Category Archives: Teacher’s Nook

Young, Wild, and Free


They say that teaching is like parenting. You guide young lives at the start when they can hardly stand. Then little by little you let go of their hands because you’re certain they can take care of themselves by then. Isn’t it a wonder how sometimes the role gets reversed? We end up learning or being looked after by people we’re supposed to care for and teach. J Just when you thought you know what you’re doing, someone will come to you and tell you “Look, this is how you do it.”

I’ve been working with little children for a long time. And it’s something I consider pure fun. Time flies when spent with them. There’s never a dull moment. I know I’m at my best. I know what words to say and what stories to share. So when I started working on the ship and was asked to work with very young kids I was delighted. But then after some time I realized I have to make adjustments because I also need to work with teens, which for me a scary part. Yeah a bit frightening. Something I’ve never done before. I’m certain they can be much of a rebel. They can be pushy. They can go out of their way to get what they want. They can size you up and test your authority. Talk about power struggle. They can do crazy things just to appear cool to their friends. On the other side they are just too fragile for me like those cute babies loving moms carry. Little kids in big bodies that’s what they are. Still looking for their identities, still searching for some parts of themselves.

Surprisingly during my month long stint in HQ and HQ+, I must admit I had the best time. And this is in total contrast to how I felt the first time I worked with teens in my previous contract. I was so afraid then. I guess it helped that now I am more open to try new things. Truly, things become more exciting in the absence of fear. Of course it didn’t happen instantly. It took a while for me to warm up. But in the end, I learned many important things. This time around, they’re the ones teaching. So thumbs up to them for doing a great job! 🙂

How to work with teenagers on board??? For sanity and for future reference, I came up with this list.

  1. Treat them like a friend. Tell them stories. Listen intently when they share their own. Ask them how they are, what they do, what they feel. Don’t boss them around. Don’t make them feel inferior. Don’t threaten them.
  2. Set boundaries. Make the rules clear. You stick to them no matter what even though you’re friends. You don’t blur the line. Doing otherwise can be risky.
  3. Be confident and comfortable. Don’t make them feel you’re afraid. They will smell your fear and they will feed on that. They will test you again and again and wait for you to make mistakes so you can fit the image they have of you in their heads. If you don’t know what you’re doing don’t play smart. Admit it and they’ll be happy to help you out.
  4. Talk to them right away when they misbehave but do it discreetly. Never embarrass them in front of their peers. They don’t want their cool image shattered. Sort things out together. Talk like two grown-ups. 🙂
  5. Find ways to make them meet new friends. Come up with activities that will make them get to know each other. It would be nice to be surrounded by young people having the time of their lives.
  6. Remember their names so they will never forget yours. Greet them whenever you have the chance. Make them feel welcome.
  7. Listen to their music. Sing the songs they sing. Never mind if you’re out of tune. Dance with them when they party. Show them you, too are having fun.
  8. Play with them. It can be a quick game of Foosball or air hockey. Maybe board games, Wii or PS3. You have to get involved. You don’t just stay in one corner and watch them do their thing. They will welcome you when you show interest in the things they do.
  9. Make them feel important. Be appreciative of the things they do and the little achievements they accomplish. It can be in dancing, singing, magic tricks, telling jokes, doing arts and crafts or simply helping you clean up when the day is over. Also, show them you care. Don’t be afraid to tell them you’ll miss them when they say goodbye.
  10. Take pictures. Make tangible memories of fun with them. Let them in to your life. This way, they will let you in theirs, too. 🙂

More than all of these (which I think will really help me as an educator and future parent), these kids also taught me important lessons on a personal level. While quietly yet happily looking at them from the background I learned to make the most of the time you have at hand. To break the ice and to loosen up. To be crazy. To embarrass oneself. To be not perfect and just be cool with it. To laugh out loud. To find interest in other people’s stories. To play and to give your best shot. To take a chance on love. To argue and to make up. To do nothing and just chill out. To be here today and to have fun. “To suck the joy out of life.”

