Tropang Gutom: A year of fellowship, food, and everything fun

Last January 31, Tropang Gutom turns a year old. Somehow I feel like we have been together much longer than that. I have known Mia and Cel since 2002 when the three of us first joined the SMCM high school faculty of which Ma’am Noems has been a member since forever hehe. Badong and I were among the first batch of ISO internal auditor trainees. Benjie was my fellow first year adviser when I was a substitute teacher for Miss Javier. I would see Vhong, Rheena, Ele, and Marianne around whenever I came to SMCM to visit during the period I was not teaching there and when I rejoined the school from 2011 to 2014. Actually, TG has been formed before I became part of it, but our love for food and adventure has forged our bond. Though there are times that some members (read: me) would miss meetings (aka food trips haha), TG keeps everyone updated through Facebook.

In 2015, TG embarked on two major adventure: a camping trip to Nagsasa in Zambales in April and a nature trip in Baler, Aurora (which I have yet to write about, sigh) in November. With TG, planning a trip is as much fun as the trip itself. No stones would be left unturned; hence, the numerous meetings held. Just imagine the amount of calories consumed in all those meetings lol.

To Tropang Gutom, because our kind of hunger leads to happiness, may we always be hungry for the next adventure.

We are Tropang Gutom and we are hungry for the next adventure!
We are Tropang Gutom and we are hungry for the next adventure!

A UP kind of Saturday: Attending the 2015 UP Curriculum Studies Symposium and watching Ekstra at Cine Adarna

Curriculum Studies Symposium 2015 event poster from UP Curricularist Society Facebook page
Curriculum Studies Symposium 2015 event poster from UP Curricularist Society Facebook page

I just got back from an almost week-long trip to the North but there was no way that I would miss the 2015 UP Curriculum Studies Symposium which I pre-registered in as soon as I had learned about it from Sabrina, my friend and colleague at FEU. Held at the UP National Institute of Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED),  the symposium this year has the theme “Curriculum Studies and 21st Century Skills.” Hosted by the UP College of Education Curriculum Studies Area in cooperation with the UP Curricularist Society, it provided a platform for curriculum studies undergraduate and graduate students to present relevant researches with respect to how 21st Century Skills impact the curriculum.

The plenary speakers and topics are as follows:

  • Strategic Thinking and 21st Century Skills 
    Mr. Ho Sun Yee, Managing Partner, Decision Processes Int’l, Singapore
  • Alternative Curriculum Design
    Fr. Onofre G. Inocencio, Jr., SDB, Superintendent, Don Bosco and TVET Schools
  • Mother Tongue-Based and Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) and 21st Century Skills
    Dr. Romylyn A. Metila, Assistant Professor, UP College of Education
  • Media Information Literacy (MIL) and 21st Century Skills
    Dr. Ferdinand B. Pitagan, Education Technology Specialist

The symposium was fully packed in terms of both attendance and relevance. Each of the plenary speakers left me with thoughts to reflect on or questions to think about, for example, the need to challenge existing attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, norms, and practices and to tap latent strengths that Mr. Ho emphasized in his story about Singapore’s water problem and the solution that Singapore came up with. Fr. Jun narrated how they design and implement TVET in their institution. Dr. Rom shared her observations/research on using MTB-MLE and how MTB-MLE can help increase academic achievement, establish home and school connection, and facilitate the learning of subsequent languages. Dr. Pitagan pointed out how important curriculum design is in MIL.

I saw some familiar faces in the event which made me miss the days when I was a graduate student of the Curriculum Studies Area. Sigh.

Right after the symposium I proceeded to UP Cine Adarna to watch Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra which got a Bronze-Best Feature Film in the 2015 New York Festivals in addition to the other awards and recognition it has gotten so far.

A well-spent Saturday in one of my favorite places: I could use more of this.

And just so I won’t forget, I’m putting another one of Mr. Ho’s points here:

Just because you can count something doesn’t mean it counts. Just because you cannot count something doesn’t mean it does not count.

Sharing the joy of reading and origami at NES 2015 Summer Reading Camp

summer camp back dropMy friend and former Nest co-teacher Teacher Ku is now teaching at Navotas Elementary School where she spearheads the 2015 Summer Reading Camp. Last April 24, I was invited for a book talk as part of the culminating activity for the participating able readers. Because my experience is in teaching science, I brought Camilla de la Bedoyere’s Seed to Sunflower to share with the kids.

Before reading, we did a little origami, which is one of my favorite things. I wish I had time to learn the sunflower origami, but I didn’t so we did lotus blossom origami instead.

Teaching a kid how to do lotus blossom origami
Teaching a kid how to do lotus blossom origami
Reading Seed to Sunflower
Reading Seed to Sunflower to Navotas Elementary School summer reading camp participants

The 2015 Summer Reading Camp at NES is ongoing until May 8.

Wear your personality, wear PersonaliTees

“Who are you wearing today?” is a common question during Hollywood red carpet events. But we do not have to be celebrities to be asked or to answer this question. I believe regular people like us reflect our very own personalities by what we wear more than the celebrities who have stylists who dress them up for the events they attend. This is why my friends and I chose “Who are you wearing today?” as our tag line and named our shirt design and printing biz PersonaliTees.

PTees logo

Obviously, we at PersonaliTees are shirt-loving people. Kindly pardon my shamelessness at modeling our own products. Don’t worry, this is as far as my modeling career could go haha!

PTees Yoda
My first PersonaliTees shirt: Yoda I have become.
sushi girl
Sushi girl meets National Artist Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera at the Philippine Literary Festival 2014 last October
Nodame Cantabile-inspired shirt

So if you want personalized shirts for yourself, family, barkada, organization, or what have you, just leave a message in our Facebook page



A glimpse of the world of sake at Fuji Takasago Sake Brewery

I had my first taste of sake at Kats-san’s birthday celebration a few years ago. I couldn’t remember its exact taste but I am positive that I did not dislike it. Perhaps if I had drunk more that time, I would have had a solid opinion about it.

