A little bit

I love weekends because I can bum as much as I want. On these two days, after the crazy weekdays, I can sleep a little bit longer, linger a little bit when eating my food, and walk with insouciance and a little bit slower gaits.  I am still to make up my mind what to do for the rest of the day. Gym will definitely be one of them and probably go to Ultra to swim after. Then read a book which I had not really gotten the chance to read the previous week because of my, well, schedule.

I remember in March, just when the school year was about to come to a close, I excitedly looked forward to my summer because I shall be resting and vacationing the whole time, but it seems to me now that this summer is giving me just a little bit of a room to breathe, a slightly freer feeling than the previous two sems did, which allowed me 5 hours of sleep on average every day.

The first thing I did right after I woke up at 9 o’clock today was to feed my pet fish, Hachiko. From that point on I was stricken with the deadly vice of sloth. I went back to my bed, stared at the lachrymose view outside, and listened to the diaphanous rhythm of the sound emanating from my airconditioner. Minutes later, I began to panic when I realized it’s already 10:26 and I still had not left my bed.

I checked my emails and was happy to learn that I already got a teaching load at the Ateneo next semester. I went to UPD CRS to preenlist my subjects in grad school but the system is not yet allowing students to do this. I already got accepted at the Asian Center and will begin with my master’s in Asian Studies (Southeast Asia) this semester. This incoming semester is going to be another killer, as lethal if not more lethal (somebody told me this is an absolute adjective, hence does not admit intensifiers) than the previous.

Excited because of the beautiful turn of events, I ran to the bathroom, quickly took a very cold bath, readied my gym bag, went downstairs to catch a bus, and here I am now sipping my cappuccino and enjoying my honey glazed doughnuts before hitting the treadmill.

Despite the very little room left to enjoy these small pleasures, somehow, managing to still do makes this day a little bit…

The art of walking-out gracefully

Based on my extensive experience as a student way back in college, not so many professors can pull off a dramatic walk-out quite impeccably. Most of them either overdo the actual walk-out making it more comic than serious thereby missing the intent and losing the message, or nuance it too much (probably in the hopes of doing it ‘intellectually’) that students fail to perceive that their professor just did a walk-out.

A professor should neither exaggerate as most students nowadays are constantly exposed to things being blown out of their usual proportion, nor should he be too subtle as I have a lingering suspicion that most of students of our time have been wired by the contemporary world not to sense or feel sarcasm, irony, paradox, oxymoron, and other literary devices of similar category, a result of repeated non-use of their right parahippocampal gyrus, a part of the brain that is also absent among people suffering from Down’s Syndrome.

So walking-out must still be governed, as in life’s other aspects, by moderation because, trite as it may sound, treading in moderation still remains the order of the day.

But the question How is it properly done then? remains.

Last Friday, I orchestrated my first ever walkout from a class I teach in Ateneo.

A walk-out should first and foremost be triggered by a reasonable stimulus/i–it can be noise, high ambient temperature and high humidity, the students’ unruly behavior (to understate matters), an LCD projector that fails to show any image other than a mocking blue screen or a major technical malfunction, or a combination of several of these.

I must emphasize that redundant warnings should have also been issued, or that all possible means to manage the situation must have already been exhausted, only then can a walk-out be done or justified. If not, students will view this as the professor’s hubris, his arbitrariness, and a mere manifestation of his immaturity (something that he should have already outgrown upon being recruited to teach in a university, and a reputable one at that).

After repeated warnings, a few second of silence is needed to gain enough buffer time, but this is merely used to buy enough time or to establish a quiet but heavy atmosphere. Here, the professor makes a crucial decision whether to calmly gather his things and leave unceremoniously or to throw his ammunition of bloody expletives at the void before him that separates him from the rest of the class before he leaves unceremoniously. Although, expletives, are inelegant even if used sparingly in most of the instances, some teachers I know way back my student days in UP can exclaim vulgarities with precision, accuracy and undeniable class notwithstanding the drama.

Most, however, fell flat and flop. But whatever path the professor takes is bound to define him forever in his students’ minds.

Finally, the climax, the walking-out itself, should be done with surgical speed. Any delay is unforgivable; sauntering is a sign of indecisiveness. The professor should do it with a lightning speed without having to look like he’s in a hurry or running. It should have an effect like he’s never been there at all, that he was an apparition.

