Saturday, September 26, 2009


I came across this commercial in Facebook which was posted by a friend and just fell in love with it. I just had the urge to share it with anyone who would actually trust my word for it and/or everyone else I can convince.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Farewell Salome

Maybe it's time to say goodbye. To old things that you have outgrown, the same ones that would eventually turn up better if they were in someone else's care. To all those junk you have kept in the fridge, to devour later, only to realize that you did not want them after all. To irritating habits that only slow you down later on. To books that only gather dust in shelves due to neglect. To childish dreams that were never meant to be.

Maybe it's time to grow up. To straighten priorities and label boxes with categories like how you label envelopes to manage finances. To stop narrowing your eyes towards something that you can't touch and focus on what is right in front of you. To accept defeats with a graceful exit rather than succumb to a grief of a two-year old child. To walk or run but not fly or else you will hurt yourself. To swim towards the boat and take risks only when they are practical.

Maybe I was not Salome after all. That my gifts were nothing compared to what the others can offer. Maybe I was born with small feet but with dependable legs, not to claim the stage while dancing, but to carry my family's burden and walk the miles towards safety. Maybe my hands were meant not to paint or sketch as what I supposed them to be doing, but to be crumpled into fists for wars worth a centavo per punch. Maybe I was not gifted with a square jaw and determined chin for beauty, but for the lifetime of blows that God will give me.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Letter To A Friend

Dearest Ate Lan,

I am sorry. I know that this letter is 2 years late but I will write it anyway. The mere fact that I am writing this in my blog only proves how much a coward I am and I will not deny it. I am afraid that if I send this letter directly to you, you will just delete it automatically in your inbox after knowing that it came from me which explains why it is here now.

I am sorry for bailing out on you when you needed me the most. I am not sure if I was really (that) needed at that time, but I knew that you needed me to some extent to stand by your side for assistance. I failed you that afternoon when I walked away from the school to stop teaching your class just for the silly reason of believing that I cannot manage the students on my own. I am sorry that before you left for Japan, I never attempted to contact you and I did not try harder to patch things up between us. I am sorry that I never made the first move. And I am sorry that I waited this long to write this letter. I hope that I will not wait 2 years more before I actually send this letter to you.

Robin has been urging me to be the bigger person by swallowing my pride and taking the first step. Sadly, I failed in that too. For months, I have been concocting all types of ways on how I should write my letter but I never got to actually write them down. And when I received your invitation in Facebook today, it gave me a little courage to finally put these thoughts down in print. You see, Robin thought that I will come out as the bigger person but I was not (really). I never was, when it was between you and me. You were always the bigger person and you always took a step back so I can shine. You always accommodated my tantrums and mood and never ending shifts. You never judged my decisions and stood by my side, whether I was wrong or right, to reprimand me later when no one else was looking. You encouraged me to share my talents and believed in my capabilities.

I am truly sorry.

On the lighter side, how are you? Haha. What a way to end a letter. I miss you, Ate Lan.

Your Friend and Little Sister Always,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Off The Bandwagon

When I was informed by a good friend that there was a new Vampire book that teenagers were going 'gaga' about, I thought to myself that I'll pass this off since I obviously believed that I have graduated from those types of books (Note to self: YOU never graduate from anything, you just lose interest in it for the time being --- like clothes). But when they created a movie which I watched with hundreds of high school students (a very bad decision since having to endure almost two hours of torture with high school kids can hardly be categorized as a pleasant experience) I decided to give the book a whack. I wanted to git rid of the disappointment I felt after watching the movie. (Bella Swan should have not been played by Kristen Stewart, the actors who played Rosalie and Victoria should have swapped, the faces were too white and if the director really wanted them to appear that white, shouln't the make-up be evenly distributed??? etc) I thought to myself then --- "I am quite sure that it was not written that way" and of course, there is that constant critique that movies don't often give the book justice. So the next weekend after that, I decided to buy the book. I decided not to buy all 4 Vampire books of the authour to avoid future disappointments since there was still that huge possibility that I may not like the book.

True that I bought the next book after reading the first but not because I loved the way Stephanie Meyer wrote it but because of the concept she introduced (which was rumored that she stole from someone else...I wonder how true this rumor was). And how can you possibly not read the next books when she applied the marketing plot that is being used by commercialized authors --- giving a 'hanging' excerpt of what will happen on the next books. Reading the Vampire series of Stephanie Meyer was like watching an awful 'telenovela', you watch it not because the script was beautifully written nor was the acting good but simply because you want to know what will happen next. Period.

