Counting down the days

Hello WordPress pals,

It’s almost the end of the school year and I never thought how I am already at the end of my teaching days here in Notre Dame of Cotabato. I don’t know how I was able to juggle all my responsibities as a teacher with eight teaching loads ( with two combined class), a coach of the Table Tennis team, a homeroom adviser to the Grade 12 class of Blessed Br. Luis Alfonso, and a coordinator of the Grant-In-Aid students here in the school. My teaching load is crazy that I teach 7 sections almost every day and I even have a Saturday class plus the coaching and coordinator responsibilities. I know I already mentioned it on my previous posts but I just find it stressful yet satisfying to be able to multi-task and handle them all at the same time.

I am happy that I am leaving because I know I would not be able to handle these responsibilities next year. No, I’m just kidding. Hehe!

Seriously, It’s sad to be able to think I’m leaving this school after two years of staying here. I actually want to stay again for another year as a Grant-In-Aid coordinator because I know I was not really able to be fully hands-on to the scholars that much. They were the victims of my hectic schedule that I cannot do a full-time hands-on approach to them. I want to  establish a better relationship to them a give them support to their studies and whatever help I can give them be it financial, moral, or spirtual. But wherever I am, I’ll assure them that I will still support them. That is my way of being a big brother to them.

Now it’s safe to say that I am almost through with teaching here and the next challenge for me is to figure out my new mission in… I already told my students where I will be but I haven’t posted it yet in my blog. I’m keeping it a secret for now.

Will I teach again? Stay tuned for more updates next time I find a free time to write whatever comes to my mind.

A peaceful Sunday to all of you.


Truly, it is better to give than to receive

  1. While checking the examination papers, I am surprised with the profoundness of one student. It seems that she is not fourteen years old; she is way ahead of her peers in terms of maturity.
  2. Last Tuesday, accompanied by her sister, she was the only student who gave me a gift as her appreciation. I learned later that she also gave gifts to her other teachers as her Christmas presents. I got a tumbler from her.
  3. This gesture, though it’s simple, warms the hearts of teachers. Truly, it is better to give than to receive. As a teacher, I realize that I am giving more than what I am supposed to offer to my students. It is more than the lessons and grades I give. What is it then? It is my presence.
  4. I hope that more than anything else, my students will treasure my presence the most. I am priviledged to be able to share my life with them inside and outside the classroom. I am blessed to be able to witness their blossoming to adulthood.
  5. Now, I am thinking of writing a draft of a goodbye letter to the NDC community: all personnel, parents, GIA scholars, and specially the students. Before the school year ends, I usually write a letter to the people who have touched me and made a difference my life.
  6. I’m teary eyed right now. Yes, I am a such a sensitive man. Because the school year is almost finished, I have to leave people behind here in the school. Good byes are real and I am leaving next April.
  7. I know I have my failings throughout this year. I admit that. Mea maxima culpa. And if ever I have offended people even if I did not mean it, I am sorry for that.
  8. Today is my brother’s birthday today, it’s almost Christmas and 2017 is about to end. It’s a year of hellos and goodbyes.
  9. I will attend a recollection on December 31 to thank God for all the blessings and ask pardon for my shortcomings.
  10. Thanks for reading my streams of thought. Goodbye.

How is my teaching life so far?

Hello WordPress readers,

I am writing a test draft now but I am not in the mood to write a test draft so it will just be a story time.

So I am here in the convent library, just typing on this cheap laptop I acquired for my teaching ministry. As I look at my laptop, I can see the reflection of the cable wires outside since the glass panels are transparent. This past three days, I heard some birds banging the glass as they thought they can pass through them. Two months ago, I was wondering why I was hearing a bird crying at night. I thought it was nesting somewhere in the roof but my hunch was that it was somewhere hiding here in the library. I found it resting at the top of the book shelf and I shooed it so it can set itself free.

I’m thinking of what to purchase as Christmas gifts but I think I’ll just go outside during the weekends or during the examination time. Honestly, I don’t know what gifts should I give to them. I even forgot the name I picked on the one of the exchange gifts I joined.

I can believe it’s already December. It’s like I was just starting the school year last June and now we’re just four months away from March. I was so caught up with the school system I barely have time for social media. Well, I am online almost every day but I don’t have the energy to create contents like I did in the previous years.

