Friday, April 29, 2005

Reaching all-time highs of exhaustion, sleep-deprivation and stress is bad. Very bad. Bad, bad, bad. *Sigh* Somebody mail me a million peso cheque please? So I can rest for a bit in comfort. Catch up on pleasurable and leisurely reading. Sleep well without thinking of the things to do the day after in advance. Eat ice cream nuggets in peace. *Double sigh*

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I Profess, To You My Brothers and Sisters...

I am about to embark on a new and exciting challenge in my adventures as one who "professes" truths (or perceived truths) to young and impressionable minds. It seems far-fetched from what I do now, because I will (attempt to) teach politics of the international kind. It is really not that different from teaching a foreign language because it entails pretty much the same dynamics. Throughout the last 3 years I profess that these dynamics are:

1. To be an effective teacher, one must first and foremost be engaging. It evidently matters that you know your area of study like the back of your hand, but a good scholar does not make an effective teacher. You could be a genius in your field but without succesfully inciting the curiosity of your students and engaging their interest by showing how study of a certain discipline matters in the real world, then why bother? Your students will just as soon catch ZZZs than listen to your expert diagnoses.

2. To be engaging one must entertain. You are evidently in front of an audience, and within the anonimity of a crowd, students' consciousness are liable to wander. And wander they will. And so you must work assiduously to keep their attention. If you skilfully guise imparting knowledge in lively banter and occasional jokes, then you have won half the battle.

3. To conduct lively banter, one must be open to critique. Just because you are the one standing in front, armed with the numerous letters after your name, does not mean you are God, that is, all-wise and all-knowing. Respect your students, respect their views and opinions because they too are thinking individuals like yourself.

4. To be open to critique and be entertaining, one must be humble. You may think yourself exceptionally gifted with mental capacities, but that doesn't make you the master of anyone, least of all your students. By all means speak with authority, but always be conscious that you are human and are fallible. Don't take yourself too seriously, the capacity for self-deprecation is crucial in letting your students know you are there not to pontificate but to primarily incite their curiosities and encourage and sustain the different directions these may take.

5. Finally, you are there merely to guide, to point out certain possibilities, to enlighten. Present as many versions of truths there are on offer, and let them decide. Bolster their courage and confidence. Do not privilege your own to the detriment of theirs. Fear and intimidation does not engender respect. If you want to be respected because you are feared, then that is the EASY way out.

So there. Armed with these comforting philosophies, I brace myself to conquer new territory come Monday. Baptism of fire indeed.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Another plea to a Boy

Seated here on your throne, in this little corner of the universe where you are king to no one but yourself, I wish I could say to you my plea. There is so much I want to tell you but I can't, bound as we are by blood and all the history and baggage this creates between the two of us. I can't speak with you as freely as I would in an audience of twenty, where I regularly implore kids not far from your age of the things I value in life's struggle and journey.

We are fruits of the same tree, you and I. And yet, I hesitate to remind you of how far you have fallen off the path I and our parents would have you take. I know you are your own person and you must learn to live your life your own way as I have, but how can I idly stand by as you while your precious time away in pursuits as empty as the sea of blinking images in this kingdom of yours, as you play your games for hours, as you slay your monsters on this computer screen?

I do not want you to wake one day with regret, as you realize life has passed you by. And it is, passing you by. Would that you could wake from this wretched slumber, where you lay immobile and in fear. What are you afraid of I wonder? Why be consumed with all that you can't do when you haven't even tried?

I love you dearly. But I can't wake you. It is your life to live, your decisions to make, your failures to live by. Would that you were a friend I could be more open and frank with. Then I wouldn't hesistate if my words hurt. But you are my brother, and I your older sister. And there are barriers I just can't break.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Teacher, Teacher I am Sick. Get the Doctor Very Quick

I miss last semester. I miss the best batch of students I've ever had ever (so far). It rained A's last sem. And I am not known to give them out so easily. They were just the right combination of smarts and charm. They were funny, interested and engaged. Meeting them twice a week was enough to offset the four times I have with a group of kids in Taft who are less...talented. I miss them even more so now because the present crop of summer students pale in comparison. I can't say they're slow or dim-witted. Most of them are just plain disinterested. And without interest, why bother trying right?

Which gets me back to the Taft kids, most of whom were more than happy to welcome the free teacher they had in me. Free because they didn't have to pay for the extra units they took in my classes. Although the foreign institution pays me quite well to give these kids free lessons, and much as my conscience is nagging me against the decision, I will not be coming back next semester. My conscience is telling me, "These kids need you even more than those rich kids in QC." They need me because I know what I'm capable of as an educator. They need me because I've seen the poor academic standards in their school. They need me because I show up when the profs they paid for don't.

But I won't be back because it is too tiring. And depressing. It reminds me of the big, bad and ultimately unfair world where not everyone is created equal. And indeed, we aren't. Some seem born with just enough amount of capabilities and talents to stand out and excel. And when they aren't, are lucky enough to be born in a family able to provide for extra "support." What about the more unfortunate ones? Well, they seem doomed to mediocrity or worse.