I’d suggest this be done not at all or only if very necessary. The effects of walking out are found in the extreme ends of the spectrum. Either he’ll get what he wants, if done with dignity, or he’ll lose everything, if done sloppily, to say the least.

Teaching for 42 years


If I count all the years I have spent working since I graduated from college in 2007, they would sum up to roughly two years and a half. Of this, I spent two years teaching. The other six months was spent either in a job I did not love or whining about that job I never learned to love. Negligible, if I compare this to my elementary school teachers in the provice whose service records stated 25, 31, 37 years spent teaching (this I learned after they unsuspiciously asked me, then a naive-looking grade three pupil, to photocopy their service records at the principal’s office. You may be asking why it’s in the principal’s office. During that time when the photocopying machine made it premier in our small barrio anything precious, as was just proper, was stored, inventoried, and displayed in the principal’s office, so dead frogs preserved in a clear bottles of mayonnaise, stuffed giant tortoise caught in a creek beside the school, outstanding school projects submitted by students whose mothers had to pay a national artist a fortune to paint their son’s ‘Go, Glow, and Grow’ charts, ‘modern’ equipment like a stereo the size of a coffin set vertically, a black-and-white TV, a turntable, and the Minolta photocopier popular during the 90s find their way in his mildewy office. The principal, by default, was also the photocopying machine operator as secretaries were unheard of in those years,). The principal himself, who was my teacher in a required drafting class, was one of the longest –serving teachers in the school, 35 years. He died three years after he retired, serving a total of 42 years. The truth is, I got really nothing to say in this post. I am now in the middle of my class, and thoughts about teaching just preoccupy my mind.

Is back in the game

After my two classes this afternoon that ended at 3:30, I left quickly for home when rain caught up on me as I was about to get on a jeep going to Katipunan LRT Station. I remembered there was a small, white umbrella in my backpack but I decided against using it. Either it was because of my vanity (the umbrella has these lacy frills) or the inconvenience pulling it from the bottom of my big cream-colored North Face bag.

I reached Mandaluyong shivering and drenched in cold rainwater.

I feared getting sick as surely no one is going to take care of me like my mother did when I was still under her care. Sleeping it off was definitely out of the option. So despite the raging thunder that caused some car alarms in the basement of the condominium to go off, I went to the gym and worked out for an hour and fifteen minutes. After, feeling a little perked up by the heavy lifting, I swam 20 laps until I felt nothing but numbness in my shoulders and chests.

I breathed heavily and, at times, was gasping for air. I have gone for too long, I realized, without any form of work out except walking from Shaw MRT station to Libertad in days when I am suffering from stinginess attacks. But it seemed that after those intense physical activities, the sky looked clearer and the air fresher (the complex is approximately 9.5 spits from the notorious EDSA).

Soaked in chlorinated, month-old water, I went back to our unit happy to discover that the stray wifi signal was back. And I hope this time the fickle signal stays for good.


I’m waiting for my 5:50 flight to Iloilo this time (how boring it is to begin an essay with this insipid line). Since I already booked my return flight on Monday, despite the hesitations, I know I have to be back here in Manila on Monday and will start living the newest chapter of my life as a college instructor at Ateneo de Manila University. This trip to Iloilo is for me to say hello and good-bye at the same time.

As an older brother to my two siblings, Sef and Gemini, I’ll have to make sure that, in my absence, they’ll be comfortable and safe, not that they were when I was still with them. But this is something I promised our mother. She has a lot of apprehensions regarding this drastic decision I am taking and I completely understand her. I had to reassure her over and over again that I’ve made worse decisions before and it’s not as if I have not prepared myself to fail, and I quipped, ‘Ma, I always play to win.’ Despite my cocky statement, I am scared. Nonetheless, I’ve had numerous experience of diving head-on with my eyes close, this isn’t the first and I have no intentions of making it the last. I’m scared, but who isn’t?

As a former member of the faculty of the University of the Philippines Visayas, I have to ask forgiveness for this ‘selfish’ decision. Nevertheless, however I look at it, this decision is the most rational decision somebody of my age can take had he/she been in my position. And I hope this is something the university that has nurtured me for the past eight years will understand. Yes, I have plans to go back one day, and I’m sure I will, that is, if UP Visayas is still willing to take me back.

