Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have two options en route to UP for my PhD, from Taft Avenue. I can go north or south, but both have its advantages and disadvantages, and from a commuter the difference between the two are clear, simple and even stupid.

South-bound, I have to take LRT1, get off at EDSA station, do some window shopping or snack at MetroMall if I have time. Since, I am most often in a hurry, I skip the latter in my itenerary. Besides, in peak hours taking the MRT even from its first station is a struggle. I get used to it though, because its the same thing in LRT1 at peak hours.

Rarely, that I can get a seat in LRT1. It takes one to be swift, alert and sturdy as a wrestler to aboard the train. One should be ready for a literal face off, and switch off his nostrils to avoid the pungent breath, arm pits and body sweat from other passengers. Body to body, its like mixed martial arts being sardined inside the LRT1 coach. There are more passengers than the space could take.

The worst things one could experience in this commute, aside from delays are faulty air conditioning and being sexually taken advantaged. Humps and bumps go with some forms of ass rubs and ball grabs. Another thing is the chance of losing your valuables from snatchers and pick pockets. My commute from LRT1 to Quezon Avenue via MRT takes a lot of time, but I learned to enjoy what it feels to be human inside a heavily packed train.

North-bound, I have to take the LRT and get off at Doroteo Jose. From Vito Cruz to Central Station, I get to enjoy scenery of Manila striding to progress, and a lot of greens especially over the Rizal Park area. From Carriedo to Doroteo, my mood swings to despair, as I see old buildings unattended and vacated if not condemned. The walkway to Recto Station of the LRT2 is a sourly open irony that pinches my heart.

The Manila City Jail seats there around a thick population of informal settlers, and in the background the FEU building, some other commercial buildings and the tall structure of the LRT2 Terminal. The commute from here to Katipunan is much smoother and I have higher chance to get a seat. Here, I learned of the difference between the MRT and the LRT.

Reviewing my notes from the class, I was interrupted by the loud conversation of two passengers who stepped in from Legarda station. One man bolsters to his companion, "You know this LRT is like the train in Singapore, it's big unlike the MRT". The other guy was surprised to know that trivia, and probably must be proud of what he heard. The first man continues: "Because the LRT means Large Rail Transit, and the MRT is Medium Rail Transit, that's why the MRT is smaller".

Huh!? I would have believed him, if I don't get squeezed in LRT1 and if LRT2 has guranteed seats always. I must be wrong to learn that MRT stands for Metro Rail Transit and the LRT as Light Rail Transit, or had the government changed its name to go with the fare hike?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Catholic Teacher's Day!

Aside from celebrating the world teacher's day, so there is this Catholic teacher's day. But what differentiates a Catholic teacher from other teachers?

In the trainings I gave to some school teachers, I left them with a Bible quote "Many are called, but few are chosen". Jesus' apostles are no way different from a Catholic teacher. Jesus called many, but few were chosen to become witnesses to Christ's love, mercy, kindness and self-lessness. They took the narrow road and they too were persecuted.

Many heeded the vocation of Catholic teaching, but few stands out to live up the calling. Those who remained devoted to their profession continue to burn their wick to be light unto others, that they may know where they are going.

Seven years of my teaching here and abroad were spent in non-sectarian schools, the other seven were spent in Catholic schools. I appreciate the latter because I feel I make myself vulnerable to Christ's teachings and that I sense more intimacy with God. I feel that Catholic school as a community is a fertile ground where my faith will grow.

A self-made crisis helped me realize that teaching is where God wants me to be. Likewise, I have had discernment that teaching is not different after all from evangelizing. One protestant friend who is also a teacher have always convinced me to devote more of my time to becoming full witness to God's word. I remained with my position that I can be an evangelist as well even if I am in the classroom. With all my heart and mind, I sensed no conflict that teaching is the ministry where Christ wants me to be.

Even if I serve in the Liturgical Ministry in our parish, my ministry still calls for me to share my core gift of teaching others in the group. One can stand a witness to the Gospel by living up its teachings with integrity, through having passion for teaching without being lorded by its yoke, incentives and authority. Teaching that inspires life transformation, positive changes in behavior, excellent motivations to succeed, acceptance and respect for others and all other virtues are not only rooted in the philosophies of education, but in the Gospel of Christ.

