Plans for April 2 – 6

It’s the season for college entrance exam review, and the company has given us schedules for conducting classes. I have to familiarise myself with the materials they’ve given me since the company does update them every year. But since I don’t start until next week, I’m going to focus on getting my final requirements for my job applications as an EFL Teacher overseas.

One thing I don’t have is a full body photo, so I’ll definitely drop by Kodak and have my picture taken: full suit and tie. When I get a copy of it, I can sign up for jobs through the company I where I trained for the TEFL.

Then, I have to get the Professional Civil Servant ID that I’ve been waiting for since 2015. After that, I’ll drop by Ateneo to get requirements for transferring there. Once I get the requirements, I’ll have to go to La Salle, get my alumni card (which I lost for the third time) and get other requirements for transferring universities.

I’ll also keep practising my Nihongo. By the end of the week, I should be able to read all the hiragana characters. I’m not gonna push myself too fast to learn this on my own, but I still need to be consistent.

Hopefully, I can fulfil all my goals for this week and not have to carry them over next week.

What are you looking forward to this week? Tell me in the comment section below!

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The Almost Dropout

This essay is inspired by The Learning Network’s prompt Do Other People Care Too Much About Your Post-High School Plans? and the Opinion piece by Elisabeth Egan titled Stop Asking About My Kid’s College Plans.


I’m pretty sure I posted about my homeschool on my blog some years back, but just in case no one can find that post (I certainly can’t), I’ll talk about it again.

Egan talks about her and her daughter’s stress from graduating high school and going to college. One major difference between Egan’s experience and mine is that kids in America are pushed to leave home after high school. The major problem as Egan explains:

Both conversations — college and driving — are stand-ins for the real subject that’s keeping us up at night: Our kids are leaving home in a year. No more books all over the table, no more late-night cups of tea. I don’t want to spend our remaining time obsessing about where my daughter is going to college. Except for the tuition (deep breath), the destination is beyond my control.

Most Filipino families have their kids live with them probably until the kids get married or if they go work overseas (which is what I’m hoping for). There’s only one reason why Filipinos stay with their parents: salaries are too low. I don’t want to talk about low salaries since that would be another essay. I’m just explaining why kids don’t leave their parents after high school.

In my case, my high school experience was completely different. For one thing, I was in a homeschooling program. I still reported to a school. The only difference is that I was handed piles of modules and had to teach myself the lessons then take the tests in school. The other thing is that my family was in shambles (arguably it still is), so I didn’t care much about my studies. I didn’t have much support coming from my parents especially my father. No emotional support. My mother’s support is lacking as always. I mean, I’ve always wanted my family to be better, but I can’t do anything about it. I didn’t care about anything. I felt numb. Thinking about it now, I was depressed. My parents did this to me.

I was so close to dropping out and just calling it quits, permanently. There was nothing that could have inspired me to push forward. Then one day, it came. I was handed the large green envelope from De La Salle University-Manila. I got in a university. Seeing that envelope was like a spotlight washing out the darkness that shrouded over me.

I immediately made a tally of the subjects that I haven’t finished: 2 subjects from my junior year and all subjects in my senior year. I basically had to compress my entire senior year in four months. Yes, that includes P.E. and thesis. That was one of the most stressful times in my life.

I got into DLSU, and I thought it would be smooth sailing from there. O! How I was wrong! I was very wrong.

Earning Your Place

I just came from this talk at THE Ateneo on the political landscape of Filipino journalism. It was a good talk and extremely informative. I was supposed to meet my two Atenean friends and watch it together, but I had chores to do in the morning. I was around 20 minutes late, but I caught the majority it.

Let me digress a bit. Followers of my blog know that I really love Ateneo even though I’m from La Salle. I love both universities. I just love Ateneo more. I love the chill culture, its environment, the people, and of course the location. So coming in to Ateneo today for a talk was exciting for me. Why? I get to feel what it’s like being an Atenean even if it was just a little bit.

I gave up my La Salle ID for a visitor’s pass and walked right in heading to Escaler Hall.

Sitting in an auditorium filled with Ateneans was exhilarating. It sounds weird, but I felt at home for once even more so when Ressa addressed the entire room as Ateneans. These small things like being perceived as a part of a whole is what makes me feel good. To be a part of something you always wanted to be a part of is great!

I met up with my friends and their friends. We chatted and walked to the parking lot where we had to part ways since they had other things to do. Then that’s when it sunk in. I’m not a part of this community. I’m not an Atenean. All I am is an outsider with a visitor’s pass. Although I do love Ateneo, it doesn’t love me back since I’m not one of them.

As I walked back to the gate, a familiar feeling came over me. I always tell my friends that I don’t feel like I’m a Filipino because I just don’t have the same values and ideas that Filipinos have. And I think this experience in Ateneo is a good analogy of that feeling. Have you ever visited another school for a fair? Did you feel like you weren’t a part of that school even though you had all the benefits of the fair? When La Salle has its UnivWeek celebration, students from other universities come and visit. They love La Salle and its culture, but they stick out because they aren’t a part of it.

