Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Teacher, My Hero, My Treasure

On October 5th, the entire world will be celebrating the World Teachers’ Day to honor our mentors who, in so many ways, have helped in honing us into becoming good and productive citizens.

Being a teacher myself, I know how it feels like to be honored and appreciated. All my weariness after a semester’s painstaking hard work always seem to vanish away whenever I read my students' evaluation of my teaching.

So, in observation of this very significant day in the lives of the teachers, I would like to honor and pay tribute to all those who have become my mentors and have played very significant roles in my life, especially those whom I will mention here.

My elementary days now seem like a hazy memory as those were more than a decade ago, but I will never forget my teachers who did a great job in teaching me the very critical lessons in life. Who will ever forget Ma’am Alvarez, the terrifying Grade 2 teacher who lives just in front of the school? She is the first teacher I ever had great fear on, but when she passed away before I even graduated, I think I cried the hardest. Her teaching may be tough, but that’s how we all do seem to learn best, don’t we?

My elementary Science teacher, Mrs. Barona, is someone I really look up to. She is whom I consider the best teacher in the school. She makes science a very interesting subject, despite all the experiments we have to make, observations we have to write and conclusions we have to start with “Therefore, I conclude” (:D).

My 6th Grade adviser, Ms. Glory Quiliope (now Glory Gerdes), is one of the reasons why I became part of the school paper in high school. She taught English very well. I can still remember when I was in 5th grade, I would always daydream of becoming a 6th grade and imagine myself inside her classroom. She is very eloquent, which is why I always got inspired whenever she talked.

My high school days were an amalgam of bliss and despair. Those were the days that I am very much happy to recall but will never, in a million years, live again. When I talk of high school and MNHS now, the very first person that comes to my mind is, none other than, Ma’am Gladie Cacaldo. Ma’am Dida played not only the teacher role but also the role of a good and cool friend. She is the main reason why high school is still very fresh to my mind. Whenever the memory of how and why she did not talk nor look at me for months slips my mind, I cringe and try really hard to place the memory back to the rearmost portion of my brain, where it belongs. Ma’am Dida never held boring classes even if the subject she teaches (Filipino) is one of the most boring subjects for me. She would always insert fun and delightful activities into our lackluster lessons. The last time I visited the school, she gave me one of the biggest and sincerest hugs I ever had that day, which almost made me cry.

Of course, there are my other high school teachers, who willingly imparted their knowledge to us: Mr. Barona, Ma’am Pinuto, Mr. Guanzon, and Ma’am Rosemarie Bohol. They are the people, who have contributed a lot to my pot of knowledge, and for that, I sincerely thank and honor them.

My college years were the ones I am most proud of. I often share with my students how I struggled and worked my way through college to inspire them to study and persevere, and I would always feel glad whenever I see that strange twinkles in their eyes.

Our college dean, Dr. Ochotorena, who calls me her daughter, will always be a part of my success. She is the one who encouraged me to take the academic track and still continues to inspire and support all my undertakings. Then, there’s Dr. EVT, my brilliant MBA professor, who never fails to challenge and inspire me to pursue the degree. Her brilliance emanates to the entire classroom, yet she stays humble and accommodating to her students.

I sincerely thank all my mentors for helping me become who I am today and my salute to all the teachers in the world. Your patience in teaching and educating your students truly makes the world a better place.

Happy Teachers' Day!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rich and Famous

I was once asked by my Philosophy teacher what I wanted to be -- a very simple question that entails a very simple answer. I stood up from my desk and said, looking straight into his eyes, “I want to be rich and famous.”

