Learning a New Language: How difficult could it be?

It is a new year, I may still be having some difficulties in picking my messed up routine caused by my bad procrastinating habit. Nonetheless, it is the right time to refocus my living energy into something that may help me later and, perhaps, keep my brain working. Among all the possible tasks that I could think of, I am gravitating towards learning a new language. I know that now, I am not in the best position to transition to another foreign language as my native tongue is somehow also pushed back to the sideline. I have not been able to use Filipino consistently in both oral and written forms. However, I think, even with this kind of situation, I could still get back to using my vernacular once I pick up on it later on. Now, I would like to further work my brain cells up by exposing myself to Japanese.

なぜ日本語を勉強するのですか?

The heading for this was just from Google translate. 😀 However, it is true that I started learning Japanese. But why this, exactly? Others might be thinking that a European language would be a lot easier, specifically Spanish. Why do I think so? There are already many Spanish terms and expressions in my native language, Filipino (to which I can only use Tagalog).

Well, I am unsure of the exact reason behind this choice. However, I think it is because I somehow already have a background in the Japanese language. I once was a lost sheep during my university days, where I needed to take up a foreign language course under our program. So, among the three available languages (Spanish, French, and Japanese), I thought that it would be more interesting to learn another Asian language. I did not expect that it would be an extra challenging experience, especially with only one professor teaching it. This situation meant being in a relatively large class with fewer interactions to use Japanese. Still, luckily, I survived and passed Jap 1 and Jap 2.

My undergraduate experience still has an impact on my interest in the language now. When I started working, I was not able to immerse myself in learning Japanese further. I still have some of the basics in my mind, like the hiragana and some common expressions/greetings. I am still struggling with remembering katakana. 😛

Last October, I enrolled in a beginner Japanese class that only had 30 hours’ worth of class time. It was a great experience as I was able to refresh my mind with the Japanese words and expressions that I encountered as an undergraduate. However, it was still a new experience as there is a lot that I do not remember anymore.

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Another Year for My Struggles in Writing and Life Continues

Waves of various height and strength punch me straight to the face whenever I try to jump away from my current position in life. Most of the time, the challenging waves are a mix of my worries, insecurities, uncertainties, indecisiveness, and many other negative thoughts fueled by the scared kid in my head. There have been numerous attempts to escape this destructive cycle. However, in all of my living moments, I still feel that I am lacking. Honestly, I think at the top of all these is my gradual fall to unproductiveness. I get sucked in the tedious habit of procrastination brought by the uncontrollable use of my mobile phone. What exactly brought me to this kind of escapist route?

Nearing the End of Another Decade (or about to start?)

The beginning of 2020 is the start of a new decade that was supposedly offering new opportunities for everyone to start afresh. Everything had been extra difficult, however, due to the spread of the COVID-19 in 2020. The unexpected turn of events last year made me reflect on the priorities that I must have in life. The situation also brought in many new concerns, which, I guess, needed to find an outlet to stay sane throughout the entire ordeal. In my case, I am grateful for work as I still had a seemingly normal system going on. The work-from-home setup was initially ideal though it took a toll after a couple of weeks of being or needing to be available any time of the day and the week.

As 2020 passed by seemingly quickly due to the limited routine that we had as cities quarantined for months, I was also pressed by the numerous happenings around my social environment. A lot of acquaintances got engaged, got married, and had babies. Those events brought good memories, somehow. However, 2020 also brought heartaches as close family friends died, and my small number of close friends got even smaller. There were days when I felt sad as I could not easily reach out to my closest friends. I think my introversion got more active during those times. Luckily, I had to endure those months of quarantine with my family. I could not imagine the feeling of those who had to be on their own during these trying times.

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Are you ready for online teaching?

The term new normal has transformed into various images and scenarios in the past seven months as people worldwide try to make sense of the global health pandemic. The virus is still present, and the reality of health concerns remains a top source of anxiety for many.

In the Philippines, there has been an ongoing struggle with numerous concerns from the ongoing government responses to the pandemic, the scandal on various corruption incidents, and multiple misconducts (if you may call it) of celebrities and government officials. In today’s reflection, I would not be focusing on any of those. I would like to talk about the challenges teachers face now that we are in the midst of this global health crisis.

Transitions and Adjustments

As a teacher, I had to face the exhausting curriculum development process since the early months of the year. The previous academic year was abruptly halted as strict quarantine measures were passed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Can you imagine teachers finding new ways to communicate with our students and still complete the local government’s requirements to complete the school year? A lot of considerations were made, and a vast online communication system had to be put in place to ensure that students are safe and are still comfortable in completing the remaining requirements for the school year.

