Friday, April 30, 2004

Back in Manila 

I am still groggy from a dreadful flight on our way back home. And to think I was complaining on a one hour delay on our way to Davao. That was a piece of cake compared to the three hour delay we had on our way back home. Sheesh, PAL…. It’s a wonder that they are still in business.

When we checked in at 2:35 pm at the Davao International Airport, we were prepared to stay there and wait. Lo and behold, when we were comparing boarding passes, I got a glimpse at Jun Elloso who was complaining that his boarding pass showed 9:25 pm. I said that couldn’t be. I went to the personnel and showed him our boarding passes. He said, “Yes, we were just informed that there’s going to be a delay. “But my boading pass says we’re leaving at 6:35. How come his is at 9:25?” “Yes, give me your boarding pass and we’ll change it!” Shit!!!

Our saving grace was once again our gracious host, Ate Ludz’ cousin, the Colinas. Now, this is a family whose graciousness is unending. Once they learned that we were staying another 6 or so hours at the airport, they advised us to go out of the airport as their cars are on the way to pick us up. Can you beat that? What were we supposed to do? When we got out of the airport, Michael, the son, and Ivy, his wife, were already there to pick us up. First, they took us to the cemetery where the youngest, the only daughter, is buried. It turned out that the whole family stays there every afternoon. She died two years ago at age 21. She was very beautiful, had a pretty face and a genuine smile to her face and I imagine, very intelligent. Unfortunately, she died of a complication from an asthma attack.

The family built a mausoleum for her. It was just like a house. At the first floor was her tomb, an altar, some concrete chairs and a toilet. On the second floor was a receiving room complete with furnitures. Both floors were air conditioned. The roof top was open but it had holes which they fill up with steel poles where they attach nets so that the children, Michael’s, can play safely. At Php2 Million, the mausoleum is spectacular.

We prayed for the daughter, Mylene, I think that was her name then proceeded to Victoria Mall to have a buffet dinner at Gloria Maris. See, I told you this family was a blessing.

Anyway, why should I blog about the negative when I had a real good time at Davao? It was a real vacation. What’s a place like this without going to the beach, right? Well, we did. It was an island called Paradise something. It’s a beach in Samal, a 10 minute boat ride from the city. The boat was surprisingly big. A lot bigger from the usual banca in ,say, Marinduque. It’s a lot safer and more comfortable. At Php7.50/head, it’s heavenly. They ask you to sign a manifesto first, which they turn over to the port guy, something that is just not done anywhere, before they head to and from the island. And the beach! What can I say? The water is crytal clear you can see the fish roaming around. You wouldn’t need your goggles to see them. But of course, the salt water hurt the eyes so you wear them just the same. As it was a week day, the place wasn’t as busy as can be imagined. The food was excellent, the accomodations, perfect. We had a good time with one American woman, probably in her late twenties. She was with a child who she just let wander off while whe reads, uhm, “Descartes’ Error”. What was spectacular about her? Well, nothing much except for the fact that she was seated on the bathing seat with her legs crossed and her pubic hair showing! This made Norman quip, “hey guys, do you want to see some corn?” (referring to its likeness to corn hair) Well, you don’t see that everyday, do you?

After the beach, on our way back to the hotel, Zharro texted me to say that they’re in Davao already. Asked them where they were and when it turned out to be on the way to the hotel, I asked the taxi to take me there so that I can say hi! Zharro was with Wilma, Nancy and Teody, her aunt, uncle and her mom. They were having buffet lunch at Nanay Bebang. After the pleasantries, Zharro made me promise that we will all go out. And we did. We met at the Venue, a place like Eastwood, and had dinner there, compliments of her relatives. From there, we went to Café Breize, (pronounced as Braz) to have crepes , coffee and a beer. Then they said they wanted to see our place. So we took them the hotel to show our rooms. Jun was snoring away when we got there so we proceeded to Dennis’ room. We decided to check out the Liquid, the watering hole of the hotel, but decided it wasn’t cool enough. Zharro wanted to go dancing. We took a walk and decided to go back to the Venue but Teody said she was already sleepy. What can one do? She’s almost 60. So, we had to say goodbye while Norman and I went back to the Liquid after seeing the gorgeous lady waitress in her mid-rib pass us by. Guess what! Norman who is a lot younger and more athletic than I am dosed-off with his bottle of beer. Drats!!! We went back to the room to sleep. And it was only 12, I figured.

