Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Before Summer Ends

Despite the epic heat we've experienced since last month, still, summer is my most favorite season, next to Christmas. Haha as if I experience fall, winter and spring. But, I will, some day, for sure! I heard from CNN that across Asia, temperatures have been hitting record highs, with averages around 35 degrees Celsius. Manila is not spared. The other day, the rains poured late afternoon where I was, and caused floods quickly in low areas, like where I live, in a very short space of time. Although I'm grateful for the onset of rains, I would like for summer to stretch more a bit into June. You don't? Summer is cool, umbrellas, drenched shoes, potholes and floods are so not cool! 

Have you enjoyed your summer yet? The heat has been crazy, and early rains offer a reprieve. I feel the same way. But I don't want for summer to end just yet. There are more things to do in summer for the kids especially. And this might be the first summer I get to spend all of my time with my children for the next maybe 5 or so years. 

So let's get out in the sun as much as we can, while summer is still here. Does EK still sound fun? It won't be with the rains.

To the beach, I say we go!! Happy vibes, happy summer! Happy hats, floral dresses, bermuda and boyfriend shorts, sandals and flip flops. Aaahh, summer!! 

Oh, it's just me again. Walang magawa. 🌞😃

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Horizon

Passing time watching the rain, cars, and planes in the horizon. Why give up this kind of life, eh? I wonder, too. I'm just waiting for the hubby to finish work.

We dropped off Garrett at church at dawn this morning. He's joining a five-day youth summer camp in Siniloan, Laguna. I'm excited for him. This is the first time he's by himself without any family for almost a week. He's the youngest in the group so I'm praying the ate's and kuya's will take care of him.

Left Gab with the yaya so I got to spend the day alone. And what did I do? I slept through most of it, really, from 7 to almost 10am and then again from 2 to 430pm! Aaahh, feels good! Pagod din pala. The body knows and will sleep given the chance to. 

It's almost a guilty pleasure, this. And this is just one of the things I will miss when I allow myself back into the folds of the reality of every worker. Trade-offs. I wouldn't feel as guilty though, but more productive and more the #whipit kind of woman I had imagined myself to be ever since. Ooops, I'd have to deal with a different kind of guilt, but, this time, I should know better. I would have to call on every skill to keep to priorities, and manage time and stress levels. Can I? Why not? It's worth a try, again. So let's do it! Get out  into the jungle again. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Remains My Greatest Achievement

On my way this morning to the Land Transportation Office in Antipolo, I was tuned in to DZMM. One of DepED's assistant secretaries was on air, talking about tuition fee increase in private schools and teacher-student ratio. Education has always been a social issue close to my heart for I believe that it is still THE way to a better life, a way out of poverty to still a fourth of the country’s population. That statement is loaded, I know. But you see, even if a "labandera" works herself to the bones, her chances at a better life are almost nil unless she changes jobs. But how could she if she did not even get to high school? Luck plays a large part on her success because she has little resources and few opportunities to chart her own destiny however much she wants to.

It's a small triumph that public school teachers now earn more than what private school teachers on average do. Not that it benefits my children because not a few competent teachers in their school have opted to be public servants. This, despite the class size and, I would imagine, more challenges that go with teaching at a public school. They move perhaps because the government pay is a little higher and also because they are assured of tenure plus benefits they would get upon retirement.

I heard that average class size nationwide is now 45 students. Although it reaches 50-60 in Metro Manila like in Batasan, Quezon City. Ironically, however congested one could argue that area is, still, isn't it in the neighborhood of Congress? The country's education problems are right smack in the very place where some of our PDAF-pocketer, now beleaguered, lawmakers hold office. Shame. More shame and wasted taxes could be expected in the coming months as more than half of the senators get questioned for allocating funds to ghost NGOs and getting hefty kickbacks in the process. An erosion of trust in the Senate is in the offing as fresh rounds of investigations start rolling.

