Education for life (A Morning conversation)

This morning meal, we talked about education in the Philippines and in other countries with topics such as alternative learning system, giving assignments and examinations, and play. Our current Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones has in her agenda the alternative learning system. This is encouraging to some students in our country since not all students are geared towards formal education and not every high school graduates are suited to enter college.

Currently, if the cumulative grade of a student reaches 60, the student is given a passing grade of 75. It seems that this move of the previous secretary Br. Luistro Armin, a La Sallian Brother, is geared towards mass promotion of the students so they can graduate in high school.

Though I know it’s important to focus on our high school students (since our country is dominated by the millennial population with a median age of 23 years old), I hope that educators and lawmakers would consider the program we give to our children below 10 years old. Like in Finland and Japan, they tweaked their preschool and primary level with lots of play and exploration for kids and no assignments and examinations.

For parents, I hope that they wouldn’t spoil their kids by giving them smartphones and tablets at an early age so kids can enjoy their childhood outdoors and with their playmates.

How about you, what do you think about your country’s education?

Let’s play chess

The recent Baku Chess Olympiad inspired me to play chess again. Last night, I played on chess.com blitz games until I drop (with dinner and community prayer in between). It’s also my preparation for the upcoming Notre Dame Educational Association Sportsfest this coming September 23 where I’ll play in the evening after having coming from proctoring in the morning for the examination and a long travel to Tacurong. Maybe that’s the reason why my mind is so alert to notice dreams and my body restless waking up in between my sleeping. It seems that I can practice now everyday with the help of my new laptop, a humble Asus X4538 with basic specifications. So with Rico Blanco’s Chess playing in the background, let’s play.

Now time for the community morning prayer.

When the inner child throws a tantrum

Today, I did some detaching from myself a bit. I mean pondering on some of my actions that I unconsciously do and their stimuli. It started after I took a break from officiating in the Table Tenbis singles event for Juniors, Seniors, and Girls Division this morning. I took a break by eating an ice cream and playing with a new laptop. I’m still feeling a bit of thrill from receiving a new laptop last Monday. And I caught myself being irritable when I felt stupid for not knowing how an unfamiliar program works. I caught myself too of raising my voice not just because of frustration but because I am feeling a bit of proud. 

I felt like a young kid throwing tantrums because he can’t win in a video game or because his mother didn’t buy him an ice cream. 

I can’t understand myself these days. I feel like I am not myself today (in some moments like this morning break).

Is it because of my lack of sleep? Tired? Suppressed anger? Depressed? It seems like I am depressed but no. Denial? Maybe. But this simple insight is like a little epiphany. 

I initially planned to write a post about this “pattern” or tendency but it ended up as an extended musing. That’s the insight.

Oh how Rico Blanco’s Dating Gawi and Clara Benin’s Human Eyes inspired me to capture these mundane thoughts no matter how embarrassing they are.

A letter to a Mother

Dear Mama,

I just want to talk to you. These past days have been so stressful I needed to unwind through drinking beer. Also, I have been so much junk food in my free time. I think I had too much pork in me that my chest is aching sometimes. Remind me that I have the tendency to be a glutton.

Sometimes Mama, I can’t help but to click on the profile pictures of some ladies in social media. I’ll just notice later on that I am already ogling at their photos. I know I am attracted to beauty and this attraction is somehow a blessing and a curse to me. Please teach me chastity and respect to your fellow women.

Last night, I played basketball. I can still play a whole game so we still got stamina in here. At the end of the game, I got too cocky I hanged on the ring and my legs wobbled when I landed. Fatigue or wrong landing maybe. Thankfully, it’s not cramps or a muscle injury. Remind me that I have the tendency to be proud and show off. Teach me humility.

I’m thankful that I got to sleep early last night. But usually, I can’t sleep early in the evening so I stay up until night with my phone in my hands or listening to a podcast until I drop. I caught myself scratching my left eye this morning, 4:30am. I forgot I had it operated. Don’t want to lose sight yet. Though I haven’t able to sleep again until 6am. Also, I am not praying that much lately. Or even spending time just to reflect. I can’t even focus and finish a book like I used to. I am again feeling restless. But remind me that I will feel this way as long as I live until I rest in the Lord. Lead me to your Son, Jesus our Brother, who promised that He will give us rest. 

And by the way, I would like to greet you a happy birthday, Mama Mary. Thank you for being a Good Mother to us.

From your son,

Allen

A grateful food

This morning while eating breakfast, I heard a companion commented on the way I spoon-feed with my left palm on the cheek.

