Sunday, 13 September 2015


Having your first time of something is like celebrating your debut; it happens only once in a lifetime and it has a very noteworthy mark.

As a teacher, it was overwhelming for me to see my students challenged and engaged in battles that would help them learn more.  All as first timers, Kester, Aiman, Khine, Nahara, and Kyla, made their way to Liceo de Cagayan University last September 11 and 12, 2015 for the I.D.E.A. 2015: An Invitational for Debate, Essay, and Art conducted by Rotary Club of CDO Premier. Wearing their school uniform, they faced their opponents with such wit and confidence and with no hesitation at all. Who would say they were first timers?

My three debaters, who all look handsome and smart, scored 1-0 (1 win and 1 loss) from two matches that they had as a Government and an Opposition team. With the motion "THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT THE CREATION OF A BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION WILL LEAD TO LASTING PEACE IN MINDANAO”, the trio prepared by researching and studying about BBL or the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Each of them gave time to have their speeches ready and made sure that they could defend their stand by asking teachers to question and rebut them. It wasn’t just a piece of cake. It was really, really hard, especially for students who are not really familiar with it. Yet, the motion has given them enough knowledge on what is going on in Mindanao. Furthermore, it has given them the chance to speak their opinions out and let their young voices be heard. Seeing them shaking, breathing deeply, elbowing each other during the event, and ‘fighting’, I could say that my students were indeed great! Unlike the other teams’ coaches, I wasn’t there to make speeches for them, to search everything for them, or to give them the responses that they should attack to their opponents. I was just there to listen, to check their verbal gestures, and to add what they know. They solely made it with their own keen perception, and that made me so proud above all.
Kyla, who loves to write, yet is very shy to share what she can, had surely written one of the best and sincere essays by a first timer. With the theme “Exploring the Relationship of Poverty, Progress, and Peace in Mindanao”, Kyla went out of the room after the event looking calm and with peaceful disposition. It was not an arduous topic for her, I guess.
Nahara, who was convinced

to go with me than to her badminton tournament, got her first time as well. Although she did many posters and paintings at school contest and often wins, editorial cartooning (as I see it) is not that easy for her. It requires much critical thinking and paradoxical ideas to attain a very comprehensive cartoon. With her preparation by reading what editorial cartooning is all about and by accepting the comments from her ‘personal’ mentor, Nahara did it like a pro, and she gave me excitement more than herself.
These first timers make me reminisce some of the first- time experiences I also had way back then. Press conferences, declamation, singing contests, quiz bowls, dance sports, name them and I would tell you how my first times were. My five fantastic first timers may have not been able to make it to the ranks. They could have done it better with longer preparation, or perhaps with a better mentor. Yet, I know, this is one of the things that they would be proud to share with their children in the future. As a teacher, I won’t stop believing that Kester, Aiman, Khine, Nahara and Kyla will still make it further because that is what a teacher must think. As a teacher, it is best to encourage them to try no matter what teams are there to counter them, no matter how experienced other contenders are. It may be called “forcing”, yet how bad will it be if forcing is caused by your conviction that they are born with such talents and abilities. It’s like asking an amputated spider to crawl and be at its web successfully. We have to tell them to move, to grow, to fight, and to aim high.

My five fantastic first timers, I believe, will soon have another first time. Yet, it’s not a first time of just ‘something’ at all. It will be a first time of outwitting and winning!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Valentine Letter to Self:How far are you now?

Dear teacher,

If you think something is not accordant to what you think must be practiced, you try to change it. If you think something is unbreakable yet you have to take out a bad piece of it, you try to break it. If you think someone is not stepping on the right path, you try to walk with him and lead him. However, if you think you have done enough and, still, nothing happened, you should stop.
What’s unaccordant, what can’t be taken out, and what can’t be led rightly are actually part of the culture—a culture is what Hoebel describes as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance (from That is, i
f the student doesn’t greet you as respect, it’s part of the culture. If the student doesn’t empty the bin without being told, it’s part of the culture. Thus, if the student hears but doesn’t listen, can it still be part of the culture?
When you are a very idealistic teacher who wanted to achieve a change in the classroom culture so much, you do everything with your magic wand to get that change so abruptly that not everybody may understand; because, again, a culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns. It is hard to change. When you realize that you have done it so harshly that led to your frustration, you then take it slow, so slow that almost everybody could still not understand; because, again, it’s in the culture. When you have achieved a little of it, you exhale and say, “Hold on. There’s still more to change.”
You can stop students from charging their phones in the classroom. Through this, you can stop them from texting while class is going on. You can ask students not to shout. You can ask students to maintain cleanliness and orderliness in the classroom without putting down their chairs on the floor. Bins can be emptied without scattering the trash on the floor intentionally. These little classroom practices make a good classroom culture. These little  classroom practices make members respect, love each other and grow together. On the other hand, you can’t force a student to go to school if he doesn’t want to. You can’t go to his house to wake him up and bring him to school early in the morning. Most of all, you can’t do his homework and you can’t study for him. Those things you call ‘self’ culture can’t be in your full control. You can teach; you can lead; you can advise; you can command; but you can never work for them.
Teacher, on this Valentine’s day, keep on aiming for a better culture—a culture of imperfection but full of righteousness, a culture that may not compose genius individuals but aiming for excellence, a culture of teamwork, not in words but in actions. Keep the idealism alive!