Many thanks to all the teens from PD1301 to PD1304. I will miss hanging out with you till midnight. 🙂


Halloweening Pinoy Style


Last Monday, I was lucky enough to join Raya kids in their Pangangaluluwa. And again just like any other school events, I was amazed by the ingenuity and patience of the parents who worked really hard to make extraordinary costumes for their children. All for love, love, love! 🙂

Here are some proofs of their crafty hands which really made the kids proud. I tweaked it a bit for more fun.

Wigs, fake nails, blood, make up, even pridyider. Hehe!!! (That was unexpected Joaquin! 🙂 ) For a few fleeting hours a child’s dream to look like a fairy or just be cool even though spooky (which sounds more exciting to them, actually!) was made to life. But more than the good scare brought by the costumes and the props, what made the event more meaningful was that it was geared towards promoting camaraderie and generosity among the participants. They gathered together to watch some movies, shared creepy stories, did their version of trick or treat, and even made a short film about lower mythologies which I hope to see on Monday. They shared their time, creativity, talents,  hotdogs, lots and lots of donuts and candies. Thanks Grade 3 for again letting me in to your room sharing the joy and the food as well. 🙂

Now how is Halloween really celebrated in the Philippines? I tried to revisit my days as a child and this is what I got. When I was young girl, I used to live in a house which happened to be a few blocks away from a cemetery. Nyaaay!!! But contrary to the shudders and fright this occasion (being commercialized)  tries to evoke, I noticed that Halloween which is also known as Undas here is more of a family thing and is actually festive. Here’s what happens based on personal observation:

1. A week before Undas some people will visit cemeteries to do early cleaning of the graves of their departed loved ones.  New paints are applied, grass are trimmed, and floors are swept. People come with boxes or bags filled with brooms, rags, buckets, water, paints and brushes. I’d frequently see some  classmates going in with their dads. Interestingly, this is also a source of income for some as they charge a few bucks to those unwilling to do the dirty works under the scorching heat of the sun.

2. A few days prior to Halloween, some of our friends and their families will temporarily leave the neighborhood to go back to their hometowns so they can visit their dead relatives. Mama, on the other hand, who was from Bicol usually opts to just stay at home and light candles while offering her prayers for the repose of the soul of beloved friends and relatives. We would watch the news and see how packed the buses are (also the ships and planes), all filled with people eager to head back to their provinces.

3. November 1 here is a day for both the saints and the souls. Filipinos flock the memorial parks to remember the dead. The once quiet cemetery near us, will suddenly become noisy and busy as people come to it ready with their flowers, candles,and snacks. Some will also bring chairs and mats. Others take with them board games, cards, even radios. In a special way, the occasion is a reunion of some sort, a few happy hours with living families and friends while commemorating the dead. Once prayers are said, a little party begins.

This is also the time when small industries thrive, as different stores are set up all around. People sell all sorts of things. Exciting colors are everywhere. There are candles, flowers, balloons for the kids and even fans. There are street food like fish balls, kwek-kwek, and kikiam. They have crackers, biscuits, sandwiches, and drinks of all kinds. Children are thrilled, but more so the vendors. My mom and her girl friends tried it once and they earned a lot.

4. Come November 2, everything is toned down. This day is usually more quiet and less busy. Maybe because most people are going back to the city to get ready for work and school. Having said that, this is a perfect time for people not wanting to brave the crowd the previous day and just hoping to have a reflective and peaceful moments with their deceased loved ones.

