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.

Manila International Book Fair 2015

Last September 16-20,2015 was the Manila International Book Fair held in the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia compound. Bibliophiles like me braved the horrendous Manila traffic just to pay homage to books, books, and more books!

I’m not sure exactly how many bookstores or publishing houses were there, but there were A LOT. The space was huge, but because of the number of booths and the hordes of people who came, things quickly got claustrophobic. Thankfully, Filipino bibliophiles are polite and respectful and no shoving or trampling over one another to get to a book was experienced.

I went two years ago to the book fair and got only about three or four books. I expected this year to be the same, but I came out with not five nor ten but 13! Two of those, in my defense, were for my sisters. The purchase of the rest I justified by saying I could use them all in class.

Here’s my haul:

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.

 

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. 🙂

A long weekend

My weekend was supposed to start early with errands and work, but I ended up sleeping and eating most of it away.

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My day started out with a visit from this cutie named Sab. I honestly have no idea who this kid’s parents are (my mom knows them and the grandparents), but I don’t really care. She’s such a sweetheart. 🙂

My friend dropped me off at Makati where I was to do my errands. I didn’t get to accomplish ANYTHING because of long lines and not enough time and a system failure.

First I looked for food. Then, I went in search of that elusive BBW Dancing Waters lotion. It’s kind of impossible to find, apparently. I gave up and then just proceeded to PowerBooks where I spent many a happy hour just browsing. I sat down on the carpet in one section and just piled book upon book on my lap trying to decide which one/s to get with my Php500 gift card. All the books I wanted were around Php700++, so I settled for my second choice books which were thankfully already in mass market paperback editions (HENCE CHEAPER). I settled on Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue (Php 469) and local literary legend Nick Joaquin’s Candido’s Apocalypse (Php195). The Sherlock story in the picture is for someone else.

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Books in front of me…

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…and books behind me…

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…and then there’s just me. 😀

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Book haul of the day. Little did I know that another one would join this merry band of books hours later.

Craving for a cup of coffee (not really), I headed for the nearest Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch that I knew of but was oddly surprised to discover that it wasn’t there. I took it as a sign to stop spending, so I decided to drop by the church that was in the middle of the busy shopping district for some peace  and quiet. I found a seat along the walkway just outside the church because it was already full inside. They were praying the rosary, but it was almost done, so I just sat there and observed the people. Families were posing in front of the carabao statues near the side entrance of the church. People were milling about, not even stopping to glance at the church or make the sign of the cross. Some were busy looking at their phones as they rushed to wherever it was they needed to get to.

I sat there quietly just taking it all in. There’s a certain peace to be had just by sitting and observing, more so in close proximity to a holy place.

A few minutes later, anticipated mass for the Feast of Christ the King began. It’s been a while since I’ve heard mass in that church. The priest is always different, so perspectives and homilies are always varied. Yesterday’s priest said nothing really new, in my opinion, but it was refreshing to hear a lively homily outside school masses.

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Decided to head to the small church in the midst of the bustling metropolis to say a quiet prayer of thanks.

When my friend Irish arrived and we finally left the church, we had time to kill before heading on over to our friend’s place where we were supposed to sleep over. It had been a while since we had our last sleepover, so we were all giddy as teenagers. Since there was time to spare, we decided to watch Big Hero 6, but unfortunately, seats were all sold out. We decided to fill our stomachs with something light to get us through the dinner wait..

Irish told me we were to pick something up for her sister somewhere before going to the sleepover. I did not suspect at all that we were actually going to have a staycation at a nearby hotel. I am a clueless and dense person.

You know the funny thing? When Irish told me where we were going, the first thing that came to mind was this guy I dated before. He had a thing there. So I wasn’t exactly looking forward to spending much time in that area.

Irish parked in the hotel basement, which seemed funny at first because I thought only guests parked there. Outsiders were to park elsewhere. BUT YOU KNOW. CLUELESS ME WAS CLUELESS.

We got into the elevator and when it stopped at the ground floor to let more people in, our friend’s husband was there, and he had SUCH a look of guilt on his face that I immediately knew that we weren’t there to pick anything up for Irish’s sister. Worse, he got off on the same floor we did and FOLLOWED US AROUND. Ding ding ding ding ding! Yup, the sleepover would be there. 😀

(Part of me hoped that Daniel Matsunaga would be there, but I figured that would be pushing my luck.)

In any case, we got to the room and when they opened, there were my friends and their babies with a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner and cake and food.

crappy phone photo, but it contains SO MUCH HAPPINESS :D

crappy phone photo, but it contains SO MUCH HAPPINESS 😀

Part 2 tomorrow. 😀