Direct Instruction vs Inquiry Learning

Adding a Voice on the National Language Debate

The Department of Education of the Philippines is right. English as a blanket medium of instruction for the elementary years is not acceptable. And to this, I add the views contained in this article. English should be offered and is therefore an option for those who are interested in the fields that would require them to be good in this language.

Language instruction in the classroom is not automatic. How a language is taught should be deliberate. There should be a desire to teach the language using the content areas for example. The mindset of students learning English just because the teacher is fluent in it is hard to support. Learning a language is much more complicated than that. The factor of home, culture, society, and media should also be taken into consideration.

And given the situation of the Philippines, where English is the language of the few and the privileged, millions of pesos are wasted in forcing english in the public school system.

A Postmodern Reading of “Gone Girl”

I have always been fascinated with postmodernism.  I have no real grasps of what it is having gone to school before it became a by-word.  I only have my own to rely upon to spare some time reading up on it and defining it.  This is why I welcome this new movie, ” Gone Girl”, and particularly this review as it is an application of postmodernist ideas and terms on something tangible.

No Lib

No Michael, please do not. It is just how we Filipinos are. We are at times so “Christ-like” [a nation of saints as Pope Francis reportedly said to Card. Chito T.] to the point that we are able to live in contradictions often forgetful and forgetting that the Jesus on the Cross and at the Temple were one and the same–the only difference, perhaps we have failed to realize, was the kind of persons our Lord encountered in the two events.

Even Father Thomas Green,SJ wondered how we can have images of the Christ on our jeepneys side by side with images of nudity. And yet he (a Buffalo, New York boy!) stayed in the Philippines and the Ateneo, living in the same room at the San Jose Seminary for, I do not remember now, how many decades.

I wish I can ask him now why he stayed, how this deeply spiritual man, this saint of our times, was able to take it all in. He was even the retreat guide of our much-maligned former Pres. GMA when she was discerning whether or not to run for vice president.

But, I think I know the answer. It lied in his view of God, our God. He is the Lord of History (as described by Rizal [an Atenean!] in the last chapter of El Fili, (which Fr. Schumacher, SJ in one of his “making of the nation” essays suggested that Filipinos of Rizal’s time were not able to read before our people’s 1896 Revolution was launched). This was the Lord that fr. green alluded to, again and again, in his sermons, his writings, his classes (even in Philo of language and science!) and his conversations: always personal, always caring, always fatherly, always keeping us, His People, in His Heart.

Last year I’ve heard you speak in the Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium symposium and i said to myself, the Ateneo and its students are lucky to have this teacher (and Leland dela Cruz, too) among its faculty ranks. i haven’t met you in person but you may be the Ferriols, the Lahiff, the Leonard of this generation of Ateneans albeit, deceivingly, in a laity’s garb.

Note: My heavily edited response to Ateneo de Manila’s Theology teacher who was scandalized by the school’s inviting and welcoming Imelda Marcos in one of its activities.

Sa Iyo at sa Inyo

Hindi ko hinahangad ang kapayapaang itong
Pilit na ipinapalamon sa akin.
Nasusulasok akong tila baga mawawalan
Ng hiningang bumubuhay
Malayo sa mga tunay kong iniibig

Sila yaong hinuhubdan ko ng piring sa kanilang mga mata
Sila yaong ang mga busal sa bibig ay aking, unti-unti, tinatanggal.
Sila yaong an gapos sa mga bisig ay pilit kong kinakalag.

Wala na ‘kong ibang ninanasa sa ngayon kung hindi ito
Matapos dagitin ng tadhana mula sa aking mga kamayang isang pangarap
Dinurog at dinudurog niyon ang puso ko
Nadudurog na naman ito ngayon.

Huwad, hungkag ang kapayapaang ito
Ang paghuhusgang pinagmulan ay huwad at hungkag din.
Tulad ng mga eskaparateng pula na tila bato ngunit papel
Walang konteksto, walang dialogo bunga pa man din
Ng pagnanais na magmahal.

Para kay Meriam na kasama kong sumusulat at Marichelle
July 2014 Fullhouse, Kamias

Henry Sy

Ano ang pangarap mo, Henry Sy?

Pauwi ako sa aking ina nang mabalitaan ko.

Darating ka na raw at dala-dala mo ang laswa

ng iyong panimdim

Upang yurakan ang mga palayan ng aking bayan.


Bakit ka dadalhin sa aking lupain?

Ikaw ang batayang huwad na pag-unlad

Sa iyong hugis karong kahon

Sementong walang damdamin wala ipinag-iba sa

Nasusunog na aspalto


Tatarakan ng dala mong punyal ang sinapupunan ng aking ina

Yuyurakan mo ang posibilidad na siya’y patuloy

Na magsupling at maglaan.

