Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Letter to a Troublesome Student


Dear Troublemaker,

Hello there. This is your teacher in Normal Neurology. I only handled your class for roughly four days, for I was just a borrowed faculty, substituting for Mrs. Maggie, who was sick at that time.

I know I’m not even a teacher in your grade level. But I know you remember me.

Do not worry. This isn’t a letter addressed to your parents, a grade notification nor an incident report for a medication error or an unacceptable behavior.

I just want you to know the troubles you caused me--- psychologically.

We first met even before my concept started in your class. In a corridor, our paths crossed and you blurted out excitedly, “Sir, ikaw teacher namin sa Neuro!”

And there it was--- that conceited stance and sly smile that seems to subconsciously seduce an unprepared prey.

But I remained unimpressed. “Oo, ako nga. See you,” I responded dully as I passed you.

However, I secretly anticipated for that day to come.

The next thing I knew, I found myself in front of your class doing my usual comical lecture. I understand that I am not an educator who’s difficult to like. I am young and enthusiastic with what I do, and so that is why like my regular classes, I was liked by your substitute class.

And there you were, in the front row, actively listening and bellowing out uncalled-for comments every time I cracked out a tease. And I was there at the platform, mesmerized by your one-word catchers and your subtle laughter.

And the next few days, I would find you in front of the office a few minutes before our class.

“Sir, hatid na kita,” you would offer.

Sus, nag-abala ka pa. Malaki na ‘ko ‘no!”

Then I would let you lead me while you walk in front of me. I marvel behind you. Your brown hair, your milky white skin and a height complementary to mine.

From time to time, you would wheel back to me and smile.

And then I would melt--- at the attractive mix of your angelic face and that rugged expression, and at your deep set eyes.

This is wrong, I firmly thought to myself, that’s my student.

And then I remember how Jesus fought the devil’s temptation.

And later on I realize. I am no Christ.

So, I told myself, “This is just a crush… Just a crush…”

Four days of my semi-ordeal of having you in my class have finished as abruptly as I remember. And I thought it was over.

Still, I would see you hanging around the corridor.

“Sir, kalian ka babalik? Miss ka na namin…” Then you would give a slight tug on my shoulder, or a huge high five.

And I still would not understand why you have to be so cheerful and touchy when I’m around.

I was thinking--- maybe you were testing me. Maybe you were gauging my ability to inhibit myself from you--- or my capacity to remain true to policies over with what my libido dictates.

And I would tell you. Your schemes were almost working on me.

At night, I would sleep with the image of your face and the lullaby of your voice.

During the day, I would see you waving far from me, or talking close to me as the lyrics, “Why do birds suddenly appear everytime you are near?” kept ringing in my head.

But one moment that almost made me give in was when I was walking alone in the corridor and then suddenly I felt someone nudged me from behind.

I looked back and saw your face an inch away from me.

I gulped as my heart shot to 150 beats per minute.

Then your arms wrapped around my shoulders.

Kumusta ka na, sir?”

Ah… O-okey n-naman…

Sana ikaw nalang teacher namin, sir…”

I looked at you smiling at me again--- that same seductive smile that always almost defeats me. In my mind I wished the same thing. That you would be my student again… Or maybe something more.

I frowned and bowed my head, “eh, hindi ako, eh…

Then we parted at the school gates.

Sadly for me, however, days after that, I no longer saw you that often.

And even if you did, it seemed that you’d ignore me.

I was alarmed at first. Why the sudden change of moods?

Maybe you saw how weak I am. So, you did what you had to do. You stood away to lessen the chance of breaking me.

But can you blame me if I said, I missed you? Especially now that I have to be content of my dreams of you and looking at you from afar?

But finally, I realized that probably, it’s all for the best.

Thank you.



Very Truly Yours,

Senseijery…



PS. However, if you change your mind, just find me. I'm always in the office. =)



Friday, January 23, 2009

The Climbing of Sensei and Yanyan

Look beyond, you said.
Do not settle for an easy way.
For that way you save yourself from tiredness.
But drown yourself in regret.
Of leaving the ripest of all fruits.
On the higher, less safe branches of the tree.

Move on, you said.
Do not irk that I’ve been left behind.
For you said you’d take a step behind.
From time to time.
So, you climb the tree.
While I start sculpting its trunk.

And as you take the ripe apple.
You said nothing more.
Nor even bowed down to see my work.
Nor checked as you promised.
You look at the higher branches.
And then dream of the sweeter fruits.

Now, I’ve carved the tree
To beautiful patterned walls of holes.
The trunk is sturdy no more.
To advance myself to higher branches.
Nor am I fueled as I was.
When you used to urge me on.

I’ll no longer follow you.




Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Convalescence


According to the Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology (as cited by Online Medical Dictionary, 2009), Convalescence is “the stage of recovery following an attack of disease, a surgical operation or an injury.”

It’s the time when you consider yourself free from the illness, but still not that healthy to function well. Huh, talk about being almost there but not quite.

Convalescence is also a time of humble realizations.

Do you remember the times when you woke up and then suddenly realizing you’re skin is cool and moist after a whole night of battling with fever?

Or the time when you feel that your skull has mass inside it again after a day of feeling light-headed?

Or the time when you gradually lose the aching pain of your muscles, without anymore using topical menthol solutions?

Or the time when you started craving for food again after a while of getting nauseated by its mere presence and aroma? And that you can actually swallow solid edible chunks without difficulty?

Or the time when you can finally watch your favorite TV shows and surf the internet without getting your eyes red and burning painful?

Or the time when you try to sit up on bed and no longer feel dizzy after being bedridden for a long time?

Or the time when you told yourself, “It’s time to go back to work--- in a better shape!”

During these times, you also realize that you are strong to win over your ailment--- yet too weak to immediately return to your normal daily activities.

You realize that you are still alive--- but not yet at the fullest extent.

You realize that you are still the master of you--- yet continue to be a slave of circumstances.

You realize how true the wheel of life is. And you realize how humanly imperfect you are.