The following morning, we passed on the tour and went swimming on the hotel’s pool after breakfast. There I saw a small boy (turned out to be 12 years old) playing. I asked him if he knew how to swim and when he said he didn’t, I showed him how. Soon, he was swimming across the pool. Guess the mother was pleased. After that, we slept some more and got ready for luch. What can I say? Excellent food can be had at a very cheap price. The buffet lunch cost Php99 while the buffet breakfast at Php69. The one we had at Gloria Maris was a whopping price at Php 168. Man, I can live in Davao! If only the air fare was as cheap, I would have taken my whole family there on the next flight. And surely, if ever, it will not be in a PAL plane, believe me.

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Davao City 

We arrived late, as usual. That is for taking PAL. Why we never learn is beyond me. PAL, as we al know means Plane Always Late.

I arrived at the airport at around 8:35 as was scheduled. The queue at the entrance weaving at the entrance moved slowly. Most of the guys I was travelling with were already there. As usual, Jun Elloso was late. I texted him and asked him where he was as we were all onboard already. (Later on, he told me that caused him to panic thinking we may have changed the sced again. LOL!)

The long stay at the Centennial Airport was a turn off. The aircon was weak and none of the mechanisms in the toilet worked. Ugh!

I was thinking the plane would serve lunch as the Delifrance sandwich I ate at the airport wasn't enough and I was a bit hungry. To my dismay, they only served strawberry pie coated with chocolate, a biscuit with strawberry filling, three candies and a juice. Ugh again. I can't even eat those. But I did! I was hungry and so my sugar level might be low anyway.

We were picked up by Ludz' relatives at the airport. Hmm, impressive family. We used their Suburban, Pajero and a Mercedez Benz. They treated us to lunch at Dencio's which was really, really good food. No, we didn't eat the same food we eat at Dencio's Manila.

Then they took us to Shrine Hills at Matina to pray and proceeded to the hotel. The Apo View Hotel, at 50 years is the oldest in the city. The Dep-Ed registration was equally a dismay as we waited for long hours just to be registered and have a room. By and large, the rooms are okay.

We went for a stroll after a few drink from the Jack Daniels bottle provided by Rhea. We rented a taxi and tried to see the town. We went home at around two in the morning.

The sessions started this morning ... Hahummmm, okay... yeah right....

By and large, I am enjoying this trip as Davao seems to be loaded with beautiful women. for example, the woman manning this Business Center, Ruby Zamora has a very pleasing personality, sweetest smile and very accomodating. Naks!!! Naglalandi si Norman. Kaya pala sumunod sakin dito. hehehe

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Friday, April 23, 2004

Ma'an's Birthday 

It's Maan's 18th birthday today. She will be celebrating it tomorrow at the Peninsula Hotel and Nitz and I were asked to join Kraiganne. Hmmm, Kgan did the souvernir gifts - all 200 of them. Been working on it since last week. I think she's inherited Marilyn's knack for doing picky things like these. She's quite good.

Oh, Mickey asked if he can take Kim (his girlfriend, I suppose) out today. Asked Nitz if she gave him money. She said she gave him Php200. I wonder what will happen with that. I hope he's got enough. Didn't ask me for anything.

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Davao Itinerary 

Yipee! I'm going to Davao on Sunday to attend a seminiar. The Seminar will be on Rubrics and Portfolio Assessments (whatever)

April 24 – 28, 2004

April 25 – Sunday- Departure for Davao

8:00 AM - Check in at PAL – Centennial Airport
10:25 AM - ETD from Manila to Davao
12:00nn - ETA in Davao International Airport
- transpo arranged by Ms. Ludz Reyes to ferry us to hotel
- Lunch at Davao Apo View Hotel
5:00 PM - Official check in time at Apo View Hotel

April 26, 2004 – Seminar Proper - “Rubrics and Portfolio Assessment”

April 28, 2004 – Sight-seeing

8:00 AM - Malagos Water Shed – Eagle Reservation Area
10:00 AM - Orchid/Flower farm and Lunch
1:00 PM - Last minute shopping / Check out at Hotel

4:00 PM - Davao International Airport
6:00 PM - ETD Davao to Manila
7:45 PM - ETA Manila

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Service Awards and more... 

On April 14, the school gave the annual service awards. This year being my twentieth, I was asked to grace the occasion. The invitation said "Come in formal attire". I thought, that would be too much so I had no intentions of coming in full gear. I'm glad the organizers changed their minds and made it a "come in your Sunday dress" which is less formal but just as presentable.