Teaching is demanding and the demand is most often not justly compensated. It can be stressful especially when the teacher needs to deal with difficult students, colleagues and superiors. Some of those students even scorn their teachers for not submitting to their whims. Those are the teacher's persecutions. But we are at ease and our faith keeps on burning when we notice that our students are able to learn from us and in everything we do together in the course, amidst the storm and temptations.

What I learned is that Christ evoked us teachers to embrace everyone in love. Find the lost and bring them back into flock. Teach the astray to look up to what is great and virtuous. Tend the sheep. Teach men how to fish and not just give them fish. Feed those hungry for life learning more than knowledge. Embrace the lepers, and take good care of the sick and the needy. These are the apostolic work of teachers. To others, these are not clear, they just don't see the value of Catholic teaching.

Catholic education has long played a vital historical role in the formation of societies. Many were canonized saints who lived their life as teachers. Catholic teachers, you are Christ alive, and your works are witness of the Gospel. Wasn't Jesus called "Rabbi" which means teacher? Happy Catholic Teacher's Day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's Your Motto in Life?

A group freshman students approached me in the office for an interview regarding an assignment in their communication skills class. They wanted to get a profile or personality sketch of a college professor. I could not deny the request, because one of the group's member was clever to hold me up by asking her aunt (my colleague) for that interview.

They came more than half an hour late as to the schedule I agreed with my colleague. Yet I still entertained them. They observed the interview protocol by asking some factual questions, like the subjects I handle, my age, my previous work experience, number of years in teaching, etc. But they got so many questions, that I blunted if they would like to read my resume, instead?

They said they had other more important questions. The first one of which is: "What's your motto in life?"

That made me think spontaneously. I answered: "Life is like a rosary that's full of mystery". They laughed and replied, sir a serious motto please. I retorted: "Ah OK, love is blind", and I really hoped that would do them a favor. They laughed again, but oblivious of my replies.

"Sir, I mean like what is your teaching motto? Because your answers are so funny and not serious."
My mind went blank. She got me there! I said "If you asked serious questions, I would have answered seriously. You're getting the wrong answers because you are asking the wrong questions." I explained to them further, that a motto is not anymore important to me at my stage.

Motto's are for kids experiencing puppy loves and enjoying the doodles in a slum book. There is no teaching motto either, but teaching philosophies. Motto's in life are immature not so rationale. Life philosophies are. So they changed their question to ask what my life philosophy is. My answer...

"Who you think you are is who you become."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Collaboration and Working Together

There is more to collaboration than merely working together. To work together may be demonstrated by doing things that seem related to and needed to meet a goal. Tag teams are a form of working together. Helping a co-worker finish her work is also working together. But neither of these signifies collaboration.

According to Friend and Cook (2003) in their book Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals, collaboration is a voluntary act of coming together to achieve a mutual goal by sharing of resources, treating partners with parity, sharing responsibility and accountability towards meeting the learning needs of students. At the core of collaboration is personal commitment followed by communication skills. Of both I feel, treacherous to the idea of collaboration.

I guess I have never been good in conspiracy that I did not develop the skills of authentic collaboration. Or, was I stricken by pride that I believed I know what I am doing and I can do it? Well collaboration is voluntary, so it does not require me to conspire nor coerce anyone to cooperate with me. But realizing how it could affect the students' transformation, I am compelled otherwise.

Why don't I collaborate? When I was the lead teacher, I had this assumption in mind, that my partners know what to do, especially if they are seasoned ones. When I was a laboratory teacher, most of my partners didn't really mind of what I do in the laboratory. There must have been mutual understanding and respect between teaching partners, but there is no mutual goal set for us to collaborate with.

So we just work together without collaboration. I am a communicator, so I openly share my ideas to other teachers who sincerely come for advice. I also share my resources, like worksheets and activities that I have for my use. But I got a bad experience from this. My materials spread and get to the hands of students even if they are not in my class. Worst, their teachers removed my name from those handouts that I prepared through some sleepless nights.

