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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A Land So Close and Yet So Far

          A week ago, I flew to Kota Kinabalu heading a delegation of eight students with the Science Coordinator on a cultural exchange visit with De La Salle Secondary School that started in 2009. Not knowing what to expect and ever hopeful to gain a very good experience from the trip, I eagerly waited for the delegates to arrive at the airport reading a book.  We were told that we shall be welcomed by Mr. Safri and Mr. Jong but never expected they will be accompanied by a fleet of alumni and students.

         Kota Kinabalu is an urbanized city that belongs to Sabah, the western part of Malaysia.  Formerly known as Jesselton, the name Kota Kinabalu comes from the Dusun words Kota for city or fort and Kinabalu, a compound word that joins Ki meaning to have or exist and Nabalu for spirit of the dead.  The term spirit of the dead, as eerie as it might sound, may no longer be appropriate for the city is bustling and very much alive.

         Having been to Kuala Lumpur on two occasions, it has always been a wonder to me how three ethnicities, Chinese, Malay and Indians, can live peacefully together  only to find out that Kota is populated by even more than a number of different ethnicities other than the three.  These include Bajaus, Kadazan-Dusun, Bruneian Malays, Bumiputras, and Muruts, to name a few.  It is quite a wonder how these people, in spite of their difference in lineage, culture and religion, have learned to live together in peace under one flag and one nation. 

         Kota Kinabalu is a land that is so close and yet so far from home in so many levels – geography, history, culture, and so much more.   In terms of geography, Kota is so near to the Philippines that it will take only a few hours by boat either from Palawan or down south of Mindanao to get to it. About 1 and 45 minutes by plane from Manila to its airport,  Kota Kinabalu is by far the closest to us geographically.  As such, it is no surprise that our ancestors arrived in our land via boats from these shores and Indonesia. This being the case, there are several words shared by both languages albeit some deviations.  Masuk, for example, is the same as the Tagalog word pasok for enter.  Manuk is the same as our manok for chicken, nasi, although such is only true for the Kapampangans, who use the same word for rice.  Bawang, on the other hand is onion to them while it is garlic to us.  Of course, make that bawang putih and it would mean garlic, too.    There are other words which a Fillipino can pick-up as being the same but sometimes could mean another that one can chuckle thinking that our ancestors might have messed the words up thus evolving to come up  with another meaning.

           In terms of history, there exists a parallelism between our two countries. While our country has experienced long periods of colonization, first by the Spaniards, to be followed by the Americans, Kota Kinabalu, once called Jesselton, named after Sir Charles Jesselton, the Vice Chairman of the British North Borneo Company, thereafter forcing the Sultanate of Brunei to cede the land to the British. As is with our country, the British saw revolt and destruction by the Bajaus, then inhabitants of the place. The greatest similarity being that our countries having been both occupied by the Japanese during World War II with both experiencing the wrath and destruction that war brings. What is even more interesting is that said parallelisms starts an even more interesting history between Sabah and the Philippines.

            As was stated earlier, Sabah was once under the Bruneian Empire. The story goes that the Sultan of Brunei gifted the northern part of Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu in 1658, in appreciation for its help in settling a civil war in Brunei, hence, the source of the disputed Sabah claim of the Philippines that lingered till the 70’s until this was abandoned completely under the Marcos regime, after a planned attack backfired into what is now called the Jabidah massacre where Moro soldiers were supposedly being trained to infiltrate the Sabah government but were massacred for reasons we will never know and a part of a sordid history that is best forgotten. 

           On a personal level, coming to Kota Kinabalu seems like I have never left home.  First of all, we share the same climate as it is also located in the tropics.  Secondly, just like in Thailand, Indonesia or any of our Asean neighbors in the Far East, the faces of its inhabitants are so close to home that one does not have that feeling of unease with total strangers having set on its soil for the first time.  Their faces are the same as the ones we see in the streets of Manila or any other province in the country -the same sparkle in their eyes as they greet you with pleasant, grinning faces are the same faces you see in your friendly neighborhood as you step out of your house in Manila.  The same brown skin, albeit the difference in costumes, although this difference is only because they are different in Manila but such is a common site in Mindanao.

            We share the same staple - rice! Naturally, we almost do the same thing with it.  We cook rice the same way, steam or fry it.  Yet, they do more with it. We both eat rice as early as breakfast. While we fry rice and eat it with dried fish or canned sardines with fried or scrambled eggs, their traditional breakfast, nasi lemak, combines rice cooked in coconut milk, boiled eggs, anchovies (dilis) coupled with peanuts and sambal sauce which harmonizes everything together.  Our palettes and taste buds are different in that they use curry and chilis all the time. They also have delicacies which are not meant for the faint of heart.  We have balut and tamilok, they do have butod, which turns out to also be called sago grub or sago worm which is actually the larva of a beetle. I never had the guts to eat it and was amazed that two of my students mustered enough courage to. That made me look like and feel like chicken.

               During our week-long stay, we experienced their culture, enjoyed the sceneries but most of all, felt the warmth and friendly hospitality of our hosts.  Anywhere we went, we were greeted with aplomb that nothing can harm us along the way, even that treacherous trek up and down the hills of Kokol where rubber tapping is being done. We tasted their cuisine and prepared roti. We learned to drink water that was not cooled in the fridge and being told this is healthier, observed how they held classes, saw how the government worked during the Parliament session, learned about the history of DLSSSKK through its archives, gave small speeches about Jose Rizal which they take up and history in general and how this subject is taught in our school. We were taken to Tambunan, a valley some 80 kilometers away from Kota and experienced rural living although we were billeted in a brand new hostel. We saw the fantastic sceneries the land has to offer most especially the view from the mountain and the Mahua falls, though not as majestic as, say Pagsanjan falls or the Maria Cristina, is  as equaly breath taking as well. We were always afraid that we could be in a place where only the traditional toilets were present and feared we could never learn how to use such. To our relief, they always have what is now standard toilets with a bidet to boot.  We were taken to several dinners, both Malay and Chinese ones by our hosts, Mr. Safri, Sir Jong and Sir Adrian and the alumni and students of DLSSSKK who we cannot thank enough.  Or even the gracious Br. Peter, the Principal and Administration and teachers, the President of the PTA and the members of the Board of Trustees.

