SMCM at 100: Random thoughts of a Marian teacher

Since becoming a teacher, I have worn many school colors. Understandably, I would always identify myself primarily as a Fighting Maroon (although the university hymn says luntian at pula) but wherever I teach, I proudly wear the school colors. This 2016, aside from gold and green, I wear blue for St. Mary’s College of Meycauayan (SMCM) for the third time.

St. Mary’s College of Meycauayan (formerly St. Mary’s Academy) in City of Meycauayan, Bulacan turns 100 this 2016.

The first time was in 2002. I was a late addition to the highschool faculty as classes had already started when I joined to replace a member who decided to teach in a public school instead. I must admit that it felt a bit strange to be teaching in the school I had considered to be my high school’s rival. Obviously, I had some preconceived ideas about Marian students. Those would of course change over the course of my stay at SMCM. Marians would be among my closest friends, fangirling buddies, and travel and foodtrip companions. My first year of teaching at SMCM was not exactly a walk in the park but it was a memorable one. For one thing, as a young teacher at that time, I felt supported, valued, and loved. I would stay another year, and even when I decided to take a break from teaching to pursue another path, I came back for a few weeks as a substitute teacher in 2005.

The second time was in 2011. SMCM was the first to give me an opportunity to teach in the college level. Now I have former students who are members of the Integrated Basic Education (IBEd) faculty. Seeing them in the school never fails to make me smile.

I am just happy to be back for the third time since November 2015 on time for the centennial celebration this year. Now I declare myself a centennial junkie haha! Kidding aside, I think I will always think of SMCM as more than a school. To me, SMCM is like home. It is like my old neighborhood, always warm and familiar. This is why I am looking forward to see other Marians and Marians at heart to come home and celebrate 100 years of faith, service, and excellence with us. See you February 8 to 13 Marians!

SMCM at 100: A Centennial of Faith, Service, and Excellence




SM x Chan Lim: Ushering in A New Light of Prosperity

Over 100 Chinese paintings on lanterns by the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students are on exhibit at The Block Atrium until February 11. The exhibit launch held last January 24 kicked off SM City North EDSA’s Chinese New Year celebration.


Meeting and learning from the master: Alex Chan Lim

Before the exhibit was formally opened to the public, there was a Q&A with and an on-the-spot demonstration by Alex Chan Lim. Like his siblings Felix, Rolex, and Jolex, Alex is an engineer by profession, but he has kept painting since he was 11 years old. The name Chan Lim is formed by combining the last names of the siblings’ parents. The family patriarch, whose real name is Jose but signs as Chan Lim, has dabbled in Western art, specializing in oil and watercolor.


Alex Chan Lim finishing his Chinese painting on rice paper.

The Chan Lim family of artists have conducted numerous art classes, workshops, and on-the-spot demonstrations, and have joined several art exhibits locally and internationally. To date, they have held 14 family exhibits.

Experiencing Chinese painting

I have always been interested in Chinese painting but never gotten around to attending a workshop until yesterday. The Chan Lim Family of artists and students helped us participants set up the materials (paper, Chinese brush, ink, water) and patiently guided us in making our first brush strokes.

This is me with Chan Lim painting student Ma’am Linda who became my teacher for the day 🙂


More activities to celebrate the Year of the Monkey at SM City North EDSA

Aside from wishing all its visitors a bright future with the grand collection of beautiful hand-painted lanterns at The Block Atrium, SM City North EDSA has lined up other exciting activities in celebration of the Chinese New Year:

  • Oriental Culture Market, February 2 to 15, mall hours, City Center East and West Mall 2nd Floor
  • Astrological Forecast with Marites Allen, February 7, 5 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Golds of Fortune, January 24 to February 11, The Block Ground Floor and the Annex Ground Floor
  • Oriental Classics, January 31, 5 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Chinese Wushu Arts, January 31, 5 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Chinese Arts in Letters Calligraphy Workshop, February 6, 2 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Chinese Court & Folk Dances, February 8, 2 PM, The Block Atrium


My Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo trip in retrospect: Lakad-kain-lakad in Osaka Day 2

Day 2 Osaka by day (and night again)

We had an early start by eating breakfast in the same restaurant we had dinner in the previous night (Hai, it was that good!).