Regarding sharing of responsibility and accountability, the only thing I know is that we are guided by the course outline. We may reconfigure the flow of the lesson from any given time, and because of our pregorative guaranteed by academic freedom, we can change the order of the lesson. I am human, I seek rewards and avoid punishment. Normally, I would seek that which are convenient for me, before anyone else. It is inconvenient and way too tasking to be teaching so many different things to be able to satisfy partners' requests.

So am I selfish? No, just a normal human being with some shortcomings. I know who I am to my students, and I know my role. But like anyone else, I can't break my back for my own detriment by acting like a superhero taking all the inconveniences, that should be shared between teaching partners. Then I am not committed to my profession? But, that's another thing.

As a teacher handling a course with lecture and laboratory components, I am guilty of not collaborating. I must have been working well together with other teachers, but not genuinely in collaboration with them. Now that I realize this, the best thing that I should be doing is to -- collaborate!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Overcoming Speech Anxiety

Speech apprhension is that anxiety or fear of the prospect of facing up the public to deliver a speech (Lucas, 2001). It is primarily due to the lack of preparation, but other factors contribute to that apprehension such as unreasonable fear or fear of the unknown, fear of making mistakes and the lack of self-esteem.

Dealing with speech anxiety depends on the cause. But preparation stands out as primary factor to affirm and assure the speakers that they will do well in the speaking task. Preparation is so essential in the process of speech making and presenting one's self to the public.

F-E-A-R, according to Zig Zigglar (1993) is False Evidence Appearing Real, and it is a powerful emotion that influences our emotions in many negative ways. Psychologist understand the power of fear, that it may alert us to prepare, take caution and really put our mind and heart on what we have to do, but it could also affect us to stay out of the risk and suffer more negative emotions.

Having self-confidence does not mean being free from experiencing speech anxiety. That apprehension is normal and there's no assurance that one who has self-confidence will never be anxious in speaking up on stage. Anxiety results from various factors. One can be self-confident, yet still experience some level of speech anxiety.

The more you experience public speaking, the less anxious you become when you face up your audience. To overcome your speech anxiety, consider the following: 1) examing your feelings; 2) changing your mindset; 3) picturing your success; and 4) doing what is needed for the speech act. Going through these four steps will help you deal with your speech anxiety and gain confidence in communicating with others.

Examine your feelings. Fear is an emotion, instead of denying it, acknowledge its presence. With that you will be able to control it. Determine where that fear is coming from. Gain more understanding as to its cause and resolve them reasonably. Freaking out will not get you anywhere but into disaster. Emotions are a product of our senses and thoughts. Acknowledging what you feel and understanding about how you think about them will get you to cognitively reconstructing the negative into positive emotions or thoughts.

Thinking positively is a streetsmart knowledge and it works as you change your mindset or reconstruct your cognitions about the speech act. What you think and how you think have implications to your behavior and your senses. If you dread speaking for no reason at all, you will not likely find yourself ever engaged in it. But if you think of the incentives or gains you will have in it, you will be more eager to learning and experiencing it.

You are probably afraid in your first major speech because you lack the experience. So avoiding the engagement will not really help you gain the experience. You might also be afraid of the unknown. That is just irrational, so just be objective in looking at the speaking situation as an opportunity for you to personally grow as a speaker and really learn from the experience. You may be afraid to make mistakes that's why if you can avoid it, you will do everything to do so. But, everyone makes mistakes, even those who you think are great speakers.

Related to changing your mindset is picturing your success. This is mental visualization exercise that you can integrate in your preparation. As you try to relax and deal with the symptoms of anxiety, you might try creating positive images or scenes in your head of your success in public speaking. Create and watch your own public-speaking success movie in your mind. See yourself as how you would deliver, stand, move and even what you want to hear from the audience. That will help be more confident as you create an imprint of your speech act prior to the event.

Lastly but most importantly, do something about it. Even if you are delivering an impromptu speech, where you are called to speak about something or someone, at the moment. In seconds you can actually organize your thoughts. For major speaking events, you will never be called unprepared because you will be informed of it few days before that.