It took him a few seconds to respond and he gave me an inscrutable long look. On the background, I heard murmurs from my classmates; and when I looked around, I met some pairs of equally inscrutable eyes. I really didn’t know how that simple and totally honest answer can cause such a fuss. Perhaps, it’s because he wasn’t expecting that kind of answer after the previous ones’ answers were same old, boring, and, nothing else, but all answers that can only be borne out from Boringsville.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, my teacher seemed to have awakened and immediately realized he is in the middle of a class. “Well, that’s for Ms. Nocete. Rich and famous (he was looking contemplative while saying this). Anyway…” And he continued his discussion on ambitions and getting there and many other things that all seemed like a blur to me. I could see his lips moving, but I could not hear a word he’s saying. All I was thinking then was how I sounded. I recalled the looks I got after having uttered the words, but I couldn’t seem to decipher the mystery behind those.

I attended a retreat organized by the nuns I worked for when I was still in college. One of the things we were asked to do was to draw our plans and ambitions on a piece of paper, and write down at the back of it how we plan to achieve them. I can still recall how excited I was to tell the people around me what my dreams are. However, after seeing what the others have drawn and written, I felt like such an overly-ambitious freak. Their dreams and ambitions were all so simple and small-scale (i.e. have a job, a family, a small house), I felt like snapping at them and telling them how easy it is to get a husband, make kids and build a nipa hut in the woods. And like my Philosophy teacher, the nun gave me that look I so hate to ever see again. She even managed to lecture on how frustrations over unachieved dreams can make us do crazy things, which, thanks to her, made me look even more pathetic.

Okay, I admit I am ambitious, but come on, what is the point of dreaming anyway? Don’t normal people dream of things they can’t easily get? Is it just me who knows how to do it properly?

Setting goals high can actually help one in the end. That is, for as long as he knows how to manage failures and defeat, as these two, as I have read and learned, always come first. And yep, I have long prepared myself for them.

So, if you ask me now what my dreams are, I will answer you with the same thing. To be rich and famous. Yep, I’m sticking to it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who says one can never have a perfect life? Well... I DO! For now, at least.

And I thank the Lord for all these great gifts.

Even though I sometimes feel scared and undeserving, I just try to enjoy these moments while they last.

Father God is watching me all along. Thank you God. Thank you for this perfect life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In the Woods

The sky wasn’t in its best mood. The afternoon was slowly waning, giving way to a cold, damp evening.

A few minutes of traversing through the wet road,and we finally arrived at the little house in the middle of the woods; where we were greeted with sweet smiles and warm hellos.

Big, old Dash, the official guard of the house, was barking at us nonstop. He gave us his best warning look as we passed by him, as if telling us not to do something stupid or we’ll have to see.

The sweet smell of bamboo matting greeted us as we entered the house. Its cool ambiance made us feel comfy and welcomed. Its lamps resemble those of the ones I often see in native restaurants and the well-arranged wooden chairs and benches looked really inviting.

I was really impressed at how organized the house is despite its size. There are only very few things inside the house, showing the simple and never-showy lifestyle of the owners.Unlike most Filipino homes, no television set or clock can be seen in their living room. It was a laid-back living I always dream I could have.

Spending the rest of the day in the house in the middle of the woods is a rejuvenating experience for me and the girls. It was a great way of celebrating the country’s 113th Independence Day. Even for a day, we became free from the urban jungle, free from the hustles of city life, free from the people we deal with everyday, free from many other things… and we became one with nature.

In the woods, I have met people I thought exist only in the movies. I have been given the chance to experience the laid-back kind of life – the one where you do not need to check on your cellphones for messages or calls, where your activities are not dictated by every tick of the clock, where you are awaken by the chirping of the birds, where you go out of the room greeted by the sight of a beautiful world.

In the woods, I have experienced the real meaning of solitude. The place is so serene and peaceful… the kind of tranquility anyone in the city would kill to have.

In the woods, I was able to forget all my worries and doubts even just for a day. I realized that one does not need to keep pace with the other everyday racers to be able to enjoy and find contentment in life. For, indeed, the real joy lies in the serenity of the heart and peace of the mind.

