Posted in Education, School

Going Home

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Top to bottom: 8-Samal & 8-Manobo, 8-Bagobo, 8-Mangyan.

Last December 13 (Tuesday), I was given the chance to talk to my sisters in Miriam College Middle School. I spoke to some Grade 8 students and gave them tips on how to write their first ever term paper…in Music class. Yes, a term paper in Music class! It’s a little weird, right?

Why a term paper in Music class? I honestly don’t know! But maybe it’s because the Music subject area supervisor wants to introduce the concept of research paper writing to the students before they enter high school, and they want the students to have an “easier” and “enjoyable” time while doing the paper. It’s one of their first research papers, so I think that having interest in what they’re writing on is very important. They’re taking baby steps in the field of research, so they should enjoy.

But enough on why the subject area supervisor wants them to write a term paper. Let’s focus on my experience!

I came a little early for my call time. I was so excited, I guess. The idea of giving a talk to “kids” scared me, honestly. When I was in grade school, I was a listener of talks, whether the topic was interesting or not. But I didn’t know how other students behaved when someone else was talking in front of a class. But this talk made me a little excited because of some reasons. One, I get to go back to my first home away from home. Second, I get to share what I do when doing the important stuff. Third, I get to go out of the house. But honestly, it’s really reason number one!

I wanted to go back to where I grew up, and it has come to the point when I want to give back and teach in the school. But maybe enough of that for now. So yeah… I really wanted to go back to the school because I wanted to see the school, see the people learning in the school, see the people teaching in the school, see everything and everyone in the school, actually. I just miss the simplicity of the overall environment. Something just draws me back to the place, and I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s the memories, or maybe it’s the long time I spent in the place. I don’t know, really. But hey, I loved every minute of my short four-hour visit.

The classes I spoke to were really diverse: some students asked questions and actively participated in my talk, while others seemed to be shy. That affected my talk in a way, but hey, at least I was successful in delivering my message. And more importantly, I was able to able to share some helpful tips on how to start research.

I’ll admit it, I’m sure I wasn’t that interesting. It’s my first time to give a talk. I did try to engage with the students. I was successful in one class, since they were really active. I’m pretty sure that the others got bored. I got a little hurt, since it’s my first time speaking in front of students. But hey, I didn’t let that get in the way of my happiness. I just tried to understand that not all students are like me: the “good student”. Oh well, that’s the reality that I have to learn to accept, even if that’s not the ideal.

Despite the lows, I still had fun. I mean, this is like training for me, since I plan to teach in the future. Dealing with students who pass notes to each other right in front of you is a sad reality. This is painful for sensitive people, but some are already immune to this. I’m clearly not immune to this, and it will take a long time for me to accept this. 

Even if there were inattentive students, I knew that some of them were interested in what I was saying, and that drove me to finish the talk. Students like them are the reason why I want to teach; students who are eager to learn for their own sake are my inspiration.

And so I ended my “lecturing” day with some of the “signature” food from the grade school/high school canteen: quail egg siomai and twister fries.

My day of reminiscing had to come to an end at around 2:30pm, since I had nothing to do anyway. I left MC with a smile on my face, ready to go to my home in UP.

Posted in College, Education, School

College: Woes to Goals

Getting a college education is very important to me. Without it, I can’t be a high school teacher, and I wouldn’t be able to broaden my knowledge. The idea of going back to school gets me giddy, so I enroll. But as a few weeks pass by during the semester, my anxiety brings me down. This has happened three time already, and I don’t want this to happen again. So, I’ve decided to transfer to another school.

Deep in my heart, I did really want to be a UP student, even if I chose to go to UP out of practicality. I wanted to get to know the real world, meet different people, and discover myself. But when I made that decision to study in UP, I didn’t know I had Bipolar II Disorder. I didn’t know that my depression back in high school was just the tip of the iceberg; I didn’t know that it could go worse. After a semester of only 12 units, I enrolled three times, and applied for a leave of absence (LOA) three times. I felt like I wasted the money of my parents and the tax payers, but health first, right? If I hadn’t left, I might be dead. By dead, I mean six feet under the ground.

I’ve been thinking about transferring schools since the first time I was on leave, but it’s only this time that I thought seriously about it. At first, I wanted to go back to my alma mater. Then I wanted to try open university. After that, I considered transferring to either of the remaining schools in the “Big Four”. Now, I’m considering moving away from Manila just to study.

Why am I transferring, anyway? Well, I just couldn’t take the system of everything in UP Diliman. From enrollment, to the academic requirements, to the social environment, to how students are treated, to how the politics in school go, to everything. Sure, UP is a microcosm of the Philippines and maybe the world, but for a student with a psychosocial condition, UP may be a little too much to handle.