Speech anxiety that is caused by the lack of preparation is a lame excuse. Fear is inevitable, but you can be in control of the situation including your emotion. Overcoming stagefright or communiation apprehension requires a conversion in thinking and taking positive actions. Start it by believing that you have the ability to be the best that you can be. Don't let self-doubt sabotage you and prevent you from becoming an eloquent and confident speaker.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Anxious about Public Speaking?

If you feel scared to go up there on stage to speak in front of the public, that is what we call speech anxiety. This nervy feeling to some others is also termed communication apprehension or stage fright; at the most it is but a normal feeling that will leave you as you have begun your speech.

At the lighter side, you should be encouraged by the fact that even those great and well-known speakers experience speech anxiety every time. They just don't appear so from afar. Those who are humble enough to share how they advanced from being a lousy speaker to an excellent one would admit they too still feel anxious in speaking in public.

Speech anxiety is that shrinking feeling which dwarfs you amidst terrifying monsters and giants. When you can not resolve it or control it is a sure way to your failure in your speech delivery. To deal with it, you need to know what it is, where it is coming from and how it manifests.

To better our understanding about speech anxiety, we need to consider that it is an emotion. Hence, we all feel the same way because it alerts us to prepare for the speaking situation. It makes us conscious that we need to be in control of the situation and of our self-presentation.

Stagefright has physical manifestations or symptoms, like sweating, wet palms, trembling knees, cracking voice, heavy breathing, and faster heart beat. You will need to address these symptoms as mere manifestations of your anxiety, but you can not ignore them. They will stop only as you have approached the stage and got through the first minute of your speech. So deal with these symptoms as necessary.

Practically, you should wipe your sweat off, and be reminded that it even shows in the oiliness of your face. To stop your tremors, take slow breathing exercises until you are composed. Instead of cracking your fingers and jumping off your trembling knees, just seat or do some slow walk while you tame the tempest in your chest with relaxing breath of fresh air. Drink warm water to sooth your drying throat and relax its muscles. Those things should do the trick, but they will fail if you pay much attention on the symptoms rather than on what you should do in your delivery.

Preparation reduces the tension, but the lack of it is the main cause of speech anxiety. In the surface you get anxious, because you are nervous. But you are nervous because you are afraid. You are afraid because you don't want to be in shame. You think that you will be in shame because you actually did not do anything before the time of your speech delivery. That fear is also heightened because we do not know the situation, or we fear the unknown up to exaggerating levels.

But when you have actually done all the needed preparations, including getting some background information about the audience, the topic and the event, things tend to lighten a bit, and your anxiety is reduced even prior to the speaking event. It's easier to say to yourself just be confident, but there is much needed work to be just confident in any speaking engagement. The first step is to go up there and face your audience with a smile.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Forgetting my Mom's Birthday

Yesterday, while I was crossing the street to take the LRT going to UP, I felt really really guilty. The thought that I forgot to greet my mother on her 72nd birthday got into my nerves. It rang to my head, that would be the gravest mistake that I could ever do in my entire life.

She woke me up three times from bed, because I left a note on the dining table for it. I had coffee with the water she boiled. I wore the clothes that she folded and hang in my closet. I woke up from the bed that she makes everynight. Yet, I just left to work without a memory of her birthday and not even greeting her.

Before I left the house, she even asked me some money because some of her sisters in her charismatic group are going to have their prayer meeting in the house. Well I gave her 500 pesos for their snacks. Then I just hurried to work.

Guilt got into me. I had been preoccupied thinking of celebrating her birthday in a restaurant over the weekend, yet I failed to greet her that day. That afternoon, I wanted to call her over the phone, but I didn't for no reason. My mind was just drifting about what I would tell my professor as an option for our class project.

I wanted to call my sister to buy cake and some food which I would pay later, and greet my mom for me on her birthday. Yet I didn't. After the class, I was held by two classmates for some chat while smoking. In between the folds of my brain is the thought that by the time I get home, my mom would be sleeping.

How cruel would that be to my mom, who has been caring for me ever since I was born? My classmate offered a ride but I asked if she would be passing by a bakeshop for me to buy a cake. She even asked why a cake. I replied it was "mothergoose's birthday". My other classamate said, that we could stop somewhere in Quezon Avenue for the cake, so I rode with her home.

