Posts Tagged ‘school’

best tricks with favorite things

I spent a couple of hours at Starbucks (Yupangco Makati branch) waiting for my sister to finish lunch with friends. It was her last day in Manila; I was to take her to the airport in the late afternoon so she could catch a flight back to Dubai, where she has been based for the past ten years.

I had some of my favorite things with me to pass the time productively.

The coffee is a Double Tall Dark Cherry Mocha nonfat, no whip, one Splenda. (“Are you sure you still want the Splenda, ma’am? The syrup is very sweet…” I always add one Splenda when I take an extra espresso shot.) The caffeine jolt is necessary to jump-start my brain.

The book is the ninth edition of Theories of Human Communication by Stephen Littlejohn and Karen Foss. It is one of the bibles of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. It explains around 126 theories, give or take a few. I read and re-read chapters when I have free time.

The mobile phone is a year-old Nokia 5310 XpressMusic. They didn’t have the pink one when I got this one, which I would have bought for the color. I prefer skinny candy-bar phones, which I can easily hold in one hand for texting. I dislike clamshell and slider types, because the more moving parts there are in a gadget, the more parts there are that are likely to break.

The fountain pens are my daily road warriors. Lacking a proper pen case that can accommodate the six or eight pens that I rotate on a monthly basis, I use a plastic Waterman case that the red Hemisphere came in. Yes, I know, it’s not the best thing for the pens, they’ll scratch each other, but it’s only temporary, I promise.

The purple leather two-pen case is a Christmas gift from my friend Leigh.It’s adorable, just as she is.

Armed with these things and in between downing gulps of coffee, I wrote entries in my ”communication diary”, a large Scribe (Moleskine knock-off) notebook covered with olive silk. The diary is homework for our Communication Research 201 class with Dr. Joey Lacson and must be entirely handwritten. I used a different pen for each entry, so the words pop off the pages in a whirl of colorful inks – Private Reserve Naples Blue, Caran d’Ache Sunset, J. Herbin Cyclamen Rose, Pilot Iroshizuku asa-gao (morning glory blue).

I also texted the entire Board of Directors of the company I work for, telling them that it was a year since they hired me and thanking them for giving me the opportunity to work with them. After that I cleared my messages and deleted unnecessary files, freeing up valuable storage space for data.

I snapped photos of my pens using my mobile phone camera to use as my phone screen wallpaper.

From time to time I would jot down meetings and other reminders in my planner, while at the same time listening to too-loud conversations of other patrons rather than tuning them out. It’s not eavesdropping because they are talking loud enough for others to hear. As a communication student, it’s one way of observing communication behavior in the field.

One young woman, a self-proclaimed frequent traveler, complained to her friend in the colegiala accent of privileged female private Catholic high school students about losing her baggage on a flight to Paris. “It was the first time, and I never though such a thing would happen to me,” she said. “Don’t take anything for granted.”

At another table, an elderly man sitting with eight friends was telling them about a recent golf tournament he played in. “I played eight holes then almost collapsed,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling ill or anything. It just shows that anything can happen, even the least expected.”

My two hours at the coffee shop were well-spent. I completed several important tasks, relaxed in soothing surroundings, and was reminded by others of an important bit of wisdom – “Never take anything for granted.”

Multi-tasking with things that are chosen carefully with functionality foremost in mind helps you be more productive. Find out what things work best for you given your own particular way of doing things. What’s good for someone else might not be what’s right for you.

Once you’ve found out what kind of tools you’re comfortable with and make you more effective, stick with them, while still keeping an open mind on new things. It’s not a case of old dog, old tricks, but rather old dog, best tricks.

When my sister texted that her lunch was over and she was on her way to meet me, I packed up my favorite things, drained my coffee cup, and walked out the door with a sense of accomplishment. Now that felt good.

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back to school

Geek that I am (and proud of it), I trekked back to the University of the Philippines’ Diliman Campus last Tuesday to enroll in the PhD Communication program at my alma mater, the College of Mass Communication.