Yet, you feel happy--- a joy springing from gratefulness that is incomparable to any event that previously happened in your life.

Because when you are clinically healthy, you tend to forget the feeling of being sick. You forget the feeling of suffering physically. You forget the feeling of needing and being treated.

And when you are sick, nothing else in this world matters but the pain and the heat that you are bearing that you tend to forget the feeling of being well.

When you are healthy, you pray for flimsy things--- or at times, nothing at all. But when you are ill, all your prayers are selfishly directed to you, and your recovery.

However, when you’re convalescing, you pray more meekly. You do not ask for anything more--- for now you believe that you’ve needed was given back to you. And all you have to say, is how grateful you are.

I could just imagine God smiling at recovering patient’s prayers and how they exclaim their, “Thank you’s” to Him. I suppose that’s His favorite.

I am convalescing right now--- from a disease I thought was my second case of Dengue Fever following my first one which was six months ago. And still the “thank you” notes are coming out to heaven because it won’t be long until I’m healthy again. I might forget the suffering I just went through.

Convalescence is like being out in the garden, where an episode of hard rains has just ceased.


Don’t you just love the after-smell of raindrops resting on the leaves?





Friday, January 16, 2009

An Eyeball with a Girl in Gray


I hope you understand the meaning of the song… But for a background, this is about a faulty eyeball date of a geeky boy and a pretty girl who used to be text mates and phone pals… They both thought they fell for each other with the words they exchanged over the line. But upon meeting up, a petty disaster happens.

The tone of the song is slightly punk rock under Vanessa-Carlton-like piano accompaniment. Maybe, I’ll let you hear it one of these days. Sorry, this is not poetry. This is a song which needs only flimsy, plain, non-epistaxis-inducing words to fit into the melody, so be nice. =)

This is a semi true story. Some of the details in the song (like the time, place, color of clothes, the words of the girl and the sad feeling of the song) are lifted from real events that transpired.

– For K. Sleek. Don’t worry, no bitterness attached.


………………………………………………………………………………………

An Eyeball with the Girl in Gray

I dress to impress
And I hope for the best
‘Cause I’ll be seeing you for the first time

We used to just talk on the phone
When we’re both alone at home
But now you want to see the face behind my lines

So finally we decided to meet
In a fast food chain across the street
Where I’ll be wearing stripes, and she’ll be wearing gray

So I went to the place at eleven o’clock
Then I sat on a chair and wished for some luck
When this pretty girl went in…
But when she caught my gaze…

The sparkle faded in her eyes
I see that something in her died
The first time that she saw my face

The girl in gray just passed me by
So now I know I’m not her kind
‘Cause now she left me in disgrace

So much for this leap of faith

For the third time in a row
I call her today at home
But she says she ain’t too well to talk to me

And now I realize
I’m not the kind of guy she likes
I have to throw the dreams that we’d ever be

But what about the words you said
And what about the plans we made
What about the promises you gave
I think you threw them all away

You said you felt something different in me
That you didn’t care if I looked like a geek
You said you liked me
You said you loved me
But now I know that words don’t amount to anything

Now, the guy in stripes is walking away
He’s looking for a place to stay
He’s crying ‘cause he lost his hope that love will come his way


But he’s taking all the love he gave
Forgetting all the words she’d say
He’s moving on tomorrow if not today

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Misplaced Waistline


(AN EDITED TRUE STORY LAST SEMESTER)

“Sensei, ‘asan ba talaga waistline mo?” a male co-faculty of mine suddenly blurted out while both of us were waiting for others for lunch.

I was taken aback by his question. My forehead crumpled as I caught him looking at the top of my pants.

Uhmm… Nasa waist?” I replied stupidly.

Alam ko,” he replied sarcastically, “pero hello. Ang taas kaya ng baywang mo. Sobrang tangkad mo, tapos naka-tuck-in ka pa. Halatang-halata tuloy.

I bowed and looked at the line where my one-size-larger old blue collared shirt was overlapped by my slacks.

Pero Melo, mataas talaga waistline ko,” I said in defense as I was tapping the edge of my wider-than-normal android hips. My hip bone is quite prominent and hard that its iliac crest can cause abrasion to any person who gets contact with it.

He put his fingers under his chin while still examining my tucked area, “kung sa bagay. Long legged ka. I-low-waist mo kaya?

“Masyadong mahaba, eh.”

“Oo nga tapos ang luwag kaya ng pantalon mo.”

I looked down and saw my baggy pants. It wasn’t mine. It was my father’s hand-me-downs.

“Eh, sa tatay ko ‘to eh.”

“Eh, bakit mo sinusuot?”
he asked as if challenging.

I just sighed. Here goes Melo again, acting all fashion-police on me.

Well, he had all the right to criticize how I look. He had the looks of some Koreanovela matinee idols. And the way he brings his clothes and struts his stuff would make you think that he’s making the school corridors a fashion runway.

That time he was wearing a fitted light blue collared shirt, which magically accentuated his upper body despite his small beer belly. Over it was also a tight dark blue vest and he had a royal blue necktie on. His black khaki pants were tailored and his shoes were pointy-toed and mirror-like shiny.

Beside him, I seemed like a houseboy.

“Dapat ang slacks mo tailored,” he suggested without letting me answer, “‘yung fitted pababa. And bakit ba lahat ng pants mo ay kulay itim?

I can hear wind_psycho shutting the cash register inside my brain, as if activating my hormones of frugality.

New slacks would cost me to a minimum of four-hundred pesos. That’s enough for my one week commuting allowance--- and my fish cracker fund. Using my father's old stuff can save me from buying new ones. Black slacks decrease laundry efforts for being reusable for another day.

I just kept quiet, but at the back of my mind, I was trashing his ideas.

“…At ‘yang sapatos mo, dapat pointed,” he continued.

I looked further down and saw my four-year-old shoe. I used it since I was college. And its age is manifested by its wrinkles on the middle-dorsal area and the seemingly non-shined skin.

