2015 in review

My favorite teacher, Rica Bolipata-Santos, posted this writing assignment on her FB account:

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Ma’am Rica said that it wasn’t really important to follow the number but that we should “Write [our] year, in honor and in supplication.”

So I choose to write my year in months, with these highlights and disappointments and game changers and things I focused on and forgot remembered in the order they happened.

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Almost on break

I refer to the annual semestral break and not a personal one.

I sit at my desk with piles upon piles of papers surrounding me and I find it necessary now to just pause and sigh and write. All these students, eager to pass, eager to get a high grade, but neither understanding the text completely nor writing very well (“decent” is the best adjective I can give them) break my heart. I echo the perennial cry of teachers around the world, “WHERE HAVE I GONE WRONG?! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THESE KIDS?!”

And so I sit and listen to Beyoncé screech Love on Top and Mumford and Sons mumble and rage about white blank pages and love.

Ah, love.

I would like to believe that my heart has grown bigger, that I’ve learned to be more accepting of people no matter how disagreeable they may be to me. My dislike of certain people remains, but… I’m trying to be more… well. I’m just trying to be nicer and kinder.

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Be kind when you’re working.

Be kind when you’re on break (academic or personal).

Be kind to your family.

Be kind to your enemy.

Be kind to that poor person knocking on your car window, asking for some change.

Be kind all the time.

A to Z Challenge Reflection

First of all, I SURVIVED!

I barely did the first year I joined in 2013, and then in 2014 I only got halfway through (I think). This year, though, was easier for me for some reason. I was more flexible: not sticking strictly with whatever I had planned for that day (if I had any) and just going with whatever came to mind.

I want to try doing a theme next year. I tried doing that before, but I’ve always had difficulty with the more uncommon letters, so just thinking of a topic was a struggle. Perhaps if there was a way for bloggers to suggest topics for each letter in whatever category then participants wouldn’t get stuck (which might result in giving up).

Reading other people’s blogs was also easier when I discovered the reader function of WordPress. I just typed in the tag “a to z challenge” in the reader and it showed me all blog posts with that tag. The limitation, though, was that I was not able to read much blog posts from other platforms such as blogger or even livejournal.

So because I just came back from the first day of school work, and my brain is fried, this is all I have.

Thank you, organizers. 🙂

Tanggi at Tanggap

This blog post was written in Tagalog/Filipino. An English translation is provided at the bottom.

ADE fail

Oh well. Challenge accepted. 😀

TANGGI

Tinanggihan ang aking aplikasyon para sa pagsali sa eksklusibong grupo ng mga gurong gumagamit ng teknolohiyang Apple. Sa madaling salita, hindi ako nakapasok sa ADE (Apple Distinguished Educators).

Isang malaking karangalan at responsibilidad ang matawag na ADE, at pinangarap kong mapasama sa piling mga taong may ganoong titulo. Naisip ko na hindi maganda ang aplikasyon ko subalit umasa pa rin ako na makakapasok dahil ayon sa konteksto ng aking paaralan, malabo talaga na marami ang aking magawa gamit ang teknolohiya.

Una sa lahat, wala kaming koneksyon sa internet noong unang taon ng operasyon. Noong pangalawang taon, isang silid-aralan lang ay may koneksyon. Nitong nakaraang taon, kahit na may internet na kami, nag-aagawan naman kaming mga guro sa paggamit ng mga Macbook o iPad.

Naisip ko na dahil hinihingi naman nila ang aking kuwento, mabuti nang sabihin ko ang totoo na hirap ako sa paggamit ng teknolohiya pero naipakita ko naman na handa akong magtrabaho at maghanap ng oportunidad na gamitin ito.

Nalungkot ako ngayong umaga nang matanggap ko ang sulat na hindi ako nakapasa. Naiyak pa ako. Sinabihan ko agad ang aming punong-guro (ano ba Tagalog ng principal?) at tunay na napakabait niya dahil hindi naman siya nagalit. Naramdaman kong nalungkot siya (ano Tagalog ng disappointed?) kaya mas lalo akong nalungkot dahil hindi maganda ang balitang iniulat ko sa kanya.

