Adventure, Food, Learning


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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





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.


Benjamin Franklin Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2017, from

Mansbach, J. (2015, July 28). Icebreakers, Online Learning, Active Learning. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group .(2003). Literacy in the Digital Age.Retrieved March 3, 2017 from

Ozer, O. (n.d.). Issue – CONSTRUCTIVISM in Piaget and Vygotsky. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

Thomson, S. (2015, November 12). The 5 Best Free Collaboration Tools for Teachers. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from

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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.

winning pic2

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.



The True Hero


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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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

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A Penchant for Translations

My love for language dates back to my childhood days when I translated English songs of my favorite artists into my native language, Filipino or Tagalog. I’m not sure now why I did it but at that time, I found it amusing.

Fast forward to 2008 when I was a student of Language and Literacy Education. I sat in one of the Philippine Literature classes of my former College Research Writing professor, my boss at the time of the observation.

The lesson was about Philippine mythology. As I sat in the last row, I became nostalgic of my Philippine Literature class I had years ago. Hmmm. How I loved reading “Dead Stars” by Paz Marquez Benitez!

Thirty minutes to the dismissal of the class, the teacher (my boss) gave an activity to break the monotony of the discussion. Below, you will find the activity she gave . For someone claiming to be proficient in English, I struggled, but I had a great time translating! This activity was a welcome break from the stressful week I’ve been having! Try it out. This might be a good stress-reliever.

Read and translate the following titles to English as poetically as possible.

1. Hindi Ka Nag-Iisa
2. Isang Bala Ka Lang
3. Kaputol ng Isang Awit
4. Bukas ang Luluhod ang mga Tala
5. Kapantay ay Langit
6. Kakaba-kaba ka ba?
7. Hihintayin Kita sa Langit
8. Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag
9. Kailan Darating ang Umaga?10. Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak

1. Pasan ko ang Daigdig
2. Hinugot Ka Lang sa Lupa
3. Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak
4. Ang Babae sa Bintana
5. Init sa Magdamag
6. Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?
7. Sana’y Wala nang Wakas
8. Iputok Mo, Dadapa Ako
9. Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos
10. Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara

1. Kambal sa Umaga
2. Sa Pusod ng Dagat
3. Pila Balde
4. Gabi ng Lagim
5. Mga Mata ni Angelita
6. Maging Sino Ka Man
7. Una Ka Naging Akin
8. Babangon Ako’t Dudurugin Kita
9. Pag Puno na ang Salop
10. Pangako sa ‚Yo

1. Mula sa Puso
2. Bituing Walang Ningning
3. Minsan Isang Gamu-gamo
4. Tag-init sa Tag-araw
5. Silip
6. Hayok sa Laman
7. Uhaw
8. Ipagpatawad Mo
9. Gulong ng Palad
10. Sa Tabing Ilog

1. Namamangka sa Dalawang Ilog
2. Anak Ka ni Satanas
3. Tatay Kong Nanay
4. Patikim ng Pinya
5. Nagbabagang Lupa
6. Palimos ng Pag-ibig
7. Ina Ka ng Anak Mo
8. Maging Akin Ka Lamang
9. Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin?
10. Lundagin Mo Baby