                 On a more personal level, I enjoyed Kota Kinabalu because of the company I had. I may have gone to Aspen, Colorado or the beaches of Amalfi Coast or Maldives but I would not have enjoyed it as much as I have Kota Kinabalu.  I may have stayed in a five-star hotel or even the Al Burj Khalifa in Dubai but none of its amenities could have matched the Benildus, ancient as it is, simply because I was with my students playing card games and telling benign jokes about anything under the sun with them. They who turned out to be my children for seven days and now my friends forever.  I would not have enjoyed the 7 days as much if it were not Milet who was with me as we ventured this new land.  I could not have enjoyed Kota if I were not seeing it with the glowing eyes of Christine, Bea, Toni, Jemil, Maui, Gerard, Adolf, and Kester.  I will never forget the adventurous Bea and Maui who braved trying everything they put on our plates, the simple but genuine contentment in the eyes of the boys as we practiced our songs which we had to perform or when they had to give short lectures on short notice, the sweet retorts one gets from the ever articulate Toni or that ever dulcet Christine smiles as she willingly gave out snippets of that cute lips that had the boys swooning over her. Or Adolf's and Maui's cute grins that the girls of St. Martin's or Stella Maris could ever forget. And that ever so sweet gesture of the boys to buy the girls their favorite stuff toys, hiding these from them all throughout the shopping spree and over thinking how these can be kept from them until they presented the same in their room. I am so proud of these guys for they delivered more than what was expected of them. They were true ambassadors of their school and I was so fortunate to have witnessed and be part of all this.  Such was the experience I had and I have never been happier coming to an unknown land for the first time - a land that is so close and yet so far from who or what I really am.


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Monday, February 05, 2018

Kota Kinabalu

In about an hour, I shall be taking a bath and get ready to go to the airport and head eight Senior High Students together with the Science Coordinator, Millette Estidola, for a tour of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.

This will be my first time to go to that land which was, in my childhood, was being claimed by the Philippines as its own.  I remember looking at the Philippine map and wondering why I am seeing Sabah underneath Mindanao. It was believed that the Sultanate of Brunei had given the northern part of Sabah to the Sulu Sultanate for its help during the civil war.  The land was ceded to the British and after decolonization was claimed by the Malaysian Federation. The Philippines, under former President Diosdado Macapagal, renewed the claim. The Sabah claim was abandoned by Pres. Marcos sometime during his reign and with a lot of scandal.  In the story told and re-told, Marcos instituted what was to be Operation Merdeka of Macapagal, a plan to destabilize Sabah by having men infiltrate and sabotage and legitimize the claim.  Marcos' plan was to be called Jabidah. Somehow, the plan did not work out and caused the massacre of the commando unit allegedly by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.    Events like these have been forgotten and the Philippine claim to Sabah has been abandoned. Needless  to say that there exists a rich history between the two lands and I shall set foot on the shores that could have been ours. .You can read about the story here and here
I  have no idea what this trip would be like but I suspect it would be very fruitful and enjoyable.  Our schools, theirs and ours, have been having this program for several years now and I have had the privilege to be involved in one trip where I was to accompany the company of students from KK who visited the country several years back and got acquainted with their adult leaders, Mesdames LynnLulu and Noraisha Wan.  I am excited at the prospect of meeting Madame Lynn again. Too bad, Madam Wan is no longer connected with the school and has gone, probably, to KL.

We fly to KK at 4:25 pm and expects to reach the BKL airport at around 6:25 pm.   I am so excited by this trip and hoping I can blog every night my day to day experience.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Dookie - our miracle dog!

In all my life I never had a pet. My father was not keen in having one so I was already more than 50 years old when I got to have someone or something to play with.  It was a dog brought home by the wife in January of 2008 when she attended a wedding.  The whole family was excited having him as part of the household. His name was yogi.  He stayed with us for nine years until one day, my sons noticed that he was not himself doing nothing but lie on the floor.  This prompted my two boys to take him to the vet. Xray revealed that his penis was cut somewhere in the middle inside his body caused by a trauma. What caused that is still a mystery to us. One of the speculations was that someone beat him really hard.  I cannot be persuaded that this is the case because the hind legs would stand in the way of the penis.  There was nothing wrong with the legs.  Anyway the vet recommended that yogi be castrated and we agreed.  So, the following day, yogi was operated on.

When my sons came to the vet for a visit, they saw the vet force feeding yogi.  That afternoon, Kim, who rode with me to and from work decided to pay yogi a visit.  When we arrived at the hospital, I was looking for him expecting that he would be very happy to see us, jumping and wagging his tail.  Nothing.  I even ran past a cage until Kim told me yogi was inside sleeping.  I called him but to my surprise, there was no response from him. I tried to rouse him from sleep touching and petting him as I could but still no response until a staff talked to me to tell me that he was no longer with us.  Immediately, I saw Kim crying while I was trying to control my anger asking them what happened and if they have told my sons that death was possible in his condition.  All we knew was that he would be operated on, be well and go home.

Burying him was very painful. It was like a family member was being interred.  We were all determined not to have another pet as the pain was too much.

Several months later, my wife came home again from a far away island down south. Lo and behold, she carried with her another puppy!  Now this puppy was scot free and very independent in his former home in Marinduque where he could roam free., eat anytime and anything he wants. So, you can understand his frustration when we would crate him or tie him to restrain his movements.  What's worse is that at 5 months old, he seems to be teething and bites anything.  We would just discover the plants uprooted from the pots or our slippers being chewed to pieces.  Even worst was that we were all bitten by him.  First was Febie, Mamang's nurse, then Kraiganne, me and Nitz.  Except for Kraiganne, we all received complete shots for rabies.  I had to sacrifice several days just to get my shots at RITM.