I did not see any bakeshop, by that time. Most shops are close at half past ten. I got home and it was silent. My sister was having her dinner, my brother in-law was washing his face already. My cousin was on our sofa watching TV. I asked: "what's the food for the party?" They asked, "What party? It's just January 12."

"Thank God for delivering me from the sin of forgetting my mom's birthday", I murmured. I checked the calendar as reality check. Today is my mom's birthday. She is the most wonderful woman I ever have in my entire life. When I woke up at half past 2 this afternoon, before I drank the coffee I made out the water she boiled, wearing the clothes she washed and folded, I greeted her: "Happy birthday mother goose!"

She uttered back: "Thank you even if that's coming from your nose!" With a smile I sat outside and sipped coffee.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Panata: The Devotion to the Black Nazarene

It was estimated that there were around 1.7 million people that joined the procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo. It took 17 hours for the patron of one of the oldest parishes outside the walls of Intramuros to get back to its shrine from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.The procession commerates the Translacion or transfer of the image of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno.

Historically, the image was carved by an Aztec sculptor brought to the Philippines on galleon that caught fire. Surviving from the fiery boat, the lifesize image made from wood survived but burnt its original white color. It is also historical that the first church in Manila which housed the image was built in the first Augustinina Recollect church in the Bagumbayan (Luneta) area in 1606. Two years after it was transferred to a church dedicated to San Nicolas Tolentino. Then it found its home in the Quaipo Church, in 1787, now known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.

I have no panata to the Itim na Nazareno. But I would not miss sitting on the Basilica's pews everytime I would go to the area. In faith, I would find myself praying to God in front of that icon which has survived serveral fires, earthquakes, the revolutin against Spain and WWII, with the church being spared from devastation. Many of those devotees testify to the miracles of the Black Nazarene.

This year, I had a chance to have a glimpse of the Translacion, in Luneta, in Quiapo and the nearby area. I went there as an observer, so at least I could get some understanding of what goes on in the feast of the Nazareno, and of what draws the crowd into a mob of the faithfuls. The sober religious who sit in the vigil that night turned into an agitated ocean of people, in the flaming maroon shirts taking the heavy caroza of the Nazarene to its shrine.

The first image that I saw was like the exodus. People from everywhere, were heading to one place. With my companion, I wanted to try to get as near to the enshrined image to kiss its foot or touch even the tip of its cross. But this reminds me of the helpless situation of the woman suffering from profused bleeding, who believed that she would be healed as she would touch even the tip of Jesus' clothes. The line towards the altar was just too long, and we could not find its end even if we were almost near the Manila Hotel.

As that Sunday is also the Church's celebration of the Baptism of Jesus by John, I wonder how many in their times were in line to have their selves baptized in the Jordan River? I wonder too, how those people are thinking of what God spoke about Jesus as his beloved son, that they are there in that feast of the Nazarene? I also wonder how the people understood what God meant when He said that we listen to his begotten Son? Further I ask, how these baptized catholics, devout believers to the Nazarene, live their faith that they embraced from baptism? Compared to the never-endling line and coming of people, how do they keep the flame of their faith burning, as the hype of the celebration comes close to an end?

So we decided just to get near the grandstand. There, during the vigil, I witnessed a reenactment of what probably it was like when Jesus sermoned at the mount. The slope in front of the grandstand were filled with people, of adults and children alike. The elderly and the youth, the men and women and all other gender gathered together. The rich and the poor? That needs some serious investigation. There were those seriously praying and reflecting, and while some are sleeping others are just talking.

On the grandstand, the organizers have prepared a theatrical presentation of passion of Jesus as is reflected in the devotees novena. There were prayers, dancing and singing in between the presentation. What occured to me is like a grand tribal gathering to exercise a religious ritual modernized. A fusion of the pagan and the sytematic religious practice. But if one is just serious to participate in it, the seed of faith grows in spirit that encourages more participation to the rituals.

