On my job as an instructor at the University of the Philippines

A good night sleep is too difficult to come by these days. Its elusiveness is as legendary as that of the Holy Grail. Being one of the countless who search, most often in vain, for that sating sleep, I consider myself lucky if in those innumerable attempts,  I  got six to eight hours of peaceful sleep. I had to make sure my memories of them are vivid, so vivid that I can touch them to give me something to hold on to when I am working on or forcing myself to have a decent three-hour sleep.

For the longest time I have never experienced that exceptionally satisfying sleep as I had last night. This morning I woke up at nearly eight o’clock feeling relaxed, unhurried, and in a more exact term, but not want to sound like pitching for an energy-drink commercial, rejuvenated.

But this pleasing sensation of having risen up after a gratifying rest was short-lived. Becoming fully cognizant of the grave mistake I just committed, excessively enjoying that sleep I’ve been deprived of for several weeks already, I have to keep myself from sticking a rusty knife in my throat and repeatedly puncturing it until my body was completely emptied of that sinful, rejuvenated blood. I have entirely forgotten that I was supposed to give my students enrolled in my Introduction to Journalism class their third long exam at 7 o’clock in the morning!

I know of no normal human being who can wake up, much less answer a case study and pass a demanding essay exam at 7 o’clock in the morning. I wonder why my department set a class heavily inclined on the lecture side, or any class for that matter,  at this time of the day. But this aspect of my argument, justifying my absence due to oversleeping, is irrelevant and immaterial, me being a paid instructor with specific responsibilities, including waking up before a 7-am class; moreover, we’ve already reached the last weeks of the semester so complaining about the 7am schedule is too late at this point.

I imagined my students rejoicing, thanking whichever supernatural being they worship, probably even offering their souls, because their teacher failed to show up on the day of the exam. This has never happened to any of the classes I enrolled in when I was in college, though as a college student I would have given up everything for something as rare a happening as this morning’s incident.

But I have to move on and forgive myself. Because of this, I am rescheduling the 3rd long exam to March 17, 2010, Wednesday in Rm207 at 1:00 in the afternoon.


I was on my way to my 1 o’ clock class this afternoon when I was accosted by one of the senior professors at the Division of Biological Sciences.

Your first name is Ryan, right?

Yes ma’am, John Ryan.

Recabar? We did a survey on the Revitalized GE courses, and you were singled out by some senior students as one of the best teachers of the general education subjects.

(It took me a while to respond, and my response wasn’t that substantive) Ah yeah? Really?

Keep up the good work.

Of course I didn’t want to show her I was overjoyed. I said ‘Thank you’ and excused myself coolly, apologizing I had to hurry up because I was running late. I smiled at her for the last time, not saying anything as if being complimented for my teaching style is a daily occurrence I’ve already gotten tired and sick of, and left.


Another blessing on its way


She was a mother of five who owned a small library for children located beside the highway in Barangay Mambatad, Miagao, Iloilo. I could not forget her because of her library, something that is out of the ordinary in a place that ranks education somewhere below having to earn for a living. I used to join a Catholic organization in college that taught catechism to young boys in that area which we held every Thursday in their house. Back then, I was already questioning the wisdom behind having a lot of children in such impoverished area of Miagao. That time she was already pregnant with her sixth child. Her husband, a utility worker at the Division of Biological Sciences invited our group to that place as he saw the need of the children for the teachings of the Church.

Our group leader, a Public Health professor and a devout Catholic, did not give the mother a lecture on the use of artificial contraceptives to limit the size of their family, which I think is customary once a public health worker and a woman pregnant with her nth child come face to face. Neither was there a passing mention about family planning. I understood the professor’s dilemma. Can one be a faithful Roman Catholic and a pragmatist at the same time. The response, I gather, is in the negative.

I met her again this morning. After a short ‘how-have-yous’ she mentioned that she is pregnant for three months, ‘another blessing is on the way’ to translate what she said in the vernacular. Her seventh child.

I beggar understanding when it comes to issues such as this. When population issue is pitted against faith I am wont to take the side of the former. Not because I do not have faith but because I can see that rationality of limiting one’s family size to allow children to have maximum care and attention from their parents. To quote a friend and a regular reader of this blog who quoted this from someone else ‘not using condom (or contraception in our case) is so third world’. And indeed it is.

While the rest of the Catholic world is progressively combatting the ills mankind has inflicted on itself, the faithful Catholics in the Philippines remain enmeshed in the Medieval Age-like existence.

And I ask, what does ‘another blessing on its way’ mean?