When Dookie was with us for about a month when we started taking him to the vet.  It was my turn when he received his first vaccination. One day, Mickey noticed that he had a wound on his back.  I thought it was just an ordinary wound and let it be. Later on, it got bigger making us a little worried. We took him again to the vet and he was given medication for it. Just the same it kept on growing and probably very itchy as Dookie kept on scratching it until the flesh came out. Soon enough, there were two big wounds. All this time, Dookie became a picky eater. He wouldn't touch his food even the treats we bought from the vet. Then suddenly, he became very gloomy.  By this time, we no longer tie him or keep him in a cage as he wouldn't run around anymore.  This would have been fine except that he wouldn't eat, too.  He became really soft, fragile and skinny.  It was Coby who took him to the vet when he was suspected to have distemper.  I was really surprised. When I was in college, I had befriended a veterinarian and his staff in Marikina. I would stay in the clinic for a long time and I know what distemper is and what it can do to a dog. It is deadly! So we prayed hard that he wouldn't die and gave him all the nurturing we can give knowing that he would go anytime soon. We practically spoon fed him and gave him shots and  continuously talked to him urging him to hold on.

Days passed until his appetite was back! We were all so happy that even the vet was surprised that he was still alive.  There was one thing that we noticed, though.  His feet were becoming very weak. He would stumble down, pick up himself and walk again. By this time, his appetite is really back to normal and was consuming even more than he consumed before. We also stopped buying dog food and instead, Nitz would buy scrap meat and innards from the market, cook loads of it and store it in the fridge.   His knees kept weakening until one day, he couldn't use his hind legs anymore. He would crawl anywhere he wanted to go.  He would continue rushing to the door when a family member arrives, greet and wag his tail but he could not walk like a regular dog.

This morning, I got the surprise of my life when I woke up and he greeted me by the stairs. He was walking!!!! I guess a few more days and he will be back to normal.  We have our baby back to us! What a relief and joy that day would bring to me, my wife and my children.  I can't wait for that day to come.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Final Paper for Educational Leadership and Management

(Trying to be a prophet)

De La Salle Santiago Zobel: The Future in Responding to Learning Needs
of Millenials with the Advent of Technology


De La Salle Santiago Zobel school is a Catholic  institution that belongs to the system of
the De La Salle Philippines.  As such, it is a system of education that originated in France and follows a long history dating as far back as the 18th century.  With its educational philosophy of Teaching Minds, Touching Hearts and Transforming Lives, it makes sure that it has the learners at the core of its ministry.  This being the case, De La Salle Santiago Zobel School, henceforth DLSZ, keeps up with the latest trends in education to keep up with the changes happening in education here and abroad.
 With the advent of the internet, the world has been transformed into just one global village. Hence, it is imperative that schools should have the learners transform into global learners ready to compete and interact with anyone in the world. This poses a challenge to an educational system that is supposed to follow long traditions and philosophy set by its founder, St. John Baptist De La Salle.  At first glance, this may be very hard. However, knowing that the founder was an innovator and has addressed issues that confronted him at the time with innovation and creativity, it is safe to assume that the founder would have embraced new technologies if and only if such would benefit the learners.
This is the case with DLSZ.  Having been established in 1978, it has grown to what it is today. From the simple facility that is the main building, this institution of learning has matured into a big school that has state of the art edifices and equipment enabling it to compete with the very best in the country.  Its faculty has developed into major educators that provide top of the line, quality education for the young. Lately, it is one of the first institutions to adapt technology inside the classroom by divesting the use of books in favor of iPads called MLD’s or Mobile Learning Device. DLSZ uses different apps in education to supplement learning and even spearheaded the use of technology in other schools by launching a series of seminars called SparkEd, to showcase how learning takes place in the classroom.
Statement of the Problem
            Just like any other institutions, organizations that started breathing shall, at one point or another, expire. It may take years and years of a very long existence but just like a turtle who has set on a long journey of a thousand miles, it will one day reach its destination.  Such is the life of an organization. It will eventually face its inevitable demise. DLSZ is not immune to such a painful end. As a matter of fact, it has experienced several downfalls, like the downfall of the number of enrollees and/or having suffered a collective dampened spirit as a school. These setbacks are living testimonies that the school is in fact as vulnerable as any other.  There have been many times that DLSZ, as a school could have met its tragic death.  One of the major plunges the school experienced was on the 20th of November in 1996 when the tragic accident involving a grade four student died in an amusement ride while the school opened its fair grounds. This also involved another classmate losing her arm as a result of the said accident.  The spirit of the entire school was dampened for it never realized that such a thing could happen within its grounds.  The second was during the Erap administration in 1998 and the ensuing economic dive experienced by the country. The enrolment was at a low during the time. The all-time low in the enrolment was somehow abated with the proliferation of Korean students who flocked in the country to get education.  Another incident that could have caused the school its untimely demise was when one of its students, Mcsi Perlas, a graduating student met his untimely death in a car crash involving him and other classmates coming from a school activity in Dasmariñas, Cavite.  However, these events, no matter how tragic, proved how resilient DLSZ can be. 
Lately, the school has been facing another blow in its thirty-nine years of having been alive.  The very subdivision, the posh village of AAVA to where the school lies, is threatening the very existence of the school inside its premises.  The school is being seen as the cause of the horrendous traffic during rush hours among others, plus the noise and chaos such brings to an otherwise peaceful community. Such an irony for the very same institution was lured to establish its grounds on where it now stands as a marketing ploy to attract families to build their homes in the area knowing that they can send their young at an excellent school nearby.  Now that the children of the original homeowners have graduated and most of its students are non-villagers, the school is now regarded as a nuisance. Such is a serious threat to the school’s existence. However, the school is not to die of this nature. Sure, the building to where it stands might be thrown away but the school has already started a new building to continue its existence. This is where the school houses its Senior High School, a new addition to the organization to address the paradigm shift from a four-year high school system to a continuous grade level which is the actual system among international contemporaries. 
Hence, it can be said that the institution has not really died but has continued its existence in another place.
            However, there is another threat to the existence of the school which will surely cause its death. As a matter of fact, such threat holds true not only to DLSZ but to the entire school system in the country as we know it.  This is the fast paced growth education has undergone for the past decade or so.  With the advent of the computer and the internet, we are now faced with a different set of learners.  Gone are the days when students have to memorize facts and figures, formulae and other things we used to put to memory.  With computers, a limitless data can be had at the click of the keypad.  Since information can be had within a few seconds, man does not have to memorize anything anymore.  This being the case, teachers have to reinvent teaching.  They should now make lessons on the basis that students can have information easily and quickly.  They no longer have to stand in queue at libraries to research. 
            Computers have changed the landscape of education.  Its fast changing pace leads to the question on how relevant are traditional schools today.  We have already learned that education via correspondence is possible a long time ago.  And this is via snail mail and it has been with us for a very long time.  So too do we now have online universities such as the Writersvillage.com where people who wants to become writers join and attend classes in virtual classrooms.  Considering that distance learning is possible, the eventuality that schools will be configured to be online is tremendous.  We can just imagine a teacher conducting her class in front of a computer and the students are settled in the comfort of their homes attending class by just sitting in front of the computer as well.  The students interact and get engaged with the learning, only that they are not physically present altogether in one place at the same time.  Teachers would operate just like what they did before, writing their syllabi and daily lessons, only that they do this in front of a computer with access to a network system and talking to 20 or more students logged in at the same time. The teacher would be using the computer just like operators at call centers multi-tasking talking and listening via the headset with a microphone and continuous typing on a keyboard.  When this time happens, this will truly be the demise of schools as we know it.  At the rate technology is overtaking our daily lives, it seems like the next paradigm shift in education is inevitable.   The question is when. With DLSZ adapting quickly with the advances in technology, with its teachers being the first to be accredited by the famous company Apple as Distinguished Educators, a title bestowed to very select elite teachers around the world and four of its teachers as members of the Microsoft Certified Educators, about 20 Microsoft Innovation Experts and several more as Microsoft Innovation Education Experts, it could be said that the school has embraced technology altogether.  Hence, this paper will try to predict when education in DLSZ shall cease to exist as has been posited earlier. Such study shall be limited to DLSZ based on surrounding circumstances hoping the future can be foreseen out of the activities and the way DLSZ views education and how it handles its policies. 
            To get a picture of learning that happens in DLSZ against a backdrop of technology based learning and how technology is being used in the school, the paper shall start with the different apps known as Learning Management Systems or LMS used in DLSZ.  These apps shall be gathered and be given a brief description of each and their use.  With this, the paper shall try to assess whether or not the apps used are bound to pose an alternative system which will eventually cause a drastic change in the future. 

