Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy Sweet Qatar Life

Awesome April 30,2014

Last night was a super exciting night. I did not have the energy to blog anymore. So today, I will do 2.

Marina and I eagerly prepared for a cake decorating contest in Lulu-D Ring road. We learned about it last Monday, unfortunately, we were rushing to go home and promised to come back Tuesday. Unfortunately, we were not able to since, the plumber promised to come and we got so caught up with home school lessons that I said, Wednesday will be a better day.

And so it was.

My cake’s theme was supposed to have been: Happy Sweet Qatar Life.

It would supposed to have been covered in chocolate shavings with a stencil of a pearl right smack in the middle of the circular white cake.

Then on the sides, we would have made different lengths of Kit-kat bars showing the Doha skyline. I had a grand ambition of making a favorite landmark building with the use of  sliced banana dipped in yellow food coloring and a straight steeple on top of it. Then alternate with the skyline will be date trees using Kiwi sliced fruits as the foliage, Maltese (sliced) as the tree trunk, then grape stalk as the dates. I would have used crushed peanuts as the sand around the sea shell.  Right smack in the middle of the shell would have been a mother of pearl like rambutan with a choco gold coin behind it as halo.

Since the contest was at 7pm we were very early in the venue . 530 pm we started gathering our materials from the supermarket. I intended to prepare my own although Lulu management would provide sprinkles, cherries etc. I wanted to go beyond what they have. Besides, one of the organizers mentioned to me that they wanted new ideas for their cakes. And so, I was determined to give them just that.

A breath of fresh air!

Unfortunately, much to my dismay, a much smaller white icing cake was provided. Perhaps the diameter of only 4 inches. My shell stencil was made for a much bigger cake of around 6 inches or more.

And, the presence of a lot of people as audience and my co-participants, all in black abayas, put me in a pressure cooker moment.

My hands shaked a bit during the first 3 minutes while I was on the spot light with another contestant beside me. We worked in pairs at a time.

Ruel did not stop teasing me about it later on.


I told him, at least, I  entertained him.

Anyway, I was in for the experience. That was the fun and prize built in.

I did not mind what the exciting prizes as promised awaited us…I just wanted the simple exercise of using my creativity.

Another bonus, while waiting for the contest to begin, I saw Marina. She is the girl, or should  I say, lady, that I sat beside to while my Marina joined a poster making contest back in September of thereabouts last year in the multipurpose building of Our Lady of the Rosary church.

I never got to get her number and she was such a nice chatterbox to be with. I have been hoping to see her again.

And so, in  the perfect time, my wish had been granted.

I now have her number and have promised to see each other with the kids soon.  In sha Allah.

And so, God, in His goodness, has granted me my simple prayer to meet this wonderful person again and enjoy the day with Ruel and the girls.

Thank you God you are so amazing!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Outstanding Filipino Teacher: Dr. Erdulfo B. Fernando

Awesome April 23,2014

Tonight, I want to repost a written assignment I submitted to my professor in the University of the Philippines Open University way back 2010.  I had to interview a teacher I had known with some ready made questions for him/her as part of our requirements for our Educ 101 course.

I called him long distance from Manila to Zamboanga City. Thanks to his daughters, the interview was made possible. It is with much regret and apologies that I dedicate my blog today to this great individual, who, I wanted to send a copy of this piece and also visit…unfortunately time and energy were not so much available.

I hope my unfulfilled promise would have been forgiven.

It took me a while for me to ransack my old  back up disks to retrieve this data. I have been wanting to blog this and finally, tonight, it is now possible:

An Outstanding Filipino Teacher: Dr. Erdulfo B. Fernando
December 11.2010
EDUC 101 TMA#1
University of the Philippines Open University