5. Now why is November 3 included here? Well, I just added it for fun. Unlike the kids of today, me and my peers did not grow up attending Halloween parties nor trick or treating. But that’s not to say we missed a lot. Aside from the scary stories we shared as kids and the scary film we watched together on TV (which was too much for me), for years we always do one cool yet creepy thing together a day after Undas. We’d usually troop the cemetery armed with our tools – stick, scissors, plus our bags. The older kids who’d go with us had their own small scalpels or knives. Excitedly, we’ll roam around the cemetery and treat it like an ordinary park. We’ll go around the graves and painstakingly scrape the melted candles on them. Then when we had enough, we’ll go to people making candles to sell our wax. After weighing, they’d give us a small amount which we’ll use to buy candies and other stuffs. Quite an achievement, huh! But more than the small earnings and little treasures we bought, it was the tiny bit of adventure we had that matters a lot.

That’s it! Halloweening Pinoy style. A Western tradition made lovingly ours.

Cool Days with the Kids (Part 1)


Why do I love teaching? I came up with this list.


1. It’s a good way to exercise and to lose weight.

2. I get free hugs and bonus kisses from the kids.

3. I see them blush when they’d call me mom.

4. Birthdays are always special – theirs and mine.

5. I’ll never run out of gifts (teacher’s day, graduation day, Halloween, Christmas, etc.).

6. I receive flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s even when I don’t have a date.

7. I see children argue and make up quickly in the end.

8. I can showcase my hidden talents in singing, dancing, and acting on my own stage.

9. We can get silly, dirty, and still be merry.

10. When I see them outside the school, I feel like a celebrity.

11. They tell me their secrets, like I’m their trusted friend.

12. Because they tsismis almost everything to me; into the lives of their mom, dad, kuya, ate, yaya, driver, etc. I can get a peek.

13. I witness growth every day, eye to eye. 🙂

14. I’m forced to read and know a lot because of their endless why’s.

15. And last but not the least, every day is a happy day because of these…

Here’s a collection of jokes, most of which hilariously yet innocently delivered by students I had the pleasure working and learning with in GLC.

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Ria: Teacher what’s the name of this insect?

Teacher Jen: That’s a grasshopper.

Ria: What do they eat teacher?

Teacher Jen: They like to eat grass.

Ria: Oh, They’re like my mom teacher.

Teacher Jen: Why Ria?

Ria: Mommy likes to eat grass, too.


Teacher Jen: Francis, what’s your baon today?

Francis: (showing his pancit canton) Wow teacher! It’s my favorite.

Matthew: Teacher favorite ko din yan. That’s my favorite in the whole world.

Diego: (moved closer to Francis) Francis dapat di ka masyado kain niyan. Sige ka makukulot-kulot ang buhok mo. Gusto mo ba yun?


Teacher Odet: Who wants to go to heaven? (Everybody raised hands except Anjo) Why are you not raising your hand Anjo?

Anjo: Ayoko heaven teacher. Gusto ko Circle C e.


Teacher Jen: Kids did you do your homework?

Joseph: Yes teacher!

Matthew: Me, too.

Mac: Me three.

Andrea: Me four.

Diego: Me five.


Teacher Jen: Why are you moving the chairs Leila?

Leila: Kasi magpe-play kami bahay-bahayan teacher.

Teacher Jen: E sino’ng mommy?

Kids: Si Airah!

Teacher Jen: Sino’ng Daddy?

Airah: Si Angelo.

Teacher Jen: Sinong kuya?

Paolo: I’m the big brother teacher.

Leila: And I’m the sister.

Teacher Jen: E sino si Ron? Ba’t ka nasa likod? Ba’t di ka nakaupo sa chair?

Ron: Teacher ako kasi yung dog. Raf! Raf!

Teacher Jen: E sino kaya si teacher?

Kids: (thinking very hard)

Airah: (breaks the silence) Alam ko na teacher! Ikaw na lang yung manang.

Kids: Yehey!!!

Teacher Jen: (speechless)


Airah: Teacher Jen nanonood ka ba ng Sana Maulit Muli?

Teacher Jen: Hindi po e. Maganda ba yun?

Ria: Oo! It’s about love teacher. Just like the love of me and Joseph.


Miggy: Teacher you know I have a girlfriend already.

Teacher Jen: Really? What’s her name?

