Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tagged! From Down Under

Given that my buddy RG blogs once in a blue moon, it's an honor to be tagged by him. Though it's a liiiiiiittle belated, here's me giving in =]

1. I do not know how to ride a bike.

2. I do want to put up a center sometime in the future where older segments of the population can be taught and be free to engage in activities that they weren't able to learn as youngsters and in their current state in life would be otherwise too embarrassed to do so, e.g. riding a bike.

3. I made a list of places I Want To Visit Before I Die. And I've ticked off one in that list- New York City!

4. I once had a dog name Ma. Aiko Queenie Sheryl F. Gomez. Long story.

5. If I had my way, I do not wish to live beyond 60 years old.

6. One of my dream jobs is to be a stand up comedian.

7. I am colorblind.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Booking a one-way trip to a better future for Filipinos

Do you know that more than 2 million Filipino students can't read?

Yes, it's true that more than 20% of our public high school students cannot understand what they are reading.

Yes, it's also true that in the High School Readiness Test (HRET) given by DepEd to 1st year high school students all over the Philippines, less than 2% was able to get a score of 75% or higher.

And Yes, it's true that many public schools all over the Philippines don't have adequate public school libraries and enough books for students to read.

But it's also true that we can do something about this growing problem....

The Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation (the corporate social arm of Filway Marketing, Inc.) and K.I.D.S. Foundation (the foundation established by actor Diether Ocampo) together with Campaigns and Grey and Pizza Hut have joined forces to launch.....

Isang Milyong Aklat, Isang Milyong Pangarap

Isang Milyong Aklat, Isang Milyong Pangarap is a campaign to raise 1 million books for our public schools all over the country. Through this campaign, we hope to be able to help put more books into 300 public school libraries that will benefit over 1 million students. We need YOU to make this happen!

If you would like to donate books (preferably reference materials, dictionaries, storybooks, novels and science books) or Volunteer your time and skills to make this happen, please send an email to isangmilyongaklat@gmail.com or call Cecille Bautista at (02) 683-0262 loc. 109. You can also help by passing this email on to your friends or posting it in your blog! For more information, visit AHON Foundation's website at http://www.ahonfoundation.blogspot.com/

Together let us work for a Brighter Future for Every Filipino Child! :)

From Harvey Keh and the Bagong Pag-asa Movement

Sunday, July 22, 2007

When Christina Aguilera landed in our backyard...


Been ruminating on this post for the last fortnight. Here we go-

My sister started dropping hints the minute she saw the ads on the newspaper around, I dunno, April or May perhaps: That She Wanted To Watch The Christina Aguilera Concert. She is, after all, arguably her biggest fan. Several Christmases ago I splurged on Miss Aguilera’s CDs for my sister, breaking my miserly streak.

As luck would have it, the Philippine concert was to be staged two days before her birthday- a Very Valid Reason For Us To Go See Christina. In fairness to my sister, she didn’t lobby at all. But in a brother’s heart of hearts- I knew she really did want to watch.

Suffice it to say, I scored Patron A tickets for her, my brother in law and myself two days before the concert date. I must admit I am not a fan, neither is my brother in law, but speaking for myself, I was intrigued by what Christina Aguilera is like, plus I wanted to celebrate this advance birthday date with my siblings so off to the Bonifacio Global City Open Field we went, which was no more than 10 minutes from where we lived.

Christina was in our proverbial backyard.

The fateful day was July 6th, when the rains falling incessantly for a whole week prior to the concert day altogether ceased their descent. The field was muddy, the air was muggy, but the crowds came in quiet droves, dressed in clubbing get-ups. Dads with their tween-agers, Caucasian and Asian out-of-towners, Manila’s upper echelon and white collar working class all in one place, to see Miss Aguilera.

After performances from several front acts, She Emerged. And my brother in law and myself, my sister’s dutiful-bodyguards-just-in-case-something-happens-but- hardly-knew –any-Christina-Aguilera-songs, ended up hooting louder than she did.

They were taken sans flash because of the strict photo-taking regulation of the MTV Pilipinas usher overseeing our area but the photos below captured the delight of the being there…

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Never lost, always found

If God is with us, who shall be against us? If he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all, how will he not give us all things with him?... I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor spiritual powers, neither the present nor the future, nor cosmic powers, were they from heaven or from the deep world below, nor any creature whatsoever will separate from the love of God, which we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Romans 8:31-32,38-39

Monday, July 16, 2007

The learning cub

It’s been a year since I began teaching- last July 4th to be exact.

But it was only on this first week of June 2007 that I received my appointment as temporary full-time faculty member of the university. Despite the delay- no thanks to the election ban and my own sluggishness in processing my papers- I am immensely grateful to finally *belong*.