Even teachers leaped into an unfamiliar environment. Everyone had to check on each other’s physical, emotional, and mental state. Luckily, in my experience, we were already acquainted with the use of the Google classroom, which goes the same way with our students. However, I could not picture how worried many teachers, both young and veteran, felt when they were asked to extend their work to the virtual world. It was a nerve-wracking moment, yet I think many educators did not open this concern up to their students or even colleagues in the fear that it would only lead to disastrous consequences. After all, as professional teachers, everyone is expected to take care of the student and be ready to take up any challenges that come our way.

Amidst all these new changes and the seemingly gradual acceptance of the new normal, I had to deal with that moment of uncertainty and sleepless nights to prepare for the next academic year. Many people may not be familiar with this as it seemed as though everyone got a relaxing early year break due to the extension of the quarantine.

Online teaching requires a different kind of execution, understanding, and a considerably distinct skillset which we, teachers, had to learn and practice right away. In reality, it was more tiring to think of various ways to cut down the lessons yet keep the necessary concepts and target learnings set by the Department of Education. Also, on top of all those, we have to consider possible failures and troubles both on the technical and teaching aspects of it all.

Seeing the process to the end

After facing the immense preparation needed in online teaching, I realized how it was all still worth the struggles. I have been teaching online for almost two months now, and there have been many unforeseen and even expected troubles both on the technical and personal aspects of online teaching. Yet, the students remain on top of our priority; their learning and their adjustments. Even though there may be times that problems seem to be dragging us down to the bit of disaster, we try our best to get back up.

The worry that remains now is that of the upcoming blended learning, which will be executed for the public school system. There will now be more competition when it comes to good internet services and accessibility across the Philippines.

It is not just up to the teachers, school administrations, and even the Department of Education to find ways to address the new normal learning experience. It is a task that must be addressed together with the students’ families and private institutions. However, we should not simply brush off these concerns by showcasing our resilience in times of trouble. It is high time we ask the government and the private sectors (such as the telcos) to take responsibility for resolving this educational crisis. After all, we are citizens who shared our thoughts, worries, and hopes in keeping the learning engagements of the young generation active.

There is still a lot of arguable angles that we can discuss in this matter of continuing education. I would only like to remind myself, and you who is reading, to not give up. Try to understand more the different perspectives and various social and economic struggles that our fellow Filipinos face. See their efforts in keeping up with the new educational approach amid this pandemic. Those efforts are not just a sign that this academic year is going to end in disaster. Perhaps, it is also a good opportunity to hear their sentiments. Why exactly do they exert time, resources, and passion for finishing this school year? Each one has a distinct environment, and not all are accessible to digital resources; not all have the luxury to take a gap year as a completion of one academic year is a step closer to completing the requirements that can help them see opportunities to improve their state of living. Still, it is up to you to learn about these sides of the story with all these ideas.

Now, many teachers and students worry at the start of this academic year. It is a valid emotion that must be expressed. However, I think it is also good to give it a shot and learn from the experience. Witness how the people can understand the need to ask and check on the individuals and institutions who need to take responsibility while working hard to accomplish the tasks at hand. I hope that we will not forget that as we brace ourselves for the online learning system.

Remembering the quarantine

More than half of the year has passed, and about five months have been under quarantine, from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ), and so on. Many of us may have gone through different phases of emotional and even physical distress during those times.

I have been fine in the early weeks of quarantine. However, as I needed to work on various school requirements and family concerns, emotions came rushing in with no warning. In those times, I think that the worst experience is when my mind wanders off to past events, dreams, and plans—having the time to reflect also made it challenging to focus on and appreciate the present.

Is it the same with everyone?

I can never present my experiences as the same as everyone else’s. We all have our moments and our ways of facing our giants. We may have similarities in our experiences and the emotions that we carry, yet we can never say that we are the same. Instead, we can declare that we can relate to each one. This global health pandemic has truly left a scar in the hearts of many. A scar that will remind us of the events that brought thousands of deaths, thousands of people jobless, and many more sad memories we have to carry in the coming years. However, does it end there?

During the quarantine, I felt distressed early in the morning when some memories of plans made and canceled, dreams never started, or even simple tasks that I could do anymore greeted me. It did seem that my mind was my worst enemy during those moments. In hindsight, people may think that it is easy to control your mind from presenting those memories. However, that is not the case for me. I believe that our minds, our thinking, serve the most drastic punch to our hearts.

Hope is still there

Despite all those moments of weakness, I am still able to find hope. There are mornings where I pause and let those thoughts accompany me for a while. However, once I get the strength to move, I pray. This moment is where I learned that I need to offer everything to the Lord as I know that I cannot face my giants alone. There is this sense of fear lurking to eat me alive once I welcome it to my day. Yet, as I listen to music, read the Bible, or devotional for the day, I feel reassured by the Lord’s great presence and promise.