Kaching-kaching! New shoes would cost me at least two-thousand pesos. That’s enough for my two-month food allowance at work. Nope!

And puwede ba, mag-fitted ka naman ng damit,” he added while pointing at my collared shirt, “sayang tuloy ‘yang pinag-gy-gym mo!”

Okay, so I have a lean body. And it’s not like I’m scared to show it through some fitted clothes that I often buy and use for special occasions.

It’s just that as a teacher, I prefer to look as simple adult--- not a whore--- or worse, a kargador.

It’s true that looking good and very professional makes a first impression to whoever you meet. You may get smiles from strangers, comments from acquaintances and even indecent proposals from old geezers.

But I choose to maintain a low profile.

I take challenge of earning the respect of people not because I am handsome or well-dressed, but because I do my job well and produce results, even in the lamest clothing possible.

And besides, if I always bring the best of my wardrobe out in every day of the week, where’s the fun in that? There are always occasions where you can put an extra effort and your best foot forward to surprise people.

I impress people not by with what I put on, but with what I put out.

Judge me with how I look and I won’t mind it.

Judge me with how I work and I’ll hear it out.

Wala akong budget,” I dismissed.

Other faculty members all went out of the office and joined us.

Ang taas ng waistline ni Sensei ‘no?” Melo asked one of them, pointing at my current waistline.

One lady faculty assessed me briefly and shook her head, “hindi naman, ah… Tama lang ‘yan, matangkad kasi siya.”

Hindi! Mataas nga,” agreed one male teacher, “halata pa kasi ang nipis ng belt niya, wala pang buckle.”

And then they exchanged suggestions regarding my allegedly misplaced waistline as if having a debate.

“Alam ko na kung bakit nawawala ang waist ko,” I cried out in the middle of their discussion, silencing them, “gutom na kasi ako. Kain na tayo… Sa mura lang, huh…?”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Defenses and Reflections (Semi Tragic Research Title Defense Part 2)


For any college student, probably one of the highlights of his higher academic life would be his thesis. Any graduate would never forget the big chunk of paper that cost him countless number of hours in the library, sleepless nights and mornings in front of the desktop, big dark circles under eyes, endless word wars and tears between group mates, bouts with cranky advisers and their unrelenting revisions, heated debates with panel members during the climactic defense and thousands of pesos for printing, food and travel expenses.

But the euphoria that comes with the acknowledgment and acceptance is one academic high that you would not exchange for the worth of your publishing expenses. A thesis is truly a scholastic milestone that a student would either resent or treasure--- and either ways, it is never put out of the memory vault.

Just like going to farfetched places to gather data, sorting tables of endless statistical data and facing the defense panel, conceptualizing a research problem is considered to be a process entailing physical and mental demands. Looking for something out of the million concepts you have learned in your lectures out of thin air is a painstaking job. Making ideas and statements interesting and disposing bad ones poses as a starting challenge for the proponent.

I remember one college day wherein my research professor asked us to jot down our proposed titles in a paper for him to approve. Being the overly excited guy that I am, I stretched the limits and rolled out in front of him a yellow pad paper filled with ten proposals for him to scrutinize. After looking at my work briefly, he encircled one title and handed it back to me.

To my horrors, he chose the title I feared he would.

I immediately went back to the teacher’s table and showed him the paper again, “Sir, pero okey naman ‘yung ibang topic?” I asked in slight desperation. I was sure that the items, other the chosen one, are easier to do.

Oo,” he responded nodding, with a smirk on his face. He then pointed the title he encircled recently, “pero ito ang gusto ko.”

My forehead crumpled as I reread the content of the circle.

“Self-Image of Male Leprosy Patients with Long Term Complications in one Leprosarium in NCR”

First and foremost, I hated myself for coming up with such a title to fill the paper just to impress my teacher about me being able to formulate bankable topics. Yes, talking about marginalized people in the society deeply interested me, but I’m not ready for this.

Second, what kind of research methodology will I use for this kind of phenomenon? I was totally clueless of how the study is going to be done.

And lastly, is my professor just nuts or what? People across generations would nod yes when asked if leprosy is an infectious disease--- not to mention it is a debilitating skin disease that has brought oppression among its many victims.

Is he actually considering that I be exposed to this dreaded communicable disease? Is he even thinking that his license might get revoked if I contract leprosy?

A year after however, I, together with my group, did finish one of the few commendable phenomenological research studies in my university--- and remained negative from the mycobacterium laprae strain.

Six months after my successful defense as the research proponent, I once again found myself in research defense sessions--- but as a panel member. Also, I have assisted, advised and gave consultations to undergraduate (Baccalaureate), graduate (Masteral) and postgraduate (Doctorate) research studies.

After my first semester of teaching research in a small college, I was absorbed by a pontifical university, teaching this subject that I’ve learned to love. Even senior colleagues approach me for enlightenment for their respective theses.

To encapsulate this epilogue, I learned--- a lot.

And it is because an educator saw my hunger and curiosity to learn. And he was willing to make a gamble to make me get what I want.

Someone believed that I am better than who I thought I was. And day after day I marveled at the things I achieve to prove him right.

Thank you, sir, for making me your vessel.

Wait when I grow up. I’ll make things right.

I’m almost there, but not quite…








Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Semi Tragic Research Title Defense (Part 1)

I looked at Sensei Jery’s face after our Research Topic Defense was over. His expression was a mix of frustration and regret that ruled--- though he seemed to hide it with a sly smile.

He wasn’t happy with how our title turned out. I could tell.

Neither was I.

I remember how he smiled when he read my proposed title, one semester ago. It was about the life experiences of diabetic patients. I think I got his interests flying.

He eyed me
, “Dagdagan natin. Sabihin natin, ‘diabetic patients with complications.’” Then he chuckled, “Para masaya!”

But I knew he meant to add that because it would make the study more unique and relevant.

