Adventure, Food, Learning

Firsts

I really don’t have a fear of heights. A few years back, I tried the zipline and was forty feet above the ground. Easy-peasy! Flying was another matter. I delayed traveling via plane for the longest time not because of acrophobia, but because of responsibilities.

I’m not sure why I applied for a passport last year. I wasn’t expecting to go out of the country, not to mention ride a plane this year.  I thought that my first plane ride was to go out of town; perhaps Cebu or Davao to attend a conference or to go on a vacation with my loved ones. Surprise, surprise. My destination was Phnom Penh, Cambodia for an education fair. Duty calls and I must answer.

Being the worrywart, highly-organized, obsessive-compulsive person that I am, I prepared for the trip physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I admit that the thought of being 34,000 feet above the ground scared me because I was traveling alone; no colleague to chat with and no beau to coach me on what to expect next. I was also worried that if the plane crashes to the sea, I will surely drown as I don’t know how to swim. But what scared me more was that I will not be able to attend the education fair due to a missed flight because of the horrendous EDSA traffic or that I wouldn’t be able to answer the Immigration Officer’s questions due to my anxiety.

I had a lot of firsts during this trip.

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First plane ride: The plane that I rode in was an Airbus A320. My travel agent booked me a window seat. Thank goodness he did!  From where I was seated, I saw the wings of the plane and the flickering red lights that I only see from down below. Aside from this, I saw the lights of Manila as the plane gathered speed.

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First meal: I’ve read about airplane food not being the best kind of meal there is but I wouldn’t know until I’ve tried it myself. After one hour into the flight, we were served our meal. I was served Roast Beef with vegetables and Banana Cake for dessert. I wasn’t that hungry because I managed to grab a bite at Terminal 1. Overall, I liked the fact that despite the short trip, meals were served.

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First stay at a hotel outside the Philippines: I was billeted at Hotel Cambodiana, a hotel loctated 15 minutes away from the Phnom Penh Airport and 3 minutes (literally because I timed myself going there) away from the venue of the education fair that I attended. I had a king-sized bed all to myself!

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First amazing international tourist spot: One former student of our center and a local resident of Phnom Penh informed me that the river behind my hotel traverses through six countries. That fact is impressive enough for me as a first-time traveler. However, seeing the sunrise by the Mekong River was beyond words.

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First breakfast buffet outside the Philippines: I usually eat breakfast in a rush before I go to work. For me, buffets are reserved for gatherings or team-building activities. By mid-day, I usually have worked up an appetite. The breakfast buffet is a freebie attached to my accommodation so it needs to be consumed. The restaurant usually opens at 6:30am for the buffet breakfast; this was what I was told as soon as I checked in. For two days, I started off with bread and cold cuts. To keep myself full for the entire morning, my second meal consisted of meat and veggies.

At my age, I wasn’t expecting to experience a lot of firsts as these would have been normally experienced when I was a decade or two decades younger than I am today. But I was wrong, especially for travel as I would rather stay home and read books. Traveling broadens my horizons and allows me to get out of my comfort zone. As one saying goes: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Indeed. Traveling alone did challenge me and it surely changed me. Now, I want more stamps in my passport. cat-seat-skin-body-animal-512

 

 

 

Adventure

Forty-something

Before I turned 40, I was a bit anxious. What is in store for me in this decade? In my 20s, it was about adventure. In my 30s, it was about acceptance.  In my 40s? I’m not so sure.

They say life begins at 40. However, one of my old friends who is 2 years older than me said that nothing much has changed since he turned 40. So what is this big hype about being forty and then some?more-inspirational-quotes-40

In one leadership training I attended, we were asked to create a timeline listing down our life and what our priorities were. We also listed our life expectancy. I wrote 70 years old. I was 43 at the time that I had the training. Comparing my priorities to the years left to my existence, I realized that I was running out of time. This made me more anxious at the time. What would I really want to achieve in 27 years?

Stephen Covey, a famous educator, and author said that one of the seven habits of highly effective people is for one not to prioritize what is on one’s schedule but to schedule one’s priorities. This was the answer that eluded me all along. I tried fulfilling my priorities all at once that I felt overwhelmed and burned out.