Over the last year, I have given lectures, facilitated small group discussions and health education activities, toured barangays, saw patients, checked papers, heard the rants, basked in the applause, emailed and texted, coaxed into dealing free meals- to, with, for, by, and of students- ranging from one at a time to as massive as 160 at a time (plenary discussions and not dinners, mind you).

I have agonized in front of the computer as I prepared lectures. I have sweated buckets when key presentations wouldn’t display the intended animations or students miss getting a ride on the same LRT train as I en route to places unfamiliar. I have played willing driver, peacemaker, photographer, explainer, jeepney fare collector, jester, career counselor.

I loved- love- every second of it.

My professors then are my colleagues now, not just as fellow medical professionals, but as fellow teachers. From seeing them in smaller 20-strong academic committee meetings, to the hundreds who attend the College Council meetings, to the crème de la crème who participate in the University Council.

So this is what it feels like to sit at the other side of the teacher’s table.

My classmates and friends from batches of medical students a year or two before or after me still call me by my first name. I am and always will be Ian. I’m still a bit distracted when people call me Doc; you can just imagine my happy consternation when students greet me as Sir, whether in Robinson’s Manila or just around the campus or hospital.

Surreal.

While it *feels* great to be looked up to as a teacher, to say that is *hard work* is an understatement. I have to admit that the first few classes I had, I sort of just winged them. No sweat, I thought. But student can and will hang on to every word you say and do; once uttered and/or demonstrated, they will be elevated to the level of almost-gospel truth. But the trickier one is Getting Caught With Your Pants Down, when students *actually* know what you’re talking about AND find out some inconsistencies in your statements versus standard medical knowledge. Or worse- common sense.

A couple of Fridays ago we had our orientation for new faculty members. They dished out the usual HR stuff about leaves (where I learned there is a mandated 7-day paternity leave and the Solo Parents Act of 2000 where maternity leave benefit can be granted to an unmarried solo parent) to GSIS details to special seasonal bonuses and allowances. I was still surprised (though I shouldn’t be) when one of the resource speakers from the faculty intimated that an Associate Professor VI in UP gets a take home pay of about P24,000 while an Associate Professor VI in UST gets a whopping P86,000. So just imagine what my take home pay is as Assistant Professor IV, which is eight ranks lower than Associate Professor VI…

Life.

I thought I’d be disheartened- I should be disheartened- upon knowing how little pay I will get. After all, this- teaching- isn’t a mere hobby I got into out of sheer boredom.

I am not backing out though.

Appending the letters U.P. with my name will open doors, throw them w-i-d-e o-p-e-n. They already have- to entrance ways leading to Jakarta and in three weeks’ time to Helsinki.

The job may not be paying much but I am working day in and day out with arguably the most brilliant minds in the country, today’s health policy makers and powerbrokers and tomorrow’s leaders and industry influentials. God-willing, we'll all be part of the collective answer to what ails our country.

It’s not a perfect world, teaching. There would be problematic students, problematic topics to discuss, problematic circumstances. It’s like any other workplace, any government workplace as a matter of fact. There are budgetary issues, office politics, challenging fellow civil servants, systems to question, policies to comply with whether we like it or else. Name an organization free of such hassles and I’d say you must’ve died and gone to heaven already.

I know of some people who continue to remain adrift and wandering, or hold on to a rock ledge deemed stable but is consistently being pummeled silly into a state of unhappiness. On a more personal level, I feel that I’ve discovered my niche, the milieu where I can best thrive, considering all my strengths and idiosyncrasies.

I am blessed. And grateful.

Very grateful- to God, the One True Source of Knowledge and Healing; to my parents and siblings, my most ardent fans, pillars of strength, welcome critics; to my teachers, erstwhile mentors and now- friends; to my students, partners in learning, feigning interest when there is none, yet unstoppably loquacious when sufficiently warmed up; to my friends who understand when I unceremoniously call off or walk away from carousing and singing because of papers to check or lectures to prepare for the next day; to my Lingkod community brothers and sisters who continue to storm heaven with me, knowing fully the ordeals of a teacher; and this blog and its readers- for keeping me sane and grounded.

You are all both inspired and inspiring.

Again, I am blessed and grateful, and filled with much hope.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fish, formula, FG David


Back in the UP Diliman, in our Psychology 115 class- Experimental Psychology- we were tasked to apply laboratory techniques with the appropriate statistical analysis learned on the study of certain subjects, usually animals. My laboratory partner Cheryl, one of my best friends from high school, put together an experiment to train fish, black mollies if memory serves me right.