Heartfelt Presence: A Reflection

God’s Grandeur

Two annual events in Xavier School-San Juan have just been concluded yesterday, the ECA fair and the Mass of the Holy Spirit which is dubbed as the #RedMass. And looking back, I can’t help but be amazed at the vibrant electrifying energy that was quite palpable in both events (and the faculty summer sports fest last May, if i remember the emotions quite well).

There is something about the start of this new school year that reminds me of this poem of English Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins about the grandeur of God. Perhaps (or since I am a Catholic, I am certain!) it is indeed the presence of the Holy Spirit, Him who continually broods us with warm breast and covers us with such bright wings, always refreshing and inspiring us to aspire and do greater things, the things that are of above.

I am posting this now for me to remember this consolation as I, with my academic community, tread further into the year and maybe become forgetful and unfeeling because our feet are shod and our hearts smeared with our normal everyday toil.

I am a Pensionado Descendant (And Proud of It!)

I do not know how many of my fellow Filipinos are familiar with, nor care about the Pensionado Program of the American Government early in their occupation and colonization of the Philippines. But it turned out that I am a great grandnephew of one of them, Hipolito Hernando, who left for the US in 1904.

Here I am with a fellow descendant Mr. Mario E. Orosa, who is as old and still as productive and strong as my civil and geodetic engineer father, James Pichay Hernando. Mr. Orosa, now a proud retiree, is on vacation from the US so we decided to meet over dinner, the bill of which he footed!

I may have learned nothing new about Lolo-Uncle-sa-Tuhod Hipolito except what I have gathered before from sir Mario E. Orosa’ essay, the Pensionado Story on his website,

Hipolito Hernando (Ilocos Norte), Cincinnati Technical School (High School), Iowa State University (College)

and from my dad: he became a civil engineer, he was the youngest of four boys (and two girls), lived in either Marilao or Mecauayan, Bulacan, may have gotten married young, had only one daughter (and a male grandchild) and died even before the war.

but knowing part of ones origin to a hundred years back is actually liberating!Image

Grade 4 – St. John (1983-84)

I think I am not wrong in saying that it was a significant year for most of us. My classmates, almost all of whom are on facebook now expect for maybe Gaudelia Escuadro, Carmina Sarmiento, and the one most important to me, R.M., can easily correct me by maybe writing down their own memories, but, it is just how I remember that year. Something was afoot. It was, looking back now, something great, something momentous was happening or was about to happen. I ask myself, as others may also ask, on what am I basing this assumption. Is this not just a case of confirmation bias? Maybe so, but you know what I am basing this on? Memory. Not just mine, but my classmates too. We are all in our 40s now. Some may deny it, but I want to grow old gracefully so I am not. And given this age, we have or, at least, I have, the most memories of that year. Like, given a lifetime, one looks back and see clouds and the general feeling of nostalgia and among those clouds, there are faces, events, and feelings that are so concrete, one can just hold them? That is school year 1983-1984 for me.

Christmas Party (December 1983) c Philip John Perez

Christmas Party (December 1983) c Philip John Perez

Maybe it helped that Ninoy Aquino was assassinated on August of that year. That event was historically important to the Philippines.  And us, who are martial law babies, were just transformed. Look at our class picture just four months after the assassination.  We are already flashing the “Laban” sign of the opposition. I am sure that we did not understand what was happening, except that something bad had been. Things just mothballed after that because less than three years after, when we were about to graduate from Grade 6, the People Power Revolution happened.

“Engkantado” by Domingo G. Landicho: Not that Enchanting

Engkantado Front Cover          I have been on the look out for a work of fiction that is substantial in length, written in Filipino and appropriate for my Grades 7-9 students. I was thinking of something similar to the excitement that a “Trese” can generate but in prose form.  For the past three years or so, I have failed in my quest to find a book of perfect fit.  It is for this reason that learning about the existence of this children’s or young adult’s book by an author that I admire while browsing at a National Bookstore branch caused me more than great elation.
          It took me several more months before I got to buy the book albeit at a Fullybooked outlet. It was easy enough to read.  I imagined myself in the shoes of a thirteen year old kid and found the following to rave about: The sentences are short enough, and the language, while containing archaic Filipino words, is easy enough to understand by merely using context clues. Filipino values, as envisioned and interpreted to be demanded by PAASCU, are sprinkled in many a page.
          What I cannot get over with is the story itself and how it is told. To say it is simplistic is being too kind. Inane may be able to capture what I feel about the entire thing and how I was robbed of almost 300 bucks and potentially my students had I not read it first. The plot is so full of holes that I became conscious of the times when I do eye-rolling and face palms. This is magical realism and post-modernism forced on the page and lazily done.  I believe Sir Domeng is capable of much more.