Saturday, 13 December 2014

With or Without the Class President

My first week at school was never that interesting nor exciting because my advisory class literally gave me headache, toothache, and stomachache. They were this kind of students who fail to greet “good morning” or say hello whenever they enter the room, who never throw their garbage in the bin, who text in front of you while in class, and who ignore you as if you are talking to the air. In the first three months, I adjusted on how they speak bad words, how they don’t recognize cleanliness, and how submission of homework is really a burden to them. I can even recall the time when one of them spoke a bad word out behind me as I scolded him for not cleaning the room. I might have just misinterpreted it, but he really did it. I cannot also count the times I did not allow them to enter the room and clean it by myself instead, just to show them that cleanliness is my best friend. Not wearing the uniform, being late, wearing of earrings and long hair (for boys) and other misbehavior are just few of the issues I have struggled on with my beautiful and handsome students. Here, I transformed from being a sweet master to a terrible monster.

However, I save a room for hope and aspiration that these little creatures will one day change into big, useful ones and that they will realize how goodness and obedience result to success in the future.

With that room, I locked the following keys to win their humane nature:
1.       writing unfriendly reminders on the board almost everyday;
2.       imposing consequences to those who come late and speak bad words;
3.       never allowing students to get inside the class if they are fifteen-minute late;
4.       knocking the chairs down on the floor if they leave the classroom disarranged;
5.       sweeping the floor on my own as an insult to their beautiful faces;
6.       throwing out their books and shoes if they forget to bring them home;
7.       and other monstrous acts.

However, I also tried this good side of a monster:
8.       praising and writing encouragement every time they do good;
9.       doing casual conversation with them during lunch time;
10.   befriending them on Facebook and allowing them to like and comment on my pictures as if we are close friends;
11.   giving them biscuits after general cleaning;
12.   and other angelic acts.

I haven’t proven to myself the total change I want to see in them, yet . However, I am happy to hear good feedback about them and to see that:
1.       they are solving math problems seriously now;
2.       they all do the general cleaning without any further complaints;
3.       they reprimand each other about speaking life instead of evil;
4.       they, somehow, arrange their chairs before leaving;
5.       and other diligent acts.

We are not perfect creatures, but we can be good, productive ones. It starts with individual realization that doing good is worth an incentive to one’s self.  After that three months of struggling, I am now enjoying the company of Grade 9- Honesty especially that many of them now have come to discover their own identities that help them realized they have important roles in the classroom.  I am not a perfect teacher and I don’t have perfect advisory class. Yet, I want a perfect environment for a better future and I am surely achieving that as Chloie, our Miss Marymount 2014, surprisingly suggested that we will all wear dress this Wednesday and as they showed me last Thursday that they know how to clean with or without the class president.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

An Antipathy: Why I Now Hate Basketball?

Why are my students late in class after recess time?
Why do they smell like rotten cheese plus sweat?
Why can’t they answer whenever they are asked to simplify radicals or enumerate how to cure Pneumonia, Malaria and Diarrhea, or even remember when the deadline of their baking contribution is?
All of these questions would tell you why I hate basketball now.

Two of my Grade 9 students used to bring their balls to school to play during break time. One of them was an honor student who failed to make it in the second quarter.  The other isn't really that excellent in the class, yet trying hard not to fail his subjects. The rest of the boys, if I may describe, are eloquently talented and smart as well. However, they haven’t recognized their potentials. What is common to them all is that they love to play basketball and they love doing it no matter how many times their parents tell them not to.

Who wouldn't love basketball? Who wouldn’t love to dribble, shoot and dunk especially when he is stressed out? Who wouldn’t look up to Durant or to our very own Fajardo? Nobody, I think. But, who would still love basketball if they fail their exams? Who would still love to dribble, shoot and dunk knowing that they haven’t done their assignments yet? Who would still look up to their idols as they enter the class sweating, looking tired and unprepared? The teachers wouldn’t.

