Revisiting My Old Self

Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to look back to your own self? Perhaps, to see how you were then and find another way to make sense of all your decisions and experiences. In my case, as I get older, I think I become more sentimental and so I pick up on some of my old works. Whether it is an unfinished story or a forgotten stanza, all of them help me remember the experiences I once had, and even the heart breaks I had to endure.

For this week, here are some of the collections I tried to complete in the past five years, yet until now, they seem lacking with bits and pieces of the emotions and the memories I would have wanted to keep. If you have the time, you may check them out in my tablo page. Hope you like reading them. ❤

Limbo is a collection of poems that I have started, I guess, about four or five years ago. I am not that confident when it comes to writing poetry (I learned this the hard way during my univ days). However, I find writing poetry a relaxing and refreshing experience. I get to challenge myself and learn a thing or two about new concepts. I know that I still have a long way to go, yet that exact thought keeps bringing me back to the process.

I hope that I would be able to do another collection where I can already present a more refined set of techniques while keeping the content close to heart, still. There may be a long way to go from here, but I am hoping for the best.

Now, for the second one (Pagkakataon, Talon!), this is a collection of my writing exercises and writing submissions from my university days. Upon revisiting my works during that time, I can say that I miss my younger self. The one who was brave enough to try sharing her own cluttered thoughts through writing raw ideas into her submission. How I miss that carefree self of mine who was so focused on her craft. What happened years after that? Hmm, perhaps, that is where the last collection comes in.

This last one, Working Girl Conversations, started as just a space where I could share my overflowing worries and exhaustion as a person gradually finding her space as part of the work force. Not exactly sure if the written pieces here truly justifies my experiences, but they do bring back those moments of uncertainty and near-crying concerns of my twenty-something self. Also, the title was made when I wanted to have the book as a passion project with my closest friends. However, sadly, I never really got into planning and executing that process with them. Maybe this year I can find time and focus on completing this collection.

My Escape, My Comfort

There were no books in reach as I was growing up. I did not come from a family of readers. However, this reality did not hinder my complex journey with reading. Through the years, I was able to finally identify the various activities and content that bring me comfort.

Stories, Cartoons, and Films

As a toddler, I was first exposed to various television shows. It was in the mid-90s and we did not have cable then. So, I learned to enjoy different Tagalized cartoons, from Princess Sarah, Cedie: Ang Munting Prinsipe, Heidi, Daddy Long Legs, and even Doraemon. Those were only a fraction of the extensive list of TV shows I spent a lot of my mornings with. My parents were both working then and they were not familiar yet with the immense task required for parenthood. After all, I was their first child. To their surprise, I was a quiet and obedient child who would stay still once the TV was turned on. Yes, as I heard stories from my parents, they were happy that I was a child who would not cry when they were gone but instead follow the instructions they gave me. “Papa will go out for a while and pick up Mama. Oh, you watch this first.” Then lo and behold, when they got back home, I was still focused on the TV show I was watching.

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Typhoon Ulysses and the rest of the Philippines

The year sure knows how to cram at the last minute. It seems that 2020 has yet to rest from all the challenges fate has poured into humanity’s lives. Heartbreaking sights are seen everywhere.

Our country, the Philippines, was not spared from the wrath of nature as multiple typhoons destroyed numerous properties, devastated massive land areas, and took precious lives. The most recent one, and is still an ongoing concern, in the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses which entered the country last Wednesday and have caused numerous flooding across various regions.

Flashback: Ondoy Memories

When the strong winds began on the night of November 12, it felt such a long night. Memories of the past became my family’s company as we listened to the roaring winds which angrily hit every surface it could find. This is not the only concern, then as the winds came with continuous rain. The rainwater sure brought my family back to the past worries when we faced the unexpected rush of water in 2009.

I could still remember clearly how, as a 16-year-old, I was oblivious of what was happening in Metro Manila during that time. I was in university, miles, and miles away from home. In the early morning of September 26, 2009, I thought it was just another rainy day. However, it was the first and only time it took me an entire day to reach Mandaluyong City. I spent the morning on the bus, stuck in heavy traffic with no food or water. Luckily, I was with my roommate then. However, reality just hit me when we reached Crossing, and no public transportation was in sight at around 5:30 pm already.

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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.

Step 2 in Retrieving my Lost Time – Grace

Start with grace and appreciation for even the smallest action. Just as I open my eyes, I need to give grace to the Lord. I must say my gratitude for giving me another day to live and to witness the wonders of life here on Earth. It may be difficult to get up at times, but I need to remind myself that the Lord still gave me another chance; to change or to find another reason to pursue an act that will make me want to continue living.

If money was not a concern, I would have chosen to write stories and become a professional writer. However, it might take me a few more years to jump into that road and work my way to achieving such a goal. I need to earn to provide for my family. It was not specifically asked by my parents, but as the eldest child in the family, I think that I need to do as much as possible as to help.

Filipino Mindset of Helping Out

Recently, I had been in a seemingly infinite cycle of worrying because of my current financial status. I felt drained both physically and emotionally that I couldn’t focus on accomplishing anything. I think that with almost a decade after attending university, I am in a limbo. This is further heightened by my own personal want of providing well for my family.