This year on my birthday, I promised myself to schedule my priorities and to achieve balance in my life. Being forty-something and what I will learn for the rest of this decade of my life is still a mystery.  I am looking forward to it as all will be unraveled in the end as I tick off some things on my bucket list. cat-seat-skin-body-animal-512

Image credits: https://www.museuly.com/blog/30-most-inspirational-quotes-ever/

 

Pets

A Tribute to the Cats In My Life

I read the books, A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob which were recommended by a good friend and it reminded me of the cats who graced my life.

I rescued an orange tabby kitten when I was about 6 years old. I was on my way to buy something at a store one block away from our house. As I  went around the corner,  I chanced upon this orange tabby kitten at the foot of a lamp post. I was so captivated by her; her soft mews and her purring. I made me promise that I’d return for her. Sure enough, she was still there when I got back. I carried her in my arms and brought her home with me. My mom was so furious with me! She immediately checked for fleas and gave the kitten a bath despite my protests. I named the kitten “Golden Treasure” which was shortened to Golden later on.

From that time on until the 4th grade, we had a total of 13 cats. Some were Golden’s offsprings who had offsprings of their own, some were rescued by us, and some were brought home by our cats. Yes, our cats rescued and invited other cats to our home. My late father knew all the cat’s names; him being an animal lover himself. During feeding time, he would instruct my sister and me to summon all the cats and he would say their names like a teacher doing a roll call in class.

These amazing creatures were treated like our family members. You would see them lounging on the couch, on the TV (definitely not a flat screen TV), on our bed, on the cabinets, even on open cupboards. So technically, our house is like a zoo. Have I mentioned that during the time we had 13 cats, we also owned 5 dogs. 🙂

Cats come and go as they please. When I entered college, we had more or less 6 cats. Many had already passed on. During an immersion to Cardona, Rizal, I was given 2 gray tabby kittens named Kernel and Jello by my host family. I couldn’t say no so I brought them home. When I was already working, I also had one gray and white cat named Bobbi that came from nowhere. Sadly, he wandered off after a year and never came back. When I was pregnant, my beau and I had this black and white half-Persian cat that we called Toby.  He would always follow me to make sure I’m safe and lie on my bulging belly as if he wants to be as close to our daughter as possible. Another cat named Toby who is the nephew of my cat Toby also graced our home. He is an affectionate black and white cat.

Having cats is like therapy for me. Perhaps because I was born a Leo (or Lion-big cat) or perhaps I was a cat in one of my past lives which explains my affinity for cats. Or perhaps, because cats have this charm about them; I couldn’t resist being around them. I’ve had cats that curl up on my lap as I read a book on cold, rainy nights. I’ve had cats that sleep on my tummy when I have tummy aches which miraculously and eventually disappear. I’ve had cats that sleep with us on the bed at night and wake us up in time for school in the morning. I’ve had cats that consoled me in my lowest times and celebrated with me during my highs. I couldn’t recall all their names but they have been an integral part of my life. Cheers to the cats in my life. cat-seat-skin-body-animal-512

 

 

Pets

Must Love Chad

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Seeing this picture made me smile and say; “This is so me! I have a mandatory exercise schedule which starts at 4 A.M. before I prep my daughter for school and at 6:30 A.M. just before I prep myself for work. All thanks to our hyperactive Terrier and Labrador mix dog, Chad.

Chad has been with us since 2014. We got him when he was just three months old. I fondly remember him wearing a knitted shirt and a diaper. He was so cute and cuddly.

At first, I didn’t want to get a dog because I knew the responsibilities that come with having a pet. It was like having another baby. I wasn’t sure at the time if we could take good care of him. Despite this, I fell in love with him the minute I came home and saw him.

Three years hence; we share a special bond. I always look forward to coming home and him greeting me. My beau told me that Chad would always wait and look at the door minutes before I arrive. I think he can smell me a mile away.

Chad has become my therapy dog. At times when I come home from work tired and stressed, he would simply wag his tail, jump on me, and howl as if to say; “Welcome Home Mommy! I missed you!” I take one look at those adorable brown eyes and all my worries melt away.

Chad has and will always have a special place in my heart. He is the combination of all my beloved dogs–Jules (the adventurous one), Comet (the rambunctious one), Hailey (the touchy-feely one), Ashley (the clingy one) , and Tiny (the charming one).

