Friday, June 26, 2009

HELLO!!!!!???

(In which I’m running out of ways to let my students know that my patience isn’t unlimited.)
***

When the new program was introduced to us, I told myself that this would be tough. But the trainers assured us that the parents understand what it is that they’re placing their child into. They told us that they will be given a complete set of books plus cassette tapes so they can study the lesson at home and that we are only there to teach them basic info about the lesson. The activities are done at home.

It’s like saying “Don’t worry teachers. The students in this program are carefully selected to make sure that they will be responsible and that they will develop good study habits since the parents monitor their progress with you. And since this program requires constant attention and monitoring, the students are more likely to be less of a nuisance.” Cool, isn’t it?

That’s training period. Wait till I tell you what happens on the phone.

I have these sisters who enrolled for the new program. They are beginners. The older is using storybooks and the younger, phonics books. The book was fine. Four pages for ten minutes. The problem is I believe they don’t understand how long ten minutes are when they don’t talk.

With the older sister:

Me: How many aliens did she see?
Student: Mmmm
Me: How many aliens did she see?
Student: How many?
Me: Yes. How many aliens did she see?
Student: ……………..
Me: Hello?
Student: Hello.
Me:
How… many… aliens… did… she… see?
Student: Mmmm…
Me: One? Four? Five? Seven? (Growing impatient)
Student: Four.
Me: Okay. Can you answer in complete sentences? She saw four aliens.
Student: She saw… (sigh) fo… eylns...

With the younger sister:

Me: What is that picture?
Student: ….
Me: That is a…?
Student:
Me: HELLO?
Student: Hello. (Trying to be cute.)
Me: Yes. What is that picture?
Student: ….
Me: What… is… that… picture?
Student: Mmm.
Me: It’s a wheel, right?
Student: Yes.

I have nothing against them being beginners. But, damn, we’ve been together for four months and the questions are so freaking easy. How many more forms do I have to fill out to remind them of their responsibility? And they are supposed to be listening to tapes and answering workbooks with their parents, aren’t they? What’s worse, during the time that they don’t answer, you’ll hear keyboard sounds and some tones on the background. You can actually imagine them hitting the space bar continuously with their face twitching as they try their best to get pass the current level. And when they do, you’ll hear a very cute tone and a “Congratulations” message pops on the screen and their face brightens up. But since their annoying teacher is on the other line asking them questions they didn’t really listen to, they'll say “Hello?” when you say "Hello?" And when their annoying teacher sounds annoyed on the phone, they’ll sound as if they are being maltreated by the annoying teacher who is being annoyingly mean to them.

Verses by Funandfearless: Inverted

(In which structuralism is sometimes the thing in poetry writing.)


***

Ever wondered how this
Inconceivably excruciating, unrequited attraction 
Resurfaced when it has intended itself 

Never to return?
Over the past fortnight I’ve been
Mooning over the risky idea of you and me; but even
Ruminating about you turns out to be a luxury.
Another day will have to pass. And I pray for 
Healing to come at last.



Photo Source:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Graduate School: Expectations and Frustrations


(In which the title says it all.)

***

Our first class for the Graduate School in the University of the Red Warriors was scheduled last Saturday. I was supposed to take the bus (cheaper) but since I went home at one o’clock in the morning, I had to take the van to get there on time. I did. Hurray for that!

As soon as I passed the security guards with digital thermometers, I told myself, “This is it.” Excitement and fear took over me. But everything changed when:

· We (my best friend and I) had to wait at the hot lounge for the office to open. We do not know where our classrooms are for they were not written on the registration form.

· Be incredibly disappointed to see how the comfort rooms (with no water supply at that time) look.

· Have to pass a creepy hallway in search for the High School building, get lost and receive different instructions from people we ask.

· Have neck pains from leaning to the left because we had our class at the Principal’s office which means our class looks like a meeting of parents (of nuisance students) with the principal.

· We found out that college classes are only until Friday. Facebook must be lying when it said we will meet Mr. Right in the university.

· Our classrooms have the traditional blackboard-and-chalk tandem. Hello, asthma dear!

· We have to wait for the next six hours for professors who never came.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Let Me Write For I am Living


(In which I am happy that my hands can write what my brain says.)


Yesterday, my sister brought a DVD – One Liter of Tears – a Japanese drama. It was actually being aired at a local TV network but due to my work schedule, I wasn’t able to catch it. It was hard watching it though, since it wasn’t dubbed in Tagalog. You have to look at the actor’s faces, read the subtitle, be sure the dog’s not gnawing on your shoes and eat your meal at the same time. Thank goodness that on the times when our multitasking skills failed to serve us well, the “pause” button was always there to help. We weren’t able to finish the entire series because of its length yet I sure learned a lot from it.

