Sunday, February 28, 2016

In Celebration of Life - Happy Birthday Benjo!

When I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did after getting the confirmation from the doctor was to walk across the street to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.  I walked in and saw the image of our Lady on the left near the entrance and walked up to her and prayed a prayer of thanks while touching my stomach that I knew now had life within. I don’t remember my exact words, but I do remember that I offered up my unborn to our Lady.

About thirteen years and nine months later, I look back on that day and I know that Our Lady heard and answered my prayers, for she, in her mysterious ways, has looked after my child as if he was her own.  I don’t know where his calling is and at his young age, he probably doesn’t either.   But for the past year and a half he has felt a call to serve beside our Lord and our Lady by being an altar server, dedicating his free time to assisting the priests during mass and attending the many activities called upon him.

His dedication is such that during the novena masses of our dear Lady of Lourdes, he attended all the nine days of novena prayers, masses and torch processions, spending at least 3 hours each night and on some nights where they had rehearsals, even five hours.  And on the Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, he missed his classes and chose to serve during the fiesta.  He served in two masses including the high mass at noon and attended the lengthy evening procession which ended with a ceremonial welcoming back of the statue of Our Lady back to the church.

With his fellow Altar Servers before the start of the procession

Those days when he chose to serve at church were actually critical days for his school work.  He had projects to finish, mastery activities, mastery tests and achievement tests to complete.  All this so he can be cleared in his subjects and maybe receive a recognition, in which he was on the preliminary list of graduating Grade 6 learners.  But because he chose instead to use his time to serve in the church, I felt that the recognition was in jeopardy.  And so feeling the pressure myself of wanting my son to be cleared, I scolded him and said that his decisions could’ve cost him his recognition in school.  He felt the pressure and even cried.  I consoled him and tried to be more easy, helping him out by assisting him finish his projects.

Feeling guilty at giving my son a sermon because of his service at church, I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha.  When Jesus visited their home, Martha was so engrossed in her work, while Mary chose instead to sit next to our Lord and be with Him.  Martha scolded Mary for not helping her out, but Jesus reminded Martha that Mary had chosen the better and no one can take that from her.  I was truly humbled with this message that just came not from any daily readings but came maybe as a message from our own dear Mother.  Yes, Benjo, her son, has chosen the better and I should not take that from him.

As faithful as our dear Mother is, I was surprised that despite the many subjects that Benjo still needed to be cleared, he got it all done by the following Tuesday after the feast day (or just three school days) -   another reminder that when you put God first, he will put all other things, including school work, in order.

In a couple of days, we will celebrate 13 years of your life, Benjo.  Happy birthday my dear son! Your Dad and I are so proud of you.  No, you’re not perfect and can be very pilyo at times, but no matter what, know that we will always love you.  Whatever life brings your way, we lift it all up to God and to our dear Mother, who continues to be by your side.

Oh how you've grown! Happy birthday anak!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Love Letter from My Daughter

We thought it would be an ordinary PFC (Parents-Facilitators Conference), our bi-monthly meeting with the kids’ advisers to talk specifically on how our children were progressing.  But it was more than ordinary and we were surprised when near the end of our chat with Joselyn’s adviser, Ms Ingles handed us over an envelope addressed to us: Mr and Mrs Apostol.

Then I remembered the letter that Joselyn was working hard on about a week or two before, secretly keeping what she was writing away from our sight, but saying in part that it was a letter to us that their teacher had instructed them to write.  And with the additional instruction that it should make us parents cry.  So with that in mind, we said thank you to Ms. Ingles and I read it later in the car, where in fact I did cry with Joselyn, who was right beside me, witnessing the result of the words she had painstakingly wrote.

Firstly, it made me feel proud that my little girl, though I know she isn’t so little any more, can write in such a beautiful and expressive way.  I had no clue. I had always thought that she had a difficult time in composing sentences, whether in English or Tagalog. So I was pleasantly surprised at the fluency and artistry in which she composed her letter which was in Tagalog.

She dreams or wishes to bring us to places like America, France, Egypt and Africa when she's older.
She also promises to take care of us when we're older the way we have taken care of her.

Secondly, I was really, really touched at her words, which I do hope are more than words on paper, but promises she will keep (though we parents should know better). .. and she read this blog as I took a break from writing (which I think makes her more proud).  I did get to share her letter with my sister-in-law, Ate Connie (with Joselyn’s permission) and she too felt emotional while reading it.  She also praised us for raising her and her Kuya in the right way.