That is why I now hate basketball. It actually:
1.       tires the students,
2.       loses students’ focus and interest in the class,
3.       causes undesirable aroma in the room,
4.       flies students’ minds up in the air (literally).

I might be too idealistic that I want my students to listen to me and do their part. Or, I might be too firm that I want them to act as prim and proper as they could be. Our school never hinders students to recreation. We never stop them from bringing their balls and playing at break time, but I soon will. I just can’t take that bad perfume!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Why Conference?


A student insisted to get her report card herself since her mom couldn't come for a very ‘valid’ reason as she pointed out. However, her adviser never granted her request no matter how ‘good’ she is in the class (she said) and no matter how she made it to the honor’s list (if she did). Hence, he needs the parents’ presence.

This is the number one rule for PTC or Parent- Teacher Conference.
“Busa gani Parent- Teacher Conference kay parent ang involve, dili ang anak or student,” my co-teacher once said.

It should be a gratitude of the parents that we, the teachers and principal, give ample time to discuss their children’s progress with them. Considering that it is supposed to be our rest day, parents must also take responsibility to do their parts in the conference. One might say that he can come and follow-up his child anytime or whenever he is available. Or, one may never respond to us at all. Notwithstanding, PTC is only a ten to thirty- minute discussion (depending on the issue) in just one day of a quarter.

Conference is the only time when all advisers, subject teachers and staff stay and wait together in one room to discuss a child’s improvement with his parents. It is the only time in a quarter when teachers prepare and are ready to show all the documents of the students’ performances. It is the time when parents should ask about any issue of their child in the class, be it about any subject or any teacher. It is the time when parents could ask the teachers for any suggestion on how to improve or maintain their child’s grades. In the same manner, it is a time for teachers to ask suggestions from parents on how to handle their child or how they can best be taught since the parents know them more than we do. It is the time when all parents can be updated of the school’s expenses and can ask about any vague contribution detail regardless of the letters sent to them. It is the most important day in a quarter for it is when we can all talk about how can we help improve one another.

Conference is not only for those whose children failed nor for those who have made it to the rank. Conference is, indeed, for all the parents who should take responsibility in knowing their child’s achievement.


With the 33.3% attendance of parents I had yesterday, I could then conclude that:
1.       the others are really very busy
2.       the other students do not inform their parents or even give the letter
3.       the other parents choose to ignore the 2nd quarter PTC
4.       the others really don’t care at all.

Though I don’t want to conceive the last, I would be confident to mention it because that’s what I see in four to five of my Grade 9. To be honest, even the student's non- compliance of wearing the proper school uniform tells so.

My principl says, “ Children are not a distraction from the most important work. They are the most important work.” which I hope all parents could digest. Their non- appearance in the PTC is a reflection of what they are to their children. And teachers, as the second parents, are accountable to make a move on this. If one peso load is not enough to have their response, I guess to get on a tricycle and walk right through their streets wouldn’t be the hardest, the stupidest, and the riskiest thing to do. It might not be the best, yet it would make a difference. I for one, have started it and enjoyed the ride.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Essay Isn't That Bad

The date turns 11.2 and yes, tomorrow starts the normal day of every student and teacher.

And as the clock ticks tonight, most of the teachers are probably thinking how to start their first day of the second semester. Others are probably making their lesson plans now. Essay, is or might be, the easiest answer.

"My Semestral Break" is the most common title we ask our students to write about. Generally, we want them to write about how they spent their break, who were with them, how they felt and congruently, we ask them to write with correct grammar, spelling, and proper indention. However, is this really the goal of this activity? We do hope so. We do hope that it's not because we're still in the process of plotting our modules and lessons, that we're still on the hang of our trips, or worst, that the actions of our students make us feel lazy as well to start the day with vibrancy. Because as facilitators, we don't only command to kill time. We don't command because we want them to do most of the tasks.

Regardless of the so many hence's a teacher can give as she asks for essays, here are the points that we can see worth achieving.

  • First day is first day. Writing essay on the first day will enable us to stretch literally our hands (wink! wink!) and our brains as well. 
  • Writing essay on the first day will exercise and revise our vocabulary knowledge.
  • Writing essay will worth the time because it fundamentally gives us the chance to share our experiences in words.
  • Writing essay, most importantly, sets our minds that we are already in school and that at the end of our rope, we must be pulling our love for studying back.
  • Writing essay, the least, makes use of the paper and the pen that added weight on the bags we bring on the first day of school (laugh it all loud).

Of course all of us don't want to have an albatross around our necks on the first day. With creative mind and much more goal- oriented personality, a devoted teacher never fails to think of how his students could apply what they learn from the task for a lifetime. Hence, we should think of our activities on the first day very well.