Day 2 Breakfast in Osaka
Day 2 Breakfast in Osaka

First stop: Tsutenkaku

After breakfast, we walked to see the Tsutenkaku, which takes approximately 10 minutes walking time from the Shin-Imamiya Station. It was still early so there were not many people around. We did not go to the observation deck so I have no idea how much the admission fee is.


A popular Tsutenkaku souvenir is anything Billiken-san, such as figures, lotto ticket wallets, and cakes. Billiken-san is their God of Luck and is just one of the Eight Deities of Good Fortune. I did not buy any but I had a picture taken beside a huge Billiken-san figure in the area. We returned to Hotel Taiyo to look for our next place of stay, which would turn out to be a challenge for us. But in the course of looking for La Maison, we were able to explore our accidental second stop.

Second stop: Naniwa Palace

Naniwa-no-miya Palace Site
Naniwa-no-miya Palace Site

The Naniwa-no-miya Palace Site marker reads:

The Naniwa-no-miya Palace was situated around this site between 645 and 743 A.D. Not much was known about the palace until the archaeological discovery of fragments of SHIBI (ornamental fish-shaped ridge-end tiles) in 1953. The excavations confirmed the structure of the Main Palace, the Imperial Office and other governmental buildings. This site, covering a total area of 90,667 square meters, is designated as an important national historical site.

Third stop: Osaka Castle

A trip to Osaka would not be complete without checking out the Osaka Castle, one of the most famous landmarks of Japan. The Osaka Castle Museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (last admission at 4:30 pm). Admission is JPY600 for adults and free for 15 years old and under.

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

Fourth stop: Shitennoji 

After a palace and a castle, we went to a temple. Shitennoji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. In fact it is the oldest state temple. Because we missed the last admission (we got there late in the afternoon), we were not able to see the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and the Treasure House. We explored the grounds instead.


Fifth stop: Dotonbori

Dotonbori is a lively place where there are numerous restaurants, shops, and amusement facilities. This is where one can sample the very popular Osaka takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Walking through Dotonbori is such a sensory experience. Busog na busog ang mga mata, and if one has the budget to try all the food being sold there, mabubusog talaga. But we were still going to Kyoto and Tokyo, so we had to spend wisely.

Colorful signages in Dotonbori
Dotonbori is livelier at night.

We did our initial omiyage shopping at Don Quijote, one of the biggest discount shops in Japan. We were going to Kyoto the next day so as much as we enjoyed being at Dotonbori, we had to go back to the hostel to pack.

My Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo trip in retrospect: Lakad-kain-lakad in Osaka Day 1

Not even a month had passed since I got home from the JENESYS 2.0 program I took part in, I booked a ticket to go back to Japan. My IDC officemates Jub and Emma had already booked their roundtrip tickets to Osaka, and I thought it would be fun to join them, but I had people who I wanted to see, so I made mine Manila-Osaka (Kansai) then Tokyo (Narita)-Manila. I would learn later that my fellow Jenesyst Neri and her brother Greg also planned to go. Unfortunately, Emma could not go with us. Hence, I was with Jub for the first part of the trip (Osaka-Kyoto) and with Neri and Greg for the second part (Tokyo).

Day 1 Departure and Osaka by night

Our flight to Osaka was delayed a bit, but nothing could dampen my excitement for this trip. Although I was going to Japan for the second time, it was my first time in Osaka and Kyoto. Jub and I intended to take not less than a thousand photographs each. I was only able to take about 900 (Gomen, Jub-san!) even if I wanted to take a shot of every nook and cranny. I was in so much awe that I was afraid that I would not be able to capture the moment.

To save on train fare, we got JR-West Rail passes. Such a pass can be issued to a foreign tourist under “temporary visitor” status and is valid for unlimited travel in the Limited Express “Haruka” and Local Trains operated by JR-West within the area indicated on the sheet. Since I would be going to Tokyo for Day 4, I got a Kansai Area Pass for 3 days.