We got an aquarium, divided it into two sections lengthwise about ¾ of the way, with a different colored light at either half of the partition. Whenever the green light was turned on, we would simultaneously drop fish food into that side of the partition which prompted the fish to go there. When we turned the red light on at the other end, we would not drop any pellets. We wanted to know if we can train fish to go to the side of the aquarium whenever the green light was turned on even if no pellets were dropped. We wanted to find out if mollies were trainable. Were they?

We don’t know. We didn’t get the chance to finish the experiment. We got to the laboratory one morning and found that the fish were all dead. They died a few days before the papers were due. There was no time to make another set-up. We were doomed. Of course, with him as our professor, it was doubly taxing considering that he is the pre-eminent experimental psychology professor in the department. Cheryl and I contemplated on how to tell him our predicament without sounding like bungling buffoons. We could try to but, nah; there was no way we’d get away with faking our data. So we decided to tell him what happened.

With much trepidation, we approached him.

Sir, all our fish died. What should we do?

What should you do? Bury them!


And with that, he joined the ranks of teachers whom I remember with utmost fondness, never to be relegated to the Abyss of Those Whom We Must Forget And/Or Regret To Have Known.

Now that he’s entered the top of my consciousness again, I begin to see that the dossier I have on him in my head is not really a thick one:

All it contains is a mental snapshot of his utterly professorial bearing, his grandfatherly aura, with that knowing twinkle in his eye…

I remember him launching into a 10-, 15-minute monologue on the first day of class, about the weather outside, with matching reminiscences of pre-automobile UP campus and the foliage that made walking a joy (no doubt prompted by the cacophony of jeepneys plying the road in front of Palma Hall Annex which drowned his soft, mild-mannered speaking)...

I remember his hours-long final exam (was it from 2-6 pm?) where we were made to derive the formula for the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) - replete with SS-within and SS-without…

I remember his advice to bury our mollies…

I remember his jacket and his distinct cloth headgear- I don’t know what it’s called but whenever I see it, it makes me want to call him a chap from New York in the 1930’s…

I took his class primarily because it has been advised by not a few people that you must not get your bachelor’s degree in psychology without taking a course under him. Needless to say, his reputation preceded him always, made him larger than life. But his candor and humor in the classroom, seeming mismatch to what students and other faculty members paint him to be, made him a most remarkable human being.

About two years ago, Cheryl bullied me into taking her to back to the UP Diliman campus where she hasn’t stepped on since working in Dubai. We took photos of the Oblation, we toured the campus, retraced the paths we took from one building to another. We then decided to crash into the house of another friend who lived just behind the Shopping Center.

We followed the route the jeepneys took, went past the SC and made a right turn when we reached the Post Office. As we turned, we passed by this elderly gentleman walking with an infant’s stroller before him.

No way.

Was it really him?

To find out, I hastily made a U-turn. By this time, they were in front of the Kalayaan Residence Hall. I drove slowly in order to better appreciate his features. IT WAS HIM! We were so excited!

We drove past him again, pondering on whether to say hello or not, and if we would do so, when and how. By the time we decided we’d say hi, I already reached the Molave Residence Hall where I made another U-turn. I slowed down the car as we were passing by him, but nerves got the better of us and we drove away from them. I hope we didn’t scare him.

That’s the last time we saw him up and about on this earth. But what a good last memory he left- him taking, presumably, his grandchild out on an early evening stroll, in the campus that he dearly loved, possibly talking about the things that were, that is, and that can be…

For all that you’ve done for all of us, for the art and science of teaching and learning Psychology in the UP- thank you, Dr. David! Good night and rest well.

(The remains of Dr. F.G. David lie in state at the Chapel 11 of La Funeraria Paz in Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. Interment is on July 21st 10am. You may call their office +632.749.3806 for other details.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Five questions

During one of those periods where the buzz of everyday living somehow led to a deterioration of my introspection abilities, I sought the last griffin's assistance to "interview" me using a guide with five qeustions. Just to jumpstart my brain. Here's the list he came up with and the responses which I managed to muster.

And no, Carl, them questions are not as amateur-ish as you thought them to be. Boy Abunda ought to be proud of his protege [wicked evil grin].


--==+==--

Have you ever capitalized or will you ever capitalize on sympathy?

Admittedly, in doing our NGO work, to get ourselves in the boardrooms of companies or have the CEO give us thirty minutes of their/his undivided attention, there is some play with sympathy, ie unleashing torrents of grievous photos of poverty to rattling off inordinately alarming statistics that prove the latter. The same goes with students as a strategy of getting them on board with lectures. I believe that people are basically feeling entities before they get cerebral, so appealing to their emotions, which I believe is the route sympathy takes, may facilitate the prompt reception and welcome of new ideas. But after the initial photo-of-poor-kid-in-the-slums-plus-the-perfunctory-AWWWWWW moment, we then tease their brains and move their bodies into acting BEYOND sympathy and understanding why, for example, such poverty exists and how can we help remedy the inequity.