After which, the paper will look at the different influences involved with teacher-student engagement like government agencies, parents, teachers themselves, the principal, etc. who could, in one way or another, be a major force in either the acceptance or rejection of the issue on hand. The paper will try to predict how these influences would react to a paradigm shift in the educational system of DLSZ and in what capacity should they influence such change.   Among the very popular ones are the following:
Learning Management System
Schoology –
Google classroom
iTunes U

Course Content Management System
Khan Academy
VBS Economics
Cinch –
Socratic –
Microsoft Power point
Haiku Deck
Popplet Lite
Microsoft Sway
Document Processing and Alterations App
Google docs
Microsoft Word
Adobe Acrobat
Type on PDF
Graphing Data Collection
Microsoft Excel
Google Forms

Picture Editing and Video Making Application
Comic Lite
Screen Capture Lessons from Quicktime
Communication and Social Media Applications
Collaboration, Print Formatting, Readers and File Storage Applications
Office 365 One Drive
Cam Scanner
Google Drive
Office 365 One Note
Schoology - a learning management system (LMS) for K-12 schools, higher education institutions, and corporations that allows users to create, manage, and share content and resources. Also known as a course management system (CMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE), the cloud-based platform provides tools to manage any classroom or blended learning environment.
Google Classroom - a learning management system developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way. Google Classroom combines Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for writing, Gmail for communication, and Google Calendar for scheduling, and Google Search to help with school projects. Students can be invited to classes through the institution's database, through a private code, or be automatically imported from a school domain.
 Edmodo – offers a communication, collaboration and coaching platform to K-12 schools and teachers. The Edmodo network enables teachers to share content, distribute quizzes, assignments, and manage communication with students, colleagues, and parents. Edmodo is very teacher-centric in their design and philosophy: students and parents can only join Edmodo if invited to do so by a teacher. Teachers and students spend large amounts of time on the platform, both in and out of the classroom.
Kahoot! -  a game-based learning platform, used as educational technology in classrooms and other learning institutions. Launched in August 2013 in Norway, Kahoot! is played by millions of people in 100 countries. Its learning games ("kahoots") are multiple-choice quizzes that can be created by anyone and are not restricted as to age level or subject matter. Kahoot! can be played using any mobile device, desktop or laptop with an internet connection and web browser.
Khan Academy - a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan with a goal of creating a set of online tools that help educate students. The organization produces short lectures in the form of YouTube videos Its website also includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for educators. All resources are available to users of the website. The website and its content are provided mainly in English, but are also available in other languages.
YouTube - is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries.
YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, etc,
 Other Influences
Government - from among the influences that could affect the change in the system of education, the government, notably the Department of Education, plays the most important role for it has the power to effect changes.  This fact can clearly be seen when the department issued the changes a few years back introducing the KPUP grading system whereby the grading components have been identified and classified into knowledge, Process, Understanding and Product with the corresponding grade allocations and the change to the K-12 system to synchronize with international standards.
            Looking back, the Department however does not seem to have changed much throughout the years.  The changes in education has been very minimal, if not non-existent.  Other than its political structure, the department has not changed that much until the changes effected during the 21st century.  Looking back from the Reorganization Act of 1916, the changes ever since were not as drastic as it has done in the last few years.  Nevertheless, it is obvious that the man at the helm of the Department needs to be strong willed as the late Secretary, Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, to create drastic changes within the Department. 
DLSZ – while the school is first to embrace technology in its system, the school per se might not be very kin in changing the entire system altogether.  It still holds some traditions which it may not be ready to abandon.  When the opening of classes was suggested and adapted in some schools to be held in August, DLSZ did not follow suit.  There have been some reasons that the management of the school has given why it has decided not to join the schools, known as the big four, in changing the opening of classes.  To think that these schools included De La Salle University.  The other schools being the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila and the University of Santo Tomas to change their school calendar. 
Parents – parents are wont to question changes schools undergo.  They are a staunch believers of the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Parents would only understand that they were educated this and that way and because of this, they think like it is the only way.  They will be the last one to accept any changes that would happen on how schools should teach their children.  Oftentimes, one hears them asking, “Why are you experimenting on my child?” The parents are a big factor in the school to the point that they sometimes meddle with its operation.  They would question the grades given by the teacher thinking that there has been bias in the giving of the grade. 
Teachers – this group of educators would not succumb to a drastic change. On the contrary, rather than viewing this as an advance to their profession, they may find such as a threat to their very existence.  Like they would soon be replaced by technology and that they would soon be seen as obsolete.  Another way that this group of people would be an obstacle to the change is that they might be afraid of the unknown. 
            While there are a lot of advantages that the change in the system can be had with the scheme like easing down the traffic jams in the cities as the student population share the biggest chunk of the commuting public; the dangers posed by congested buildings of young teen agers; abating the drug problem in schools, one of the biggest arguments people have is that students will not develop their social skills as they will not have  interact with their peers. 

            Based on the foregoing, the paradigm shift in schools talked about in this paper will not yet happen in the near future.  The timing is just not right and the mind-set of the major players in DLSZ are not yet ready to embrace such an idea.  For one thing, the apps used in the school still have the traditional classroom in mind.  And to think DLSZ is among the pioneers in embracing technology in the classroom.
First and foremost, the programs seem to be designed for the classroom setting. The proposed change should begin with the designers who have yet to create a separate curriculum intended for distance learning in basic education. By doing so, the applications made shall be geared towards that end.  From among the platforms we already have,  Skype, iMessenger seem to be the most susceptible to this need.  These apps can be developed to hold conferences in a big scale so that the teacher can talk, teach and communicate with his/her students online at the same time.  There should also be a way by which the students can communicate with each other while such a lesson is taking place.  This and more are the problems the designers would have to address so that we can start to even think about changing the educational system.
Furthermore, the internet connection is still too slow and irregular.  With the internet connection being too slow results plus the intermittent interruptions, the country is definitely not ready to go into education that uses technology like the one being discussed here.  We have to ensure that the connection with the internet is almost worry-free and that the learning shall be uninterrupted for this scheme to succeed. 
The school, should it want to change the system, should work really hard to sell the idea not only to the major players who hold the biggest influence in the system.  It should be able to convince not only the parents, the teachers and students but itself that such is the only way left for us.  That the learners are faced with different problems as those faced by their predecessors.
This paper believes that the change is inevitable and that schools shall cease to exist the way it does. It does not even need to answer the how.  One day, the more progressive countries will make the change and the government will have no other recourse but to follow suit.  The only question is when. Yet, as fast as technology is surpassing and engulfing our lives, it seems like DLSZ and the entire school system will not yet be ready in the next twenty years.    

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reflection # 1

Note: I enrolled in a Certificate Program for Educational Leadership and Management Course taught by Br. Jun Erguiza, President of LASSSAI, to where LASSO is a branch. One of the requirements for the class is to give reflections and this is my first reflection.