I’m not making my condition an excuse for me to “give up” or anything. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs. What I need now is a school that will help me cope up with my anxiety. I’m not putting UP down, either. I believe that UP is the best school in the country, and everyone who graduates from the university is an armored, strong, well-rounded, nationalistic, and competent individual. It’s just that, I think I need to focus on building my armor somewhere else.

News about my school options’ admission rules broke my heart. One doesn’t accept transferees for their education program. The other one doesn’t have my ultimate favored course. Another required me to finish another semester in UP. I broke down after getting that email from the last school that updated me. I told my mom, “Can I not study anymore?” through Facebook Messenger. I later on tweeted, “Can I just die?”. I was so depressed — I just wanted to die doing nothing. But then my mom told me before that water sort of helps ease depressed feelings. So I took a shower, and I felt better. I told myself, “wow, was that miracle water?”. But that feeling didn’t last. I grew frustrated (not depressed) in the evening because of doing my nails. Then everything followed.

The next day, I called my last school option, and boy I was so happy. This school is said to be a good school for students like me. It also offers my favored course. And guess what, the school accept transferees even if they’ve only finished one semester of schooling (provided that they have not failed)! Well, isn’t that good news? Well, the not-so good side of this is that the school is miles away from home. But hey, THAT’S OKAY! I’ve always wanted to explore other places, and I also want to know how it feels like to live independently. Nothing is final yet, but I have a strong feeling on this one.

When I was on leave, I kind of thought negatively of college. All I thought of was it was mental and emotional torture. But seeing happy college graduates added a little positivity on my perspective. Now that I have a school in mind, I am pretty much convinced, again, that college is a good thing. After all, not everyone is privileged to receive higher education. So I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky that I have a chance to change my life through education, and that I have a chance to change the lives of others through my education.

Posted in Education, School

For the Love of Peace (Education)

A college classmate interviewed me about the peace education I had in elementary school. I discussed with him the basics of our peace education and peace efforts in the exclusive Catholic school I attended for my basic education. During the interview, I cannot help but feel nostalgic about my school life. But aside from that, I missed all the ways I helped, in my own little way, to promote peace.

My school is very active in promoting peace. Our college department even has an institute dedicated for studies about peace. We have basic peace education in elementary school, but that was not enough. In high school, teachers incorporated our school’s core values (truth, justice, peace, and integrity of creation) in our lessons and projects. They often focused on peace, even if our society needs all four values. Why? I guess it’s because of our partnership with a school in Mindanao.

In Cotabato, where our sister school is located, chaos and armed battle is always present. Thus, our school is very active in helping our brothers and sisters, whether Muslim or Christian. Our school encourages its students to participate in the school’s efforts to provide aid to the sister school. We would have our annual “Lugawan Para sa Mindanao” (Porridge for Mindanao) in all of the institution’s units to raise funds for financial and other aid for the sister school. The project is a yearly success, trust me. How can a student of our school say no to our delicious “lugaw”?

When we had Peace Education back in seventh grade, we had a letter exchange program with the students of our sister school. When I read a letter from one of their students, I was really humbled. My pen pal described her life to me and my classmates, and I was teary-eyed. Then I realized that I was fortunate to be living in Manila, where there were no armed battles, even if Manila isn’t peaceful. I was humbled on how lucky I am to be living my life, even if I had my own problems. Besides, I’m not stereotyped as a terrorist. But, that letter exchanging experience made me realize that those stereotypes were just stereotypes. My pen pal seamed to be nice; she even wanted to be text mates with me and my classmates (too bad, we weren’t subscribed to Talk ’n’ Text. She said she wanted her text mate to be a subscriber of TNT).

The Peace Education I received changed me, even in the little ways. It taught me how to manage my anger (well, a little bit), and to appreciate the peace and order in my family and local community. It also taught me to have peace with myself, since back then, I had conflicts with myself. As I said in the interview of my classmate, the Peace Ed I received also sparked my passion and advocacy for peace. In fact, the class sparked my desire to teach about peace and my desire to help give justice and peace to the masses.

It wasn’t really effective to some students, but at least we learned about our rights, equity, some history, and iconic people who promoted peace. If I were given the chance to improve the curriculum, I would. But hey, enough of changing it. I think it’s good enough. At least my school had Peace Ed. 

I wish the Department of Education would look into adding Peace Education in the new K-12 curriculum, if it isn’t included yet. I mean, I think this is basic. I think everybody deserves to get this type of education; everybody deserves to know and experience peace. After all, we NEED peace on Earth. If DepEd has no plan in doing this, then it would be a great loss.

Education is the key to growth, and Peace Education is the key to unity. I hope the authorities realize this statement.