I’m still teaching eight (8) sections and I am teaching a new subject this second semester. It’s about Trends, Networks and Critical Thinking in the 21st Century. I told them about my SNS (social networking sites), the term used before it was called social media. I realized almost all my online accounts were made during the year 2009: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Sadly, I was not able to back up my photos in my Friendster and Multiply account last 2011. I had no idea they were already going down at that year.

I think in blogging here in WordPress, I have found my “voice” in writing. I admit I am so shy in front of the crowd that I struggled two years ago when I started teaching in Marikina. Luckily, it was only one class and all of them very nice, charming, and bright. I hope no student from that class will read this . But if they found this, then that’s fine. Besides, I already told them I love them before we part ways and I miss them so much. They are now in their Grade 11. Half of them transferred schools already. The first year of teaching for me is indeed memorable.

For two year, I am now here in Cotabato and this is my final year of teaching. I will be spending my time outside the Philippines next year. That’s my only hint. Some of my fellow teachers knows already where I am heading.

Speaking of my last year, it helped me to make the most out of my remaining time here in Cotabato. I think this is the busiest year in my entire life. I took lots of responsibilities. Using the cliche term, I think I bit more than I can chew (is that the correct usage?).

When the time comes for me to say goodbye, I just hope and pray that I am able to touch the lives of the students and fellow school personnel in a good way.

I seem to attract the attention of the naughty students. It’s like they are not intimidated by me. When I scold them inside the class they straighten up. But when they talk about it outside, it’s like they are talking about someone else and talk about themselves as a matter-of-fact. I would be angry with them in the class but outside the classroom I would be waving my hands at them. In a good way, they are detached and don’t take my scolding personally. Maybe it’s the generation they are in now. They want to be friends with anyone even their teachers. Though I appear to be strict and tough at times, deep inside I know that what I do is for the good of my students. I love all of them not just the naughty ones. Loving can be tough at times. I really do will what’s good for them even those students who I seem to neglect at times. There are really students who tend to flourish even if you don’t focus on them that much. I am talking about the shy, quiet, and average students. When I was in high school, I was one of them. I feel guilty for not paying attention to each one of my students.

This afternoon, we will be honoring the achievers who got an average of 90 plus in their report cards. I will be meeting the parents of my advisory class in Grade 12. I have some 52 students in my homeroom and I will update them how their sons and daughters are doing in their academics. I have yet to prepare what to say to them.

But before that, I need to finish my test drafts. I have three test drafts to prepare. So this is all I can say for now.

It’s good to be back here in WordPress.


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.

On Silence and Discernment

There are times when you are asked to do something out of the blue and you just have to deliver.

This morning, we had our General Meeting of all the school personnel in our library. As usual, I was the one who lead the opening prayer and the blessing of the birthday celebrants for the month of May. I need to step up in making prayers for our meetings as our Campus Ministry Coordinator had just given birth to her fifth child and her first daughter. It was my first time to see her daughter in the flesh and of course I am delighted to see a cute baby like her. Anyway, our general meeting was for us to set a direction before we start the school year next month. We will have approximately three weeks before we start our classes on June 7, a day after our celebration of the feast day of our Founder, St. Marcellin Champagnat. We’ll have a week of making our course outlines, action plans, and plotting our schedules for the coming school year.

Introducing a Brother
In the middle of the meeting, I was asked to introduce our speaker, our fellow Brother in the community, Br. Ted. I was just approached by the emcees before our meeting started. I opted not to say about his education background, past ministries, and achievements. That’s one lesson I learned from reading The Little Prince regarding information and details with the author’s critic on the adult’s mindset. Instead, I shared an anecdote on how I met him for the first time. I remember it was year 2004 during the first quarter of the school year (probably around July until October) when I was walking on the corridor of our school on a Sunday morning. A night before, we had our high school dance in the elementary gymnasium of Marist School, Marikina on a Saturday night. So yeah, I was walking with just my sando, shorts, and slippers when I saw Br. Ted, our school president and he greeted me with a “how are you?” That experience left an impression on me as I encountered the personnel with the highest position in our school humbly greeting me with a good morning and kumusta (how are you?). So I ended my introduction by saying that Br. Ted is a walking definition of a gentleman.

