Choose life

The last post I had was an emotional one. I was feeling that way for a long time that I just want to let it out. I haven’t told anyone yet about my struggles this year. Knowing me well, I start to be in touch with those kinds of emotions when I am alone. At least I have the time to feel sorrow when I could have just feel numb by binge-watching on a television series.

As I have written before, this semester is a busy one. I’m just lucky that this Thursday morning, I have no classes to teach I might as well spend it in writing this post. Once I’m done with this, I’ll be back checking papers to clear out pending tasks. At least I have the time to even focus on checking them though I rush a bit at times.

I read somewhere that we experience certain kinds of “deaths” in life. There’s something in me that’s needs dying so probably that’s what I am experiencing right now. I am blessed to even take a pause in between the busyness. At least I have the time to experience different “deaths”.

I wanted to finish reading a book. I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien and Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser but I can’t get past Chapter 2. But at least I have time to write about wanting to finish reading them.

I bought those books when I travelled to Marikina twice last June and July. I have a home visit last June 20 to 25 and co-facilitated in the Coaching Module of MAPAC last July 8 to 15. It is good to just spend a while with your family; and, it is good to meet new people who shows passion for sports and education. I am blessed to have the time for family visit and co-facilitate in developing coaching skills every year.

Maybe, when I look back, I will just laugh at myself for acting the way I am reacting now. Like the song of Urbandub’s Soul Searching says, choose life. As for me, I choose to spend time thanking God for all the blessings I received despite the hardships.

Advertisements

A long, winding, but grace-filled weekend

I forego my plan to run 5 kilometers this night just to prepare for a week-long lesson plan. But here I am writing this post. So there.

This semester, I’m a busy person. These are my responsibilities:

  • Teacher to eight classes (six sections of Christian Values Education 8, one Christian Religious Education 11, and one World Religions and Beliefs 12)
  • Homeroom adviser to a Grade 12 section
  • Campus Ministry staff
  • Table Tennis coach
  • Grant-In-Aid coordinator

I miss my free time since I was just teaching part-time to five sections last school year. I got all of these because I agreed to take these responsibilities. So just bring it on! Also, I realize that this might be my last year of teaching to high school students. I will be sent out of the country next year for my next assignment. Getting my teaching license renewed would be harder whenever I get out of the country because of the recent law which says that I should get professional development modules/seminars/workshops sanctioned by Professional Regulatory Commission. I really hate that law because I actually get a lot of modules and workshops on administration here in Marist and teaching though they are uncredited because PRC is not involved there. Our Brother Provincial’s future plans for me would be working in foreign mission and/or teaching in college. I’ll save my worries later once the school year is almost finished.

Yesterday was a funny day because I did a lot and most of them are unplanned. I started the day by attending the daily Mass for spiritual strength. Next, I encountered a GIA who doesn’t have a Daily Time Record though it’s already mid-June so I gave away twelve copies to be used for the whole year because I am such a passive-aggressive type of coordinator and I never scold. Then the same person asked me the key to our office because they left the key inside. It’s just six o’clock so I just take my time before eating breakfast. I prepared for my almost two-hour class after the brekkie and got some Fudgie Bars to give away because I promised my Grade 8 students to give them some price. Until now, it still surprises me how I can sustain teaching for that long.

At 9:50 AM, I had to rush to the library because I got to meet all the working students since it’s our monthly meeting. After the meeting, I read the book Jesus of Nazareth by Gerhard Lohfink. I once bragged to my Grade 11 students that it is the best book I read on Christology. Possibly because of running 7 kilometers the previous night, waking up at 5 AM, percolating at a good book, proper ventilation of the aircon in my room, or because I just worked straight for three hours, I slept. I woke up around 12 PM and opened this laptop because I haven’t prepared for my next lesson with the Grade 11 students. I spent some good one hour on it and I went down to the dining hall to eat my lunch.

When the bell rings at 1:20 PM, that’s the time I will teach for another one hour and forty minutes. Again, I still wonder how I get to talk and tell stories I never told before in front of a crowd. If it is experience or reading books or both, I cannot tell. It also helps that there is a talkative student sitting in front that I get to engage with him and make my teaching dialectical or in a dialogue form. Then I had to go back to our homeroom afterwards to check the cleaning. The class president and the vice president collected the relief goods for the victims of war in Marawi City so they endorsed it to me and we delivered it to the Community Extension Services office but it was closed so I suggested we leave it in the convent.

