Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New School Year - New School

We started a new school year last June 13. I failed to blog on our continued quest for a new high school for Benjo, but to cut down the chase... we finally chose on Lourdes High School.  He took two entrance exams, one which looking back was more of a "let's give it a shot" even if the stakes are high and chances are slim.  He, along with several thousand hopefuls from all over the country, took the Philippine Science HS entrance exam. We bought a reviewer and in our spare time, would go through the questions in the booklet, questions which I myself found difficult to answer. With the reviewer giving us a sneak peek of the questions to be asked on the test itself, I was partly submissive and just told Benjo to try his best.  At best the test could be taken for an experience.  And so it was, as he was not among the fortunate few who passed and got a chance to be part of the elite.

His other choice, and the school that my Mom has been urging us to try ever since he started school, was Lourdes High School, where he passed both the written exam and 2 interviews.  I gave him the final choice, Lourdes or Angelicum, and he chose Lourdes. In part because the church right next to it, has become one of his comfort zones as he continues to be an active altar server.

In the beginning there was the expected jitters. New school, new faces, new rooms, and a whole new system of learning - this time, GRADED. I place emphasis on this because this is the big change that he has to adjust to, coming from Angelicum's non-graded system of learning.  So far, he has adjusted well (I'll blog in more detail on this some other time).  When I asked him after the first couple of weeks, which school he found to be easier, Lourdes or Angelicum? I was surprised that he said Lourdes. His reason is because they were actually being "taught" or the subject matters were discussed and lectured on, unlike Angelicum's mostly self-learning method.

I'm appeased by our decision and though we have yet to reach that quarterly mark where they have graded exams and we will get to see his quarterly grade, I'm still thankful that his transition to this new system of learning has become relatively smooth. But as I write this, I find that my heart beats a little faster thinking ahead of the day when we see that first graded card. It will have numbers on it, and not merely checkmarks.


(It's been months, to be more precise about last March, since I wrote this piece but never got to publish it for reasons I will keep to myself. But as I re-read this draft version, I find it well to publish it as is, with no additions or edits, as it remains true up to now. For what it's worth, read on...")

“Hindi naman talino ang labanan dyan eh”, someone we know commented quite sarcastically and with a hint of bitterness as she saw a preliminary recognition list of 20 learners where her son was not a part of.  It was an insensitive statement considering she was talking to a couple of parents whose sons were on the list.

To be honest, I don’t know what the basis of the list was.  Since Angelicum College is said to be a non-graded school, grades would not be part of the criteria.  At the time the list was posted, none of the learners were cleared or had finished all the modules in all the subjects given for their level, so it couldn’t have been a list of “cleared” students.

Maybe in part this person was right.  Hindi nga lang naman “talino” ang labanan sa eskwelahan na ito.  A learner who gets a non-acceptable number of wrong answers on a modular or achievement test, is given a chance to correct their mistakes until they reach the acceptable benchmark. “Correct mistakes” or CM in short is a term that the learners get used to.  It’s their “life-line”, where they go back several times (I’m not certain how many times) to correct their wrong answers.  So once they reach the acceptable benchmark, they can move to the next module.  And that’s when a student advances until they finish all the modules and completes all the projects and achievement tests until they get cleared.

“Talino” to you, dear bitter parent, may be just the measure of your IQ or intelligence quotient or lack thereof.  But I believe it is more than that.  A person could be called “talino” if they are persevering and hard-working… taking in that they make their mistakes, but corrects them and learns the lessons from it.  In this case a person’s EQ or Emotional Quotient comes into play.  A person could be called “talino” because they have what we call in our language “diskarte”.  In a system like Angelicum’s, a student needs to know how to approach the teachers or facilitators, they need to know that during this time and place they can get their papers or projects checked.  They need to focus knowing that many distractions are all around them to get their lessons complete. And here is where the other parts of the learner’s personality comes in (courage, faith, trust) – personality traits that I would still consider being part of that word we all term “talino”.

With or without a list, we all know that everyone in their own right is “talino”.  There is no need to compare our children with others.  One may finish faster than others, but in the end, what’s important is that they all finish – fairly and hopefully not too scarred.

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!

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