If the grandstand were the temple, there were also the vendors that sell everything of sort which Jesus would not like for it desecrates what is really holy. Side by the side by the faithfuls were those enterprising individuals that take advantage of the opportunity. Candles, scapular, shirts, hankies that bear the image of Nazarene, are sold everywhere besides the variety of food and other stuffs at the convenience of any person there. The symbols of faith just come with a price.

The atmosphere in the vigil was a mixture of being charismatic, zeal, and at some points melancholic with a tone Filipinism. The songs, the prayers, the theatrical acts were all in Filipino. That probably gives the appeal to draw in a big crowd. The charismatic mood, where people dance in rituatilistic manner, keep of the stage alive and those who are still awake engaged in the vigil. There were candles lit, and small images were abound. Some were praying the rosaries and others their novena, while the event goes on. Whether it is zeal or fanaticism, people remained in the line to get near the image, some others would have their hankies or with their bare hands wipe any other image that has resemblance to the lifesize icon of the Nazarene.

That morning, as I went to Quiapo church, the crowd begins to thicken. More and more people are drawing in towards the grandstand. They were in marroon shirts, pants and shorts without any footwear, walking the stretch of the roads towards were the Nazarene will come from. Some are waving their hankies. It was like the image of Jesus entering Jerusalem. The crowd were jubillant, welcoming to the Messiah. The crowd were with Jesus in his entrance. But the crowd there were the same that denied Jesus and put him to death.

I would really like to feel that ocean of faithful taking the Nazarene to his house. I would like to touch even the rope, or even try to jump off the people and get as close to the image. I would love to do all those things, for the sake of knowing how it feels. But I guess, even if I will be able to do so, I will not be able to tell the experience like how a genuine namamanata would feel.

Even though I was there in Quiapo until past nine, waiting for the procession, I believe it's God's way of telling me that such devotion is not for me to experience. I could see it in the news, I could read it on papers. I could browse the net for its up-to-date real time coverage. That deprivation comes from my personal faith, not in the Black Nazarene, but in Jesus whose temple is the faithful, whose church are the believers, whose image is also ours, and whose Spirit dwells in every heart and mind of those who love him and live for him.

I know and I believe, that I have no need of those hankies, the blessed coconot or jatrhopa oil, a thread of the Nazarene's hair, or a kiss on the image's feet. The Jesus that I know is the same Nazarene, but He is always there with me. From the moment that I would close my eyes and praise His name, He is there as He is always here with us all. I celebrate His presence, everytime in the Eucharistic celebration. I acknowledge his Godhood as He is my Savior, the One from the Father, and One in the Holy Spirit. His miracles come even if we don't ask for them, we just missed to see them when we fail to thank Him.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dining with Friends

Post-Christmas invites are really hard to ignore, especially when they come from my dearest friends. No matter how bland the food is, they seem to taste great because I was with awesome people.

First was with my highschool friends. We really wanted to have a good time over dinner at this Platinum KTV in Polaris St. in Makati. But we didn't. The 5K we paid was not worth it because of the poor service. We took the package 3-hour package that goes with food and drinks. Since the waiters were very slow in serving the food, and they had to serve it in piece meals, I get to drank myself of more than half the bottle of red wine which was bitter. I would have appreciated it more, if they served us Novellino.

After that most of us went to have some coffee. Our first choice was Starbucks because of brand familiarity, but we ended up in Gloria Jean's cafe because it was too crowded. I love their pastry as I get to try their tea. I'd prefer Gloria Jean's pastry over Starbuck's the serving may not be so big, but its pastries are not so sugar-heavy unlike that of Starbucks.

Second, was with my dearest friend Jane. Although I missed her first invitation because I got to go with my mom to the groceries that day and I was not just not in the right outfit. Of course I would not dare go dining in palengke clothes, although SM was not so far from Greenbelt 5.

So I got to meet Jane the next day, and we spent a great time talking about her married life over pasta, bread and coffee. When I got there in Cibu, she had already ordered that creamy pumpkin soup. No there was no cream in it, but it was thick and really delicious. Our main course was their familia rigattone, which we ate with some pieces of bread along with some spinach spread.