Since I forgot to get the attendance sheet in the classroom, I had to go back and get it. On my way, I noticed the smoke from a fire somewhere near the Rio Grande. I heard firetrucks had a hard time entering there. Then I saw a student using a cellphone in the hallway so I had to approach him and confiscate it since they’re not allowed to bring it in school. While I was talking to him, there is someone calling my phone so we were talking while my phone is ringing. That was a bit awkward. He doesn’t want to hand it over to me and I do not want to argue so I got his I.D. and brought him to the Senior High School Coordinator. I slipped away afterwards to finally get the attendance sheet. I was actually in a hurry because it was almost 4 PM and I have to pack up my things for a trip later. Then I checked my phone only to find out it was Ms. Wilma, the aunt of a working student who got hospitalized due to acute ulcer. They needed the money I collected yesterday because I told her I “begged” some money from school personnel when I went around the school in between classes. I realized I had a talent in begging money. No, that was only a joke. Sorry if it was not funny. The amount? Sorry, it is confidential.

After packing my clothes and necessities, I went with our teachers/coaches to Belle’s Farm, Pigcawayan for planning and an overnight recreation. So there’s the usual drinking and singing either with the rented karaoke or with coaches playing the musical instruments brought by Mr. Dequiña in the venue. I skip singing ballads because I suck when I sing them and enthusiastic whenever we sing alternative rock songs especially if they are local songs. Filipino karaoke culture, represent! I only drank a bottle of San Miguel so I wonder why I got a recurring hiccup. Around past 1 AM, I sneaked to our booked resting house and was able to secure a resting place in a hard sofa-like furniture made of bamboo in the sala. I don’t know what it is called in English but I just know it gave me a hard time getting a good sleeping position because I don’t have a pillow and the sofa doesn’t have a cushion. Probably, it was already 2 AM when my body just got tired of searching for a good sleeping position. I then woke up at the usual 5 AM thinking of helping in cooking breakfast particularly the rice because that’s the only skill I know in cooking and I know how to cook rice for a lot of people because that’s what I learned from a fast food chain.

And I slept again around 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM today. Because of sleeping and waking up late, I feel a little bit of restless so here I am writing.

Today is Father’s Day. What’s my gift to my father? I’ll just present him with my own presence. Besides, I’ll be visiting home in Marikina this Tuesday to attend my youngest sister’s college graduation. I’ll be seeing my mother too whom I haven’t seen in almost two years because she went to Japan to work.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed weekend everyone.

Begin Again

My school ministry is like a basketball game.

I’m still in the same school but now I was told it’s my final year here.

Last year was the first half. Maybe I went down hard, got turnovers, missed some shots, and even had some highlight plays to be proud of. And this year, it’s my second half where I need to do a lot of catching up in terms of scoring points for my team. But I know I am not a star player nor a starter. I am a rookie; a role player to be quite honest.

I know what I can do and what I cannot do. I am happy to be benched if I know I did what I can do in the court. But now I am a sophomore, I have to step up my game when my time comes for me to enter the court.

Though I had my lapses in judgements, some hesitations in doing actions and making decisions, I think I had also done some daring and circus stunts which only a rookie like me can do.

But yeah, I think I know I could have done better last year and I know what it takes so I can contribute more.

Though being young have its disadvantages, I will count more its advantages.

Inexperience can be an opportunity for me to learn more; youthfulness means more energy.

But do I have what it takes to perform better? I believe I do. And if not? Then I guess I just have to admit my inexperience and ask for help from those whom I know can mentor me.

Knowing myself, I know it takes a lot for me to admit my own ignorance. But if it’s the way for me to learn, then I will shallow my pride and be humble to learn and be ignorant.

A thunderstorm-inspired rant, an emphatic tech support, and a cheap laptop

Hello everyone, Brother Allen here.

There’s a thunderstorm here so I turned off our desktop PC and switched to a laptop, powered by Windows 10 OS with an Intel Dual-Core Celeron processor and 2 GB of RAM. If you’ll look for ASUS X453S, you’ll see the specs. Last year, I asked my superiors to buy me the cheapest ASUS laptop. I saw X453S in Lazada worth 13,000 PhP (approx. $260). But when I asked the Brother responsible in buying my laptop 8 months after (because we only had the chance to talk about the laptop when I was using it during the retreat for my secretarial tasks during a meeting), I only learned that they paid 16,000 PhP (approx. $320). Maybe Windows 10 costs that much with all the pre-installed bloatware apps that I uninstalled. And speaking of Windows 10, I have a story which I don’t know if you have encountered already.

