Thursday, October 28, 2010

A deathbed realization on changing others

Everyone wants to make a difference. Yet, it is impossible to influence others if we don't practice what we preach. Just like when we're listening to a sermon in the church and we know that the speaker is not living up what he's saying, we seem not to believe him, right? I want to share to you this very inspiring anecdote of changing others posted by my favorite Rex Barker. It's sent to me by, with the title "Begin With Yourself",  contributed by Carol B of New Orleans.

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But, it too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world."

As the song goes, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin in me." So before we can change others, we have to change ourselves and our living example will inspire others to emulate us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why is the Philippines lagging behind?

 I've just finished watching TV Patrol online and I'm so saddened with typhoon Juan's wrath in our country. I can deeply feel how the affected families suffer with their house blown away by strong winds and their livelihood washed out by the typhoon and flood. About this time last year, super typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng left the Philippines terribly devastated which caused a big blow in its economy. It's no wonder that our country is lagging behind its counterparts such as Thailand and Malaysia. So we can't fully blame the country's economic situation to corruption. There have been many corruption stories anywhere but natural calamities are big factors for its neighboring countries overtaking it.
Comparing the Philippines to its neighboring ASEAN countries such as Thailand and Malaysia which have similar natural resources, the former is more prone to typhoons being an archipelago, the latter are not. It is visited by almost a hundred typhoons every year. Just imagine the assessed agricultural damages of about 2 billion pesos super typhoon Juan (a.k.a Megi) recently inflicting the country. This amount excludes infrastructural damages including houses, government and private buildings and facilities, roads, bridges, electric posts, etc. in the affected provinces. If assessed, it may be more than the agricultural damages. Then what about the costs needed to repair all this destruction? So we can say that what has been said to be corrupted by Thailand's former prime minister is less than the damages caused by typhoon and its effects such as floods, loss of electricity, etc. in 2 years time. The disasters brought about by Ondoy and Pepeng alone last year amounted to PhP50 billion. Then how long will it take for the affected areas and people to recover? Now multiply the losses from natural calamities each year (plus the losses in corruption)!

No one can stop nature's wrath but at least, our risk and disaster reduction management can help a lot. For example, with proper warning, some farmers were able to salvage their maturing rice and some pond owners to save what they could  before such terrible typhoon Juan struck. It's also good to note that most provinces prone to calamities were able to raise awareness for the protection of life. Last year, there was no warning given to people before Ondoy hit Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces, thus the loss was much bigger compared this time when warning was provided. It's indeed good to learn a great lesson from the past bad experience.

The Philippines may be lagging behind due to natural forces beyond its control but then we can admire the resiliency of the Filipinos, their ability to bounce back whenever a big storm strikes down or any sudden catastrophe hits the country. We can never say that Pinoys aren't hard-working or they lack ingenuity for they are world-class workers with creative and independent minds. So, it's only by good governance that the country can take back its position in the past.

The present government's priorities 
Now, we can see Noynoy gearing up while he steers the country. He takes off by addressing overpopulation and corruption issues while he also tries to develop  livelihood programs and infrastructures - such real ways to go. Hope to see him giving priority to education as well, not just by adding the number of years in elementary and high school. Comparing the universities between the Philippines  and Thailand or Malaysia, we are left behind in terms of facilities (such as good libraries) and technology but most importantly, teachers' development. Let's look at our rank in education worldwide to give us an eye-opener. Education will lift us up from poverty and help citizens to introduce innovations and contribute to the country's growth and development.

Creating more jobs for Pinoys is P-Noy's priority so that the family, which is the basic unit in the society, won't be disintegrated. OFW parents of young children should no longer leave to sustain the family's needs far away from the family leaving them not properly guided for the values they need to learn while they are young. If parents' leaving for a job in another country persists, we become a society debased of values and deteriorating morality, thus it creates more problems in the long run.

With our population controlled, livelihood created and education given high priority for the citizens to be productive and self-sufficient despite any calamities and catastrophes, we can do much better for sure. The present government aims not just to regain the country's economic position in the ASEAN region but also to give every Filipino citizen source of livelihood for a better life not by leaving the country but by contributing to it from working within.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mr. Holland's Passion and Ethics in Teaching Worth Emulating

I made my rainy weekend enjoyable as much as I could (apart from reading, playing with my lil angel and just zzzzzleeping a.k.a beauty-resting:). Staying at home with my family is never boring but this week, seeing an inspiring movie spiced everything up. It made me prepare for another tough week of dealing with academic work especially with challenging (and not challenged, i.e. Failed!) students at the end of the semester. Mr. Holland's Opus, an interesting film I've been searching for ages came right at the perfect time.