In the woods, I found a retreat. Retreat from everything, from everyone. I became one with myself. It was just me and nature. I really wish for another chance to come back and experience one more time the life in the woods.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That day when the unthinkable happened

It was daybreak when we left. Faces lit up with excitement. Thoughts of walking on the white sands, of island hopping, of bathing on the cold waterfalls, of all the activities prepared… these must have been keeping everyone’s minds busy that time.

All was set for the trip.

Our short stopover for breakfast by the beach was so fun. Everyone was enjoying their meals. Everyone was having fun,but they were oblivious of what was about to come up.

The trip continued with everyone full after the hearty breakfast. Some were asleep, some talking, some were watching the view from the windows of the bus.

I was asleep like some. It was ideal for dozing off because the wind became even cooler with the movement of the bus.

Then suddenly…

Shrill cries of horror woke me up from my deep sleep. I opened my eyes. Leaves.Dust.A crashing sound.

“Oh, God! This really happened to us,” was the first thought that crossed my mind.
I awoke just a few milliseconds before the bus hit the roadside. I felt the impact, but was unconscious of whether I was able to hold on to anything. The next thing I knew was that my face was pressed on the glass window. I can’t move my entire body, and my forehead is starting to ache. A few people were on my back, and I heard cries and moans from everywhere.

It was like in the movies, when everything happens in slow motion…when some characters get a close up showing their scared faces. Had it been a film, the musical score would have been that of thudding drumbeats… that one when the viewers’ heartbeats rise and fall along with every loud beat.

After what felt like eternity of being stuck, unable to move, I felt the heavy load on my back becoming lighter and lighter. I get up after realizing that I already can.

Bags, slippers, the people, everything seem to scatter everywhere. Some are already getting up, others are still struggling to.The view is horrifying. Everyone’s face depicts horror and fear.

“Oh, God! This really happened!”

I managed to get out of the horrible-looking bus with the help of people I can never remember what looked like. I was barefoot, but I never felt anything.I was walking on broken glass and pebbled roadside, but I never seemed to mind. When I looked back at the bus… that was when I started to cry.

I cried not because I was hurt. I cried not because I left my things in there… but I cried because I could not believe that everyone is alive.

It was a really ghastly view.The bus.The sirens from ambulances, fire trucks and police cars. The running medics.It was all chaotic and heartbreaking.

Our angels were there. God was definitely there with us.He was guiding us and shielding us from any serious harm. That was God’s work I have witnessed right there. He was there with us that day when the unthinkable happened.

*Credits to Mr. R. Cadapan for the photo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where my dreams started, shattered, and sprouted back

Today I went back there,
To the very place where my eyes opened
Where my ignorance faded along with every sunset
Where my dreams started to bud from out of nowhere
Where I learned… and continued to learn…
Until learning becomes a foe
And discouraged for those who are low.

Today I went back there,
To that place that ate up all the happiness in me
It swallowed it whole that I no longer had time
To know it existed, to know it was real.
That place taught me a lot
About the world as a whole
About its inhabitants, about what’s real.

Today I went back there
To that place that made me realize the sad truth
That when you are weak, your place is down there
And you do not have any right to step up
Because when you attempt to do so
They will start kicking you off the ladder
Until you fall down, until you fail, until you live in misery.

Today, I saw everyone again
Those who became part of my dreams
Those who encouraged me to climb up despite all the kicking
Those who discouraged me and treated me poorly
Those who never cared, who never looked at me.
Seeing them again, gave me an amalgam of emotions
But I know that when they looked at me today
They had a vision of that girl, who struggled to keep her dreams alive.

Today, I went back there
To that place where I started to dream
Where I realized that dreaming can heal
That it can cure all your worries, all your fears.
That place had given me a lot to remember
Mostly bad, generally hurtful, but by and large enriching.
Though, in that place, my dreams were slowly crushed
I still managed to let them sprout back
And still I continue to water and care for it
So when I go back to that place again, they will see how large I made them grow
And they’ll see what I have been dreaming about all through.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Freedom and Manners

This is to exercise that freedom of speech they are talking about. Allow me to apologize ahead to those people who will be affected, in any way, by this article.