TANGGAP

Mahirap tanggapin na may pagkukulang ka kahit na alam mo namang hindi ka naman perpektong tao. Sinisikap mong galingan pero sa bawat pagkabigo damang-dama mo ang iyong pagkukulang. Madaling magpakitang-tao–ang sabihin sa mundo gamit ang text at social media na tanggap mo ang pagtanggi sa iyo dahil may iba pa namang proyekto, pero sa kaibuturan ng iyong damdamin ay ang sakit ng pagkabigo. Sa totoo lang kahit ako ay nabababawan sa sarili dahil parang pinalaki ko ang isang maliit na bagay, pero kahit anong gawin ko ay hindi ko maalis ang sama ng loob ko. Wala naman akong sinisisi. Hindi naman ako galit sa kahit sinong tao. Sadyang hindi lang ako masaya ngayon.

Tanggap ko naman ang pagkatanggi sa akin. Naiintindihan ko kung bakit. Masakit lang ang paalala na hindi ako mas magaling sa iba o kahit man lang kasinggaling ng ibang tao… na hindi sapat ang ginawa ko.

Eh ano ngayon ang dapat gawin?

Edi kumain nang maraming masarap na pagkain para mawala ang lungkot. Ika nga sa Inggles: eat your feelings.

Pagkatapos ay itigil na ang pagmumukmok dahil wala namang nangyayari sa mga taong ‘yon lang ang ginawa sa buhay. Move on move on din ‘teh. Kailangan para sumaya.

——————–

English translation:

REJECT

My application to join an exclusive group of teachers who use Apple technology was rejected. In other words, I didn’t get accepted to ADE (Apple Distinguished Educators).

It is a huge honor and responsibility to be called an ADE, and I dreamed that I would be one of those select people with that title. I had thought that my application was not that good but still I hoped that I’d get in beause based on the context of my school, there really wasn’t a lot of opportunities to use technology.

In the first place, we didn’t have an internet connection in our first year of operations. In the second year, only one classroom had internet. This past school year, even though we already had internet, we teachers would “fight” over who’d get to use the Macbooks or iPads for our classes.

I had thought that since they were asking for my story, it would be good to tell the truth that I had great difficulty in using technology, but I showed that I was ready to work hard and look for opportunities to use tech.

I was saddened this morning when I received the email saying that I did not pass. I even cried. I immediately told our principal, and she really is amazing because she did not get mad at me. I did feel that she was a bit disappointed, which is why I got sadder knowing that I was not able to give her good news.

ACCEPT

It is difficult to accept that you lack something even though you are well aware that are not perfect. You try to do your best, but with every failure you feel that lack. It is easy to put on a brave face–to tell the world using texts and social media that you accept the rejection because there are other projects, but deep down you feel the pain of that rejection. The truth is, even I myself find this reaction shallow because it feels like I made a big deal out of something small, but no matter what I do I can’t erase this upset feeling. I mean, I don’t blame anybody. I’m not mad at anybody. I just am not happy right now.

I accept my failure. I understand why I was not accepted into the program. It just hurts–this reminder that I am not better than others or even as good as others… that what I did was not enough.

So what should I do now?

Well, I shall eat a lot of oh-so-scrumptious food to get rid of this sadness. As they say in English: eat your feelings.

After that I shall stop this moping because nothing good ever comes to those who just mope around forever. I have to move on. I need to in order to be happy.

——–

//edit.
I found pistachio ice cream. Life is good. 🙂

Soulmate

When I was in college, my favorite English teacher talked to us about the idea of the soulmate. At one point she got personal and said that her soulmate was her best friend. It awakened me to the idea that soulmates don’t have to be your spouse. They could be your best friend or your sibling or some other random person you met on the street but whom you shared a deep and profound connection with.

I don’t know.

On my first year of teaching, I was assigned to co-moderate the grade school publication. I was a fish out of water; school publications were NOT my territory even though I considered myself a pretty decent writer. In any case, students in that club looked up to me as an “expert” and showed me their works for review and approval.