Got sidetracked there, now going back to my main discourse, if you will. I experienced for two years how it was like to study in a public school. I spent grades 5 and 6 in an elementary school in Libis. You know Eastwood? Yup, that's near where that school still stands today. I came from a pretty good middle-class school before that, a Catholic school where I faintly recall having a classmate who gifted a teacher with a sofa set for Christmas! And I had a classmate who gave me a bunch of pencils, such a treat for me then. Most of my classmates had gold earrings, nice watches, beautiful lunchboxes, and other pretty stuff I kind of envied. And many were fair-skinned and had shiny, white, well-tended teeth. I only had two sets of uniform which had to be washed every day, and whose hemlines fell awkwardly above my ‘bony’ knees on my second year in that school. I couldn’t remember if sometimes I was given money as baon, but I recall that the canteen was big but I couldn’t buy most of what it sold. Oh, also that school was where ‘white’ priests (not all were Americans) would come to the classroom before the first Friday of the month so we could confess our sins and partake of Communion during the Holy Mass. Girls wore a white version of the powder-blue, belted dress, that was the daily uniform, every First Friday. So I actually had three sets of school uniform, but one was used once a month only. I was thrilled when I would get chosen to say the readings or the Responsorial Psalm. It was my deep voice, I guess, that my teachers liked. My biggest takeaways from my stay in that school were: being prayerful, learning to speak English and write essays both in English and Filipino. I had great teachers there.

After fourth grade, I had to transfer to a nearby public school. It was a 10-minute walk from the apartment my family lived in at the time. I won't forget my first day when the class adviser called me up to the front and made me introduce myself. I hated having to speak in front as I was really shy and nervous. When I was done saying my name, where I lived, etc. (I don’t exactly recall what I said), the teacher burst into an applause, and asked the class to clap for me as well. They clapped because I introduced myself in English. Oh, that was a big boost to my low self-confidence! That first day had so much to do with how I fared in my academics from then on. I surprised myself, I got second honors in grades 5 and 6 when I almost flunked in first grade! Then Congresswoman Nikki Coseteng awarded me the silver medal during the graduation rites.

I was a nobody in the private school I came from. My most significant accomplishment there was being a contestant in a declamation contest, though I didn’t win. But things changed in my fifth grade upon moving to a public school. I took a big leap of faith in myself, studied hard, and became diligent in everything, including cleaning the floors and sinks of the school. I am not exaggerating when I say that I cleaned the floors of my classroom and the adjacent hall with rags washed in a basin filled with water, which I would fetch (several times) from the first floor, and deep cleaned the crevices of the communal sinks at the school grounds near the vegetable garden! Good thing, we were not made to clean the restroom or I would have done it without any thought as well!

My memories of my stay in a public elementary school also include being a “canteener.” A “canteener” is the one assigned to pick up the food tray from the school canteen, containing assorted food items to be sold to the class. Canteeners and cleaners are scheduled and rotated amongst the students by groups. The group leader, if I recall correctly, takes the lead in selling the food (boiled bananas, peanuts, pansit/noodles, rice cakes, bread buns, and the likes) and handing the money to the canteen with a tally of what was sold. Such was life in public school back in the late 1980s. We were lent books that were so old, they really smelled. I did not feel any less in that school, I felt the opposite, in fact. At least I always had baon and all my personal stuff were on par with my classmates'. I had a bag stroller, and that was pretty amazing then. My takeaways from my two years in a public school: grit and a bigger ambition to rise above my circumstances.

I end this abruptly (sorry) with these two great quotations:

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, 
is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, 
the balance-wheel of the social machinery. - Horace Mann

Image grabbed from the internet. Just the kind of thinking our politicians need. 

And incidentally, the class picture below appears on my Facebook page today with fresh comments from some of my sixth-grade classmates. Can you spot me? :)

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Finding and Keeping Love

So telling, love and adoration, sans make-up and with puffy eyes.

I’ve just flipped my desk calendar from April to May. Seriously, the first week of May is lost already, forever. Wow! Each day just seems to slip by. Maybe because I feel I always want for the day to end, for sunset to come quickly, to go past the peak of summer heat from 10am to 3pm. The middle section of the house feels like it’s roasting during those hours.