Despite sharing personality traits with my former dogs, Chad also has other lovable qualities. Thus, I counted the ways why I love Chad.

  1. Chad is my walking alarm clock. He sees to it that I am awake at the sound of my alarm. No snooze button allowed. 😦 He ensures that I am wide awake because he whimpers to no end! It’s as if he’s saying, “Mom, if you don’t get up now, you will be late!”
  2. He makes sure I get exercise. Aside from my 30-minute pledge of walking everyday, Chad sure does keep me on my toes. Despite the sleepiness I feel, I am obliged to take him out so he can do his business. When he does this, he doesn’t walk, he flies and he takes me with him! This is how I keep fit. 🙂
  3. He is an extremely receptive and trainable dog. I’ve had dogs in the past but they don’t really know how to do tricks. Chad loves to learn tricks. He started learning tricks after he turned two years old. His latest trick is playing soccer with me with his ball. When I kick the ball, he kicks it right back and wait til I kick the ball again.
  4. He is undoubtedly appreciative. My beau and I make it a point to bring something home for him when we go out to the mall; whether it be a toy or a bone. He just loves those. We are rewarded with excited jumps and twirls when he receives them.
  5. He is immensely affectionate. I often asked Chad if he were a cat in his past life. He likes to rub his head on me, my beau, and our daughter. We have this wooden chair we’d like to sit on when we contemplate or rest. Chad would automatically sit in front of anyone who sits there; between their legs and rub his head on the sitter’s thigh. It is mandatory for the sitter to scratch behind his ears. This somehow relaxes him, but to me this is him being affectionate.

I can go on and on about how much I love Chad but I’ll never get to finish this post. For now, I couldn’t imagine life without him. silhouette-1314467_960_720

Learning

Creating Connections: Learning Through Collaboration

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

The changing landscape of today’s education has paved the way for diverse methods to achieve effective learning. Nowadays, learning is not only limited to the quizzes, recitations, or lectures given by the teacher. With the advent of Vygotsky’s Constructivist Learning Theory, educators were encouraged to reflect on their teaching strategies. Moreover, they were challenged on how to engage students and create effective learning environments (Ozer, n.d.). Effective learning may be achieved through various activities such as collaboration.

Collaboration is defined as working with other people who have different ideas to contribute to the achievement of a common objective. Learners come together to do collaborative work such as “solving problems, creating products, or learning content” (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group, 2003).  Hence, learner to learner interaction promotes collaboration among students and this eventually leads to effective learning.

Oftentimes, people have their own ideas, views, beliefs, opinions about things. How then is one going to communicate his own ideas to others when they are faced with the task of arriving at a common goal?  In a virtual learning environment, where people seldom see each other, where people have hectic schedules both at work and at home, collaborating with others seems to be a daunting undertaking. However, collaborative activities should be viewed as opportunities to tap each other’s expertise, to pool resources, to solve problems, and collectively make decisions. Collaboration is essential because it fosters a sense of teamwork and community.

Collaboration can be best achieved through interaction among students. However, before any collaborative activity, students must develop a sense of trust with one another. There are a variety of ways to develop the relationship and sense of community among the learners. One such example is the use of icebreakers. According to Mansbach (2015), icebreakers are interactive activities that help students and instructors get to know each other. The use of icebreakers helps students unravel each other’s’ beliefs, attitudes, and expertise. It also lays the foundation for collaborative work among students.

To encourage collaboration in the virtual learning environment, online collaboration tools can be utilized. Proofhub, MindMeister, Google Docs, BigMArker, SlideRocket, and Skype are some sites that promote collaborative work among students (Thomson, 2014). They are avenues for learners to discuss, create, and produce team output. Encouraging a culture of community or collaboration ensures effective learning among learners.

Collaboration can be considered as one of the best learning online activities because it promotes exchanges of ideas, and as a result, new ideas are constructed. The involvement and interaction among learners encourage higher-order thinking skills, exploratory and active learning needed in the 21st Century.