This experience may not be the case for everyone right now as we find ways to fight our giants the best we can. However, it is also a good reminder to know that we are not alone in this battle as we have the loving Father to help us, guide us, and walk with us through all these trials. I pray that this new week can bring us peace in our minds and hearts. Happy Sunday!

Step 1 in Retrieving my Lost Time – Devotionals

In the previous post, I talked about my disappointment whenever I’d felt that I wasted my day. In my decision to get back my time, I wish to take the first step in that, hopefully, long-term commitment. I will start with my daily devotionals.

I have done this for an entire year last 2018 and almost got through the half of 2019. However, a stumbled a couple of months in the year and lost the drive to do anything. This was when I physically, emotionally, and mentally got drained to a point of a breakdown. I almost tried seeking professional support, though I didn’t get a chance to do so. But, no worries, I still do plan to take that step later on. I am simply taking this change, one step at a time. Perhaps, if you know any local (PH) venues where I can have free or with minimal charge, psychological assistance, I’d greatly appreciate it when you share it with me.

Morning Routine

With my new work schedule, I arrive home close to midnight already. I’d only have enough energy to wash my face, fix myself for bed, and doze off right away. In spite of that, I plan to take back my morning routine or set a new early morning habit that I can stick with. I think this is a good way to make sure that I have a system that can help get me back up into feeling and doing better than I have been for the past three to four months.

I plan to get up before 8:00 AM and make sure to devout it in prayer and my bible reading plans. Right now, I am using YouVersion and it has been really helpful in making me prepare for the day ahead. There are numerous plans that are suitable for various concerns: fear, purpose, happiness, and more. It has never been a bad move to thank God for another day in my life as well as the chance to find new meaning in the events that are happening around me.

Commitment

This kind of change is not that easy to see through the end, especially with little motivation or proper guidance. The good thing is that even before starting, I already accepted the fact that there will be struggles or trials along the way. That surely is a great thing to settle in my mind to make me see a better way to make this fresh commitment work. But, I think I will also share this one great song to help put this new task in perspective – Best News Ever by MercyMe to help me end this reflection for today. This is also a great reminder on how I can commit to this new step in my life.

How to Get Back Up from a Slump?

Crying your eyes out early in the morning isn’t a great start for the day, but still getting up and preparing for work is a huge step in facing the day better. In fact, even just the thought of trying is a strong choice to make to begin the day. However, it is not that easy to do every single time this moment happens. This is something I realized just recently when I got to the lowest point of my physical, emotional, and even mental threshold; with the latter, an event that is totally new to me.

Calm Before the Storm

A quick background about me, I am the eldest of three and I just turned 26 this year which, I guess, stirred up a lot of unsettled emotions and thoughts within me. Growing up as the eldest child in a Filipino family setup means opening myself to maturity at an earlier stage compared to my siblings; though this may be the case with many other first borns.

Even when I was just in Grade 1, I remember having to do household chores at home as well as keeping an eye on my baby sister and my youngest brother. They are only roughly more than a year apart, unlike with me who is two years older than my sister and four years older than my brother. I thought it was a typical situation and simply enjoyed the days.

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Adulting: Struggles of Letting Go

Have you ever experienced a day when you just blurt out statements like ‘Shocks, I’m getting old!’ or ‘Seriously? How old are you?’? I have those moments now, but I’m not even close to turning 30. I just hit the sweet quarter of a hundred mark and yet I feel somehow overwhelmed on how ‘adult’ I should be after that particular age. I think of how “Oh dear, my officemate doesn’t know this or that anymore’; ‘The bills are here already!’; ‘I want to do that but I’m tired.’ Don’t those statements just sound sad?

In modern references, it is just a part of ‘adulting’ which everyone in their working years must face. However, as it seems to be a natural thing to happen, why are there a number of us who struggle with it?

Keeping Up with the Young Ones

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I think that there are times when the younger generation is catching up so fast in terms of age, but our sentiments are leagues away. This is one factor in how our ‘adulting’ becomes evident, and how this phenomenon seems like a burden. We start comparing our own memories to the ones who we somehow feel like us during those years.

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Seeing Colors – Job, Travel, and Life

Seeing colors

There are a lot of things that I wish I knew, I hope I can still do, and I want to pursue. But at the end of the day, there are just too many to pick and I end up accomplishing nothing. Still, with the hope in my heart and the desire to finally put into work whatever ideas are screaming out of my mind, I take little steps. In those little steps, I learn, and later I see the beauty of a colorful set of life-worthy experiences that help in building the person I am now. Frankly speaking, I do like the way I am now (though there is a number I still want to improve).

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Plan for 2018

[UPDATE 06/11/2018] This is still a plan and I was not able to really make this into a concrete action. But, it’s never too late to start. Maybe I can finally work on new posts starting this week up to maybe two to three months? 😉