     During the first day of this month-long course, we talked about the personal objectives of each participant to know the driving force of everyone and make each one go out for four Sundays instead of just lying around, sleeping in front of the television or being engaged with one’s spouse and children, for after all, Sunday is considered by many as a day for the family.          
We talked about the origin of education as coming from the Latin word educere which basically means to draw out, in this case, potentials of the students.  This being the case, I believe that it takes the pervasive philosophy that man, even just after birth has already built-in knowledge or pre-conceived ideas in his persona as opposed to the view of having been born in a tabula rasa state as was proposed by John Locke.  This has been clear to man since the 1990’s. The question to be asked now is What are these? This reminds me of the late Dr. Emerita Quito, if memory serves me right, who posited at least two, to my recollection, that could well be part of this pre-natal experience. These being the id, the first of the three structural models of Sigmund Freud’s model of the psyche and the Christian’s belief on the concept of the original sin.
 Notwithstaning these philosophical concepts, it has been proven that a child already experiences something even while being inside the womb, thus, has started acquiring information.  We have behaviorists who suggest the mother read literature or listen to classical music as the fetus inside her womb has started developing his/her senses.  I believe that this concept has been available as early as ancient man, for to them, education is the drawing out from the individual what is already inherent in his psyche and all we have to do is nurture and sustain these at the very least.  Furthermore, as these acquired data are raw, there could have been misinformation learned called misconceptions. In such a case, it is the duty of education to correct these misconceptions and lead the person into the right path.
Then we talked about that aspect of education being subversive as opposed to just being the transmission of traditional learning. We have established that it is the duty of education to push forward and not just be a seemingly echo of the past. Ergo, education should not just be viewed as a mere source of hand-me-down information but must be a harbinger of change.  As such, it should not stick to tradition but should be a means to step out from it while acknowledging the contributions made by the past.
Thereafter, we talked about vision and how this becomes the lifeblood of the institution. The very source of all the actions, processes emanating from its administration that trickle all the way down to the rank and file. It also establishes its culture, the way people think and act as governed by the common vision - that a good manager should first know what the vision is, understand, agree and believe in it and should the manager have a contrary view, can either go out or revise the same. 
We also distinguished a business enterprise from a school and differentiated the terms profit for the former as against prophet for the latter.  Nevertheless, while it is true that the roles of a manager of a school and a business could practically be interchangeable, for after all, a school should be run like a business for its own survival, the biggest difference lies on the kind of product both produce.  While it would be easier to standardize, improve and develop the products in business, it would be very difficult for schools to do the same for it deals more with people. This aspect is even more intricate as it purports to be.  Individuals act according to their own motivations and there can be as many different motivations as many as the individuals there can be.
 Lastly, we made a distinction between a leader and a manager.  I have always believed that a manager could be someone who had been assigned by the powers that be, some sort of an entitlement who has a de facto power to supervise and take control of the organization while a leader is someone who, while  not having been endowed with power, has the actual mandate of the people for he inspires and motivates the members of the organization to do what is that which should be done. The discussions did not lead me to think otherwise. The leader can be someone who rose from the ranks, un-appointed but nevertheless have command of the people. Oftentimes we see this person as the spokesperson for the employees or in an organization that is unionized, could be the elected President of the union.  As such, there is the possibility that there can be two distinct personalities present in an organization and who can possibly come to  clash at one point or another, a scenario that would be critical for an organization’s survival.   It would be ideal to have a leader as a manager and a manager who is a leader. 
Based on the excellent exchange of ideas we had during the first day, I am excited and looking forward to attending the succeeding Sundays knowing that these would be days well-spent. 

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Reflection # 2

The second meeting of this four part series is just as interesting.   We started with a review of the past week’s lesson. While this was just a review, surprisingly it yielded new information. It has been established that from among the things learned in school - knowledge, skills and values, the last seems to be the least in getting importance maybe because it is the most difficult to change in people.  That values are caught, mostly from the parents and lately, from the media to which education seems to be at a losing end of the battle.  Notwithstanding, computers can now teach knowledge and skills thus leaving only values to be taught by the teacher entirely. 
We were also asked the question if we would rather view education to be submissive or subversive. A consensus has been reached that education should be more than reactive and should be transformative, hence should take a subversive role in society.  It was also established that true education should cater to the head, heart and finally made to action. These should be the requisites of a good education.   The absence of one is a failure. Concentrate on the head and all we have shall be useless theories.  Concentrate on skills and we shall be left with repetitive products that we have mastered to do. Lastly there shall be no avenue to act on should there be no new knowledge and skills that have been developed.