How’s your summer so far? Good for you who are at work during the day. Summer’s weekdays are just like any workday in the year because you still need that shawl or coat owing to the cooler settings of your office ‘aircon.’ Thanks to SM for its presence even in provinces, their supermalls offer many a respite. Malling is to many, without work or on school break, an escape from the heat. I have a thing for SM, sorry, guys, I know I have mentioned it in several posts, not by sheer intention. I just kind of run into it as I write, like now.

Incidentally, I found myself staring at a Kultura boutique in Pico de Loro, Nasugbu, Batangas last Sunday. I asked a hotel staff if the prices were the same as in SM department stores. Yes, I was told. I learned that SM is the owner of Pico de Loro. A few years back, I was asked at Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay if I had an SM advantage card. Enough said about SM.

So what have I to share? I lost that writing streak during the last two weeks of April. Here’s May now, and this is my first attempt to write again. I have actually quite a few in mind. There’s as I’ve mentioned the trip to Nasugbu. That was actually to celebrate my 13th I-Do anniversary with the hubs and kids. And then I was thinking of sharing how we are trying so hard to train the kids to consistently say po and opo. Today, I had Garrett help me clean the windows and all the curves and crannies of the window grills. It’s a great way to spend the last weeks of summer, teaching the children some new chores, after they’ve already been treated to trips to the beach or any vacation away from home. Garrett also washed his shoes, for the first time! Embarrassing, I know, for an 11 year-old to be taught just now. I’d say let’s not dwell on that.

The most cheesy and controversial posts normally get the more number of hits or visits. On that note, I will proceed to let you in on some thoughts I had the days around my wedding anniversary. My present musings are inspired by an article in the Huffington Post I had read yesterday. It went by the title The Surprising Truth About What Makes Happy Couples Happy. Catchy enough? It caught me, for one. But reading it just validates what I know already. Aha! Yup, the hubs and I appear to be a happy couple. Not to brag or anything. The core secret to our being blessed with ‘seeming’ marital bliss is #5 in the article, let me quote that in full below:

5. Know how to repair. No relationship will be free of difficulty or conflict. 
And no matter how well-meaning we are as partners, 
none of us will be a candidate for sainthood. 
Given that, it's essential that we learn to repair.

While there's no one-size-fits-all approach, repair begins with 
one person moving toward the other with an intention to heal. 
Effective couples are able to both apologize and forgive 
and to own up to the part they played in the difficulty.

We’ve had our fights. Luckily, not big ones. But there were a few times, the crazy in me would figure in arguments. Usually, just via texts, I would drop the ultimate “dare.” “Let’s just separate,” I had said that not once I think. But lucky me, I have a very sensible husband who doesn’t make patol. He keeps quiet, leaves my texts unanswered most of the time, which drives me crazier that I would send further texts of dramatic proportions. And he ignores me, comes home, doesn’t talk, and keeps to himself. His silence calms me, makes me think rational again, and in the end, I would be the one to approach and make him feel I was sorry. I have a big ego, I don’t easily say sorry. And he knows that, has accepted my egotistic self as his wife. So, we carry on, and we're now on our way to our 14th anniversary. It's not a sure, smooth-sailing journey. Like any other couple's, it's bumpy, scary at times, but we are happier, stronger, and more confident together than apart. 

On the road – beautiful road, I must say, to Nasugbu, taking the Cavitex and the new Ternate, Cavite – Nasugbu route, and passing under the Kaybiang Tunnel – I recounted how my husband would drive all the way from Cagayan Valley, all of 14-16 hours, to Los Baños just to see me every month for five years before we got married. I told him that that must have been love, because if it wasn’t love, I didn’t know what was. Haha, of course, that’s cliché! But it’s true. And Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight reminded me of that beautiful line. Go see that movie! It’s very relatable.

So to my married friends, here’s my two cents’ worth, if you don’t mind my meddling. Unless your spouse is in a relationship or fling with someone else, he/she is hurting you physically or verbally, or he/she is being lazy providing for you and the family, take heart. You’re blessed to have a long-time partner. Breathe, forgive, heal, and love.