Well, we parents always hope that our children will grow up in the right path. Sometimes I think that I lack the patience I need in raising my kids and wonder if I’ve wounded them emotionally in any way with my occasional outbursts.  But there are times like these when I read these meaningful words written with love, that I get an affirmation that I must be doing something right.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Science Project - Reject pa more!

Feelings of dejection.   Oh I’ve been through these before, but when it happens more than once and you believe that you’ve tried your best, then there is not only a feeling of dejection, but of injustice.
Wow, parang papunta na sa korte ‘no? So where is this hugot coming from?

A simple Science project for my grade 6 son.  Well, it is common knowledge that parents help either in part or in whole with these projects.  I would readily help especially when time is of an essence or when it needs some artistic creativity where my son seems to have no interest in.

Anyway, the kids were instructed verbally to make an animal out of recycled materials.  Easy and simple enough.  We first heard of this project from our co-parent friends who were talking about what they had made for their kids.  I was at a blank because at that time, Benjo hadn’t mentioned the project to us.  Time went by and he was cleared in that module. My husband said to let the project pass since he was already cleared – baka ‘di na napansin na wala sya. But the teacher kept a record and based on it, saw that Benjo was lacking in that project. 

I got to work making a simple shark out of a toilet roll, had Jojo paint it, made teeth, fins, tail and eyes.  I got this idea from the internet – actually it was the one that I had in mind to do a few weeks back. I was happy with the finished product and Benjo submitted it the next day.

The first project submitted - and rejected! Maganda naman 'di ba?

We were kind of nearing the school year where the kids in Angelicum try to get cleared in their subjects. My son needed an okay on these projects in science before taking up the second and last achievement test (equivalent to the final exam).  So it was to my dismay that upon picking up Benjo one day from school, he said that Ms. rejected his science project.  What?  This was my first time ever in my life to have a project rejected – whether it was for my own schooling or for my children’s.  Okay, so I looked again at the rejected shark and thought maybe the teacher didn’t think enough effort was put into it.  Now this is a disadvantage of being in a non-graded school.  Sure we don’t get grades, but the projects either pass or fail, and the frustrating part is I had no criteria to guide me by.

Putting my feelings of dejection aside, I took up the challenge. Putting more effort in the project, I again chose to go with the fish theme… picked up another toilet paper roll and started work. And with EFFORT.  This time instead of painting the roll, I decided to make a collage out of used wrappings that had a shiny effect to make it look like scales of a fish.  Cutting out in different circular shapes and pasting it on the roll.  I was again happy and satisfied with the outcome, giving it to my boy to be submitted in the hope that he will then be able to take his exam.  But to my dismay it came back again – REJECT.  I really refrained myself from walking up to that teacher’s room and asking WHY???.  The only comment she gave my son was that he should’ve used plastic. Hello, the instruction was to use any recycled materials, if she wanted us to use plastic then why did she say so in the first place.

My second try - using the used plastic container from coffee package. Result: Rejected!

Oh I was seething inside, but I said to myself, this is a challenge of patience.  I found an empty plastic washing detergent and started again to make a fish, using the same concept of adding scales from the wrappers.  I didn’t cover the whole container, but it looked fine having to use a glue gun to paste the plastic wrapper on the plastic container (effort ha). When my son finally submitted the finished project (we had to wait for the following week since Ms had left early the previous Friday), the teacher commented that the second one looked better, but accepted this third project.   ACCEPTED – hooray!!! Third time, lucky!  And my son finally got to take his exam.

Not as attractive as the previous one - I ran out of wrapper. But it got accepted - finally!

But if this third try wasn’t accepted, I was definitely going up to talk to the teacher and ask at least for a reasonable explanation.  We run into people like this teacher, which I heard had a reputation.  I looked on it as a challenge, but others may not.  After talking to some other parents, apparently ours was not the only project rejected.  Some comments were that it looked too professional that no one would believe the child made it – and in fact a professional carpenter made it.  And yet we know for a fact that many parents help out their children in whole or in part with these projects.

I wouldn't blog this if I didn't feel a need to.  But my personal lesson learned that I hope to convey to other parents and kids... PATIENCE.  Hwag sugod kaagad, sinusubukan lang naman tayo ng ibang mga guro.
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