Together with the package was a longevity pay of 250% of my monthly gross income, a plaque and a Fossil wrist watch which looks too big on my hand, I might as well wear the wall clock.

The following day, the male faculty went on a one night swimming spree in a rented private pool at Laguna. We had fun but I'm not divulging how. Now, don't get silly, I had been a good boy.

This weekend, we went with the whole Toto clan, Abet's family, Manong Polly's and with Kuya Ben and Ate Lilia at the helm, to Subic! We first joined Manong Polly's party at the All Hands beach where his company, Nestle, was having their excursion. After lunch, we all proceeded to the Subic International Hotel where we shall be billeted.

I took a dip at the swimming pool till three in the afternoon with Kgan and Kim. Then, looked for a cybercafe but got lost with the boys. We went touring to Ocean Adventure, saw the monkeys, the bats and the forest safari. Then, what else? Shopping!

The following day, we took the kids to a jump at the forest called "jest" with the help of rangers. Then we had a lauriat lunch at the Golden tea room, afterwhich took the kids to try the go kart and headed for home.

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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Still about Kim 

I wrote the principal a personal letter of appeal re Kim's suspension which I am questioning until now. Here is the letter.

Dear Alfred,

I am writing to you personally as a friend who wish you well in your stint
as the high school principal. I am still at a dilemma regarding my
daughter Kim and how her case was handled. I have received the notice of
Kim's suspension to be served on April 13. I was surprised because you
said you were going to answer my letter and you were going to call for Kim
during the time she was around. (to refresh your memory, this is because of
the way the investigation was handled. With all the teachers and level
coordinator present, I wonder who was the real bully in this scenario.)

I would like to appeal again to your good sense of fairness and justice.
In all honesty, I couldn't see why she has to be punished this way. You
say suspending her for one day and giving her a C in conduct would
straighten her out. With deep regret, I find this to be naïve and deprived
of reason. We will only be sending her wrong signals as she is adamant that
she had not done anything wrong. I would be of much help to you and ____ if
you can show me concretely the wrong she had done. Even her friends say
that she has the least participation in all this.

I will never condone my children's wrong doings in the same manner that I
will fight tooth and nail if their rights are trampled upon. Right at this
moment, I have not been given the real basis for the decision. I think I
have the right to know where all this is coming from. This is the reason
why I was waiting for your response re my letter. It is always the right
of the accused to know the evidences against him/her. And I, being the
parent have to know the circumstances surrounding the case.

As you know, Nitz even went to ____ to ask for clarification on the matter.
She too, was amazed at how the decision was reached. Now, coming from
someone who works at the Discipline Office, she should know what she's
talking about.

And yet, my arguments are not based on my wife's assessments alone. Every
time I ask ___ how he has come up with a decision, he would answer that his
basis was on the explication letter made by Kim and her friends. I am
telling you that conferring judgment on written documents done by minors is
baseless and poor procedure on due process. And yet, even if, for the sake
of argument, it were acceptable, my wife has seen all the documents and
told me that she did not find anything culpable or that would merit any
offense from any documents presented to her. Have you? I know you said you have read the documents in question, but really, have you? If you have,
please show me all the points that say she's guilty.

Again, I reiterate the following facts. That ___ and his cohorts were
hasty with their decision and that they only investigated for the sake of
complying with the due process requirement. In truth and in fact, they
have already made up their minds that the children were guilty. Why can't
we face it? They were astonished by the accusations of a parent who cried
"bullying" and were set to appease her. Tell me honestly, do we, as
responsible adults, interfere with children's quarrels? Is it proper?

Had I been in ____’s position, I would have simply issued a warning
considering the facts. This is a case of another student or better yet, a
parent complaining about another student. Neither I nor ___ was there
when it happened. How can I make it any clearer that when the accusations
are denied by the accused, it becomes a question of fact and that the
investigator should try to piece the truth by finding corroborated
testimonies to prove the same, and using sound logic to arrive at a
judgment and not pure sanctimonious bias.