Miggy: Bianca.

Teacher Jen: Is she pretty?

Miggy: Yes teacher and she’s also sexy.

Diego: Teacher ako din may girlfriend na ko. 2 sila. Si Chezka and Sofia.

Teacher Jen: Ba’t 2 Diego. You should only have 1. Right Miggy?

Miggy: Yes teacher, only one.

Diego: Pero gusto ko madami teacher. Maganda yun para mabango lagi car ko.


Ron: Teacher alam mo ba madami kaming pera kaya madami akong pambili ng toys.

Prime: Teacher ako bibili ng toy na Spiderman.

Airah: Ako teacher yung Bratz na bag sa SM papabili ko sa Mama ko.

Leila: Ako nga may piggy bank sa house namin. Pag in-open ko yun bibilin kita teacher.


Diego’s Rules


Diego: Teacher dapat di makulit ang mga bata di ba?

Teacher Jen: Oo nga Diego. Di ba dapat lahat ng kids mag-listen kay teacher. Kasi if you don’t listen what will happen?

Diego: Naku teacher magiging ipis tayo. Mabaho yun.

Kids: Yuck!

Teacher Jen: (whispering to Diego) Sino nagsabi sa ‘yo niyan?

Diego: (very proud) Mommy ko!


Diego: Teacher dapat di tayo magtawa ng tawa.

Teacher Jen: Okay lang yun Diego para happy tayo. Pero dapat not too loud kasi we will disturb the other class.

Diego: Hindi pwede teacher. Sabihin mo sa kanila mag-stop na.

Teacher Jen: E bakit ba kasi Diego?

Diego: E kasi teacher pag tawa tayo ng tawa mapupuno ng laway yung tiyan natin. Iikot yun ng iikot.

Teacher Jen: Sino nagsabi sa ‘yo nyan Diego?

Diego: Si Mommy ko!


Teacher Jen: What food are we going to eat so that we’ll grow healthy and strong?

Joseph: Fish!

Francis: Vegetables!

Alex: Fruits!

Diego: Yes teacher kailangan natin mag-eat ng madaming madaming fruits kasi pag di tayo kumain non alam mo ba mangyayari sa atin?

Teacher Jen: Ano po Diego?

Diego: Mapupuno ng madaming madaming lansones yung mukha natin. Madaming bilog bilog. Di na tayo maganda tsaka gwapo.

Teacher Jen: Alam ko na kung sino nagsabi sa ‘yo nyan Diego.

Diego: Mommy ko!


Alex L.: You want? (wet wipes)

Teacher Lei: Ok! (wiping her face)

Alex: No no no! Don’t wipe your face, for pwet only!


Joseph: Teacher Odette you should buy a new radio, not that eating radio! (pointing to our cassette recorder)


Carla: Do you live here teacher?

Teacher Jen: No Carla. My house is far. I have to ride a jeep to get here.

Carla: How about a cab?

Teacher  Jen: I can also do that but it’s cheaper when I ride the jeep. I don’t have enough money to pay for the cab everyday.

Carla: Don’t worry teacher when I open my piggy bank I’m gonna give you some dollars so you can ride the cab.


Pierre: Teacher nagpunta kami sa sementeryo. Nagkita kami ng syota ko.


Teacher Lei: O Jade, what animal gives the sound moo, moo…?

Jade: Moo…moo…

Teacher Lei: Eh what animal po?

Jade: Moon!


Nico: Teacher o! Sementeryo! ( pointing to the drawing )

Teacher Ching: Sinong nasa sementeryo?

Nico: Ikaw!

Teacher Ching: Sa taas, sa ilalim?

Nico: Sa ilalim.

Josh: Teacher dapat may U sa pangalan ko.

Teacher Ching: Bakit?

Josh: Kasi, Matthew – “ Math- U”


Nicole: Teacher Lei, kita ka namin ni Mommy ko.

Teacher Lei: Oh talaga? Saan?