I was totally stunned upon seeing the headline of our university newspaper today. I totally understand that it is big news, and that it deserves a space in the paper. However, it could have been placed elsewhere, like the fourth page perhaps. Putting it in front of the paper in bold, big letters explicitly shows bad manners among those who are responsible for the publication of the said paper. Writing that kind of news and making it the headline story is such an insane, unscrupulous act. It is like announcing to the whole world how bad your own father is and slapping him straight on the face.

There is this so called freedom of the press, but there is also what they call manners. Without the support of the university president, the university publication would never exist. Without his approval, they will not be able to do anything and enjoy any benefits from the university. Without him, NORSU would never become what it is today. Without him, they will not be able to enjoy affordable, quality university education. Now, don’t you think he deserves even a little respect in return? Don’t you think he deserves to be supported and backed-up when he is the one in need?

Again, I believe that it is still big news and deserves a place in the paper, but they could have placed it elsewhere. I don’t have issues with the article. I just do not think the placement is right. ALL news, good or bad, deserve a place in the paper and be known by all NORSUnians. Loss of high-end equipment, especially more than one of them, is also news. Why is it not published then? Don’t they think NORSUnians deserve to know about that? Those lost equipment were acquired because of the payment made by the students. Don’t they have the right to know?

So, you see, the same question that I raised years ago still applies here. WHO WILL GUARD THE GUARDS? Freedom has its limitation, and manners should not be forgotten all the time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blessings, blessings... and it's God all along

Things have been going well, I guess. The things that have happened to me may not be that much, but they are enough to make people say that I have gone a long way after a year of being a part of the "jungle". Things happened very fast. I even cannot imagine up to now why and how they took place. I did not even ask for any of these things; they just come. It even seems to me that a certain force is manipulating things to work in my favor.

I really believe that I have done something good in life to deserve all the good things that are happening to me now. I admit I am not a religious person, but I have strong faith in God, and I believe that He is the one who gave me all of the things that I have now. I do not go to church regularly. I even barely go there. I have experienced being with nuns and priests, and I should say that I was not pleased with them. I know they are also human beings, but it should never be an excuse for them to do selfish things or talk ill about other people. But despite of that belief, God still showers me with so many blessings.

"Do not chase success." That is one of my favorite lines from my favorite movie ever. Chasing success will only leave you breathless, but it will lead you to nowhere. I do things not to attract attention or get renumeration for them. Had I done so, I would have gone full-time to my job that pays good and not bother teach and get a few pesos every hour. Indeed, when you focus on excellence, success will just chase you. Talking about success is still too early; but if things go on as I planned them, I will surely be able to taste it.

One of the greatest things that God has given me is the ability to manage my time well. Not too many people are given the ability to manage their 24 hours daily effectively. With the many things that I have to do in my waking hours, I am truly thankful that I do not miss a single thing. Every weekday, I wake up at 6:30 or 6:45am and spend the next eight hours in the office. I go out at 5:00 or 6:00pm and spend the next two hours with my friends and loved ones. At 7:00pm, I start with my articles. I have to finish them before 11:00, so I get to sleep for at least 7 hours. Saturdays are my MBA days, and Sundays are for lessons preparation, studying and hanging out with friends. I didn't even know how I survived with this schedule. I kind of get used to my old, more flexible one.

My plans for the summer are already weaved. My Saturdays and Sundays will already be occupied with other things, including the articles and website for the long-time planned venture with a few friends. I hope this venture will become a hit, and when it does, I am sure I will be able to find a spot for it in my schedule. Finishing my MBA is another one of my big plans. So help me God.

Things have been going well, I guess; and I hope they will continue to be. God, the world, everybody has been very good to me. I hope I'm doing the right things to give justice to all the goodness and all the blessings that I receive.

Thank you, God. I know it's You all along.