Did I get my money's worth after buying all 4 books? Probably a portion of it. I think that her work was over-rated and hardly deserved the price that bookstores are unfairly tagging them with. A little lower would have been more appropriate.

No offense to the fans but this is my blog and I am entitled to my own opinion.

Sticks and Stones: A Debate Between Ex-Lovers (Volume 2)

Continuing Volume 2: What It Was Like

all i see is a balloon
a red, bloated balloon
ripe for pricking
staring back at me
look what you have done to me!

is he really mine?
forgive me
but this is not the first time a gun was pointed at my face.

Mid Term Exam Question #2

Discuss the following. Perfection in English language pronunciation VS intelligibility. Compare the theories. What are their implications to you as teacher/user of English language? Cite concrete examples. And what are some common errors you have noticed in your students/trainees/ clients/family while using English in speaking or writing? Why do you think these errors happen? What are your recommendations to them?

Admit it, like everyone else who were supposed to know better, we laughed and snickered while browsing through the photos. This is the sad truth in our country these days. Sad because those photos are clear proofs of the fear that our English language skills have degenerated after taking so much pride of saying that we have some of the best English speakers in the world for a long time. Also sad, as our efforts to assist in resolving the concern largely revolved on making jokes about the English errors being committed. These errors were not just observed in one, two or three individuals but also in commercial establishments as well as various businesses. In Call Centers, for example, several errors have been observed. As a Quality Evaluator, other than ensuring that the agents follow the correct business process as required by the clients, I am also tasked with monitoring their communication skills. I wince every time I hear the agents pluralized the wrong words like ‘Stuffs,’ ‘Anyways’ and ‘Informations’. Or when they coupled an adjective + ‘er’ with ‘more’ such as ‘more harder’ and ‘more brighter’. Or when they exhaust the superlative rule by saying ‘most latest’. Or when ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’ are used in the same manner and thought as the same banana. Or the most common error of saying “fill up” the form instead of saying “fill out”. Or other words that evolved thanks to the Filipinism trend such as “irregardless,” “bottomless,” “It’s me,“ “Pin number” or “red color”.

And at a time when English is widely considered as an advantage in global competitiveness for any country, ours is slipping down the ladder. In fact, in the investment statement made by the US State Department, it specifically mentioned that “English language proficiency, while still better than in other Southeast Asian nations, is declining in the Philippines” whilst the others are catching up fast with the help of their government’s aggressive training programs and modules.

The question now, why is this happening? In order to answer the question, we have to consider several factors but to cite all of them will take too much of our time. We can, however, focus on the most obvious and most impacting factor - our schools.

The truth on the worsening caliber of English education is, a portion, rooted on bad English textbooks that are still being utilized. The users of the said textbooks, both teachers and students alike, are being fed with mostly erroneous information. Please take note that, as per the Department of Education, the approved textbooks are going to be recognized as the main source of information or knowledge. Because of this, the errors might possibly be acknowledged as acceptable or worst, considered correct since our supposedly reliable textbooks said so. The students who do not know any better or may have become uncertain of what they knew will then rely on the teachers for confirmation of understanding who are also going through the same dilemma.

Our teachers are, whether we admit the truth or not, the second sub-factor to the degradation of English of our students. But please take into account, that although teachers are vital contributors to the problem, they do not function as solitary contributors. We cannot simply note that they should be solely held accountable for process or system failures that affect their work. Some of these process or system failures are out of their control or have been handed down by their mentors such as low expectations for student performance, un-enforced standards of teachers, inadequate induction for beginning teachers, major flaws in teacher preparation, lack of professional development and rewards for knowledge and skills amongst others.

Let us look closer at ‘Low Expectations For Student Performance’ failure for instance which is deeply rooted on the concept of discrimination. Although discrimination is not as obvious as it was before, it still exists. It exists in our educational system that puts private schools in pedestals while public schools are left to fend for themselves or to put it lightly, to simply resort to resourcefulness. It exists between sections that are grouped as Special or Node sections versus general sections. It exists amongst students who are labeled based on their grades in schools or talents that they showcase. And the common inclination is since ‘not much’ is expected from average or low performers then a ‘not much’ type of education will also be provided to the same individuals. Let us take my high school as an example. I graduated from a public school in Davao City, although the section I belonged in was nurtured and well cared for by the school’s partnership with DOST, the other students in that same school were not so lucky. I was witness to the type of education that my schoolmates were getting. Other than not having actual classrooms, they (often than always) did not have teachers. Since most of the time they did not have classes, the students tend to go elsewhere and by elsewhere, I meant anywhere but within the vicinity of the school. However, if the teachers bothered showing up to conduct a class on rare occasions, the quality of education was only a quarter of what the students from the special or node classes were getting. Up to this day, I can still remember one particular conversation that I had with one of the teachers (no need to mention his name) when I interrupted his class because he specifically instructed me to call him once the beauty pageant started as he wanted to be there when his bet initially introduced herself. (Caution: Dabawenos neither speak straight Bisaya nor straight Tagalog. It is what the Chinese people refer to as the ‘chopseuy’ of dialects.)