I really loved that pasta smothered with a mixed of creamy white and some tomato sauce, served with slices of sundried tomatoes and sauted shrimps. That was great. The tomato tastes like the kamias pickles, sour, sweet and salty that burst in your palate.

Then we had coffee at Starbucks in one corner of the old Greenbelt. I am just so happy for my dear friend, as she advances in her career and her marriage life with healthy growing smart kids. Yet, she never forgets where we both came from, among all my college friends, Jane never really forgets me. I mean we just have a special bond, that we clique.

With her and with my other friends, I can just let my hair down. Then just recently, a colleague of my mine from more ten years ago, invited me for a dinner with her husband. Sheila came from Canada with her husband and kids, but I get to missed seeing her kids that day. With her was also a college classmate who I worked with in the first college where I taught for three years, Liza.

The three of us share something in common, they are both from Bicol. While Sheila is from Naga, Liza is from Albay where my father came from. Thus when we talk, we could really be laud. Liza came from Australia, where she works now. We just had great conversations, wild laughters, some reminiscings of the past and some serious business talks.

We ate an early supper at Chillis in Greenbelt 5. The restaurant have big servings that two people can share but after our buffalo wings appetizer and some other stuffs, we ordered individually. Sadly, it was only the Chicken crispers that I really liked. Although I ordered for Chillis Fajita Trio with guacamoli sauce, my buds didn't really appreciate the grilled meat.

Politely I had to finish what I ordered, but that food was not just a good treat. I liked the texture of the beef, chicken and shrimp, even though they lack the grilled taste. A shawarma, or the burrito that I can prepare would taste much better. I had to taste their marinara past on white sauce, but It just tastes that just put some cream chees on it.

Then we had coffe at Seatlle's best, because Starbucks was so crowded. That was last Wednesday, but Greenbelt park just looks like the holiday's isn't over. On those two days, the food were just mere instrumental, that we could get together. Dining with dear friends who I don't meet very often are indeed moments to remember and even look forward to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Man versus Woman

After weeks of reading feminist literature in preparation for a presentation in my women's studies coursework, I still wonder: What makes the man different from the woman that the two are seen as not equal? This question is even harder for me to answer because I treat and find women as my equal in spite of our differences.

My views on gender equality could be attributed to what kind of family did I come from, while my views on gender difference may have been influenced a lot by what the schools taught me. My personal experiences through healthy social interactions with both sexes while having more women around me in the house, must have helped tame my masculine tendencies to view women with respect and dignity as I accord to myself.

Men and Women in my Family

When I was kid, I never knew that we had a matriarchal family. My paternal grandmother was the head of our clan, and her wisdom was our discipline. She has the voice that everyone must hear and heed to. She has the power to demand what is due her or what is due to others. She has a strong influence down to the littlest family from her brood. Her presence I think is what remains to be so memorable to unify our generation and the generation before us, that we keep in accord with one another.

I have seen how my mother supported my father in rearing us, and how they fulfilled their duties out of love for us and for each other. My earliest drawing of my family is a sketch where my mom and dad are together standing on equal grounds, my sisters and brothers in a line according to their age, while I was there in front of my mama and papa. Very few things would distinguish those figures as to gender, the triangular skirt or dress, the pants and the hair. Everything else would be the same.

The differences between the men and women in family were not so noticeable to me then. But now, that I am learned and had been educated, I see that man functions differently as to the woman, but their differences in thoughts and actions are rather complementing.

My father would earn a living by working in his car repair shop. My mother stays in the house to take care of our daily needs at home, until the time that I could tend for my self as kid, my mom would also work in small in-house handicraft shop. My sisters who would come from school, will do the cooking, if not my mom. But the boys would help in the housework by fetching water, preparing the dining table, brushing the floor, washing the dishes and running errands. My brothers too would work with my father in his repair shop. Cooking, brooming, washing, mending, folding and ironing clothes were the girls tasks. The sexual division labor was negotiated, never imposed.

While mom will extend her work in the house, my dad will play with us, listen to the radio until mealtime is ready and put as all asleep after some family bonding over TV. My mom will prepare my father's clothes for sleeping and even give him sponge bath. Then they will lie together on the mat for their matrimonial rites. I never heard any complaint from my mom from doing these work, I guess that how she shows her love for my father and for us.