(Warning: A technical rant written below)
I don’t recommend Windows 10 anymore. That’s for you readers or any of my friends and family members who doesn’t want to stress themselves getting their OS fixed for days, weeks, or months. I experienced first hand how I had difficulty using Windows 10 when I installed the Creators Updat. The inconvenience lasted almost a month! I even barraged the @WindowsHelp in Twitter because of the inconvenience it caused to me. First, I had to contact one technician and let him do the job via remote access. Then it installed the update for more than 22 hours (I’m not kidding). I contacted again Support and they said I just had to “hard reset” my laptop. Though I was a former technical support for mobile phones, I forgot what on earth’s name “hard reset” was especially when it comes to computers. I just know hard reset means factory reset in phones. But on a laptop or PCs, it means hold the power button until it shuts down (for a laptop) or push the reset button. So I finished installing Creators Update after 3 days. The good thing is that I was finished with computer the students’ grades. The bad thing is that I don’t have a back up. And I have no idea how can I back up all my files when all I have are 3 pieces of USBs, one 16 GB and two 32 GB. Then I went to retreat to learn about that my laptop is freezing after 5 minutes. What’s funny was that when an application crashes (which does not happen before), the whole laptop freezes. I counted and it had frozen for 18 times in a week. I had to get back to Cotabato just to have a stable internet connection and contact Support. Then I now get an error message (which I can’t pull up as of the moment because Windows 10 doesn’t want me to talk bad about them). And they told me: “Hi, Allen. We suggest you perform a clean boot to eliminate software conflicts after an update”

End of rant.

A joke
I remember a joke about a fellow tech support whom I have overheard while I was on the floor waiting for calls. He said, “Thank you for the inconvenience.” It never fails to leave a smile on my face. Classic.

You know what? I did not plan to write a rant about my Windows 10 experience. It just came up when I mentioned my cheap laptop. When I mentioned to a priest that we are using the same make and model, he said that he bought it because it won’t give him so much stress when it gets lost or someone steals it. I just hope that he will not experience what I had experienced.

I initially planned about writing about Easter (my favorite liturgical season), my 28th birthday, and ending my staycation tomorrow. But this is enough. Post is too long now.

I will be out again for a two-week training. Please pray for me. I’ll be needing your prayers guys. I’ll be praying for you too so keep in touch.

Excuse my latest gravatar

Hello, Allen here.

To replace my three-year old photo in WordPress, I changed my gravatar today. While watching a film in my laptop (which freezes once in a while because of the latest Windows 10 Creators Update), I took a photo of myself (a selfie in today’s vocabulary) inside my room. It just so happened that my room is painted white so no need for the white background that I usually see on photo studios here in the country. I remember taking one last November (?) for the Athletic Meet in Kidapawan City which I am using in Instagram.

I don’t like to appear creepy but if ever I look creepy, please tell me. Hahaha! Please have the guts to. I don’t mind.

I haven’t changed my About Page photo though.

Lately, I have been reading a lot in my social media news feed about Thirteen Reasons Why series of Netflix. I haven’t watched it though. Some of my friends in college are against watching it. And, by the way, these are the same friends who are encouraging me to watch Game of Thrones which I haven’t seen yet. If ever I will watch 13 Reasons, I will be critiquing it a lot. Of course, it’s about sensitive issues: suicide, bullying, etc. I read somewhere (Wikipedia, I guess), the author (it was based on a book if I’m not mistaken), was contemplating suicide once when he (?) heard someone’s story of committing suicide and ending up not succeeding and in the process had to gone through a lot of pain and suffering. So maybe the author (don’t know if it was a male or female) was inspired by the story. Brother Allen is not good in fact checking.

And yesterday, I saw in my news feed the shock of my life. I saw Papa Kiko on TED! I won’t be spoiling what he said there but in my opinion, it was the best TED Talk I ever seen! I may be biased because I’m a Catholic and a consecrated brother too. But you have to see it even if you are not Catholic or even religious.

So it’s now late in the evening and I have to sleep now. I have to wake up at 5 AM. See you around.

A journey inward

Now, school year 2016-2017 is over. Wohoo!

Since I promised in my previous post that I will talk about my teaching experience, I will try to do it here without any specific topic in mind. That means free-writing.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading the writings of my students. I as their teacher asks my students in class to practice being reflective through writing. I, as their Values Education teacher, encourage my students to touch their introspective side. And for them to do this, they must learn how to be silent. In these times that these teenagers are in (and for us adults sometimes too), it is hard for them to let them sit for hours.