And as a good friend to a handful of people, I need to say my good-byes and thank yous and to tell them that distance is relative and transcend-able. I have few people I consider my friends and I am sure they’ll all remain loyal to me no matter what. I have come and gone before but nothing seemed to have changed, except for some battle scars here and there. This one will not be any different. So I know a little catching up over a cup of brewed or instant coffee will be all right.

Not wanting to sound overly-dramatic this time, it occurred to me that this trip is also to say adieu to the most beautiful city in the world.

An interview

From the summer class I was conducting in Las Pinas in the southern-most part of the metro, I went straight to Ateneo de Manila University, north of Metro Manila, for an interview in the university’s English Department. The trip to Katipunan took me more than two hours and a half, the interview less than fifteen minutes.

The chair of the Department was one of the nicest persons I’ve met who was not found wanting in reassuring me that my responses to her questions were not as dumb as I thought they were. One part of me told me that I did well. My other self-effacing part told me that I made a fool of my self. My maniacal ego incessantly told me ‘You were great’.

The score 2-1, in favor of me.

I’m scheduled for a demonstration teaching on Thursday with the members of the department pretending to be my students. I cannot wait.

Rainy afternoon, an anorexic cat, and the 33rd Urian Awards

Since I was scheduled to work half-day last Thursday, from Laguna, I went back to Makati for a quick, late lunch, it was about three in the afternoon, then proceeded to Katipunan with my friend to submit an application to Ateneo. From Ateneo, we then decided to take a jeepney to UP Diliman as we thought there were going to be plenty of jeepneys plying Katipunan. We were mistaken.

Drivers of public transportation these days prove to be more tenacious, recalcitrant is more apt, than their predecessors. This driver who parked his old, rickety, stainless but rusty made-to-order jeepney made us wait for more than what was comfortable; it was almost a quarter to five that time, and good sense told us that government offices in the Philippines close on the dot (closing time is the only time they are never late at).  So we demanded he return the 14 pesos we paid, and we took a cab to UP.

We first went to the College of Arts and Letters then to Mass Communications after we almost got lost in the circuitous mini-avenues of the Diliman campus. The guys wearing those painfully neon yellow vests, who seemed to replicate themselves by the hundreds, were really courteous and adept at giving directions. But I swear they all look the same. I suspect they’re the pilot project of the biotechnology department or else nuclear physics center of UP.

At the College of Mass Communications, my friend had a brief chat with the college secretary who’s a friend of his. They haven’t seen each other for more than four years, so I expected a long and crisp catching up. Crisp it was, but long not at all. After less than 10 minutes of chat and the customary exchange of business cards, we bade goodbye but not before she handed us two white envelopes that contained the invitation for the Gawad Urian that was to be held several blocks away in Adarna Hall, formerly UP Film Center, that night.

But before that, the cunning weather got the better of both us. We were running out of cash so we had to scurry and searched the campus for ATMs. My memory told me that there’s supposed to be one right across the block adjacent UP shopping center, but my machine was nowhere to be found.

Lo and behold, there’s the guy in painful neon yellow vest again, but he seemed to have gained a lot of weight and doubled his previous body mass index from 20 forty-five minutes ago to forty-five. It did not bother us much though because he was in his usual courteous self and again gave us a very easy-to-follow direction.

When we reached the place, just somewhere at the back of the university shopping center outside the university accounting office, and after I withdrew my meager salary for the summer, I sighted this pretty but anorexic pussy cat (I even suspected she’s bulimic):

I went near her to take a picture of her, but this one was her only clear picture that my old phone was able to capture because she was simply gyrating, like a cat in heat, well she is a cat. In heat, that is. She circled my right leg, gave me that pleading look as if she wanted me to take her home.

“Gusto niya lang bigyan mo siya ng pagkain,” the guard at the accounting office said. He must be the anorexic pussy cat’s master.

So scheming of her.

Post script: We fell in line outside the Film Center amid the drizzle. According to the invitation, the program should start at six. But diva as all the stars in Philippine showbiz are, the program did not start till 7:15 because the nominees were not done donning their do and their dresses. (I abhor artless alliterations, but not as much as abhorrent artistas). Despite the heavy downpour outside, we hailed a cab to Quezon Ave MRT station and had a nice, warm dinner in the food court of Glorietta.

I enjoyed that evening.

For results of the 33rd Gawad Urian, follow this.