True enough, I pursued that topic and read a lot about diabetes. For a sophomore student that I am, I haven’t had any serious major subjects yet. Still, with all of this Medical-Surgical books around me, I found it hard to understand the dreaded disease.

Maybe, I will know what I need. When I do this research.

However, just recently the panel members started asking as lewd questions like, “What is the difference between Type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus? How does it happen? What is the pathophysiology? What are its complications? Do you really know something about your topic?”

I tried to answer, but only superficially based on what the texts told me. My classmates all tried too, but in vain.

Then one member of the panel said, “I don’t think you can do this research because you don’t know anything about it.”

I know I am a neophyte. But she didn’t have to rub it in my face. I have two years more to do this research. I will get to the junior years where I will be study the concepts of the different diseases. I will use the long time that I will have to know about this.

It seemed she crushed the spirit of curiosity that ruled within me when I formulated the question.

Isn’t it the purpose of research to discover things that I do not know?

I looked at Sensei Jery when she said that. He was just standing and looking meekly at us. He was still cracking jokes just to kill the boredom--- just like he always does in class. But he sure did look disappointed.

When his colleague said what she just said to ridicule us, it felt to me that Sensei Jery was insulted. We were after all his students.

But what baffled me more was the next statement.

“I think that for your level, you should choose this other title you proposed. ‘Survey of the Learning Styles of XOXO University
Students’.”

Sensei Jery’s voice echoed in my head. I remembered his words when we asked him about the learning styles topic, “this topic is lame. This can be done by a high school student. But since,
wala na kayong maisip, sige na, okey na.”

And he was right. I did a similar one during my high school days. But since my groupmates got desperate from all the questioning, the majority just took the idea readily.

But I can’t accept that this easy and seemingly unoriginal and non-contributory research topic is better than knowing how debilitated diabetes patients with rare complications battled their disease as they went on with their lives. I don’t know how I’ll be able to put up with this title--- and the thought that I was belittled--- until I graduate.

He was trying to talk it out with the panel members but they asserted themselves. I understood why he kept his hands down. He was a new faculty and they were seniors already.

Just as soon as we were done, and the final words of advice are locked in, Sensei Jery turned around and walked out silently.

And with him, he brought the chances for me to be able to answer the question I posed.

--- Sensei Jery’s Student, after the Research Title Defense

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's Love: from Senseijery's Musical Archives

video

When I was still a choir leader in our college, I encouraged the members to share with me their composed songs. I was just so ecstatic about arranging their songs. It's cute how to see their faces light up when the notes of the piano embrace the lyrics they have penned.

"Its Love," is a song that was written by Mary Blanche, an Alto singer in the said choir. She already had the melody ready. She sought my help so that her song can have an accompaniment.

Being the overly-musically-excited guy that I am, I immediately agreed on the task. We rushed to the school owned organ and while she sang her song, it seemed like the notes came out as I played them.

Using Finale 2003, a musical score writer software, I made a MIDI file of my complete band arrangement for the song. The instruments that I used were Vibraphone, Electric Bass, Tremolo Strings, Flute, Drums, Echoes and Celeste.

Then I gave her the minus one CD, and she proceeded to a recording studio and performed it. It was a gift that she gave during her boyfriend's anniversary. How sweet.

In return, her beau made this video using their pics and the song. How sweet again.

Basically, it's a feel good song--- very poppy and catchy. Usually, my song arrangements are straight and rhythmical unlike this. But of course, I had to make an exception for this song, since the artist's voice has pop inclinations.

But then again, there are people who do not like this kind of music (even I admit that it's not my cup of tea). Some might comment on the mushiness of the lyrics. I suggest that we just applaud her for creating a song. It’s not easy to write one, I should know.

Hope you like her song and my arrangement.

It's Love

Lyrics and Melody by Mary Blanche
Arranged by Senseijery

I don't know where it started
Neither certain when it grew
I just knew there's something
Something strange i feel for you
Now what's on could this be true

CHORUS
Could this be love or just infatuation
I'm so scared of things
Of these things that im not used to
Could this be love or just an admiratio
May just be confused
Just confused of this feelin for you

I dont know what will i do
Will i move or stay the same
I just knew there is something
Something true, thats meant for you
Now whats on, could these be true

CHORUS
Baby it's love
Baby I'm sure, oh I'm sure of this feeling for you

Monday, January 5, 2009

Funny, but Not Sexy

[91]

It’s hard to be overfriendly at times because people may think you’re way too familiar to be dealt with romantically.

-wind_psycho

------------------------------------------------

Sometimes, I really don’t get it.

Previously, I thought that being a guy with a bubbly sense of humor and spontaneity was going to make me attractive.

I thought it was cool to be a comic. Dolphy had been with a countless number girls in his lifetime that ordinary people dream about with jaws dropped and saliva spilling out.

But oh, I remember now, Dolphy is nearing a century old. Comedians are so last Tuesday.

It’s frustrating to find out, that the “in” people nowadays are the rebels and the mysterious ones--- the People with mystical aura hovering around them.

The personalities masked by translucent clouds of dark surprises waiting to be unraveled; the quiet types who pose a challenge for the curious go-getter; and the people with that “I-think-there’s-something-hidden-inside-this-guy-that-makes-him-sexy-in-my-eyes” characteristic are the ones that are fantasized at this popular genre--- no wonder Edward (from Twilight) is such a heartthrob.

Samantalang ako…

“You know, Sensei Jery, you’re so funny talaga… Sana I had a brother like you!”

“I’m so glad that I have a friend to cheer me up like you do…”

Weh… Ang corny na Sensei Jery…”

ARGH! WHEN WILL I EVER BE A HOT ITEM?!



Sunday, January 4, 2009

Open-Mindedness Begets Honesty

The last day of my long Christmas vacation was greeted by a pile of homework papers and requirements waiting to be checked. I know I planned to deal with this take-home job earlier during the season, but again, I procrastinated.