The tree-lined avenue leading to Palma Hall is as beautiful as ever. This was what struck me about UP-Diliman the first time I stepped on campus 24 years ago, to take the undergrad admission exam. Being a born-and-bred Manila girl, I had never seen anything like it before.


Also familiar from two decades ago is this enrollment scene – dozens of students waiting in line to pay. In fairness, it took much faster this time. Back then, you needed an entire day to enroll. With the system now partly, if not entirely, computerized, it took me only three hours this time.

At the Ateneo Graduate School of Business? Forty-five minutes, when I was taking my MBA three years ago. De La Salle University, where my eldest, Alex, is a freshman? An hour. But then again, AGSB and DLSU are private schools with top-class facilities; UP is a state-run university on a perpetually tight budget. It makes up for the long lines and bureaucratic procedures by possessing a keen intellectual edge that it imparts to its students.

Since my master’s degree was in a different field, I have to take two remedial masteral courses in communication theory and research.

Our class in Comm 240 (theory) started yesterday. Afterwards, a helpful classmate, Flor, showed me how to take the MRT home to Makati coming from UP. The trip would be faster, she said, than if I took a cab.

While waiting for the train at Quezon Avenue Station, she pointed out the ABS-CBN Network building. High-tech lighting effects on the facade cycled through the entire rainbow, with occasional white twinkles here and there, as if it were sparkling.


It looked radioactive.

Then the train came, in a whoosh of sound, color, and deep vibrations.


I’m back in school. I’m so happy.

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famous alumni to perform at up-mass comm homecoming

This year’s University of the Philippines (Diliman) College of Mass Communication homecoming reunion is looking to be one of the biggest and brighest ever, with a stellar cast of alumni coming home to Plaridel to perform at the event, which is significant as it occurs within the UP Centennial Year.

Kapuso, Kapamilya stars to grace UP Mass Comm alumni homecoming

Expect the grand alumni homecoming of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) to be a gathering of some of the country’s biggest stars in journalism, entertainment, and even politics.

Dubbed “UP Mass Comm and You: Photographs and Memories atbp.,” it will be held on September 27 (Saturday), 1 p.m. at the CMC Plaridel Hall in Diliman, Quezon City.

Among the hosts for the program are reporter Ambet Nabus and artists Giselle Sanchez and Earl Ignacio, who are all products of UP-CMC.


Actors Giselle Sanchez and Earl Ignacio

Rep. Ed Zialcita (1st District, Parañaque), another UP-CMC graduate, will be performing with his band. Other  alumni like lawyer Rowena Daroy Morales, writer Raymond Narag, veteran actress Malou de Guzman, and actor RS Francisco will have their respective production numbers, details of which are being kept under wraps.

UP-CMC students from Himig ng Mass Comm, UP Broadcasting Association (BroadAss), and the Samahan ng Mga Mag-aaral sa Komunikasyon (SAMASKOM) will also have skits and musical numbers.

Actress Candy Pangilinan, a UP alumna, is expected to provide live entertainment. There will be surprise appearances from Kapuso (GMA 7) and Kapamilya (ABS-CBN) stars, some of whom used to be “housemates” in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother.

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Candy Pangilinan, Maryo J. de los Reyes

Different “extremes” in entertainment are on the menu, as saxophonist Michael Yu and Virga the Fire Thrower give performances. Selected live bands will play for the partying crowd until 11 p.m.

UP-CMC Alumni Association President Maryo J. de los Reyes, award-winning film director and UP-CMC professor, is in charge of the program for the grand alumni homecoming.

To confirm your attendance or for more details, please call Katkat Ramos at 920-6864 or 0927-2495820, or send email to

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teaching is not as easy as it seems.

Three days.

That’s just how long I lasted as a college professor.

It’s not as easy as it looks. Sure, I stood there in front of four classes of forty teenagers each, and held most of them rapt as I spoke, explained, and cajoled them into learning new concepts and understanding old, but I could not sustain it for the long-term. Being flung into a classroom without prior teaching experience will not teach you how to teach.