The Talk on Silence
In the middle of the talk, he presented us a trailer of the movie Silence. It was a film with Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson as their protagonists and directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a story set on the 17th century about the journey of two priests who learned that their beloved mentor-priest had gone missing. To investigate, they went to a mission to Japan to search for their beloved teacher. Upon arriving, they learned of Christians worshipping in secret. If discovered by authorities, they would face persecution and be asked to denounce their faith or be tortured to death. The trailer is Br. Ted’s opening to his questions to ponder upon. Among his questions, the word “discernment” caught my attention. What is discernment? Does it play a role in my everyday choices from the most mundane ones like choosing what clothes to wear to the important decisions like relating to people whom I find it difficult to deal with? I remember during the open forum, one teacher asked the question, “How do we know if we are really doing the will of God?”. This one is a question that makes you pause for a while and be silent. Besides, discernment is fruitful if done in silence. God speaks in the silence of our hearts.

A new responsibility
I was asked to take the responsibility as the Working Students or Grant-In-Aid (GIA) Coordinator. Without hesitating, I just said yes. Last year, the position was held by a fellow Brother. But now that I am handling college students who are working as scholars so that they can finish their studies, I need to spend more time in prayer for strength and guidance from the Holy Spirit. I need to reach out to their coordinators and to each one of them, listening to their concerns and knowing how can I train them to be hard workers and responsible scholars.

I am tired. I need to sleep now.

And let us always remember to pray for one another.

Good night.

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.

Vacation to vocation: An effect of a month-long break

Being a teacher has its perks. One of them is the long vacation in between the school year. Since I’m still on a vacation mood, I will continue musing here and this time it will be about schooling, education, career, vocation, heartbreaks, intimate celibacy, and dreams.

A career or calling?
To be honest, I never dreamed of becoming a high school teacher when I was still a child or even a teen. The closest would be my dream of becoming a professor in college. Now one of my college pals just finished his master’s in Clinical Psychology. I could not remember if I mentioned that being a Marist Brother was one of my dreams as a teenager but anyway I’m telling it now. And since I am already a Marist Brother, I still dream of becoming a professor. But if I would do that, would it make my religious vocation not as a vocation (i.e. “a calling”) but as a career? Well, I would not really pursue it and just make it happen when I am told to teach in college. That’s out of the equation at the moment since I don’t have yet a master’s degree. I had some post-graduate units taken last year but that’s all I have. So that’s just one of my many desires and I am just being honest by writing it out.

Schooling and education
Seven years ago, I don’t even have the financial means to enroll in a post-graduate school before I entered the Marist Brothers. That time, I thought of going back to school again right after graduating in college. I still wanted to study. I was still unprepared in the transition of working right after college graduation. Just like my long break now, right after my college graduation, I was so restless in having a break in studies, thinking on my bed, and playing computer games. I had lots of exercise though. I was tired in studies but I want to keep on going. Mark Twain said he would not let schooling interfere with his education. I too had to keep that in mind. I was too selective in accepting job offers. I had my options: study again and/or work. Out of the blue, I entertained the thought of joining the Marist Brothers. They invited me when I was in second year college; I am Marist-educated; I am single; I know the life of St. Marcellin Champagnat; I lived with the Brothers in Mindanao for a week when I was still in high school; and I dreamed of becoming one. So, why not become a Marist Brother?

And these thoughts occurred to me so I contacted the Marist Brothers and told them that I am interested to become one of them. And they gave me one year to decide if I am serious with my decision or not. That’s why I worked as a property consultant and as a technical support representative even though I was underemployed as long as I can save money for my future trip to Mindanao.

I don’t even know if my close friends know about this. Maybe they just thought I was heart-broken. And if their reason is true, I should have been out a long time already. Or maybe that’s part of my unconscious motivation of joining religious life.

I remember in a dream six year ago in the Aspirancy House that I was being chased by some hooligans and I was shot dead. I woke up in the middle of that night and even posted in my Facebook status that I was thankful to be alive. The only explanation I can come up with that dream was that I was eluding something that I can’t accept or I don’t like and that my death was a reminder of my spiritual death since I was not a practicing Catholic when I was in college. So maybe the heart-broken part is true based on that dream but I would deny that consciously of course. Or am I running away from something other than that?

Intimate celibacy
The problem now is that I learned in religious life how to love many without being exclusively in a relationship with a woman; that I can be intimate while being celibate. (I will tackle this in the future.)

A recurring dream
But my death in my dream? I cannot really make sense of it. That dream recurred a few days ago. Again, I was riding a vehicle and I was being chased by some hooligans. But on this second time, I am alive. What does that mean?

And that’s it for an episode of my free-writing. Thanks for reading.

Please pray for me and my companions for our tomorrow’s trip to General Santos City. I would be there for a two-week training.

And that means a hiatus.

Again, let us pray for one another.