But I know my students are all capable of spending time in silence. I’ve witnessed it during their recollection where they were asked by our campus ministry directress, ma’am Che, to sit down in silence, close their eyes, and imagine themselves walking through nature and encounter people close to their hearts. On the part where they encounter their parents in their imaginative journey, when the students were asked to feel how their parents are struggling in earning a living just for them to study in a good school and be provided with their own needs, it made them weep. It may be pity or guilt that they felt whenever they get mad whenever they request something and their parents refuse to provide them; those times when they fail to appreciate the goodness of their parents towards them. That time, they were able to get in touch with their own experiences and relationship with their family especially their parents. They were able to do it because it was a recollection and they really spent time in silence.

Going back to my students’ reflective writing activities, I discovered that it is not easy for some to spend time for reflection when it comes to writing. But I am happy that at least they are trying. I even encourage students to write in Tagalog if they’re having a hard time writing in English. But there are some who won’t really bother and try to even write essays. Ah, your patience, Allen!

So in the same manner, I as their teacher must practice being reflective. And I will do it through web logging. And here, I did it by just writing about my students. Woo!

Whenever I talk in front of the class, I lecture through story telling. Usually, the subject is my own life experiences and stories of people whom I have known personally. Honestly speaking, I am a such a bore in retelling stories of others when I have just read or heard them somewhere in books, web, magazine articles, or even podcasts I am listening to. Even the jokes that seems funny to me, when I retell them, because too corny.

Now that I have stopped following any television shows or anime series, my watching habit of watching basketball games has gone up because of our access to cable in our convent. I consume more time in doing unproductive things such as watching games or highlights when I really want to do is to be creative like writing, composing poems and stories, polish my handwriting (which my student said was poor), capture more photographs, play basketball or chess, or learn how to draw better.

Maybe sometimes, I will consciously spend time to feel boredom and not seek constant stimulation. But I know it will either be productive or unproductive. I need to choose the former though.

Postscript: I will be spending a week in Malaybalay, Bukidnon for the Annual Lenten Retreat of Marist Brothers here in the Philippines. I am part of the Liturgy Committee and an assistant secretary during the Provincial’s time (meeting). Within the week, we Brothers will discover our Summer assignments and our next community and ministry assignment for the next school year. And during the Easter vigil, I will renew my vows. If you want to ask me to pray for me, just write a comment below or reach me out in the Contact Form. Please pray for me too.

The courage to cry

Hello.

I’m back!

Since my blogging pledge is one post a month, I just realized yesterday that I skipped two months. And to be officially back, I must post this entry with my original style of blogging: freewriting.

I just came back from facilitating a recollection and I am satisfied with what had transpired with the prayer, reflection, and sharing. We still used the Lenten Theme just like the previous batch last Saturday. In the sharing and reflection this morning, I listened to stories of frustrations, hang ups, and lessons in the midst of sufferings. Again, I shared. I disclosed to them that it’s as if I got to review my life while I was listening to them. I must admit that I lost focus in the midst of the sharing because their stories reminded me of my stories. Different experiences, same feelings. When it was my turn, I know that they were listening to my story because they were reacting and they are breaking the rules of being silent while someone is sharing! Anyway, we know each other since they too are teachers. I won’t be sharing their stories because it might appear as a gossip and that’s not really my style. Remember I got accused of being a gossiper? 

I shared to them that I am a bit frustrated with myself this school year in terms of reaching out to other teachers. I got enclosed with my table in the Campus Ministry and my personal office here in the convent (which is inside the school too). I was deprived of not having a table in the faculty room. Though there were hindrances, it shouldn’t be my excuse but my motivation to strive more to reach out. I shared to them that I got so used with being alone that I even learn news when it’s too late. One of the news I learned too late is when I was called out in Facebook. I was called names, boxed with labels, a gossiper, and a people pleaser (the only accusation which I somehow agree upon). I was able to face Agnus (not his real name) and had a confrontation where I was crying most of the time. I went to see him and talk to him because I got a problem with him. That’s only to find out that it was more beneficial to him than to me. And that’s a great thing. It was therapeutic for both of us. There was healing. That’s love in action as Jesus taught us to do: love our enemies. This is something unheard of outside Christianity. An absurd thing to do. But that’s what love really is; like the sun shining or the rain falling on the good and bad alike. 

While I was sharing these realizations (not all of this in exact verbatim but most of it are additional details), I was teary eyed and my voice cracking. So I said that instead of holding back tears, I need to cry more often. Cry when I got hurt; cry because of injustice​; cry because I need to do something so bad I will do everything whatever it takes; or, cry when someone is crying too. Though I’m a man, to paraphrase Frankl, I will cry because it is the courageous thing to do: to face my own suffering. 

I am tired now. It’s already midnight. I’ll continue this tomorrow.

Good mornight!