Footnote: The cafe scenes were shot in Cool Beans Library Cafe along Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village, Quezon City.

A Christmas Wedding Date (2012)

This is a TV movie starring Marla Sokoloff whom I remember from Sugar and Spice and The Practice (TV). It was Christmas-themed, it was romance, so I watched it. It was meh as far as TV movies go, but it was still a pretty decent time-waster.

More on reading and literature

My friend Abner’s post on Lang Leav and literature had me thinking of two things: ideas to expose our students to beautiful poetry and wonderful literature, and my own literary backstory.

Pasabog/An Explosion of Literature

As I was reading aforementioned post, particularly the part about having a school environment that exposed and encouraged students to literature, ideas on what we could do to foster such love for the written word. We recently concluded our Literacy Month activities during which we turned classrooms into “living” books of popular authors (Bibliofy activity for high school); featured Bible stories and locally penned literature in the grade school bulletin boards; invited children’s book authors to give talks; invited parents to hold storytelling sessions to the kids; and come to school in costume (featuring literary characters!). The feedback from the students was resoundingly positive, and the students have given us more ideas and tips on what to do the following year.

Because of such a reception, I’m encouraged to continue promoting literacy and love for reading. Abner’s post made me imagine school filled with poetry from floor to ceiling. I saw “graffiti” on the walls and floor featuring lines from Shakespeare famous poems or plays, quotes from Austen’s or Nabokov’s or the Bronte sisters’ or Eliot’s works; I can see the canteen tables stenciled with lines from Dahl or Seuss or–let’s not forget local writers–Rizal or Joaquin. Grade school corridors would see paintings of local children’s book covers or characters from Darna or Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel or any of Rene O. Villanueva’s stories.

"Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel" Click to go to official website of publisher.

“Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel”
Click to go to official website of publisher.

Grade 3 students recreated "Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel" on their bulletin board using recycled materials for Literacy Month. Photo by Darrel Marco

Grade 3 students recreated “Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel” on their bulletin board using recycled materials for Literacy Month. Photo by Darrel Marco

(Ooooooh I could pee in my pants right now from this excitement!)

This is a HUGE undertaking that possibly requires a HUGE amount of funds, which, unfortunately, we don’t have, but I’m not about to give this up just yet. I can wait and come up with alternative literary appreciation activities. I’ve got a poetry reading activity and Shakespeare street theater lined up for approval this coming final academic quarter, and a dedication paper roses suggestion (dunno how this is gonna work yet, but I’m excited!) from a colleague that we can use to both raise funds for the different school organizations and a way to promote literature. And then Literacy Month, National Children’s Book Day, and Buwan ng Wika (Filipino Month) are all annual events that we celebrate, so there is no shortage of institutional literary appreciation activities.

I believe this now begs the question of how do we encourage or foster a love for reading INSIDE the classroom? Heaven knows it’s next to impossible to get EVERY single student to love reading in just one school year, but a teacher can and will always try. This is one goal of teaching that I feel I have not fully accomplished, for I still have students who skip required reading material and go for online summaries or ask classmates for details on what happened.

Can you imagine if reading were promoted on a grand scale?! We’d have readers and readers and more readers!

This brings me to my second thought: my personal literary backstory.

However, given the length of this blog post already, I think I’ll save that for another day. 🙂