This week, I should have been in Zamboanga city to celebrate our 25th Alumni Homecoming from the Western Mindanao State University. I am somewhat an honorary alumna since I was there from Kindergarten to 2nd Year High School. Unfortunately, my very high risk 13 week pregnancy would not allow me to travel nor be exposed to very exciting or emotional activities.
But   still  ,I  got a very nice trip down memory lane when I had to interview our then  Elementary School Principal for this assignment.
Now, why did I consider him my Outstanding Filipino Teacher, hands down?
You see, I was somehow, a maladjusted kid in school. It took almost half of the school year in kindergarten for me to break out of my shy shell and  go   into  our  building and be part of school. I obstinately   relented to being left at school by staying by the door only. No more beyond that. My siblings would not stop teasing me until now that I was the very first lady guard ever.
It took my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Cuartocruz,   the whole last morning period, just trying to make me recite in class. I    stubornly  sat  deeper and deeper into my chair hoping that it would swallow me up so I could be spared the embarrassment of attention, scrutiny and exasperation of my peers.
I suffered from impaired Myopic vision that required correction glasses to which I refused. Just imagine all  the  zeros I got in especially in  Math exams since I could not see the computation and instructions on the black board from my seat.
How I survived from Kinder to grade six is something short of a miracle.
Picture the pain I endured to have my test papers with all the red Mongo seeds marking on the corridor wall outside our classroom.
It was enough for me to wish I died so I would be spared the agony of going back to 6th grade class after a long holiday break.  Then  only to be told that I was required at   the Principal’s office one day.
As I trudged the long  stretch from our room in  one end of the building to the office, my legs felt so heavy and I did not know what to expect.  Am I  now going to  be kicked out finally from school? Will it end my misery or will it mean the beginning of another?
I will never forget getting into the sunlit office of Mr. Erdulfo B. Fernando. It felt like it was a piece of heaven. So bright and so cheery, as if I could hear the chirping of birds somewhere assuring me that the end may not necessarily mean sad and depressing.
He asked me to read a book. I think,  a pile of books where ready for me to choose from on his massive wooden desk.
Everything from the floors to the walls to the windows seemed to glisten in the mid morning sun.
It really felt good to be able to given a   choice.
Something, I was not familiar with.
Then, I started reading the book beside him while he sat behind his desk.
At first, the print was blurry.
My voice could not escape from my very parched throat.
Somehow, I did not detect any note of impatience from Mr. Fernando.
It was enough encouragement for me to go on until somehow my voice and reading tempo was getting more relaxed until I reached  a  point where I surprisingly was enjoying it.
I cannot clearly recall anymore if I finished the whole book or even the title of the book.
What I know now, was that, for the first time in my elementary school years, I no longer was afraid.
Mr. Fernando gently ended our time together with a simple compliment: That will do, you did good.
It was enough affirmation for me to be bursting with joy.
Going back to my classroom, I was somehow almost leaping and brimming with relief and a new found voice and hope.
For the first time in my life, I saw light at the end of a long tunnel with my newfound voice and strength.
It was a  somewhat insignificant moment, but it  spelled : LIFE & FREEDOM  for me.
I did not have much exposure to Mr. Erdulfo B. Fernando because he was sent to Manila immediately after  that  for further studies until a few days ago, when I placed the long distance call to Zamboanga.
The following interview will further affirm why I thought He was the best.
Question #1. What led you to the teaching profession?
Dr. Fernando explains that  He chose to take Education from the then  Zamboanga Normal School (now Western Mindanao State University )  for the following practical reasons:
1.       It was most affordable.
2.       He lived a mere walking distance from the school.
Question #2.  What do you consider is your most challenging experience?
Dr. Fernando recalls the time He, and 14 other candidates had to vie for the Presidency of the Western Mindanao  State University. He was already the OIC of the university from 1988 to 1990 and yet it was maybe perhaps like passing through the eye of the needle again so to speak. The list was  further trimmed down to 3. Then, after a period of deliberation, the late President Corazon C. Aquino handpicked   him to lead the university for another 7 years.
Question #3. What do you consider are your significant contributions to Education and to the community?
Under his leadership, the university was conferred the distinction of being a Center of Excellence for Teaching Education. Closely after that, the College of Nursing and College of Architecture were  given the same recognition as well.
He was able to quell   some pockets of trouble and rebellion from the student ranks now and then.
Today, at 78 years old, Dr. Fernando is  still  a very  energetic  member of the community. He goes to mass everyday and serves as a Lay Minister of the Eucharist and makes home visits to the sick regularly.
He is also the Vice President of the local Red Cross chapter in Zamboanga City.