In Tagalog: “Parang may utang na loob pa sa’yo ang pagkain, ah? Kulang na lang sabihin niyan (yung kanin), ‘Salamat ah, kinain mo ako’.”

In English: “It seems the food should be grateful that you’re eating it, huh? It (the rice) could have said, ‘Thanks! You’ve eaten me’.”

Oh, this makes me smile until now. 😂

Review of the day

Though I am not a Jesuit or well versed in Ignatian Spirituality, I practice the examen. I learned about it when I entered Marist novitiate. We call it as the review of the day. Done every evening, we spend at least 15 minutes to think about the graces we received throughout the day. We thank about the people we encountered, the events that had transpired, new learnings, and other things worth recalling. After the end of our examen, sometimes we recite the confiteor where we pray about our shortcomings, what we have done and have failed to do. In active school ministry, five to ten minutes of the review is already a luxury.

This evening, I was late in our prayers because I talked to one student and I supervised the students in cleaning our classroom. Wednesday evening is dedicated to a Marian prayer. We prayed thr rosary. During the pause after the Salve, I brought to my prayer the one student I scolded because she had incurred nineteen absences, most of them unexcused and spent just cutting classes. I prayed and I hoped that my scolding was an expression of an honest anger because I care for this student.

After our evening community prayer, I picked up a guitar I borrowed and I remembered the “storm” last Monday even while plucking and strumming fledgingly. Actually, I dreamnt of Agnus sitting inside a chapel and I sat beside Agnus. Afterwards, I read again the “storm” conversation that talked about me in a public post somewhere in social media and I viewed it in a different perspective; detached and unaffected. I actually didn’t exert effort. It just “flowed”. As one Sri Lankan Brother told me last year, the better word is equanimity. I imagined talking to Agnus privately; listening to each other. Not trying to convince or win over Agnus but to understand and be compassionate with this person. How does it feel to spread hatred against others? How lonely it is to live a life full of hate in one’s heart?

I somehow get now what Bishop Barron was talking about in one of his podcast episode in Word On Fire. The true test of love for others really is to love our enemies. To love them as the “other” and not just an extension of oneself.

To have an idea what is an examen, you may download the Daily Examen application in Google Play.

Pondering all these stress in my heart

Oh how events turn out after I wrote a post this morning. It was like a peaceful rainy weekend until the weather shifted into a weekday storm. While preparing my daily lesson “struggle” plan, someone called me just to see in a Facebook post that I was publicly reviled and I don’t even know what was the reason. I. Was. Stunned. I don’t know how to react about this that I cried for a while and just stayed in a state of shock the whole morning (I haven’t cried like that for decades!). 

Later, the not so expected happened. Agnus (a fictitious name) sent me a message request to confront me since we are not “friends”. Of course, to get both our sides, I accepted. I was called a not-so-good name. I was told to act better because I was a psychology degree holder. It turned out to be a “I’m okay, you’re not okay” game. Agnus won because I let Agnus win. 

But I admired that Agnus was exerting effort to become tamer as we exchange messages. Is it because it was pointless to argue with me in the first place? Because I was not really arguing or defending myself? Because Agnus thought I was denying? 

I still said sorry for not knowing what I should be sorry for. Though I was treated uncharitably, I tried to be fraternal as possible in my approach. That’s because I will never play as a victim. Pardon for being cryptic here.

Though I’m not in the mood to eat lunch, I ate. Maybe because of the stress, I was able to focus and make a week long lesson plan. I was really out of focus that I forgot that our class should be in the gymnasium for the outreach program. What an exhausting effort it was to show a smile in front of my students only to change into a sorrowful mood when I turn my head when no one’s looking. My consolation is to be able to share my sorrow to one teacher, who knows Agnus, though that was in a middle of an outreach program this afternoon. For the second time in my life, I felt what it’s like to receive a bad news during a festive day. 

Looking at my students’ clumsy way of involving kids to play in the gymnasium and seeing the kids have fun, I was able to somehow defocus from the “curses” I received. 

I was out of focus the whole day. But I did it prayerfully; pondering all these stress in my heart. When I joined our night prayers in the chapel, we have the usual examen where we recited the Confiteor afterwards. And it just so happened that we prayed Psalm 86, a lament of David. Oh the feels when we were reciting that. Too bad my fellow brothers doesn’t have a clue about my personal stuggle this day. Night prayers are always about letting go and letting God work. And here I am, this writing is my way of letting go.