Nicole: Sa church!

Teacher Lei: Huh? Bakit di naman kita nakita bakit di mo ako tinawag para nakita kita?

Nicole: Eh teacher, di ba dapat kapag nasa church quiet? Pa’no kita tawagin nun eh nasa church nga di ba?


Sophia: (Singing)

Teacher Bebet: Are you attending voice lesson?

Sophia: No! Girls lesson.


Teacher Ching: Saan makikita ang vegetables? ( answer: FARM)

Chloe: Sa palengke!


Josh: Ako malaki na ako, 6 na ‘ko!

Classmate: Ako big na din, 4 na ‘ko!

Another classmate: Ako, bigger, mag 24 na ‘ko!

Josh: Hala! Sobrang big naman yun, hanggang langit na yun!


Teacher Lei: Ay! Don’t say pangit to your classmate. Sabihin mo lang, maganda at pogi ka.

Karl: I know!


Trishia: Ako sad ako kasi wala yung mommy ko.

Josh: Bakit? Nilayasan ka ng mommy mo? Lumayas na siya?


Thanks Teacher Odette for keeping a copy of this. 🙂



At long last, I finished this article. Yey! This took place many weeks ago when I joined the grade 1 students of Raya as they explore and witness the beauty of Laguna and the craftsmanship of its people. It’s just that busyness or maybe also laziness got in the way.

We had a jam-packed schedule. We left the school early in the morning wanting to do a lot. Unfortunately, we were greeted by heavy traffic so we had to adjust our plans. You can just imagine the never ending “Are we there yet?” hirit of the kulit kids. The more they felt heart broken when we finally reached Laguna but then we had to find a different route on our way to Pakil because of the high water that prevented the van from moving forward. Most parts of the bucolic place was flooded due to heavy rains in the past few days. Good thing Teacher Sarah who hailed from Laguna was there as our dependable tour guide.

After more than a 2-hour drive, we were able to reach our first stop. The Whittler Arts and Crafts of Pakil. Yahoooo!!! And wow! It’s like a mini paradise with all the nice and seemingly real displays that they sell at very affordable prices. We were surrounded by vivid colors that call happy thoughts everywhere. There were flowers, fruits, vases, statues, boxes and many other home decors. And yes, since it’s almost Christmas, Santa Claus was all over the place. Our eyes went big with amazement.

Pakil, Laguna

Hand Works

All of them were made from wood. They call the process whittling. These snooping eyes we have even went bigger when Kuya showed us how they do it. His hands worked like magic. The tiny piece of quetaña wood with the aid of a sharp knife was transformed into a lovely bird in just a few minutes. Lucky Anya got it. 🙂 The others however did not hesitate to spend a part of their precious baon to buy something nice and pretty for their families. Daniel bought so many gifts for himself and his parents. 🙂

The Demo

Next we went to Paete. And in this special place we saw their old but still beautiful church. There was a friendly guide who briefly explained the history of the town. I sat there listening and at the same time looking at the retablos. The last time I saw them was when I was in college touring with my classmates for our Art class. I was still swept away. Then the same man in front told us about the old painting situated at the back. They are planning to have it restored. It’s been there since the time of the Spaniards. Too bad the termites are attacking it and the painting that was once in its glory and rich hues is now dilapidated and is almost in ruin. The residents of Paete are asking for donations from the kind visitors who go to their place.

Paete Church

Outside the church, is a small table filled with taka works. Taka is the Filipino word for paper mache. It’s been a popular industry in this small town. Quickly, Ate showed us how it’s done.  First, tear the paper into smaller pieces. Get your mold (which can be ready made) and put a small amount of wax on it. This is to easily take off the paper when dry. Soak the paper into a bowl of home-made glue which is basically gawgaw and water. Put the paper onto the mold one at a time. Press hard to make sure there are no bulges. The goal is to see the mold’s perfect shape. Add more layers and wait for it to dry. When done, slowly take off the taka from the mold. You may add paint to make it look more real. The Rayans gladly took the chance to showcase their artistic gifts. Excitedly, they used their small hands to make their own masterpiece.