Waiting for our train to Shin-imamiya
Waiting for our train to Shin-imamiya

We were booked at Hotel Taiyo, which is actually near the train station, but we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended at a police station! Nope, we did not do anything wrong. The kind elder we asked for directions does not speak English so he thought it was best to ask the police for help. They have a map of every neighborhood at the station, and the kind elder accompanied us all the way to the hotel. This was only the first among many of the kindness of strangers we experienced in Japan.

After checking in, it was time to look for food. It was already late, and most of the shops were closed, but we found this really good place to eat at:

Anybody knows how to read this? :)
Anybody knows how to read this? 🙂
Isn't their interior neat?!
Isn’t their interior neat?!

This place uses a meal ticket machine. Just insert your money, press the button corresponding to your choice, get the ticket, and give it to the waiter.

Got a ticket to eat!
Got a ticket to eat!
Tamago donburi--scrambled eggs on rice
Tamago donburi–scrambled eggs with savory sauce on rice

After our simple but satisfying first meal in Osaka, we took a walk in the quiet neighborhood before going back to the hotel. The next day was going to be full-packed!

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.

The magic of Cynthia Alexander’s music

is that it can be timeless such that the words still speak to me even if I have not heard them for some time. It can transport one to another place and time, most likely to that moment of one’s discovery of her music. In my case, that would be in 2000 when I was a relatively newbie in the publishing industry. Her second album Rippingyarns had just been released, and it was what I asked my secret Santa for Christmas. I would play the cassette tape in my portable player (Watashi no Aiwa wa doko desu ka?) over and over until I have memorized her songs. I eventually got a copy of Insomnia & Other Lullabyes I think at the UP Shopping Center where I usually find albums of my favorite singers-songwriters.

Sadly, I did not catch any of her farewell shows. That’s why I was excited when I learned that she was coming home to play at the Jack Daniels Indie Music Awards. The schedule was a problem for me though as I had to proctor final examinations early the next day. Then the Teatrino show was announced but the balcony tickets were quickly sold out. The Conspiracy Cafe gig was my last chance to see her before she left again for the US.

But who would go with me? Gigs, particularly the special ones, end way past midnight. But it really was a special one, so I asked my very important person–Nanay–to come with me to Cynthia’s show.

Our Cynthia Alexander at Conspiracy Cafe tickets
Our Cynthia Alexander at Conspiracy Cafe tickets
Isn't my Nanay cool?
Isn’t my Nanay cool?

I actually shamelessly messaged Conspiracy Cafe’s Facebook page to ask for a reservation to which I got a positive reply (I just love Conspiracy!) but I understood when I saw a note on Cynthia Alexander Music Facebook page later on that the show would be on a first come first serve basis and that Conspiracy gates would open at 6 pm. Nanay and I got there around 7 pm and had yummy sisig and rice for dinner.

Conspiracy Cafe's sisig with egg
Conspiracy Cafe’s sisig with egg

What made the night more magical was Vin Dancel of Peryodiko. That “Dear Prudence” cover! (Cynthia would later sing “Blackbird.” Loved both.)

When it was Cynthia’s turn to perform, I had to stand on a chair because my view of the stage had been blocked.Good thing was that no Conspi staff asked me to get down. At some point, even Nanay stood on a chair. We all have missed Cynthia and her music that after her supposed last song “Comfort in Your Strangeness,” we did not want to leave yet.

Cynthia actually stood in front of me during the set break to talk with some friends but I got too shy to ask for a photo op. Her friend helped me get my CD signed though.

My signed copy of Walk Down the Road
My signed copy of Walk Down the Road

I am so grateful to be there and feel the magic of Cynthia Alexander’s music. I hope I get to be there when she holds a homecoming gig again.