References:

Benjamin Franklin Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2017, from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/benjaminfr383997.html

Mansbach, J. (2015, July 28). Icebreakers, Online Learning, Active Learning. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from https://dl.sps.northwestern.edu/blog/2015/07/the-importance-of-icebreakers-in-online-classes/

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group .(2003). Literacy in the Digital Age.Retrieved March 3, 2017 from http://pict.sdsu.edu/engauge21st.pdf

Ozer, O. (n.d.). Issue – CONSTRUCTIVISM in Piaget and Vygotsky. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/CONSTRUCTIVISM-in-Piaget-and-Vygotsky

Thomson, S. (2015, November 12). The 5 Best Free Collaboration Tools for Teachers. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from https://elearningindustry.com/the-5-best-free-collaboration-tools-for-teachers

Image credits:

http:// http://www.clipartkid.com/images/569/posted-on-december-27-2012-by-nils-rasmussen-OFBAML-clipart.jpg

 

 

Learning

Accidental Hobby

When I was writing my paper for my research class for my master’s, I had no time to write fiction. Writing involves planning, researching, thinking which takes time to do. The fulfillment comes after all my thoughts are written down.  I was frustrated because writing fiction was my long-time hobby. It was my stress-reliever. I needed a new stress reliever that gave instant fulfillment…I never thought it was possible until my beau introduced me to photography.

I wasn’t really planning on doing photography considering the cost of equipment and my lack of knowledge and skills about the hobby. Nevertheless, when my beau gave me his DSLR, I started taking more interest in photography. Whenever I got the chance, I joined him during photo shoots with his photography club.

As they say “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I couldn’t agree more because I found mundane things interesting. My favorite subjects are ordinary, everyday things that you usually see but probably don’t notice. Below are some of my first photos. It’s quite unbelievable because the third photo won as Best Pic of the Day when I entered it in a photo contest. It was overwhelming to a newbie like me.

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After the first few shots, I got hooked on photography. It gave me a certain kind of high whenever I took beautiful shots. When a shot doesn’t strike my fancy, I can easily delete it and take another shot. Below are some of my favorite shots.

 

Sadly, I had to complete my research paper so I had to give up photography and my camera  for the very reason I needed a new hobby.  My love for photography has not diminished a bit. Each time I find an interesting subject, I pull out my mobile phone and take a shot of the photo-worthy subject; with a silent wish to do photography again in the future.

 

Learning

The True Hero

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I used to believe in many heroes when I was a child… Superman, Wonderwoman, The Justice League, Votes V, even Mazinger Z. But as I grew older, I realized that none of these heroes were for real and underneath all their fancy capes and flashy costumes, they are just ordinary people.

If heroes do exist in the real world, they walk among us. They’re just people who have helped us one way or another, not expecting anything in return or even bragging to everyone that they have helped people out. Remember the Pharisees mentioned in the Bible who thought they were the righteous ones; now they are not heroes. Heroes usually veer away from the limelight and would rather stay on the sidelines. They do not gloat about their accomplishments but are humbled by them. They don’t need to shout it to the whole world because the fulfillment they feel is in helping others.

If there’s one hero who really existed, it is Jesus who unconditionally died for our sins to save us. Instead of being hailed as a hero, he was condemned to death. Despite his impending death, he gave his life up for us. That is the mark of a true hero.

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Learning

A Scary Five-Letter Word

karmaFive letters of the alphabet…K-A-R-M-A. Individually, they are just letters. Put together, they have the ability to change our lives.

Karma, as most people know, is a Hindu and Buddhist belief. A close introspection of the five letter-word reveals that karma is not limited to  these two religions. It is mentioned in the Bible; the all familiar saying: “A person reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) The English idiomatic expression “What goes around comes around…” is all too familiar too.

I am no Buddhist or Hindu. But I believe in the law of karma. I’ve had my share of karma; good and bad. My actions dictated the consequences. Experiencing it firsthand made me realize that everything I do affects others. What I did or do will come full circle.

Good begets good. Bad begets bad. Lesson learned, I swore to watch the way I speak, be diplomatic in all my dealings, put myself in the shoes of the other person. In short, K-A-R-M-A, such an innocent five-letter word, but it scares the hell out of me.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
                                                              -Unknown source

Image credits: 

https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-408e00cc96c7cdce4f2256c86aa43013

Reading

Bibliotherapy

715347When I was in the fourth grade, I was a loner, quite different from the gregarious, sociable person I am today. I only had a handful of friends. What drove me into being an introvert at age 10? Read on to find out.

Back then, teachers leave the students to the class president or any class officer. They would go to the blackboard and write the five menacing letters that spelled out: “NOISY”.  Anyone caught talking, whispering, chatting will be listed down, to be later reprimanded by the teacher.