Lesson plans, checking papers, and the demands of an academic bureaucracy wore me out. After having my four English classes shuffled around in such a way as to disarrange my carefully-plotted schedule that juggled full-time and part-time work at two other agencies, I gave up. The balancing act that I thought would stand crumbled at the onslaught of teacher conferences, seminars, and mandatory psychological tests that were a pre-requisite to receiving one’s salary at the end of the month.

The last straw was being told that I had to take an English exam. This, after being given an initial load of five English classes, seeing four of them for one lesson each, and administering speech assessments to at least ten students.

One of my students in an English 10 class was a former classmate of my daughter Alex at Colegio de Sta. Rosa. This student commented to Alex, “Ang bait ng mom mo kaya. I was already doing my assignment for her class. Sana bumalik siya…” That compliment is my consuelo and I am blessed to have touched the lives of these people in a positive way.

The sad part is leaving the kids who need a lot of help, like the sixteen-year old who approached me after one class. “Ma’m,” he said, “Paano po bang matuto ng English ng mabilis? Puede po ba within one month?” I could only shake my head, helpless and feeling so very sorry for this boy, who is supposed to have had English classes since pre-school, but was admitted to the nation’s top technical university with a very limited command of the language that his textbooks are written in. Who failed him along the way?

I enjoyed interacting with the mostly freshman and sophomore students, who are more or less Alex’s age. Having a teenager of my own, I find it easy to build rapport with young people. Having been bored to sleep by quite a few professors of my own, I have developed my own ways of keeping a class awake and interested.

But this experience was a big, huge lesson for me. First, I learned that I am not cut out for an academic life (for now). After almost a decade in the laid-back world of racing, I can’t go back to the rigidity of punching a clock or having to wake up at five in the morning from Monday to Saturday without fail.

Second, I learned that being able to write and speak fluently in English does not mean you can teach it, unless you can remember what conjunctions, articles, and prepositions are and can cite the grammatical rules that govern the use of had or has – things that rise instinctively to the tongue or flow from the pen. It’s like trying to explain how to breathe.

Third, I learned that teachers do noble and essential work for which they are grossly underpaid. I appreciate my own teachers more now.

Fourth and most important, I learned that even if there are many things that I can do, I can’t do them all at the same time.

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biting off more than i can chew…

…is something at which I am an expert.

My latest escapade is applying to teach at a university, not really expecting to be hired right away as I have no formal teaching experience of any sort.

I do, however, have bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and have taught my children all their lives, so that should count for something, right? Not to mention my being a media practitioner, corporate peon, and all-around productive member of the labor force trying to keep a step ahead of ballooning inflation.

Apparently it all does count for something, because, after a ten-minute teaching demo earlier this morning on “How to Write an Expository Essay”, I was hired on the spot by the dean of the language, humanities, and social sciences cluster and the English Language Center head and told to report to the university’s Makati Campus.

I arrived there at six in the evening, and right away one of the English professors handed me a schedule with five – FIVE! – classes for two subjects (English 10 and English 12), the lists of students, teacher’s manuals, textbooks, memos, and sundry other materials. She briefed me for an hour.

I start tomorrow. At 7:30 in the morning.

And classes started last July 7.

Now I wonder what I have gotten myself into this time.

It belongs right up there with things that “seemed like a good idea at the time…” like having my eyebrows shaved by a large gay hairdresser with a naked razor blade or eating that last longganisa knowing that it always gives me heartburn.

Looking on the bright side… the ELC head, who happens to be a fellow alumna of the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication (she majored in Communication Research), says that the course work is pretty simple, the lessons are all mapped out, and all the professor has to do is take attendance, give grades, and facilitate.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Pardon me while I chew.

The university’s main lobby. Guess which school in particular? Clue: they’re in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and not the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines).

Photos by tophe_17 at

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