Den at 14: Sir, excuse me, magsa-start na ang pageant.
Teacher: Ay, ay! Sige sabay ako sayo pagbalik dun.
Den at 14: Nyeh…eh pano yung class.
Teacher: Ako na bahala. Dalhin mo ang tape para sa talent portion ni (____).
Den at 14: Si Sir talaga…magsugo pa jud.
Teacher: Huwag ka ng magreklamo. (Turned around to talk to his class) Okay class, read chapter 8. We will have a test tomorrow.
Den at 14: (said nothing)
Teacher: O, bakit? Sus, hayaan mo na yung klase gud. Ganun din, either di makagradweyt ang mga yan o maging tambay o adik. At yung mga babae, mabuntis ng sayo kaya sayang lang din ang effort diba.

My teacher was just one out of 8 teachers in the school who I remembered making similar comments out in the open. And I am quite certain that there were other teachers who may have thought or felt the same way, only they were discrete enough to keep their opinions to themselves.

Or let us take ‘Un-enforced Standards of Teachers’ as another instance. The problem with the supposed standards (or lack thereof) today is, its vulnerability to politics and shift of priorities of the Board. And although our Board has developed certain standards for teacher education, licensing and professional development, it has not maintained the standards and/or maybe the same standards did not appropriately adapt to the changes in our society. It is necessary to acknowledge this realization and place the burden on the Board as it is presumed that the Board is the ‘conscience’ of the teaching profession because it is the governing body that develops and enforces ethical codes as well as technical standards for practice. Fixing the process failure attached to un-enforced standards is then the Board’s responsibility and in order to resolve it, they should develop common standards, high quality assessments and reciprocity agreements that will allow and help our teachers command comparable yet highly accomplished skills that will reflect on the positive type of education given to our students.

How will the recommendation be beneficial? First, the standards that will be set by the Board will bring the teachers’ expertise to a higher level since the improvement process will then be more focused and will be applied in a steadier fashion, which meant that it will be coupled with continuous updates and re-evaluations in light of the growing professional need. Second, the maintenance and improvement of such standards will allow the creation of a more coherent system that will be followed by all. Lastly, it will then encourage the teachers to work towards excellence.

What we need to understand about standards is its primary purpose. Standards exist in order to keep everything in line; hence, the status quo will be maintained or developed and never degraded. But because such standards are often not enforced in our educational institutions, the movement will always be towards mediocrity that is susceptible to exploration and constant changes which will only be an advantage to a few and not to everyone concerned.

The last factor, but as significant as the first two sub-factors discussed, is the growing trend on Intelligibility. Although there is no argument with considering Intelligibility as the most practical approach, it still does not justify the fact that in settling for Intelligibility, we are somehow, again, settling for mediocrity. The idea, “it is enough that you are understood” is a difficult concept for me to digest. Is it really enough to be understood? Is our expertise limited to a certain bracket only? Or better yet, is “Intelligibility” strong enough to defend our teachers when they are criticized by their students despite of successfully getting the lessons accross? The answer to all is NO. It is never enough that we stop once we are understood as it is human nature to aim for something higher. Our levels of expertise are boundless if we give ourselves the chance. And “Intelligibility” is not strong enough to be utilized as arms to linguistic wars with other nations or in simpler scenarios, it is not strong enough to fully prepare our children for globalization-in-full-throttle. Let us consider some examples. A call center agent is inclined towards pre-judicial impressions from both the business client and the customers as soon as his ‘Philippine English’ is detected. Even though his grammar was spotless and there was a probability that he will be able to resolve the customer’s concern in a clear and concise manner, the Filipino accent will often be the bane to his scope of work. A Filipina Guest Relations Officer who has been working in the same hotel 5 years will be bypassed despite of her experience, skill and knowledge since the chosen applicant spoke better English. An English Teacher who was mocked by her students because she mispronounced the simple word “refer” will possibly still get an opportunity to redeem herself on her next classes, however, she will be required to double her efforts in order to earn her students’ trust and respect again.