So there I was, minding my own business; seated in the second row. Curiosity killed the cat and it got me to turn my head and look behind. When I glanced back at the green blackboard, my name was listed as number 2 in the list of noisy people. I was infuriated! I didn’t speak a word! How come my name was there! I challenged the class president to give me a valid reason. But he couldn’t… he just stood there with a smug smile on his face.

The next thing I knew, I was out of my seat. I reached for the eraser and erased my name from the list. But it didn’t stop there. I threw the eraser at him, not caring where it hit. (Disclaimer: I am not encouraging anyone to do this. It was a temporary lapse in judgment due to my immaturity.)

From that time on, most of my classmates avoided me. Not that I care. I didn’t want friends who didn’t stand by me especially when I know that I did nothing wrong. I didn’t feel sorry for myself either when I lost the friends that I thought I had.

I stayed behind in the classroom at recess. Then one day, I got bored just being with myself and found my way to the library which was on the same floor of my classroom.

There, I got acquainted with the Nancy Drew, Bess Marvin, and George Fayne. They became my best friends, my heroes. I couldn’t wait to hang out with them as soon as I got home from school and finish my homework. I got lost in their adventures;  the clues that they had to unravel. I went through every hole they crawled into, breathed heavily as they panted when they felt they were being followed, and felt triumphant as they solved every mystery.

I couldn’t remember how many Nancy Drew books I have read but they helped me cope with the real world. Somehow, books have this healing power, some sort of therapy… But at 10, I was totally clueless about what it was called.

Fast forward to three decades later, while taking my graduate studies, I came across the word I’ve wanted to know since I was 10. BIBLIOTHERAPY. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary Online, “it is the use of reading materials to solve problems”.

Someone came to mind when I was doing this blog. Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who ordered the building of the majestic Great Wall and who also ordered the burning of books, didn’t know what he was missing. He didn’t know the healing power of books and he will never know. But I did. 😉

So if you’re feeling low, pick up a book and discover the wonders of bibliotherapy…

P.S. To my 4th grade class president, my apologies, wherever you are. 🙂 ✌

P.P. S. Early this year, I participated in a Reading Challenge in Goodreads. I’ve pledged 50 books to read this year. To date, I’ve read 27. Go! Go! Go!

Image credits:

 

http://prescriptionforgiftedsuccess.weebly.com/uploads/2/8/2/9/28291295/715347.jpg?346

Food

Perfecting Bulgogi

426611_360163190671195_873936707_nThe long vacation was an opportunity for me to rest and surprise, surprise, perfect my Bulgogi. l swear that I can cook it with my eyes closed. After a couple of experiments in the past year, here’s my own recipe for Bulgogi.

Bulgogi

Ingredients

1/2 kilo beef (breakfast steak), cut into strips

1/2 tsp. sesame seeds, roasted

4 pcs of carrots, julienned

4 pcs. of white onions, cut into rings

3 tbsps of sesame oil

1/2 tbsp of gochujang (optional)

 

Marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1/2 tsp. gochujang (Korean chili paste)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

6 stalks of green onion, chopped

2 tbsps. sesame oil

2-3 tbsps. of brown sugar

 

Dip: (for those who like it spicy)

2 tbsps. sesame oil

2 tbsps. of brown sugar

1/2 tbsp. of gochujang

1/4 tsp. of sesame seeds, slightly roasted

 

Procedure

  1. Mix the beef and all the ingredients of the marinade in a bowl. Refrigerate for 3-5 days.
  2. In a non-stick pan, roast the sesame seeds. Set aside.
  3. Pour the sesame oil into the pan and sauté the carrots. Set aside.
  4. Next, fry the beef until cooked and set the marinade aside.
  5. Add the carrots.
  6. Pour the marinade into the pan and let it simmer. (For extra sauce, mix together 2 tbsps. of sesame oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 2 tbsps. of brown sugar then add to the beef and let it simmer.)
  7. Add the onions.
  8. Add 1/2 tbsp.  gochujang for added spice.
  9. The sauce should be sweet and a little spicy.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.

For those who want it spicy, mix the ingredients of the dip together in a small bowl. You may place the beef in the dip before eating it.

Enjoy your Bulgogi!