The Taft kids are noticeably less able. The reasons why are probably a combination of the misfortunes of nature and the lack of nurture. Economic reasons are also in the mix. I've had students who skipped classes because they had to work. I've had students who couldn't come to class anymore due to financial reasons. Some couldn't afford books or photocopies of books. In a society that puts a premium in a particular kind of intelligence, one whose key is first and foremost dictated by mastery of the English language, how could these kids excel? When they were sometimes too tired to come to class, when they couldn't match the words they read in English textbooks with clear and coherent concepts, when they couldn't afford these books in the first place?

The kids in QC are generally more able by any standards. Perhaps because they have been well-fed and cared for most their lives. Most belong to prominent families. They have the world laid at their feet and in the past two years it always breaks my heart when I see so many succumb to complacency and laziness. There's no doubt about it, some day these kids will lead. And if the time they're supposed to grow back bone is rather spent obsessing about sports, gimmicks, the latest fads and gambling, what will become of the rest who are supposed to be led?

It is frustrating to be a teacher. On my puplit I am supposed to rail against the injustices of the world. On my pulpit I am supposed to inspire change. But Life has been teaching me valuable lessons these past few years. And I am not sure I like being taught reality.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I immensely enjoyed this film (and highly recommend that you see it) for the following reasons:

1. Although the context was not well-explained, it had a pretty decent political statement underneath the action-packed sequences, explosions and all that Texan eye-candy. *Wipes drool.*

2. And the political statement is, curiously enough, stated by an African in the movie: "It's Africa. Nobody cares about Africa."

3. It didn't resort to the US government saving the day in a foreign land once again. It's very rare that a Hollywood flick actually shows US ambiguity in times of another country's distress. Although the lead male characters are ex-Navy men.

4. It is set in Africa. Mali and Nigeria to be exact. Which makes one wonder why in the heck they named this film after the desert to the north, when the storyline doesn't have anything to do with the desert at all. Lemme see, its probably because Americans don't know shit about Africa but the Saharan desert? And this film would have tanked to the high heavens had they entitled it..."Mali" or "Niger River?"

5. I liked the humor liberally sprinkled all over the script. It helps that the actors had good on-screen chemistry. Funny guy #1 is, contrary to the usual formula, actually decent-looking, musckled and dare I say, hot? Although next to Matt McConnoughey, nobody else is hotter. *Drool.*

6. Lambert Wilson, the actor who played Merovingian in Matrix Reloaded, plays the French bad guy once again. For someone who is actually half-French, he has a funny, funny accent.

7. While the story might seem incredibly far-fetched, its not very far from what has happened and what continues to happen in the "dark continent." European business interests (among others) prevail above all else. Colludes with African dictator. African dictator amasses wealth through brute force over the people. "The people" are frequently warring tribes who found themselves in one "state" after Europeans partitioned the continent like a pizza pie about 100 years back. Shit from the past goes right on into the future.

8. Penelope Cruz is dirty, looks a bit sickly and make-up-less. And did I say dirty?

9. The tough, musckled, ex-Navy men are also nerds by heart. Wow. Imagine the combination if it were possible in real life.

So there kids, your 100++ is money well-spent. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Beautiful Aninuan Beach in Puerto Galera

Spent 3 days and 2 nights on what has got to be Puerto Galera's most serene and peaceful stretch of white sand and crystal blue waters. If only because 2/3 of this little piece of heaven is reportedly owned by the Ayalas. Too bad my boyfriend didn't take pics of their series of "huts" and I say "huts" because they looked more like houses on stilts with nipa decor. Because we came on weekdays the resort only had a few guests (most of whom were German) and the only other resort also housed some 20-30 people or so. Lucky for us.

How to get there:

1. Take a Jam Tritran Bus for Batangas Pier. Terminal located along EDSA between Kamuning Road and Timog Avenue. Fare costs PhP 143. Their earliest trip is at 1am and buses leave on hourly intervals. I recommend you take the 5am trip. It will take you 2 hours (give or take a few minutes) to get to your destination.

2. When you get to the pier, you'll find quite a few ferries going to White Beach. We took the M/V Brian 8:00 trip. PhP 140. Ferries leave as early as 5:30 in the morning and as late as 4:30 in the afternoon. The passage through Maricaban strait is quite choppy so I suggest you pop some Bonamine before the boat ride.

3. When you land on the loud, dirty and fly-friendly White Beach, go straight for the main road and take a tricycle to Aninuan Beach. The drivers will charge you PhP80, but the fare should really only cost PhP 9 per person. Besides, its just a 5-minute ride.

4. We checked in at the Aninuan Beach Resort. PhP 1,800 for 4 people, non-aircon room. You wouldn't need aircon anyway because their accomodations are cool. Besides, you wouldn't be spending a whole lot of time indoors when the outdoors is just gorgeous.

Food is relatively cheaper in the other resort. Check out the pizza and past place in between. Yum.

Its the summer! Travel! Enjoy. :)