A recipe for an awesome Nagsasa Cove camping trip

Where the sun shines brightly and the sea is blue
Where the sun shines brightly and the sea is blue


  • 8 or more friends (old, new, or a mix of old and new)
  • pooled resources (money, stuff)
  • van (preferably with a cool driver like Kuya Piyok)
  • cameras (any kind)


  1. Organize a group with at least 8 members. You can have more as long as you and your things can fit in a UV Express. Originally, we were 11 in our group, but unfortunately, two could not make it. Don’t worry if you do not know well all the members of your group. There’s something about camping that brings people closer.
  2. Pool your resources. Assign someone to be the fund keeper. Because some members of the Tropang Gutom had been to Nagsasa Cove before, we had a pretty good idea how much we needed for transportation and food. Your monetary contribution to your group’s fund will vary depending on how many you are, where you are coming from, and what your activities are.
  3. Make to-bring, to-buy, and to-do lists. Make sure that everyone has an assignment. Our to-bring list includes the following: ice box, camping stove, butane, lighter, flashlight/rechargeable lamp, Swiss knife, bottle/can opener, scratch paper, fan, plastic utensils, styro and plastic cups, paper plates, frying pan, pot, dishwashing liquid, foil, and Marianne’s mom’s special bagoong.
  4. Set a meeting place and time for departure. Ours was at 5:00 am at Ministop Tabing-ilog, Marilao but we had some unforeseen circumstances (ahem, Rheena and Vhong, ahem haha). Though we left much later than intended, we still got to San Antonio, Zambales around 10 am. In case someone from your group is left behind, provide instructions on how to get to San Antonio Market.
  5. Buy food, water, and ice at San Antonio Market. We bought ingredients for chicken adobo, grilled pork chops, stuffed bangus, and scrambled eggs. We also bought rice, salted eggs, shrimps, hotdogs, mangoes (green, yellow, indian), bananas, eggplants, and okra.

    Buying stuff at San Antonio Market
    Buying stuff at San Antonio Market
  6. (Optional) Eat lunch at Pundakit. You can even ask the carinderia to cook the shrimps for a minimal fee 🙂

    Bought at San Antonio Market, cooked in Pundakit, eaten at Nagsasa Cove
    Bought at San Antonio Market, cooked in Pundakit, eaten at Nagsasa Cove
  7. Rent a boat from Pundakit to Nagsasa Cove and vice versa. Look for the best package, say, a big boat with free use of ice box and some flexibility when it comes to pick up time for the return trip for Php4,000.

    Boat ride from Pundakit to Nagsasa (Photo credit: Eleriza Soriano)
    Boat ride from Pundakit to Nagsasa (Photo credit: Eleriza Soriano)
  8. Enjoy the sights and sounds during the boat ride. Ask for the names of the other coves that you can camp on the next time you plan a camping trip to Zambales.
  9. Pay fees and set up camp. There is an entrance fee of Php100 per head and a fee of Php100 per cottage. Yes, there are water for washing and bathing and clean restrooms at Nagsasa Cove.
  10. Enjoy the sun, sea, and sand. Watch the sun set.
  11. Make a bonfire. Don’t forget the marshmallows on sticks! Sharing stories and chips: highly recommended. Alcoholic beverages: optional.20150427_195959

    Marshmallows FTW! (Photo credit: Vhong Zapanta)
  12. Lie on the beach. Gaze at the stars. Share more stories.
  13. Walk to Camp Bira-Bira and climb a hill (mountain?) for Php20. If your group wish to climb all the way to the summit, get a guide for Php500. I was lucky we have Cris in our group. I have given him 1,000 pogi points for helping me climb.

    At Camp Bira-Bira
    At Camp Bira-Bira (Photo credit: Badong Salvador)
  14. (Optional) Trek to the falls if you don’t mind walking and climbing rocks/boulders for an hour and a half or two (or three, depending on your pace). There is a fee of Php100 per head.
    Taking a break from our trek to the falls
    Taking a break from our trek to the falls (Photo credit: Badong Salvador)

    Bato pa more! (Photo credit: Badong Salvador)
    Bato pa more! (Photo credit: Badong Salvador)
  15. Buy souvenirs from the locals. They have shirts, key chains, and ref magnets. They also have stuff made of bamboo such as rainmakers.

    Additions to my ref magnet collection
    Additions to my ref magnet collection
  16. Take pictures. As if you need me to list this step haha!