On a positive note, maybe today is the best day for me to check these stacks of papers. The long holiday had an immunizing effect on me. Two weeks of sleeping and waking up late, doodling the computer for non-sense things, going out more than necessary and just chilling to kill time, somewhat made me forget that there is a career that I shall return to by tomorrow.

At least by checking papers at this last day, can prepare me and make me recall that I am, a “Sensei.”

Particularly, the last bunk of bonds thrilled me. It was a special homework I gave to my students.

Earlier, this semester, we discussed about Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development Theory (Sorry, I don’t plan to discuss that here. Just google it if you’re interested). And my requirement was to briefly narrate their respective past life experiences where they can relate the concepts discussed.

It was like a mini-autobiography with a twist of analyzing the events of your life.

I told them that they can present it as creative as they want it. And true enough, their artistic juices flowed all over the different types of parchment that was handed to me. They went from a simple border to pop-ups and scrap book thingies. To my dismay, there were even papers that were glittered to the maximum. How I just hate these shining particles getting stuck to my skin.

The best ones were those filled with their pictures. They were presented as if these photographs alone can already capture their life stories. Actually, my real motive for this project is just to know my students better.

Aside from the grammatical errors that offered me a quick dose of comic relief, I was more taken aback by the utmost transparency that some of them have exemplified in their writings.

The said theory talks about normal maturation, and some of these developmental milestones include what we consider as no-no’s in a morally bound country. For example, masturbation, having imaginary friends, premarital sexual activity, suicidal ideations, temper tantrums, etc. were considered to be normal behavior in certain developmental stages.

And some of my students revealed to me a few of what we may consider as “awkward facts” similar to what was given in the previous paragraph--- secrets that we may only tell to people closest to us, or probably to no one at all.

Then I asked myself, “What did I do to deserve this honesty from them?”

I want to protect my student’s interest so I won’t be telling what they’ve shared in detail. If I have to, I’ll give them at random, paraphrased and nameless.

If you had been a student yourself, I’m sure most of us had teachers telling us, “I’m not just your teacher; I am also your friend. You can share with me all your problems and secrets.”

But how many of us, if I may ask, have actually approached them and sought their help?

Not many, I suppose.

And if we did so, to whom did we share our bad and lonely experiences?

Would it be to the teacher who makes you stay standing, facing the east wall if you were not able to answer her question? Who brought you to the prefect’s office for wetting your pants? Who shouts at pupils who brought mongol #1 instead of #2 for their exams? Who called you, “bingi or tanga,” just because you asked her to repeat the instructions? Who criticized every mark and line of your inappropriate facial expression? Who tends to verbally or even physically abuse and demean just to instill what they would call, “discipline”?

Apparently not.

But then again, if you do find an amicable and friendly teacher you suppose you can entrust your feelings to, would you be able to share that you lied to or stole from your parents? Or tell her how you bullied your classmate and cut classes? Or disclose that you are starving yourself too much, and think you have an eating disorder? Or worse, reveal that you are frequently watching porn at home? Or even worse, say you are a drunkard and had been trying drugs before?

Still, I guess not.

I’ve avoided becoming that teacher I exemplified three paragraphs ago. I promised to become more like an older brother who cared for my students. And remarkably, I think I succeeded. Because definitely, those things that they have shared in their passed written works (similar to the examples I gave in the previous long paragraph, but not exact, again to protect their trust) are not some petty things that can be just told to anyone.

I don’t know exactly what made these students think that I could be trusted with these dark secrets.

Probably, it’s because I’m not the teacher who thinks that all students are brats that needed spanking; or the teacher who immediately reprimands when a mistake has been done and bases policies and punishments on a handbook without hearing the other side of the story.

Good thing I learned to listen--- at a level wherein I am not someone of authority over them, but as a friendly stranger, who knows that sins happen and are forgiven--- and that errors are not subject for human criticism.

Touched? Heck, I am.

And boy, am I ready to go back to class tomorrow.




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[104]

Open-mindedness begets honesty.

And honesty, as we all know, begets trust and love.

-wind_psycho


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dermatological Agony

“You will be my project,” my colleague, who also happens to be a licensed dermatologist, told me during one of our workdays (we were even in the classroom with students, if I remember it well).

And there was this utmost sincerity and conviction in her voice that actually thrilled me. Here is an expert in making people beautiful pledging to make me more pleasing.

Well, it’s not that I look unpleasing. Some people even think that I have physical qualities of a fine, young gentleman (yeah, right). It’s just that there are imperfections in my body and the way I carry it that prevents me to be called “handsome,” or “hot" (tsk, tsk).

True enough, Doctora texted me and asked when I could visit her in her clinic and discuss options on how I could improve my skin’s well-being.

I was reluctant at first, since I’ve heard how much time and money dermatological services takes, and then I asked my Mom what she thought. And she was ecstatic about it.

When I was still the young ugly duckling, with an acne-covered-rough-as-a-rubber face, she would do anything with her power to drown me to oblivious skin care regimens. Sure, she introduced me to sane pharmacologic topical like facial wash and eskinol, but she did also submerge my face into natural elements like fruits and veggies (kalamansi, papaya, mango, cucumber), and even egg whites.

Well, I do have to thank my mother for that because I look better now. And so does she, for she definitely looks young for her age.

She did also suggest that I consult facial care centers for my skin problems before. But I always reasoned that I’ve got no time, or that it’s too costly (even though she promised to pay for the expenses) and my most favorite reason of all, “there are much more important things than vanity.”

But when you’re twenty-two and still single, maybe being a little vain won’t hurt. Besides, my job requires us to stand in front of people. So, it would help to catch the viewer’s attention by looking good. Plus, my Mom thought I could be a good marketing hand for Doctora’s services (Huh, I could just imagine bringing my before-and-after pictures).

So, at five o’clock pm today, I found myself at the derma clinic.

Doctora approached me and asked, “So, Sensei Jery, ano’ng gusto mo? Facial?”

I was dumfounded at first. Dermatology was a medical science I never really study. What services could I actually know of aside from a facial--- and the ever popular glutathione?