Why did I search for this film? The first and only time I saw it was when I got a whole month of Summer Teacher Seminar in Cebu back in 1998. I longed to get a copy of Mr. Holland's Opus since then to share to my education students and fellow educators what a great and inspiring teacher Mr. Holland is but I never found one. Thanks to SIL Edna who found it lately on sale and agreed to give it to me with my vow to share it to others.

Mr. Glenn Holland, who makes teaching music as passion has epitomized what a teacher should be. He is never contented with just teaching in the four-cornered room but goes out his way to extend his time helping out his students - beyond working hours. Strategy-wise, he exemplifies how teachers can simplify complex things into comprehensible way. For example, instead of just differentiating between classical music and rock-and-roll by reading from the definitions in the book, he paces to the piano and plays Minuet in G by Bach and a popular Rock n' Roll music at the time. There he goes, he is able to arouse the interest of all his students who have been so passive about his lessons for some time.

Last week, I had to deal with a group of students who failed in their ESL class for not liking their farang (foreigner, usually Caucasian) teacher's style. Like Mr. Holland, I had to deal with the disciplining and counseling part of the teacher's crucial roles before I finally turned them over to the teacher I asked to handle them. I had to orient them that in real life, they have to deal with different personalities in order to succeed. Different teachers have their own styles and Family Psychologist John Rosemond admonishes parents not to tolerate children to choose teachers for themselves. He suggested that they must be taught to respect every teacher so that they won't feel that they always have the right to express unliking to their teacher or to request for another one. It is part of the EQ to be developed although I must say that there are teachers who need to improve their teaching styles and strategies just like Mr. Holland who tries every possible way to get through the interests and real needs of his students.

There is much to appreciate in the life of Mr. Holland aside from teaching strategies and willingness to go extra miles to be a noble teacher. This enthusiastic teacher who always encourages his students particularly those in his orchestra who used to play in dissonance to love what they are doing, thus they improved a lot later, is also a model of moral values. He is training a pretty girl with a golden voice to interpret a song he composed for a big school performance. The young girl falls in love with him and showed her affection to her but he never takes advantage of it. Despite having tension with his wife over their frustration with their son whom they discovered later as deaf and dumb, he remains faithful to his wife by not succumbing to the wish of the young girl to run away with her for a bright singing career in New York. He should have been attracted to the offer for a more financially rewarding  career as a talent manager as he's struggling financially at the time but he chooses to stay not only with his family but also with his school even if he meets oppositions by his assistant principal who later turns as the school principal. Hmm, we've seen many teachers not able to resist  such a sweet temptation with their vulnerable students. 

Professionalism is also greatly exemplified by Mr. Holland. He remains calm under pressures and adversities. He was forced to retire at the age of 60 after 30 years of happily teaching using the front of cost-cutting. The principal finally succeeded to devastate him but the school alumni whose lives have been inspired and touched by Mr. Holland gather and prepare a Tribute Party for him including the present state governor who was most challenged by him while she was still a member of his orchestra. These school alumni take up their instruments and ask the retiring teacher to serve as their conductor in the premiere performance of Mr. Holland's Opus ("The American Symphony"). At this momentous night, Mr. Glenn Holland rebonds with his students from various batches while his wife, Iris, and now successful son, Cole, look on with such great admiration. They and everyone present have seen how this old teacher has influenced his students' appreciation of music and of life.

No wonder why this movie grabbed multiple awards! This should be regarded a classic film and must be made available in every College of Education as teachers are builders of the nations.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Reflections: Moving on forward and up and welcoming change

How was your week, dear friends? Oh, thanks God it's Saturday! For the past two weeks, we in our workplace spent most of our time moving out from our old place to our modern, state-of-the-art, multi-million building. Even if it's every university student's dream to move there the soonest time possible, most of us employees resisted to. I draw two reasons which are the springboard of my reflections.
One is,  the students  are not so attached to the old building because they don't have definite place unlike us as they have to move from one room to another. Another reason is, students don't have many stuffs to pack up in the old building and unpack at the new one.

It was only yesterday, after many tiring days of unpacking, that we got finally settled in our new place. We at last got our computers set, Internet reconnected, telephone lines reinstalled and our stuffs mostly arranged. And hurray! I eventually learned to love the  panoramic view of my new abode. My new office is on the 10th floor's window side overlooking the meeting point between the refreshing green coconut and orange orchards of the kingdom's old capital and the towering edifices of crowded metropolitan Bangkok. Such a great sight to behold!