After the review, we tackled the life cycle of an organization then compared this with the life cycle of a teacher.  The discussion yielded one significant resemblance of the two. That there comes a time when we reach a plateau and true to the saying that “when one is on top, there is no way but down,” meaning that this plateau being enjoyed will at one time dip to a low.  It is the role of the players to just consider these drops as mere hiccups and rise up and work its way on top again otherwise fall to its unfortunate demise.   
For the organization, the life cycle begins with a vision either of one man or of several men who share the same.  The same thing goes with the life of a teacher. S/He starts by joining the organization learning and imbibing the vision and mission of the organization.  From there, the charts start to climb until it reaches a plateau.  Then it slowly falls. This is the crucial part as the players should be wary and try to climb back up.  We discussed what changes take place that result to the downtrend.
Also memorable for me, but was not discussed during the day, were the readings shared by Br. Jun.  These are two chapters from the book “Courage to Teach” by Parker J. Palmer.  The first notable learning I had was what should a teacher be and have – identity and integrity. Palmer wrote, Good teachers join self, subject, and students in the fabric of life because they teach from an integral and undivided self. A teacher’s identity should not be separate from what he teaches.  A teacher should be true to himself/herself through and through.  There should be connectedness between himself/herself, the subject taught and with the students.  A teacher should know what his/her weaknesses and strengths are and how to take advantage of these in the classroom.
By integrity I mean an evolving nexus where all the forces that constitute my life converge in the mystery of self, Palmer wrote. This is the total amalgamation of the stuff that we are all made up of.  It does not make perfection. That is not attainable after all. But what we should is to see ourselves having self-respect and try living our lives with dignity and honor. 
The next chapter talks about the fears of both teacher and students alike. Sometimes, we fail to acknowledge our own fears these being having our work go unappreciated; being inadequately rewarded, discovering one fine morning that we are in the wrong profession, spending our lives on trivia, ending up … like frauds,… but mostly our fear of the judgment of the young.  What is unfortunate in not knowing these fears is that we sometimes “allow(s) us to ignore our failings as teachers by blaming the victims referring to our students. What was very significant for me was when he likened us to physicians the analogy of which was that when we complain about not accepting bad students anymore, it is the same as physicians telling the hospital not to accept sick people so that they can be viewed as good doctors.  There is also the phenomenon in which teachers’ fears are rooted in their need to be popular with young people.
The chapter also tackles that it seems like we are trapped in a system, not of our own doing, but by circumstances out of our control. I say this under the premises enumerated by Palmer who wrote: …we are distanced by a grading system that separates teachers from students, by departments that fragment fields of knowledge, by competition that makes students   and teachers alike wary of their peers, and by a bureaucracy that puts faculty and administration at odds. I think we are caught up in a web of uncertainty simply because there is no other way that is hitherto known to man to educate the young other than these.  Grading system – we have been trapped in a system whereby students compete to be the highest, brightest in class. Neither the teacher, nor the students or mostly the parents, would come to appreciate knowledge if it is not evidenced by a very high grade.  He also said that we only know of one form of conflict, the win-lose form called competition.  This aspect of education results to the other factors that separate us from true education mentioned above.   But this not need be.  He mentions consensual decision-making in which all win and none need lose, etc. 
Grades have always been our sole evidence of learning. This is because it is by far the easiest to understand.  The equation is simple. A passing grade denotes the lesson is learned at par while a very high grade is learned at the optimum.  This could prove to be the bane of education. The danger of this equation has always been that the student only try to learn for the grade. Hence when his/her actions are no longer graded, the learning is all lost and forgotten.
Another realization that I got from the reading is that of objectivity in education.  It seems like the proponents of education try to shy away from subjectivity. One only has to be reminded of those term papers written for academic purposes. We are told to refrain from being personal and avoid using I and us in favor of saying the researcher(s)  to objectify findings.  The first time I came across objectivism is when I read the writings of Ayn Rand whose philosophy is learned via her novels Atlas Shrugged, the Fountainhead and other writings.  Objectivism to her means there is no gray area, A is A and black is black.  However, even during those times of my personal enlightenment, I began to question the validity of such a claim.  Such philosophy narrows down the existence of man with utter simplicity when in reality, it is founded on a complex, divergence of opportunity.  To Ayn Rand, altruism should have no place in this world.  Her battle cry has always been each according to his ability as opposed to each according to his need. However, such philosophy does not consider that every man is different.  There are people who were born with physical defects and who need constant aid to survive.  Such denial of this kind of truth si dangerous for life has not dealt all of us with the same hand.