As the “Ate” (older sister) in the family, the first four years of my career were set to help out in financing my siblings’ college education. My parents didn’t ask me to provide for everyone. It was on my own decision that I opted to give a portion of my salary for them. Honestly, I didn’t earn that much, almost just a bit higher than minimum wage, but I felt contented. It was not later on, when I reached 25 that I suddenly felt that “Woah, wait. I need to look after myself. I am not getting any younger.”

That statement may seem exaggerated as my sister only started work at the age of 24, but thinking of the dreams that I set aside, yes, my circumstances now seem a bit worrisome. Nonetheless, I didn’t exactly mind it as I grabbed a job that seems to be a passion that I would truly be happy with – teaching.

Passion over Finances is not enough

Teaching was wonderful. I enjoyed engaging with my students, sharing experiences, and even being strict in class. However, this didn’t last long as I got burned out with financial worries. Don’t get me wrong, finances aren’t the only things that matter in life, I know. However, being able to have enough and provide properly for the family is a crucial factor in staying in a job. Also, having to carry a load that isn’t even part of my job description is somehow too much. Okay, let’s be honest; a teacher isn’t an eight to five job as there are a lot of in between scenarios to take care of during the entire school year. However, being asked to juggle too many tasks at the same time with some of which should have been shouldered by others, that is too much.

Also, compensation wise, it won’t make ends meet that easily. Though I am truly grateful for the experience as it also helped make me more mature and more responsible in the way that I handle events in my life. I think that I need to find a way to help me meet this passion of mine. First by completing the required units to take the licensure examination (credentials and titles are still such a big thing in the Philippine setting; understandable as we are supposed to be professional). Then to pass the board.

For now, I am just grateful to the Lord for all the realizations that I have had for the past months. I have to be committed to seeing this through no matter how difficult or how long it may take.

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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Looking Back before Moving Forward to 2018

Today, I can say that welcoming my 25th year wouldn’t be that bad after I have grown to know more about myself as well as the different things that truly matter to me. However, before I can move forward to welcoming 2018, there are a lot of experiences that I need to look back to as I reflect and finally put them out of my mind and my heart. This is me letting go of those moments for me to have space for new ones in my head and my heart.

June 2013 – early 2015

  • ESL work -> got burned out from it 😦

Right after graduation, there were a lot of experiences that opened my eyes to how different it was to be a student and to be a part of the workforce. I spent almost two years of my post-grad concerns focused on a job which challenged me a lot (physically, mentally, and emotionally).

This was the time I realized that I wasn’t that good enough to be working in this field, but I didn’t let that stop me from doing well. So, I studied, I practiced, I endured, and I became a better ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher than how I thought I could be. Though, there were still a number of times when I truly wanted to cry from exhaustion and just quit. Like why in the first place was I there? I wasn’t even a speech communication graduate; I chose writing as my major!

Honestly, for the first three to five months, I had always thought of quitting. Then, the kids came to the academy. I had to endure all the challenges and faced them head-on. I loved the kids, I loved how I was sharing a part of my knowledge with them, and I love how I was becoming a part of their growth as an individual. As I saw them improve, I felt that I needed to be there to guide them. This was not an entirely good choice, though.

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Learn, Write, and Complete a Story (Part 2)

As I grew more familiar with the rich sources of knowledge and interesting tales through various books, novels, and even scripts from plays, I searched for more opportunities to explore and improve my own writing skills. But, there are a lot of times that I get stuck.

The Characters and the Plot

It may be a good start for any piece of writing by having some images of the main characters and getting an idea for the general flow of the story. This is how I usually begin my work. I meet new people who may have a resemblance to the people around me or to my own. Sometimes, it’s sad that I had to give my pain to them as I find ways to build them up again for far greater challenges which lead to wonderful memories as well as better understanding of others and themselves. But, what happens when I forget some of these characters along the way. Many have haunted me, others simply just quieted down to the deepest parts of my mind. Here, I lose the work I’ve started. I get stuck.

Writing, Typing Aimlessly

Habit is an important factor in making any piece of writing work. This is where I am still lacking. Yes, I accept the fact that I used to type every day. I have grown fond of that routine, but that was when I was a student.

When I stepped foot in the professional world, I lost track of the passion that I once had when I took up a writing major. I needed to earn, not only for myself but most importantly for my family. I had two younger siblings who were both in college when I graduated from the university. That particular phase in our family life taught me to let go of my personal wants first and reach out to the members who needed the most.

Still, I tried to sneak in some writing once in a while. I appreciated the wee hours in the morning when there was no noise going around, not the time yet to worry about office responsibilities, and distractions all over the place. However, even with this kind of system, I usually still get stuck and I can’t finish any piece properly. *Properly in the sense that I know the story is done, my characters have had their moments, and I have said what I truly wanted to say.

Now, I have to set time for my passion again even though I know that I am starting to be busier than ever because I have to take care of 100+ kids. 😉