Taka session

When the session was over it was already lunch time. We took a short walk towards a small eatery. There, our empty stomachs were filled with foods that were served with love. Some kids brought their own lunch. Those who didn’t feasted on the crunchy shanghai while the others could not hide their heart’s content with the hot and yummy pancit served on their tables. As for the teachers, nothing can beat the energy brought by rice. As in madaming kanin with sinigang na manok  and sweet and sour fish to match. We needed much to compete with the kids super high energy, you know. 🙂

Happy eating!

When everyone’s full, we walked again this time to get back to the van. We could not help but admire the many other taka works being sold at the shops we passed by. Every now and then, no matter how we wished to hurry, we would stop and take a peek at the treasures inside each store. And we were all in awe. Here’s just one of the breath taking works we saw. Thanks Teacher Jobelle for letting me use the pics.

Window shopping

We’re still overwhelmed by the beauty of the takas when another work of art presented itself to us in the small town of Lumban. We visited Burdahan. It’s a tiny place that caters to world class embroidery carefully woven on piña cloths, some of which were interestingly dyed with inviting colors. What a beautiful shop filled with beautiful dresses, carves, barongs, and even bags made more attractive with their intricate designs. One of the staff told us how they do their job. The owner even showed us pictures of some stars who wore their gorgeous clothes. I wish to go back to this some other time not feeling guilty of buying something I really like. 🙂


Tired and again hungry we all felt came mid afternoon. But the best part was yet to come for we’re on our way to Aling Taleng’s Haluhalo. Yumyumyum!  The once quiet store, was in an instant filled with hustle and bustle the moment we arrived. All credit to our ever rowdy kids whose excitement is quite contagious yet still unparalleled. We waited patiently, but more eagerly. And when the glasses of haluhalo were finally right there before our eyes our glee level went super high. Wow! The kids’ joy was too much to handle more than the cold ice, sugar rush and the perfect blend of the all the ingredients at hand. We stayed there for almost an hour, bought some more delicious treats, and then got ourselves ready to go home.

Aling Taleng’s Haluhalo

Again what a loooong trip. It was even made longer this time around, because it’s Friday. The long line of cars slowly inching forward was completely a depressing sight especially when one is exhausted and too eager to lie on bed. We were in fact there too long it’s already dinner time. The children were complaining their hungry and there’s nothing left to eat anymore. Luckily Teacher Jobelle still had some crackers which she generously gave to the kids. And what happened next was a sight to behold. Surely, it will stick in my mind. All of a sudden the children are searching their bags, inspecting their food containers, making sure there’s nothing left inside. After a few minutes, there were food all over our small place. Jaco brought out his biscuit that’s salty and spicy (He super likes spicy food) but the kids didn’t mind. There were peanuts and cookies being passed around. Kiev opened her container and offered the chicken that her mom cooked. The kids huddled in a small circle while eating the leftover kanin with their bare hands even when there was no ulam left. Teacher MJ and I were both laughing the whole time. Kawawang mga bata. When everything has been shared and finished, the kids were recharged. They were noisy again, and having their own party with Gabe’s torch as their disco light. They were waving their hands up and down, dancing to the music they proudly sang. Quite an adventure we had!

We reached Raya at 7:30 pm if my memory served me right. There were parents waiting, children laughing (some crying), and stories that can’t wait for tomorrow. Well I have my own story, too. For that day, I saw many hands. Hands at work, hands that tire, hands that rest, and hands that work again after a little while. There were those hands that took us safely on their wheels, hands that showed us magic is real. There were hands that served, hands that made, hands that can restore. Busy hands, loving hands, hands you can’t ignore. There were hands that fed and hands that led. There were hands that shared their little joys.

I know my hands can do more. What can your hands do?