Such is the plight one experiences with objectivism. I may have digressed a bit from the topic of education but such is my take on objectivism.  It is impersonal, devoid of feeling and does not consider the nature of man.  Such is how we handle education. Devoid of feeling and as such barren of true logic. 

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

My 60th birthday surprise!

On September 7, 2017, I turned 60.  To most people , this is a milestone.  Well, I could not have  made such a fuzz about it but when my wife turned 60 last year, we gave her a big bash inviting all her friends, etc. AS one of the highlights that evening was a poem I made for her.. You can listen to it at this link  and/or you can read about it  here

I must admit, I was kind of expecting the same treatment from my children. Like it was a test who they loved more, me or their mom kind of thing.  I just can't help feeling jealous somehow if I had not been given a treat just like that.  I'm only human, you see.  On the eve of my birthday, I received an email from a friend in the States, Gwen Austin Turbyfield.  She said that she was surprised to receive a phone call from Nitz but she wasn't available. Since she never heard from  Nitz again, she began to get worried that something might have happened to me hence the email. I responded that I am just guessing but my family might be brewing a surprise for me as I am turning 60 the following day. 

Come the day of my birth, my wife told me that we will be having dinnere somewhere in BGC.  I  thought there could not be a birthday surprise as I know of no function place in BGC, just fancy restaurants.  So, maybe there is no surprise after all.  Besides, it was a weekday. so I went and true enough, it turned out to be just simple dinner.  I must admit, I was kind of disappointed  But I was still hanging on to my children's fairness. hahaha

Last night, they invited me again for dinner, this time together with my son's fiancée and my youngest son's girlfriend. I said to myself, "this is it!" However, I couldn't be too sure as my daugherr Kim asked permission to leave and buy something at Megamall and she was not dressed at all.  Coby took the car as he said that he had to do something very important with his girlfriend first. 

Later that night, Mickey told us to wait for their call as he was just scouting for a place, again at BGC.  Again, I thought it will just be another simple dinner.  Since Coby had the car, Nitz and I took Grab.  I pinned BGC Corporate Center since I was told we were going to BGC. While inside the car, Mickey texted that we should proceed to Shangriila Hotel! Hmmm, I think I am having a party after all.  When we arrived, we waited for Kim at the lobby! There she was,, all dressed up. That confirmed that I am having a party after all. We went to the Samba only to be led to a private room with only my family shouting surprise! and sang happy birthday!  Again, I was a bit disappointed.  We were about to place our order when a waitress approached us to say that she made a mistake and that it was not our room.  Mickey tried to show that he was angry at the mistake.  I said, "let's go, it's alright."  So, we transferred again.  Upon seeing the huge door that she opened up that seemed like a foyer to another big door, I knew it! She opened the next door and everybody was there.  The first person I noticed was my only brother holding a balloon, then my sisters and then every friend close to me. 

My children managed to contact the right people. Every friend was represented. Too bad, we cannot fit everyone in that room for I have too many friends.  Anyway, from my blogger friends, Connie Veneracion was there, for my La Salle University friends, couples Ollie and Kathy, Edgar and Vvian, Agnes and Roger and my good ol' pal, Redjie. Then for my Zobel family, there was Liesl and hubby,, Miguel and Henry.  My ninong Moie and wife Melba who led the prayer. From my artist friends, Omi and Tutit were there. To represent my in-laws, Kuya Ben and Ate Lilia. The ensuing messages from friends was all heartfelt. It was too bad that my childhood friends Cyntha and her brothers who confirmed could not make it at the final hour as they had to rush their 91 year old dad to the hospital. I pray for his early recovery.  

As usual, my guests said a few things about me after the very beautiful videos compiled by my children with Henry and Liesl collaborating as they did not know everyone, , Redjie sang a few songs. My wife requested Connie to read my poem about my mother and her alzheimer's disease entitled A Stranger in her own house which sent my son crying and Liesl reciting "Final Goodbye" a poem about my dad

The problem for the people preparing surprises like this is when this has been done already before. You have to make your target not aware of your moves. I can appreciate how my children and my wife hid everything from me.  I was not aware of the plans until the actual singing of the happy birthday.  They all pulled it through and I am so happy that they did. I am truly blessed to have my kids, my beautiful wife and wonderful friends to take time out of their busy schedules just to make me happy. and for that, I shall be forever  grateful.