My strong dissatisfaction with the trend on Intelligibility in most schools is derived from dense excuses that I have heard people use in order to justify their level of English skills.

Excuse #1: “This is our way of imprinting our distinct Filipino personality on the English language.”

Why is there a need to show our distinct Filipino personality on the English language when it is something that we do not own in the first place? Just as Cebuanos are sick and tired of hearing us, Dabawenos, say “adto diri” when we specifically meant “anhi diri”, I am quite certain that Native English speakers are also sick and tired of hearing the English language being mutilated. And if we really wanted to promote our culture and supposed distinctness, we can always do so in other countless ways unless of course if we ran out ideas which I believe is quite impossible for the Filipino people.

Excuse #2: “The goal is to be understood and that is all there is.”

Why does the goal stop in being understood? Isn’t our ultimate goal to cultivate communication? If we chose the latter then how can we expect the person we are conversing with to interact when he is burdened with disinterest and disrespect, that sometimes border on doubt, after we have spoken? In my experience at a BPO Company, I have high expectations for those who hold managerial positions. Can you just imagine my dismay when I was introduced to a Senior Team Leader whose English grammar was all over the place and most of the words that came out of her mouth were pronounced incorrectly? My thoughts then were, “You got to that position with that kind of English?” and “What will the clients think?” since I was worried that the Clients might get the impression that all employees in our company talked the same way as she did. There was no doubt that I understood what she was trying to relay but the manner as to how she was relaying her thoughts was the barrier in the interaction. Up to this day, I still doubt her capabilities and the process of how she was hired.

Excuse #3: “We are too old for ‘perfection’, thus, the bamboo has grown into a narra tree” or “Perfection is impossible!”

This notion is clearly a sign of laziness. Unless you have a speech defect that is attributed to physical deformities such as a cleft palate or worst, laryngeal cancer, then there is no reason for you not to be able to use the language the same way as Native Speakers can. Aren’t words created because we have learned to utilize sounds based on the formation, movement and placement of our mouth, tongue, teeth, etc? Do we not have the same vocal, audio and nasal organs as them? If yes, then why should we limit our capabilities to a certain bracket only? Learning or speaking the language is not a talent that only a few privileged individuals are gifted with. In fact, it is a skill that is taught and one that requires constant practice and determination; thus, something that can be improved through time. Anyone can achieve the native speaker’s accent if they would only try harder. I will cite an acquaintance as an example to make my point more convincing. Michelle, who I met overseas, used to work as a waitress at a restaurant in Bahrain. Her ultimate goal was to be a Flight Attendant so she always asked to be tutored on her English usage and accent. I was able to observe and monitor her improvement. Her English then was what we commonly refer to as ‘Philippine English’ (or what foreigners referred to as Carabao English) but with practice and sheer dedication, her English improved. On her third attempt of application at Gulf Air, she finally got the job. When I went to Dubai last year, I set up a meeting with her and guess what, her English was even better. If not for her Filipino features, she will probably be mistaken as an American. In addition to that, when I arrived at Costa Cafe, she was talking to a fellow Flight Attendant and they were talking in French! I can’t claim that I know the French language that well to say that her French was also excellent but judging from how fast and how confident she was in using the language to a Native French Speaker, I will assume that she has mastered that language too.

Excuse #4: “This is what we learned while growing up.”

The best thing about growing old is you are not caged within one environment only. As you grow older, you move from one environment to another and your network of connections expand. You don’t just rely on your family for information and knowledge anymore, you also have the schools that you attend to, friends and teachers to learn from and subsequently co-workers as well as acquaintances to compare, learn and re-learn facts and data with. The area for improvement is without bounds and we have the option to save and discard whatever knowledge we prefer. Likened to my friend Michelle who was mentioned in Excuse #3, we too can move out of our old shell so we can move to a better one which will provide us a bigger room to grow. It just boils down to one word - choice. Do you choose Intelligibility or do you choose Perfection?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mid Term Exam Question #1

How important is it for the teacher of English as a Second Language or Foreign language to have knowledge of English language (morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, speech acts)? Cite theories on language learning and teaching and concrete examples. You may base the theories from your report or other sources.

If we were to hold the notion “What teachers know and can do are the most important influence on what students learn” as the main premise, then the obvious answer to the above question is --- It is indeed very important.