I never knew how important my most random and seemingly senseless writings are until I met Aya. She suffered from spinocerebellar atrophy – a very cruel disease that will leave you with your brain working properly but with the rest of your body so impaired that they will gradually stop receiving messages from the brain. She was advised by her doctor to keep a record of the changes she experiences with her body in the form of a diary. And that diary was published and touched many people’s lives.

I am without an intention to make myself known for my writings. We have to be realistic. I know that being a well-kn0own writer takes more than penmanship. And it sure requires a lot of patience and passion. How cliché is that? There are times that I feel that writing about my feelings and my thoughts wasn’t very useful since it takes a lot of time and energy to create one and post it on a blog site yet less than a minute for a reader to ignore it. I know. Failing to see any comments doesn’t mean failing to get any readers. But it doesn’t mean you got one, either.

I have heard the very famous “Write to express and not to impress” line when we were studying in high school. Well, my writings aren’t made to impress but they could do so. It’s really done for the sake of expression and record-keeping. It’s for preserving memories.

Whenever my students ask me how to write, I always started with the basic “You must have an introduction, a body and a conclusion” thing. But at the end of the lecture and they seemed to get more confused because either I am using difficult terms on composition or they seem not so convinced, I tell them to be true. I tell them not to stop the flow of ideas in their mind and to just put the ideas on the paper using words. I just tell them to write. Please do not say I don’t know how to teach. You see, it’s hard to teach essay/creative writing which you studied for years in high school and more than a semester in college to students who are intending to study it for less than a month. I did my best.

So there. Just write. I just write. I write about jovial, confusing, disappointing, interesting, ridiculous and historical experiences. My hands try to express the things my mouth cannot. And aside from that, I now have a new purpose in writing, thanks to Aya. I can write. And I want to write as long as I can. I will write to acknowledge life.
“My writings are the evidence that I am still alive.” – Aya Kitō


(Real photo of Aya Kitō)

Verses by Funandfearless: Chasing Lights

(In which feeling – and not seeing – means knowing.)


***


An avenue of neon lights
Millions of tiny sparks.
In the dotted landscape
Your fitful light shines.

I wonder why I continue to gaze
At your insignificant brightness.
Static.
Charming.
Mystic.
Numb.

And like a stranded traveler, embarrassingly helpless
I stood transfixed in this ever-growing distance.


Photo Source:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Skin


(In which I found something perfect.)

***

I rode the jeepney to the G-liner bus terminal. As soon s I got myself comfortably seated, I bade my mom goodbye like I always do. I sat up and listened to the song being played on the jeepney’s music player. The presentation of the song wasn’t s serious as its theme. The song was a sad one – about a failed relationship and broken promises.

As the song draws nearer to the end, my sad expression gradually turned into a smile. That song! I knew it! Oh gosh why didn’t I think about it during the time when I was looking for songs to comfort me? Damn, I feel so connected to the song that I have to cover my face with a hankie to hide my big smile. I should have heard this long before. It’s just perfect. I hope X can hear this – and understand this. But it’s just too bad that the pain X has left me was not skin deep.

Skin
Grin Department

I
Lagi na lang tayong nagaaway
Sa walang kwentang bagay…
Lahat ng tao ay pinagseselosan
Kahit na alam niyang itoy kausap lang

II
Love dont you know..
Mahal na mahal kita
Di mo lang alam…
Tl ako sayo…
Sa twina…
Will always…
Love you….wooooooo
Will always !!

(Chorus)
Bakit kailangan pang mangyari ang isang katulad nito….
Diba’t ang sabi mo ako lang ang true love mo yun pala…
Ay di totoo…hoooooo

III
Akoy mayroong nalaman,
Itoy tungkol sayo
Nang aking malaman…
Akoy na-shock sayo!
Sa twina….haaaaaaaa
Long la la la la la long la la la la la la long long li long long…..story !!

(repeat chorus)

VI
Goodbye nalang sayo
Split nalang tayo!
Salamat sa mga date natin
Salamat sa mga trip natin
Salamat din sa mga sulat mo…
Susunugin ko!
Salamat din sa nagsabing my shota….ka na….palang…..iba….haaaaaaa

(Bridge)
Hi ho hi ho
Skin lagot kayo!
Hi ho hi ho
Ohh mahal ang panget mo!
Iderma mong muka mo
Kiskis mo sa aspalto
(repeat 3x)

Lyrics from http://songslyrics.selaplana.com/songs/opm/skin-grin-department/

Monday, June 8, 2009

So Far…

(In which I realized that I’m not a very bad student after all.)