One of them, upon hearing that I used to read fanfiction, asked me to beta his work. I was shocked. He was a sixth grader who showed me–his teacher–a lemon. Truth be told I couldn’t comment on the greener aspects of his literature, but he had the makings of a potentially great writer. I told him so, and he kept writing. Now he has two? three? works legitimately published online (NOT Wattpad). And by legitimately I mean that he gets paid for every copy he sells.

That same student has, since that moment in his sixth grade life when I didn’t shoot him down for writing a lemon, called me his soulmate. I’ve since taken to calling him the same. We call each other sulmeyt, basically a bastardized spelling of the word.

While we were sulmeyts because we connected through literature, I think it’s safe to say that we neither considered each other our soulmate. That distinction has yet to be made, but right now I’m beginning to think I may have found mine.

But what exactly is a soulmate? Aristophanes, in Plato’s Symposium (read or download from here), tells the famous story of how humans initially had four arms and four legs and two sets of genitalia, but after the gods split them up humans got busy with looking for their “other half” because this other half will complete them. However, people nowadays say that soulmates don’t necessarily complete you; instead, soulmates make you better. They complement you instead of completing you because you yourself already are a complete being.

Until now the concept of a soulmate is hazy for me, so why do I say I may have found mine?

I don’t know.

It’s just a thought that won’t go away right now.

Boredom

It’s Maundy Thursday in the Catholic world, and while my family observes the Lenten season, one cannot deny that this is the most boring times of the year. Your patience gets tested year after year.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have cable television, so we were stuck with the local channels, which unfortunately showed nothing but Lenten season specials starting Thursday all the way to Easter Sunday. It was all good because we learned to be creative with our time. I was too young then to participate in the actual activities for the Pasyon, so, if I’m not mistaken, that was when I had resorted to making up stories in my head. I had fanfiction in my head on the life of Christ. (What if Jesus and Mary Magdalene got married? What if I were part of the Super Book/Flying House crew and got to join in the adventures with Jesus?)

When I was old enough, I had to join the traditional dawn reenactment of the Salubong where Mary and Christ meet after the latter had risen from the dead. That was my first taste of waking up at 3am. After I got too old for that, I turned to books during this season. When I got even older, I had to go to Church as well. The rituals were pretty interesting, and I know that as a Catholic, I should be strictly following/observing these practices as well not only as a sign of respect and devotion but also as personal sacrifice. I can’t do it anymore. My reasons will remain private, but suffice it to say I’ve stopped attending the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday masses. While we do have cable television now, it’s sort of a personal sacrifice here at home not to watch TV during this season since we most of us already begged off from the activities. Today, our one consolation was one episode of the Korean reality show Roommate. After that, zilch.

I looked at my Instagram feed and saw friends and colleagues who were off on pilgrimages or vacations. In our family, going out was a no-no during the Lenten season, and this tradition carried over to my adult life. Invites of beach trips were turned down when they were scheduled during the Holy Week. What is my point? I forgot.

Oh yeah. Boredom.

Honestly, though, this is the kind of boring days I don’t mind. It’s a time to reflect and pray, and giving up your daily luxuries like TV or the internet (this one was very hard for me) is a small sacrifice to pay, in my opinion.

May you all have a blessed week. May you all be blessed every day of your lives whoever you are and whatever your belief is. 🙂

When songs ruin your night

You try to work, so you open Spotify and play your custom playlist.

The shuffle starts with a song easy on the ears. It’s one of your favorites (as well it should be because it’s custom nga eh), so you find yourself humming along and singing the chorus. The next song is another good one, and you sing in your head along to the artist. The third is another one you like, but you notice it mentioned fire again just like the two other songs before it. You pause and ask, “Coincidence? Or are the fates telling me something?”

And now all the songs that are playing are the hugot songs, the ones that scream at you to stop working and recall that awkward memory attached to the song. You press “skip” to avoid recalling. Up comes another song with another memory attached to it.

You skip to another song but decide you hate it and delete it from your playlist. You look at your other playlists and decide they’re all useless. You’re in no mood for Disney songs, nor for Broadway/musicals, nor for the head-banging rock playlists you have. You find yourself stuck in the hugot playlist.

So now you blog about it because what else is there to do?