Then I managed to speak, meekly, “huh? Ikaw, ano ba’ng mai-sa-suggest mo, according your assessment of me?”

“Well, for starters, you can have a facial,” she replied, “then a diamond peel.”

“Diamond peel…” I repeated. Yeah, I’ve heard that somewhere before. But my dumb imagination of that was making the face shine like a diamond.

“What we do there is that we scrape off dead skin--- usually the first and most superficial layer of the face,” she explained.

“Oh,” I moaned in understanding.

I immediately thought how hard it would be for them to do that for me. I mean, I could swear that my face can be equated to a cemetery of deceased epithelial cells. Not that I don’t do anything about it. I do use the usual trio--- facial wash, toner and cream. But my skin was genetically rubberized.

“So, uhmm… Magkano kaya ‘yon,” I blurted out. My frugality is at it again. If it’s going to reach four digits, I’m walking.

“Two hundred for the facial, one thousand ‘pag may diamond peel.”

Sige, facial na lang,” I immediately answered. Huh, I’m so kuripot.

While waiting for a vacant service bed, I asked about intravenous glutathione. The price was heavy, but when she told me how fast it really was in whitening dark people, I was quite convinced to take it. But then again, I was painstakingly battling out the discounted prices.

My skin falls darker than the usual Moreno. And being picked on for my skin color for the whole of my childhood has heightened my wanting to get a fairer complexion. Talk about racism.

But today, I’m sticking with the facial--- though I’m not sure what it does. I just don’t want to put this visit to waste.

Finally, when I got a spot, I positioned myself on the bed (we had to adjust because I was taller than the usual customers).

Then this lady started pouring this lubricant-like liquid on my face and spread it, while massaging the whole area. It was ticklish at first.

After that there was this steam machine that was placed over my face. There started my first agony. The fine, hot mist was impairing my breathing.

“Relax ka lang,” the lady said. Then she left me alone, under the steam for ten minutes or so. The whole time I was hyperventilating and thinking of the most ill-sounding words to describe this literally breathtaking experience in this blog. But to no avail--- my brain wasn’t receiving enough oxygen.

In the middle of my pain, Doctora whispered to me, “mag-Diamond Peel ka na. I-offer sa’yo ni Ma’am ng five hundred lahat.”

I just nodded. What else was I to say?

I gasped for air when the steam machine was put away and the mask was put on my face. But my relief didn’t last long. The diamond peel was next.

I saw a male customer who just received the treatment beside me. His face was red as a tomato--- and slightly distorted due to a peculiar facial expression, as if stretching his pain threshold.

Mamumula ba mukha ko?” I curiously asked.

Oo, papupulahin natin ‘yan,” Doctora replied in a sing-song voice.

“Kasi hindi ako namumula, eh. Nangingitim siguro,” I joked, “kaya nga ang sarap mag-blush. Hindi nahahalata.”

Then everyone burst into laughter.

Later on I wished I did not crack that joke.

The manager was the one who gave me the diamond peel treatment. I was told that at the end of the pen-like device connected to a machine were made of small diamonds that would abrade the skin and remove the outermost layer.

Sabihin mo kung masakit, huh?” she advised.

When the end of the pen made contact to my skin, I felt a sharp sucking sensation that was far from pleasant. It was painful. The pen went down on me for countless of times--- and for each time, it felt like my face was torn and shredded into pieces.

And I wasn’t planning on whining. That would be a sign of ingratitude for the discount I received.

The face-wrecking experience lasted for ten minutes. In the middle of it, the manager even changed the end of the pen to a more piercing one, to my dismay.

Ano, masakit?” she inquired.

I managed to smile, “okay lang ma’am. Masokista naman ako, eh.” It was a wonder how I kept my face straight throughout the procedure.

They gave me a mirror so I could look at my face while the diamond peel was going on--- and to my surprise, my whole face was red. There were whitish substances spread about. I decided that they were the “dead cells.”

The after-feel of the painful strikes of the pen is still with me as I write this entry now.

After the treatment, I gave the payment. I chatted with the Manager and Doctora for a while about their regimen plans for me. It seemed that I posed a challenge for them. Then I waved goodbye.

As I was heading home, I thought how wrong I was for belittling the jobs of vanity. I always thought that models, unless I knew them personally, are empty-headed brats who only cared about how they looked and always thought that they are superior and classier than everyone else.

I presumed that getting into the ramp and photo shoot world was easy as long as you were blessed with good genes. I disapprove myself now.

If they take these treatments in a regular basis, then I would say that just like any profession, these people are bearing physical sacrifices as well.

And when I got home, all they said was, “naging pula lang mukha mo.

[103]

Any pursuit entails pain, and any pain deserves recognition. –wind_psycho

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Speaking of wind_psycho, I think I’ve made him happy today. I just got a haircut earlier before going to the aforementioned clinic.

The barber’s service was twenty-five pesos only. I gave a five peso tip.

Haha, talk about frugality.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Experiences of a Dumb Pianist

I finished my tiresome workout at past five o’clock today. It was tiresome not because I lifted heavier weights than necessary, but because of the internal effort I exerted not to blow up due to the never-ending irritating antics of some gym goers (Tell you all about it later).

As I came out of the gym, I was greeted by the sound of a live piano. Finally, after two hours of only hearing myself mumbling curses as I did some sweat work, I get to hear something more melodious.

I followed the trail laid by the music and at the end found myself at the atrium of the mall where I was. Surrounded by approximately forty heads in the audience was a black Yamaha piano, mounted on a comma-shaped platform.

And of course there was a pianist.

Being the tall man that I am, I could already see the act even with all the people in front of me; but now, there’s just no way for me to let this new opportunity of learning to pass. So, I swung my way the most proximate location I could, pretending to be clueless that my humungous back is already blocking the view of other people. I curiously watched as a periodically checked my cellphone and wallet in my back pockets.