***

I’m 21. And I’ve been a sucker for Life’s hardest spanks for as long as I can remember. That statement wasn’t written for effect. Seriously.

And for the last 13 years or so, I’ve learned several things (They might sound foolish and you might have learned them your own way but I’m still writing them though.) that show how well I know Life’s lessons but not quite as well as how much they should have made me wiser.

Anyway, at least I’m not that ignorant.

So far, I’ve learned…

That five-year-old kids shouldn’t use scissors without an adult’s guidance.

That drinking milk is important.

That you shouldn’t watch another kid play while feeding the dog.

That listening to instructions carefully is a must – especially during a district quiz bee.

That principals aren’t so concerned about your feelings that they can even announce how stupid you are for failing to listen to instructions carefully during a district quiz bee in front of ALL the other students on a flag ceremony.

That in high school, having your chairs arranged in a circle is a very interesting, if not the most effective, seating arrangement.

That wearing glasses increases your chances of being friendless and misunderstood.

That joining a brass band means more than having music lessons.

That it’s better not to be with your younger sister in the same brass band.

That the chance of not ending up with your first boyfriend is very huge.

That Elton John was right when he said that honesty is such a lonely word.

That rockers could also be softies.

That some professors aren’t as professional as what they are supposed to be.

That you can surprisingly be at your best under pressure.

That algebra isn’t big enough to keep you from being on top.

That friends are chosen.

That no matter how smart you are, you are never smart all the time.

That at times, the worst decisions we make are the ones that seemed to be well-thought and well-planned.

That the belief about “men are wolves and women are foxes” isn’t always true. It could be the other way around.

That Koreans believe that you can die when you sleep with the fan on.

That entering a relationship is a gamble. And when you engage in a gamble, be ready to lose.

That in a relationship, courtship is the best part.

That even if a man is very nice and sweet doesn't mean he can make you happy.

That a right love at the wrong time is still wrong.

That the one who promises doesn’t know what a promise is.

That at times, even if men’s promises sound suspicious, women still believe.

That age does not justify maturity.

That you can cry over a breakup with your mouth open in front of your mom and don’t feel bad about it.

That crying isn’t equal to vulnerability.

That no matter how much you wanted to curse the ones who broke your heart, you just can’t because you can’t hate them.

That you can be cold to people you don’t like yet you wonder why some people are cold to you.

That no matter how much you wanted to give someone you love their happiness, it is never easy to give them their freedom from you.

That loving means letting someone go.

That letting go is braver than holding on.

That I am not brave.



Friday, June 5, 2009

Twister

(In which my last resort turned out to be a hit.)
***

Friday. It was the day when my students Mikey and Bangs will be going to Boracay with other students. They look happy and excited that Bangs even took her Friday test last Thursday in anticipation for the weekend hangover from Bora. Yet I doubt their decision of going on a trip on this kind of weather. With the doubt comes envy. I need a vacation too. So two students going away means several hours of additional sleep. That will do.

But the night before the trip, I received a text message saying that they cancelled their trip because of the weather. I bade goodbye to my several hours of additional sleep. That’s not a very big problem really. But the thing is I didn’t prepare an exam for Mikey since he asked to be given a test on Monday. And great thanks to my work schedule, I barely had time to enjoy dinner.

So I did something for Mikey first thing the next morning. I thought of giving him tongue twisters on the sounds he is having the most difficulty. His face twitched when he saw me with the papers, thinking that they were test papers.

“Exam? But you told me on Monday!” he said, trying hard to make me understand how important was the promise I broke.

“No. They’re tongue twisters.” I replied.

“Ahh.. Okay”

After some mouth stretching, we started off with… yeah, Peter Piper - our dear friend from the elementary school who never got tired of picking pickled peppers and packs of papers.

The student from the other room seemed so curious about our chants which are oozing with P’s and occasional F’s that she asked her teacher about it. A moment later, while we were chanting how the flea and the fly flew through the flaw in the flue, I heard her saying something about the girl who sells seashells by the seashore. When the bell rang, I went back to the room where I conduct phone classes to check on my e-mail. When I went out, I saw, much to my surprise and gladness, a bunch of students chanting where the pickled pepper Peter Piper picked was and that Laura and Larry rarely lull their rural roosters to sleep.

At least I did something interesting today.