As what I always urge, it is important to continue working on strengthening the ‘Basics’ of English as these will serve as our framework and reference for teaching. Our knowledge on these ‘Basics’ such as Morphology, Phonology, Syntax, Semantics, Speech Acts, etc. will guide us in redefining the English language in such a way that it can be incorporated in the growing demands of today’s society which will result to a more challenging coursework and a higher standard for graduation. It is necessary that we understand what these concepts are, how they came to be and their significance to learning as well as teaching the English language. For instance, a teacher who has a limited understanding of the concept of Phonology will fail to comprehend the different aspects of meaning created by the variety of speech sounds. Because of this, he will not be able to differentiate and clearly explain the rising intonation of “Maybe tomorrow” versus the rising-falling intonation of ‘Maybe tomorrow”. Or maybe a teacher who cared less about Phonetics will not be able to share the correct pronunciation of the uncommon word “panacea” because he did not know how to read the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) affixed to the dictionary he consulted. Or even a teacher who was simply contented with the literal meaning of a word and probably viewed Semantics as another gabble created by lonely Linguists who did not have anything better to do with their time, will neglect to understand the different dimensions of meaning attached to the word which will result to miscommunication or confusion later on.

The focal point is, our students are who they are because of what we teach them. If we have some ideas about the supposed ‘Basics’, we might probably be able to teach them some English. If we have a limited insight about the same ‘Basics’, then we have a limited capability to teach them English that borders on mediocrity. However, if we have a broad understanding and knowledge of the ‘Basics’ and we continue expanding this knowledge then we will be able to extensively educate our students and benchmark their performance from acceptable to highly accomplished.

By thoroughly making them aware of the concepts, our students will take great care in communicating with others, hence, they will speak and write more effectively and eloquently. Let us take the Language Model for discerning the importance of studying meaning as an example. In analyzing the process and specifying the steps on how meaning was derived (Thought – Word – Set of Words – Message – Meaning), we were able to understand why Semantics existed and why there was a need to study meaning. Because of this, different concepts were created to better explain the various facets of meaning which allowed us to appropriately identify and interpret words, statement and events accordingly; thereby became better communicators.

In conclusion, the ‘Basics’ being referred to are the linchpins for transforming current systems of preparation and ongoing development so that they can better support learning. They can bring clarity and focus to a set of ideas that are poorly connected and/or often badly organized. And a teacher of English as a Second/Foreign Language who has a rich understanding of them will be able to know how to reveal the subject matter to his students and will also know how to combine this knowledge with the preconceptions that his students typically bring to the classroom.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting Started

"All an eagle would really like, is a teapot."

What exactly does this mean?!? I know that it is randomly generated but I refuse to believe that the system just picked out words and mashed them up together in order to create a sentence. What is in a teapot? Why would an eagle be needing it? Am I missing something here or maybe I am as dense as dense can be (and just don't want to acknowledge it)?

One, I know what an eagle is. Two, I know what a teapot is. Three, I don't remember any object, event or persons/s that they are corresponded to which would have stood as possible representation/s. Four, I hate that I do not understand what the sentence meant.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shuffling Through Useless Loafing

I have been in front of my lappy for almost 3 hours now and I still have not started what I originally planned on doing which was to research about Education and all types of 'isms' connected to it. Also, my EDL 201 paper due on Saturday was still where it was the last time I left it. What is wrong with me these days? I can't seem to focus. Maybe it's just stress from work. Stress for being un-acknowldged. Stress for being frustrated with so many failed attempts. Stress for friends who go through the same dilemma. Stress for a looming doom that I dare not mention here. Stress. Stress. Stress.

Snap out of it, Den or else, you'll grow a bald spot again. I badly need a vacation. Anyone who wants to go to Batanes with me??? Anyone??? Hello??? Loser.

Sumilon Island, Philippines

Bohol, Philippines

Samboan, Philippines

Baguio City, Philippines

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SM Cebu WiFi: Now Available

I am currently trying out SM's WiFi and for something that is's not so bad...the best is right in front of PC Quick Buys and Ruiz Derma Clinic...expect a few flactuations now and then...i better cut this short since there is someone beside me, nagging his ass off...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sticks and Stones: A Debate Between Ex-Lovers (Volume 2)

Continuing Volume 2: What It Was Like

he is not the first
but he is our son
he is the reason why we are waging war now
he is as good as any son,
as any child who will carry your name
and they will love him
by God, they will

or else, i'll hear my heart break.