Fanily Unity: Against all odds

About several months ago, my eldest sister, Linda, told me that my only brother, Renie, has not moved for almost a month.  I know this cannot be good. I told my siblings to immediately advice my brother to see a doctor.  True enough, he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and it has mestastasized from the prostate up to his lungs, bones and kidney.  Our nephew, Manny, is an oncologist and he advised to have a lot of tests done on him.  He was given medication to stop his balls from producing hormones that feed the mass in his prostate.  He had more tests done to him and all this cost money.

With my siblings all retired, the financial burden naturally rests on me.  The good thing is that we have relatives who, in one way or another, are willing to help even if we have not sought for it. Our cousin, Priscilla, has sent money twice and this somehow alleviated the expenses.  To think that we have just begun the fight against the big C!
got high.
On August 22 0rr 24, he was admitted at Rizal Medical Center due for castration to finally end the activity in his groin area.  When he was about to be operated on, his potassium was low and the doctors had to postpone the operation until they have corrected his potassium level.  A day after, he was wheeled to the operating room and was about to be sedated when his blood pressure . they tried to correct this but to no avail that they had to put him to the recovery room and thereafter wheel him back to his room.  Finallly, on the 29th,  my brother had  a successful operation and all we have to do now is wait and see what the outcome shall be.  My nephew said that should his PSA level be controlled, he wouldn't have to undergo chemotherapy anymore.  But should this happen, then the real trouble begins.  Each session should cost around Php30,000 and should his body allow it, there should be around ten sessions. 

Special thanks to our cousin, Mario, who assists my brother everywhere he went, ran errands when he was in the hospital. Also to our nephew in Canada, Pocholo who sent money, my eldest sister, Linda, who kept my brother at bay telling him what he can and cannot do. 

On Sept 3, my brother turned 76 years old and we decided to  give him a birthday party and everyone chipped in to make that day a special one.  His son Jimmy and his children sent money, too.  My children also gave his a present each and he was very happy.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

History is told by the victors

The great war hero, Winston Churchill, posited that history is told by the victors.  Well, the said quote is attributed to Churchill but a quick look at the internet will yield that the said phrase is also credited to   Walter Benjamin and George Orwell. Notwithstanding, Dan Brown shared the same view in his “Da Vinci Code” when he wrote, “History is always written by the winners.” He explained further that, “When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe.” 

If we go by the logic that history is told from the point of view of the winners, then does it not follow that history can be rewritten in a manner contrary to its present form when the former losers, by some stroke of luck, come to power and be the new winners? Such may be what we are experiencing now. 

In 1986, throngs upon throngs of people went out to the streets of EDSA to topple the dictator that was Ferdinand E.  Marcos, who at that time, was the most hated man as much as the dictators Duvalier and Idi Amin were detested in their respective countries.  We were angered by his wife’s incessant lust for luxury and scandalized with the discovery of her uncountable shoes and golden faucets and other amenities in the palace while the people lived in abject poverty.  Truly, Filipinos were fed up with a president who, albeit being a brilliant lawyer and an eloquent speaker, had used these same qualities to amass great wealth at the expense of the Filipino people.  We were fed up and clamored for change that would prove to be useless. That until, Ted Koppel, in a live interview with Marcos on national television, dared him to hold an election to prove to the world that he still has the mandate of the Filipino people.  Marcos took the bait and declared that there shall be a snap election. With all the power resting on his hands, he cheated and won, defeating his nemesis’ wife, Cory, by a huge margin. He would have continued his reign until Enrile, fearing for his life, went to Camp Crame seeking refuge there and ultimately joined by Gen. Ramos.  There, he talked to the Filipino people saying how Marcos had cheated in his bid for re-election in the 60’s and the latest snap elections.  He also exposed the other “sins” of the dictator. Cardinal Sin, supporting the two, called on the people to march the streets of EDSA and the rest, as they say, is history.

The immense number of people who flocked the streets were the true victors at the time.  Stories of their experiences abound and Filipinos were glorified with the true democratic exercise of ousting a strongman who had ruled the country for such a long time.  We saw a new hero in the person of Ninoy Aquino who opposed the wishes of a dictator which caused him his life on the tarmac that ill-fated day of August.  History could have been written from this vantage point.  However, the Aquinos, after having two presidents from the family, (wife and son, his namesake), and a number of senators and other government officials from among their blood relations, failed to secure that Ferdinand Marcos shall always be the villain in our history.  They had been complacent that the thousands upon thousands of Filipinos who gathered in EDSA, dubbed as People’s Power, was secured in the annals of our story as a nation that did not bother to write the events in history books taught in school. 

Thirty years later, basically from the gross inefficiency of the inheritors of EDSA and whose governance were plagued with corruption and wanton negligence, now President Duterte won the hearts of the masses. While he swore, among his favorite expletives, that he wouldn’t succumb to patronage politics, his appointees to government positions would show otherwise.  He unabashedly declares his indebtedness to the Marcoses for having helped him during his campaign for the Presidency. Allowing Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, is a proof that history is about to be rewritten. This is a reality specially in this age of paid trolls lurking in every nook and cranny of our very homes invading the Internet via Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Our history shall be and will be told and retold but consequently from a different perspective.  Our present teachers are now in their early twenties and were not even conceived when Ferdinand Marcos came into power and eventually lost.  These teachers have no history books that tell the escapades of Marcos, his family and his cronies.  They will never truly understand, much less fathom the monstrosity that befell our beloved country. They will never know the fact that we were a rising economy until our resources have been plundered under the guise of true leadership.  They will never get to realize how the conjugal dictatorship lived the lives of kings and queens, better yet, of gods, living among their mortal subjects. It would not be a surprise that our history will take a new route, and that route being that Marcos was the best president ever and that he is a true 

Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
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Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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