Yes, I am a struggling and frustrated piano enthusiast, and I have been since I was two, when my parents bought me a small battery operated piano (whatever happened to that piano) and played my first right-handed piece, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Since then my fascination of the ebony and ivory colored keys turned into a passion. By sixth grade, I demanded that I be given a better organ to start learning. And as years progressed, I grew out of the level that this organ was for. So, my cousin donated her much better synthesizer when I got to junior high.

And now that I am working, I finally bought myself a decent digital piano--- just this November 2008. Ah… What a way to waste the savings for all that I have earned from the first semester of teaching.

Until now, I refuse to call myself a good pianist, because of the following reasons: (1) I suck at reading notes. I only got to read better because I had a choir organization during the latter years of college; (2) I never had a performance that was flawless from mistakes, and the said mistakes ranges from playing the wrong keys to losing the synthesizer’s power supply in the middle of the act, and; (3) I never really had formal lessons. I was supposed to for so many times, but something comes up like changing the schedule, or the teacher going abroad. It seems I was jinxed.

I was one of the people who played by ear. At the start I only used one hand for playing. But when I started learning chords through a jingle magazine, I was also able to put my left hand to good use.

Now, back to the atrium. There I was, standing with the pianist’s back in front of me and the keys facing my direction. This is another way that I learn best. Widow musicians like me call this technique as, “NAKAW.” We steal the notes, the chords and the style of a better performer. So, I could say that I am a blender, mixing all the performances that I have seen and heard, and applying them in unison when I play.

But the whole time, I was just dumbfounded. I cringed every time he did adlibs (And the people around me looked at me every time I did that… Take about acting sane in public). Some of his techniques were already familiar to me. But still most of what he did was new to me, so I tried it immediately when I got home (but to no avail, yet).

And he was really gifted, I must say. It seemed like he knew everything that was requested of him. A few of what was played were the “Theme from the Godfather,” “The Gift,” “Ikaw,” and “Knocks Me Off My Feet.” The others were erratically hard jazz pieces (I believe that Jazz is the toughest genre to follow).

The pianist was wearing this semi-formal, semi-rugged look. He was wearing a black coat over a blue checkered polo, jeans and chucks. There were times that he would look back at us in between performances to hear requests.

I decided that he looks like a vampire. But definitely not like those from “Twilight.” He looked like the usual mythical “Bampira,” that we fear (sorry, just keeping it real).. Someone even requested for “Bella’s Lullaby.” But he didn’t know that.

One of my dreams is to play piano in front of people and not make a fool out of myself, and I still haven’t achieved that. Some of the most embarrassing moments in my life happened with me behind black and white keys.

For instance, I was supposed to play and sing the graduation song I wrote for our batch in the auditorium in front of the student body. After the intro in the piano, the adaptor sparked--- a spark heard by all. And the silent buzzing began.

For a second there I was awestruck, then I regained myself and the power supply, “ah, okay… One more time…” I mumbled over the microphone. To my relief, they still cried over the song after I did it.

Another funnier instance… This happened when I was playing organ in a Eucharistic celebration. I was planning to redeem myself from the wrong keys I played in the previous mass songs by this last recessional song.

The commentator was thanking the mass celebrant after the communion, “In behalf of our community, we would like to extend our gratitude to Fr. So and so…”

And then everybody claps for Father.

And the dumb pianist (me) suddenly starts hitting the notes for the intro of “I Will Sing Forever.” I did it lively thinking, I have to make this recessional song an unforgettable one!

To my surprise, almost everyone in the chapel shot disapproving looks at me. And the mass-goers nearest to me were mouthing to me.

WALA PANG FINAL BLESSING NG PARI!”

Talk about unforgettable--- seeing all those faces fighting laughter. I had to stop in the middle of the song and repeat after everyone responded, “Thanks be to God.”

The most mortifying part was when the Ministry people spoke into the microphone after the mass. “We would like to thank Ms. So and so for being the commentator… And Mr. Sensei Jery for playing the organ!”

And everyone burst into loud applause and hooting. I could melt in my spot right then and there. I think I even screamed, “NO!”

To end this long story, I would just share this:

Kris Aquino, in her morning program, cited a book saying that the secret to success in any profession is 10,000 hours of practice.

And probably, I'm almost there, but not quite...

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PS.

Despite the pianist looking like a non-Twighlight-type of vampire, it was a surprise that after the act, a beautiful lady, who may actually pass being a “Twilight Vampire,” was waiting for him as he alighted from the platform. I assumed she was his girlfriend when she whispered to him, “ano, uwi na tayo?”

Makes me think... Talented people really attract the cute ones…

TIME TO FINISH THOSE 10,000 HOURS! HAHAHAH!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Strategic Planning for 2009

Company Name: SENSEI JERY


Vision: In 2010, Sensei Jery envisions himself as an improved entity of physical health, psychological intactness, emotional maturity, intellectual greatness, sexual potency (yeah, I just wish), social relevance, cultural competence, financial stability, educational-pedagogical prowess, artistic inspiration, musical ingenuity and spiritual motivation.


(wait a minute... I have to blow all these blood coming out of my nares...)


Mission: Sensei Jery, with the cooperation of his alter ego, wind_psycho, aims to provide:


  • Quality nursing care for the sick (but only in times of deemed necessity);

  • Fruitful educational experiences for students (yeah... and I have a huge bunk of papers beside me waiting to be checked);

  • Assitance and consultation for research studies of nursing and social sciences (so if you know anyone, kindly refer them to me...);

  • Amateur musical services (hopefully not for free anymore. But I do accept non-cash goods like food, water--- or heck, just thank me, okay?);

  • Amateur prose and creative works (which I intend to just post in this blog anyway);

  • Love for all (in different levels. I just hope that I'd be able to dole out the romantic level for someone this year).

Goal: By the end of the year 2009, Sensei Jery will achieve an improved holistic well-being.