Question #4. What are the major issues facing the Philippine Education system? In what ways can they be resolved?
Dr. Fernando believes that the move to lengthen  the number of  academic school year by 2-5 years more is not necessary. He   does not believe that length spells quality.
He suggests  that the Teacher Education curriculum be revised to make it more relevant to a particular/given community. Teachers  are  encouraged  to have the missionary zeal as they practice their profession within the community by  being very sensitive to the local culture as He/She  attempts to make the pursuit of Education as relevant and  necessary as possible.
Question #5. What is your vision of  Philippine Education in the near future?
He envisions Education to be brought much closer to the “footsteps” of the local  Philippine communities where the statistics show a huge dropout at grade 4 level.
He hopes that children do not need to walk miles and miles to be able to reach school.
He hopes that Philippine Education be strengthened with ALS or the Alternative Learning System where the focus will be developing learning skills at the Grade 1 and 2 levels that even if  a student drops out, He/ she is equipped with skills making him/her open to more learning outside of school. Thus making the individual self sufficient and a not a burden to society.

In closing, the 45 minutes we had chatting animatedly with each other was like a full circle experience for me.  It left me so amazed and in awe that yes, instinctively, I knew,   way back at 6th grade, Dr. Fernando was such an exceptional person. He lived  and  breathed  excellence in a very simple and unassuming manner. He never had the airs about him. He always had a cheerful disposition. I would encounter him making his rounds around the school premises beyond 5 in the afternoon making sure everything was in order.   Something  which  he  serendipitously  mentioned in the interview.  I am sure, Senor Will, our school janitor would have also attested the fact, that this special person, had a gift of bringing out the best in a another in a momentary and simple encounter. He has such a big heart  that gives encouragement and good regard  no matter the stature and circumstance of the  person in front of him. It is not surprising to hear him  admit  that Dr. Fernando  finds his strength and the secret  of his success in his Lord and maker.

*** photo credits:
1st picture,
2nd picture, Agnes Fernando, when Dr. Fernando and I had our chat back in 2010.

Monday, April 7, 2014

8 Things I Love About Qatar

Awesome April 7,2014

Today marks our 9th month anniversary in this beautiful land in the sands!
Last night, after the 7pm pass, which was surprisingly a healing, charismatic inspired mass, we went for some Shawarma and Vegetable pizza at one of our favorite Turkish resto’s along old airport road to celebrate this wonderful day.
It is a wonderful day because, it is a day where our Lord and our Maker, showed us He loves us so much   to answer our prayers to be one family under one roof.
Thank you indeed Lord!
Thank you!
There are so many things I want to blog about but today, I will devote my time and words focusing on the  TOP 8 Things I Love About Being in Doha, Qatar. Let us begin:

1.       The winter to spring months of cool to very cold and windy evenings are quite long. It starts from late  September or October to late April. It  over compensates for  the sizzling hot months from July ( the time we arrived) to August.  I just LOVE IT!
2.       Seeing Arabs in their spanking white Disdashas and the women in their chic  black makes me happy with  my affinity to the colors. I love wearing blacks to camouflage  my figure and white as well to feel cooler in certain days. So BLACK and WHITE for me has never been so as pleasing as now!
3.       Corniche and downtown Al Dafna. The color of the Persian gulf is such a wonderful shade of blue and green especially at this time of the year!  It is so refreshing! Looking at the exciting architecture of the various skyscrapers  and how they sparkle and shine at night makes it so enchanting and mesmerizing. It reminds me, that all things are possible. One just has to be bold and dare to dream and take those steps to realize them.
4.       The flower filled parks, street islands, roundabout and landmarks. It makes the ride more lovely and pleasant each time.

5.       Souq Waqif! It is a quaint market of almost anything and everything you can imagine. The old buildings and architecture makes you travel back in time and give you glimpses of what a different kind of world it really is here in the middle east. The unfamiliarity and newness  of  everything  foreign is still so exciting to discover and learn more about.
6.       The camels and sand dunes of sealine beach. The smiling face of the camel reminds you to be patient  at the face of the harsh realities  life and to grin and bear it with a pleasant face.
7.       Baklava, a sweet, flaky, almond and honey delight that is such a treat!
8.       Arabic call to prayer. The reminder to pray is so divine. The priority given to it is sterling and laudable. Each time I hear it on the radio, it is an opportunity to hook up to THE source of all power and strength.

God is good!