Which part of Charity do you hate the most?

Oh man. You opened a Pandora’s box here with this question…

a. When we do it for ourselves, to make us feel good about ourselves, with the proverbial pat on the back for a job well done. Charity should not emanate from our generosity but rather spring from the needs of the marginalized.

b. When we give from our excess, when we do it when it is convenient or easy. Charity should be giving until it hurts… especially when it hurts.

c. When we merely give them fish. Charity should ultimately lead them whom we’ve taught to teach others how to fish.

If you were to take a photograph of something that reflected your devotion to your vocation, what would it be?

I will answer this in conjunction with question number 5.

If saving a man's life would entail the loss of both your hands, would you save that man's life?

Yes. The Father gave His Son to save me; with that juxtaposition in mind, my hands are not indispensable.

What do you see at the end of your rainbow?

Despite every imperfection that we are speckled and spattered with, I’d be with my loved ones in heaven welcomed by the Lord with the following greeting-

Well done, faithful servants. Enter and claim your reward.

--==+==--

Thank you for the questions, Carl! If anyone of you would allow me (and the blogosphere!) to get to know you better using my own list of five questions, do let me know via email =]

The magic mirror I snatched awaits =]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blogs thicker than water (1)

Sogod Bay, Sogod, Southern Leyte
This is a long-overdue entry but I’d still just like to cheer on these blogs that make surfing for not a few readers worthwhile.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
This is blog is the brainchild of my friend Carl whom I’ve known since we were in grade school. It’s an eclectic mix of music, literature, random musings, and occasional starsightings like his entry of July 9th, 2007. This guy as a human being is Brilliant- and his band The Outlaws can sure bring da house down.

Vignettes
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G P-H-O-T-O-S! Nifty trade articles. With a fine smattering of entries that awaken his readers’ social responsibility. A site for sore eyes, I live vicariously my dream of being a photographer through this blog =]

Tooth and Claw
This is Dr. Johann’s blog- one of my bestest friends from medical school. An ever-reliable pal who dispenses not only quality medical care but great advice as well, he has so many pursuits that his foray into blogging has not enjoyed much follow through. Still, his entries, albeit not plentiful, reveal a good head atop his shoulders.

Loud Cloud
I have been a fan of this blogger ever since I wandered into earlier incarnations of his handiwork almost a decade ago. At times poignant, at times petty, but outstanding in his insightfulness, he dares say things we, mere humans, struggle to keep locked in our hearts and minds for fear of social reprisal. He has that happy élan about him that is just endearing. And it is from him that I’ve learned my often (ab)used phrase of shameless self-promotion

Which brings me to, ehem, nominate my my own blog, this very blog that you’re reading. I’m just seconding the nominations already put forward for Weeks 2 and 3 of this writing project.[sheepish grin]

And the last on this hopefully preliminary list is a just-discovered nook of cyberspace (of course not discover as in discover a la Magellan… I guess more appropriate is just-stumbled-upon-blog- not that it’s an obstruction to any path that may lead me or anyone to stumble- I am flat-footed so I am prone to stumbles hence my abhorrence for sports, except for tennis which I absolutely love- to watch on tv- but not play. But I digress.) OKAY OKAY- this next blog that I frequent is Aryo’s Islander in the City, a collage of personal ruminations, issues-based ponderings, replete with a sidebar that tickles the fancy of many a trivia enthusiast with such links like This Day in History, Word of the Day, etc.

In this blogosphere awash with many fine reads, inundated by blogs benign and belligerent, these are just some of the blogs which provide much of my recommended daily allowance of sanity and information. Kudos to them (err- us).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nothing's up with me... I think

Here's something that I have not revealed to anyone. Until now.


Want to Get Sorted?

I'm a Hufflepuff!



Despite juggling five blog posts in the pipeline, I have still come up with nothing interesting to put up here. And so, with much reluctance, I hereby declare my enrolment in the bandwagon with the badge you see above.

Someday, somehow, my close encounter with Christina Aguilera will see the light of day...


Monday, July 02, 2007

Healing the nation (2): GK movie opens July 4th

It’s a movie which showcases transformations more radical and awe-inspiring than Autobots and Decepticons can ever contort themselves into.

It's a motion picture that features more heroic acts than Bruce Willis can ever exhibit even if his movie franchise extends to Part 10.

It’s a film that contains more magic than any wizard or Muggle can ever conjure.

This is real life. And it is happening right here in the Philippines.


Watch PARAISO (The Gawad Kalinga Movie) beginning July 4th.

Learn more about PARAISO from a previous post I've written and from the official movie website. Friends from the United States can get updates about PARAISO here.