A couple of realizations dawned on me with this moving out experience. People universally resist change. But the more we are attached to places,  persons or to the things we love, the harder to let go of  them. Once we are used to doing something, it becomes a habit. For example, it became a daily habit for me to walk to and from my old office for over 5 years. Aside from saving gas and thus the environment, I got the benefit of regular exercise. When we moved into our new building, I thought it could no longer be possible for me to walk because it's a lot farther now. But yesterday, amid the not so good weather, I managed to walk home and realized that I got the more desirable exercise - a longer walk my doctor recommended. Yes, even changing our bad habits that shape our character is not easy but if we find the need to just like when we had to move out because we needed to, we can see the positive results. And we finally welcome the change as it has more benefits after all!
It pays to move on forward, not backward as we're getting older and older each day. It also pays to move up not down. Isn't it that our goal is to live happily and eternally? We don't just have to be contented in temporary mundane things which give us fleeting happiness because we aim for the second life up there whatever religion we adhere to. In a world in which riches and power are always mistaken for wisdom, intelligence and virtue, happiness lies on earthly possessions and    positions. Thus, people become more devoid of values. Things we give value to are often not as permanent as they appear. Therefore, there's a need to reevaluate what can really make us happy. Let's move on forward and up by developing our character and we'll be happy to embrace the change.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Marriage Monday: Surviving a Marriage Crisis

Every marriage, even the perfect ones, goes through a period of crisis. But surviving the rough road on the marriage journey makes it challenging for the couples. The rougher the road a couple has passed through, the stronger the relationship becomes. So how do we survive the challenges during marriage crisis? 
The love triangle
We handle different situations in different ways. But generally, if both couples allow God to be in the marriage triangle, they will survive even the toughest situation because God instituted marriage as a lifetime commitment where problems and differences have to be worked out.
Choosing the right person/s to consult and involve in times of marriage crisis
While it is extemely important especially for women to have a confidante at the time of marriage crisis, Harold Sala forewarns of  being careful in opening up our marital problems. At the height of our marriage crisis, I deliberately chose friends whose opinions I highly regarded and trusted.  Even if the going gets tough, have control over the situation. Do not be overwhelmed and break out your bothering condition to just anyone. Instead of helping you analyze the situation and offer the most appropriate solution, they may end up ruining you.
Weighing differing and contradicting opinions and fighting for your choice
It's true that we can't think well if we are overwhelmed by a debilitating situation. But giving ourselves a moment of calmness will help us weigh opposing opinions. Even our own family may give contradicting opinions but don't panic. Some family members may just see your own side being related with you by blood so they sympathize with you but they may miss the bigger picture of the issues involved. Weigh the contradicting opinions and be strong enough to fight for your decision amidst criticisms.
Seeing a clearer picture by writing down on a piece of paper
One aunt who has been to so many marriage crises suggested writing on a piece of paper the reasons why we have to stay together or not. We were able to see a clearer picture and we both chose the positive side of it as it brought out so many strong reasons making a longer list to stay in our relationship. By doing so, our perspective changed and the hurt and confused feeling was replaced with a thinking and reasoning mind.

Forgiving, giving another chance and compromising
I've seen a number of strong marriages collapsing later mostly caused by betrayal.  So is it worth giving  your erring partner another chance? Sure, especially if you love each other and recognize your own failures or weaknesses why such a betrayal happened.
But even if you're completely innocent, forgive and give your erring partner another chance. However, to avoid repetition of the same mistake, come up with a compromise agreement. You deserve to be respected after making some amends to your own failures and weaknesses and both your willingness to work out the mess together. You may be reminded of the hurt again and again while coping but it's part of the healing process.

Reading books for enlightenment and guidance
It's quite helpful reading books on marriage such as Intended for Pleasure by Christian authors Ed and Gaye Wheat, The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye who offer great help for couples equipping them how to handle marriage crises. John Gray's Men from Mars and Women from Venus helped me  and hubby a lot in understanding the differences between men and women such as ways of communicating and coping mechanisms. Women generally want to vent out their feeling right away while men have the tendency to cave in so communication isn't possible right there and then when a problem arises.  Making Marriage Work by Dr. Harold Sala discusses how we can improve our marriage by following God's plan not only sexually but also other aspects such  as communication, raising children, financial security, etc.  

Standing nose to nose, getting aired and cleared up
Finally, Biddulph advises that "for a marriage to survive, it is sometimes necessary to stand nose to nose... This is called 'truth time' - the time when differences that have been building up get aired and cleared".

You may want to read more interesting posts on "Surviving a marriage crisis" and related marital issues at Chrysalis where thinking women meet every first Monday of the month.