Which I definitely have now. In our trip to Shizuoka for JENESYS 2.0, we toured the Fuji Takasago Sake Brewery where I tasted not just one but four flavors of sake. Now I can say that I like sake especially the green tea and the yogurt flavored ones. My favorite things in a bottle, what’s there not to like? 🙂

(Left) Shizuoka green tea extract blended to Takasago's popular plum wine, a choice souvenir from Shizuoka (Photo credit: Joyce Bea)
(Left) Shizuoka green tea extract blended to Takasago’s popular plum wine, a choice souvenir from Shizuoka (Photo credit: Joyce Bea)
Yogurt sake
Yogurt sake (Photo credit: Joyce Bea)
Joyce and I with the sake barrels at Fuji Takasago Sake Brewery store entrance (Photo credit: Song Dimacale)
Joyce and I with the sake barrels at Fuji Takasago Sake Brewery store entrance (Photo credit: Song Dimacale)

Sake is a fermented beverage made primarily from rice. It is brewed using a microorganism called koji and yeast. It is an exceptional alcoholic drink as it can be enjoyed either chilled or warm. It is also used in preparation or seasoning not only in Japanese cooking but also in Western cooking.

The type of rice and the quality of water greatly affect the taste and quality of sake. Founded in 1831, the Fuji Takasago Sake Brewery uses Fujisan’s groundwater. Here is an overview of their sake brewing process:

You can learn more about the world of Japanese sake here.

N views of Mt. Fuji

In one of her trips (New Zealand I think), my friend L had gotten me a set of Japan postcards (and some matcha Kitkat) during a layover. With a Mt. Mayon ref magnet, I stuck the Mt. Fuji postcard in my refrigerator door, which doubles as a kind of display/dream board of places I have been and places I want to go as all of the ref magnets I have collected in my travel are stuck onto it with the postcards from family and friends.

When I got accepted to the JENESYS 2.0 Program, I hoped that I get to see Mt. Fuji. I even told L my wish in my email.

LayMailImagine how happy I was when I learned that I had been assigned to Team Shizuoka. I was able to view Fujisan from different locations as I did Mt. Mayon during my trip to Albay.

Someday I am going to climb Fujisan, but for now I am happy enough to have finally seen such a beauty with my own eyes.

From top of Nihon University
From top of Nihon University
Good morning Mt. Fuji! Viewed from PD-Fly Resort in Heda, Numazu City, Shizuoka
Good morning Mt. Fuji! Viewed from PD-Fly Resort in Heda, Numazu City, Shizuoka
Someday, I'm going to climb Fujisan! Viewed from Asagiri Field Activity Center
Someday, I’m going to climb Fujisan! Viewed from Asagiri Field Activity Center (Photo credit: Song Dimacale)
A dream come true: experiencing Japan!
Big love for Fujisan! (Photo credit: Joyce Bea)

Once upon a time in high school*

Once upon a time, we were in high school. Girls wore navy blue skirts and “Sailor Moon” blouse while boys wore navy blue pants and white polo shirts with the school seal on the left pocket. In first year, a guru taught the boys how to best tuck their shirts: tuck them with their briefs. The tucked shirts and “closed necks” made the ASCCs easily recognizable. The GSMCs had pig tails with green ribbons. Scouts had formation in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. They were sometimes asked to patrol the corridors to list down those who loitered, littered, or were not in proper uniform. But in third year, there was a brief period when COCC girls wore the boys’ uniform, and COCC boys wore the girls’. Finally, for the first time, some of them were in proper uniform.

Once upon a time in high school, we had teachers who made us laugh, some who made us cry, and a few who made us mad. There was the Filipino teacher who made Vilma Santos impressions perfectly and taught the Noli Me Tangere like it was a telenovela. There was the Science teacher who gave seatworks to be answered within a very limited period. Hence, students would throw notebooks to reach her table and she would throw their notebooks back at them. There was this good-looking teacher who had the boys studying hard for her subject. There was the Math teacher who could deliver jokes without laughing after. There were advisers who looked after us like we were really their sons and daughters.

Once upon a time in high school, our projects were often handmade, even those for our Computer subject. We often used those Commodore 64s with aqua green screens just to play Pacman and Prince of Persia during vacant periods. To center a line of text, we actually had to count the characters and spaces. We did flowcharts and had GWBasic and Wordstar 6 lessons, but the Technology and Home Economics lessons that were more memorable were making a transistor radio, baking a cake, and making tocino.

Once upon a time in high school, we were artists, writers, and story tellers. We were actors, singers, and dancers (Remember Sayawitan? Math Jingle? Speech Choir? Intrams and Foundation Day? Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio, Dalumat, and Anino?). We were architects (we made a miniature bank for third year Social Studies) We were young and talented (I think). And as Christina Aguilera would later on sing, “we were beautiful/ no matter what they say.”

Once upon a time in high school, we met our kindred, that one or a special group of people who would stay with us through the years in good and bad times. Some call it barkada; others call it tropa. The bond might have been formed instantaneously or over time, but one thing was for sure: it was meant for a lifetime.

And once upon a time in high school, many if not all of us fell in love for the first time. The lucky ones fell for people who felt exactly the same toward them, some fell for those who were not in the least aware of their existence, but the unfortunate ones fell for the last people they should have fallen for: their best friends.

Whatever this once upon a time meant to us, it was and would always be our story to tell.

*This piece was written for the souvenir program for our high school reunion in December 2007. This year, 2013, marks the 20th year since our HS graduation. 懐かしいよ。