Objectives:


  1. Maintain physical health and fitness by engaging in healthy lifestyle, regular exercises at home and at the gym. This includes avoiding BreadPan green variant, Krowpek, Tempura, Chicken skin and other foods with nutritional densities equating to saltwater and cooking oil. This has to be manifested by a leaner body (more defined chest and tummy, bulkier arms and legs) and lesser than the usual trips to medical institutions.

  2. Improve physical appearance. My buddy wind_psycho is requesting that I do get a new haircut. Change my wardrobe from the usual non-fitting collared shirts and baggy black slacks to--- well, something that won't get me hunted by the fashion police. Find where my waistline really is. Visit an expert (i.e., a dermatologist, like my co-faculty) to consult about skin enhancement (ugh, scary)...

  3. Be more sane. Prevent talking to wind_psycho when there are people around. Stop acting out prose ideas in the middle of the bus ride. Only talk about things that exists in reality. Never consider suicidal ideations. Never separate wind_psycho as a different entity; that might be considered as a sign of multiple personality.

  4. Work on my superpowers. Now that's contradictory to the previous one. But what the heck? There's nothing wrong about believing you're larger than life. Practice making mini-whirlwinds and hurricanes and reading peoples minds--- and oh, telekinesis.

  5. Use emotions appropriate for the situation. Avoid cracking jokes in the middle of a meeting. Stop laughing when discussing gorey topics like research. Prevent making comic reliefs out of petty tragedies, like tripping or farting. Remember that humor is not the only way to make one interesting to others. In summary, act serious in a serious scene so that I can be taken seriously.

  6. Add more exciting traits in my personality, like patience, perseverance, fortitude, autonomy, zeal, temperance. AND WATCH MY MOUTH so I don't become controversial.

  7. Cry. It's been a while since I last cried due to an acceptable reason.

  8. Act Mature--- or at least pretend to be. When you are a teacher and your students' ages are just a few steps behind you, it sometimes is hard to impose authority. And having colleagues who are mountains ahead of you in terms of experience, you always get picked on. Enjoy youth, but do not overdo, especially in the workplace.

  9. Finish my master's studies. Take the comprehensive exam during the summer classes, and then immediately start thesis writing after. Have the proposal defense on July and stage the final defense before October sets in. I hope I'll be able to do it.

  10. Read, study and comprehend. This goes for textbooks. It's a big no-no to come to class with your students knowing ahead of you. Also reading fiction books is a must if I want to get back to prose writing.

  11. Manage time and never be late. Wake up with the alarm clock and avoid using the snooze button. That way making up lies about being late can be avoided as well. Be aware that the LRT will forever be malfunctioning. Don't always reason out that you are busy because of work. No play makes Sensei Jery a dull boy, and wind_psycho a bored alter ego.

  12. Be more sexually attractive. Period.

  13. Be more interesting to potential seekers--- and actually respond to them when they make a move. Expose self to opportunities of love. Smile when they stare at you. Approach when asked. And never, ever freak out when they come closer. Scratch this objective when I achieve the next one.

  14. Find someone.

  15. Stay away from dirty websites. And avoid activities I usually engage in during and after I visit them (I don't think I need to elaborate any further).

  16. Be aware that it's pay back time for family. Stop whining when parents ask money for sibbling's tuition, the house caretaker, the broken tire, the food for the week, the abuloy for the funeral, the electric bills, the water bills, the monthly payment for appliances, medical bills--- okay stop. I'm whining already. Spend more time with them than of work and put God in the center of our lives.

  17. Never forget friends. Hang out with them. And actually spend money for them.

  18. Cherish true friends and still keep, but keep distance from the non-true and insensitive ones. Do not make more of the second type of friends.

  19. Give up on the government. Wait, scratch that. I already did that three years ago.

  20. Be more patient in waiting for world peace. It's hard to be persistent, when we're standing at a distance... So, we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change.

  21. Care for the environment. Avoid farting in public places (not that often fart anywhere, I just have to avoid it if I can). Be less of a slob that I am now. Start my environmental campaign in my own room.

  22. Learn how to blend in a crowd having a culture of "gorey seriousness." I have no problems with hanging out with fun people, as long as they don't overpower my humor that much. It's just that I should also I should learn how to mingle well with serious people.

  23. Earn more money without losing time for myself. It's okay to take sidejobs, but at times these rackets eat most of my time. Learn to choose what to accept and learn to say no.

  24. Avoid frugality. I'm not the kind of person who spends his money on himself. In a year, I only buy myself three shirts and a pair of pants. And I hate treating anyone for lunch or dinner. I don't know, I think I'm just too overprotective of money. Probably, I should change that. The more you give, (the less you save) the more you receive.

  25. Improve teaching strategies and relationships with students. Treat teaching as a lifetime noble career. Enhance teaching styles. Maintain friendly relationships with students but avoid overfamiliarity with them. They tend to feed on the teacher's kind nature by abusing it for their benefit.

  26. Stay away from troubled students especially the one who always seems to tease/seduce me in a way (tell you about that student later).

  27. Finish a novel. I'm working on one right now. I hope I could finish it despite my busy schedule.

  28. Fill up this blog and have people actually read it. As a starter, I feel excited on the things I would write (obvious ba?). Make it an avenue for my thoughts and previously unpublished works.

  29. Make music that would matter. Write more materials and pass them to recording companies. Be more aggressive in pursuing a career in composition and arrangement as a sideline. Or maybe use this blog to publish my music.

  30. Find more connections to make any technical or artistic work that I have be known to many and hopefully touch their lives--- and be touched back by these connections.

  31. Be closer to GOD. Pray more frequently for guide, both in the presence and absence of trial. Put HIM in the center of my life. Regularly attend mass. Offer musical talents for eucharistic celebrations.

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According to a report in TV patrol, if you put your 2009 wishlist in a yellow paper and then burn it come 12:00 midnight of January 01, 2009, the items in the list will come true. So, I put all the items in this strategic planning guide in the wishlist and did what was told.


Making a strategic plan is one of the things I learned during our Master's class in Basic Management. I can't believe it's helping me now to arrange things for this year. =)