As to discipline, my father is different from my mom. My mom would talk things out, when we commit mistakes she would tell us what was wrong, why it was wrong, and what to do the next time. My father would use force, if yelling does not seem to work, he would whip us with his belt. Then mom, would talk to us and console us, she would be my father's mouthpiece for he what he never really spoke of. But we learned from that, no not the value of violence but the virtue of righteousness.

As to our education, they both had high hopes for us to succeed. Yet, they never really forced us to be so competitive. Their encouragement for us to do better only had power if we heeded it. They never compared us with one another, but they showed their appreciation to our accomplishment. I remember my dad when he carried me after I received honors in the kindergarten, he had tears in his eyes. Two years after, he left for eternal rest, and my mother had to fulfill the duties and obligations of both man and woman in the house.

Men and Women in my Education

My childhood senses were already ingrained with the natural perception of the gender difference based on our physiological or biological make-up. The capacity to function productively and the potential to reason were out of my mind to develop premature gender-bias. Studying in a public school, where boys have to study together with the girls never gave me a hint that there are other differences to cause inequality between genders. In grade school, boys and girls are just children.
It was in high school that I learned the differences between sexes. Along with learning in biology that but a pair sex chromosomes would differentiate a human being from another, I realized nothing else is different. In physical education where we were oriented with things about puberty and sexuality, I learned that behavior and the reproductive organs are different between sexes. I learned too, that sexual orientation was a preference. What I never learned then was the issue of gender, even if I was so well versed with the history of men.

The school had not paid much tribute to the women, even though the academe was female-dominated. The very few significant women that I came across in my basic education included Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Maria Antoinette, Queen Elizabeth, Margareth Thatcher, Maria Clara, Garbriella Silang, Melchora Aquino and Corazon Aquino. But I do not have a recall as to how the school have imparted to me the significant virtues of these women, that as a man I may look up to them and see my humanity through them.

In college, while I was involved in activism and school politics, my views on gender equity was never changed nor was it reinforced. I wrote with feminists students, rallied with feminists, lobbied for feminist issues, strategize with top feminists in the movement. But the same movement deprived me of its understanding of feminism. Feminism were just for female cadres, but their issues were also our issues as the revolutionary catalyst to stir proletarian consciousness.

In the movement I met women, intelligent, brave, courageous, yet still feminine. They were as audacious as the great women academics that I've met. And I respect them for their distinguishable commitment to bring their selves in the forefront of the feminist cause for equality and recognition of their gender-identity. It was mostly women that educated me. I have learned more from the women than from the men in the academe. It was also women who gave my cathecism that taught me that all are equal before the eyes of God.

Sheila Ruth (2001)differentiates the virtues of the masculine and the feminine. According to her, the masculine virtue is a warrior virtue characterized by aggressiveness, courage, physical strenth and health, self-cotnrol and emotional reserve, perseverance and endurance, competence and rationality, independence, self-reliance and autonomy, independence, individuality, and sexual potency. On the other hand, the not-male complement vritue are characterized by passivity, timidty, fragility and delicacy, expressiveness, frailty, emotionality, needfulness, dependence, humility, chastity, innocence or receptivity.

My upbringing, my education, my political enlightenment, my faith, my social interaction had made me a feminist, if not a supporter of the feminist cause. Yet, there are still a lot things that I need to put in the folds of my brain on feminism. I think I am a man still in the process of understanding the woman better. In most ways, as the biogical dictates of my maleness, I share the masculine virtues, but in the virtues of my consciousness, I also possess those not-male virtues. This my personal anomaly, but I acknowledge it as blessing and balance of the male-female chromosome in me.

Biology may have influence for men or women to possess those virtues strongly. But then, they are human virtues and there are ways to be virtuous, and that is the path to being human which we should all take. Man and woman can not be in constant antagonism, they are opposites in sex but they share so many things in their human nature. Whatever difference that we may have out of the influence of so many factors, the conflict can only be resolved by acknowledging those differences, complementing them and celebrating them as what make us unique and diverse.