That’s how I feel about this country. I feel like I’m in another school, but the problem is that I don’t have a school to go back to. I have to find another school to call home.

The only way I can find a place in Ateneo is to earn it (through passing the ACET). But earning your place in a university is easier than earning your place in a country, a country that I don’t even know exists for me.

For now, I’m just a visitor looking for that place I can call home.

My Old School

I’m not sure how many of you here are new readers, but let’s just say you all are new. A bit of personal backstory again (lol since this is a blog and I’ve probably written this a dozen times), I am a full-blood* Filipino and a Filipino in citizenship. If you’re not from the Philippines you’d think it’d be strange if someone tells you that having those two traits is a curse. Well, it kinda is. I say kinda only because there are Filipinos that are proud to be Filipinos or Pinoy as they call themselves. I am not that, in fact, I don’t know what I am.

I do love my country, but I hate the people that run it. I do love my friends (who are incidentally mostly half-bloods) but I hate a lot of the locals. I consider most of the local popular culture jologs (dirty, cheap, corny) so I stay away from it.

My professors would tell me that I’m a total prick for labeling things that are an essential part of the Pinoy identity. But I’m not Pinoy. I don’t keep smiling when hardships come. I don’t commit to Bahala na si Batman (which is kinda the equivalent of que sera sera). I don’t find Piolo Pascual and Marian Rivera attractive. I don’t use colloquial slang because it feels like I gargled mouthwash that’s made of acid.

Now you’re wondering, “Where the hell is he going with this? I thought this was about his old school!” We’re getting to that part. Be patient, young grasshopper. Below is a new video that ACS Cobham uploaded to YouTube showing the campus.

That’s my old school. The White House was where I first got my taste of real quality education. It housed us Kindergarten kids until we got to 1st grade in the brown buildings you saw in the video.

The White House now known as Heywood House

Now why the strong negative emotions towards Filipino culture and whatnot? Culture shock. At ACS, we were taught at a very early age that being different was normal. We had different skin colours, accents, languages, religions, and even food. The kids who were left out were the normal white kids. Talk about irony.

We knew we were all different, but we were kids so we didn’t give a shit. We’d sing songs, hold hands, throw toys, build toys, run around etc. because having fun was more interesting than looking at each other’s differences. I had so much fun learning while just being myself. Being different. I loved it. Then my father made a stupid life choice.

The culture shock I got from Filipinos when we returned was immense. I hated every local to their core until I reached uni. I brought my idea of being different was normal and severely paid the price. The normal I saw was conformity. Everyone acted the same, looked the same, thought the same, believed in the same religion, ate the same food, and I was the precious little blue flower in the garden of weeds.

I studied first at OB Montessori. I thought I was in a zoo. I literally thought I was because I’ve never seen that tone of skin colour. I’ve had African classmates and teachers back in ACS, but I never saw a dark-skinned Austronesian. In fact, I never saw a dark-skinned Asian. Which is why I thought that I was Chinese and that the Philippines was a province of China (but that’s for another blog post.)

Now the racist thought of being in a zoo was spawned from mistreatment not only from my classmates but also from my teachers and the staff. They hated that I was so outgoing, so disconnected from the system, a loose cannon in their highly militarised institution of good students. I transferred schools until I ended up in a homeschooling program.**

HSP was where I finally felt I was among people who understood what it meant to be different from the flock, to be a wolf in field complying sheep. Unfortunately, wolves are threats to sheep so we huddle as a pack to protect each other. Then uni snapped me out of it. I’m not a wolf. I’m a human being.

ACS wasn’t just an international school whose facilities were amazing. It creates beautiful human beings, sometimes too beautiful that people get scared. I don’t know what I am but somewhere along the way maybe the beautiful child from my past can show me. Maybe.

*There’s no such thing as a pure-blood Filipino. What I meant by full-blood was the typical Chinese-Spanish-Filipino blood.
**It was called HSP but we still reported to a school to take tests.

Blue Sky and White Clouds Mused Me

This is my last term DLSU. Yes, I am opening this blog entry with the idea of leaving. For the past months, that seems to be theme I’ve been living in. Goodbye academic world and hello working world! Please take it easy on this unemployed fresh grad with zero professional work experience. Wouldn’t that be Utopian?

Thesis and internship invaded so much of my personal life that I haven’t been able to finish three books since the start of the year. My mother’s finished four books in a month! I drowned in a sea of envy during my “thesis writing sessions” when I saw her reading on the couch whilst drinking tea. Since thesis is done, I get to read my book during breaks at the office.

Interning is giving me some rather interesting things to think about. A few days after I started, I rode a jeepney to said company, and the driver was this really jolly guy. He had friends everywhere along the route he drove. His smile revealed rotting teeth but he wasn’t afraid to show his happiness he created along that route of his. It hit me that this guy, someone who’s probably never gone through college, high school or even elementary, is happier than I am. I pretty much have everything I could ever need–opportunities for a better future. Yet this guy has found the happiness that I’ve been trying so hard to find. Sure enough, he’d be happy if he had a better paying job. But I think he’d miss the people.

Anyway, I have 3 weeks, 3 day, and 5 hours left in my internship. I hope something interesting happens.