Technically, what is the case? One basic right of the accused is that the
offense should be stated in a way that leaves no ambiguity as to its
meaning. I suggest you read Ulpiano Sarmiento’s book re the matter. In
the case at bar, my daughter is charged with “bullying that involves
intimidation”. Nowhere in the handbook will you find an offense like this.
So, what does it mean? I know you say bullying but what is entailed and
how was this committed. The correspondence I received contains not only an
offense that is ambiguous but even vague. If I may offer you my
interpretation of the words bullying and intimidation. It is bullying when
one uses physical threat on another. While the former needs an overt act
on the part of the offender, the latter need not be so. One can be
“intimidated “ by his/her own free will simply because he/she is afraid of
the person before him/her.

The handbook contains two types of bullying in different categories.
Basing on the sanction imposed, “bullying that involves intimidation”,
(whatever that means) is the heavier type (huh?) Why use the heavier
penalty for a simple infraction, if there is one?

The correspondence given me is an information to a “sanction” and not the
offense. Again, I would like to refer you to the proper procedures on due
process by reading Ulpiano’s book, “Manual for Private Schools.” Let me
just point out that the imposed sanction is not a simple suspension of one
day as it includes a DP status (which you rightfully took away) and a
conduct grade of C which has a lasting effect on my child’s record.

By way of closing, I am reminded of the Gamboa cheating case where you
overturned my decision when I made a ruling on the case. You exercised
your right to overrule me in a case which was air tight as I have given you
my solid bases which were upheld by a committee of several teachers, with
no less than the ITC Head, as chair, I don’t see any reason why you
couldn’t in my daughter’s case who seems to be a victim, a fall guy to
appease an angry parent, rather than an accused.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,



And since I am at it, why don’t you advise ___ that any correspondence
given to parents should be the original and not the xerox copy as was the
case when he gave me the second notice as to the effectivity of my
daughter’s suspension. I asked him about it and he said that was his normal
procedure. This is the first time I've seen a communication where the
original is kept by the writer and not the addressee. What is that? A
provisional receipt?

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Lenten Trek 

We left the house at 12 midnight of Wednesday to meet Ollie's and Vivian's families at Megamall. Together with Ollie were Jenny and her son, Jamoi, and Wat sans Ompong who was indisposed with work. Joven couldn't come too, as he's busy with work. Riding with us were Edgar and Vivian's family, Tetay and her Japanese boyfriend Hokto, Ate Linda and Bong, and Dante, our designated driver.

From there, we drove for about 6 to 7 hours to reach our destinations. The first stop was at my nephew's wife's place in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Her father, the town's former Vice-Mayor, Board member and now campaigning again for this upcoming election, is a respected politician up there. We had our lunch in their home, slept a few hours.

Mr. Mumaric, is a very unassuming man, honest and very simple and quiet. My friends were impressed with the family! The family has 6 children, all professionals and all magna cum laudes in college. We were in awe at all the medals and trophies the siblings have in their show window. My nephew's wife has the most number of the medals. I guess my nephew married well, hehehe. They are migrating to Toronto, Canada soon. Yes, again, the brain drain the country is experiencing.

From there, my nephew took us to Banaue where the rice terraces are
located. We stayed at the Half View hotel. The hotel was okay! We managed to get three rooms. Stayed there for a night cap where the group ate dinner, sang songs in a videoke machine, drank a few rounds of beer while the kids were either watching or playing cards themselves.

The following morning, we rented a vehicle to take us to where the rice
terraces are. It's a series of mountain ranges which the Ifugao tribe
carved for rice plantation during the early times. It is an ingenius way to
tame the land as the irrigation came from above the mountain and trickling
down to the entire system. It was awesome and breath taking. However, I
think it's partly deteriorating. I can see traces of rice paddies (steps) losing its
appearance to either erosion (more than a hundred years of existence will
surely show signs of deterioration somehow) and modernization and
commercialism. I have reason to believe that the hotel where we were
billeted was part of the rice terraces itself. Now, it's been turned to
residential houses and commerce. Most of the Ifugao's have been modernized
and they would rather sell souvenir items than work the fields, I guess.

From there, we travelled another 5 - 6 hours going to Tuguegarao in Cagayan
Valley. There we visited a famous cave, Callao, which was again,
spectacular. The size of that cave was tremendous it probably strectch to a mile. It had three huge sun roof openings. The closest to the entrance was turned into a church where they put pews and an altar. It looked like a cathedral of some sort. We were teasing Hokto who does not speak either Tagalog or English, that they can be married there. The Japanese guy laughed
knowing it's not that accessible as you have to manage more than a hundred
steps to climb to get there. The children had a wonderful time!

When we got back to the hotel, the kids took a plunge at the hotel's
swimming pool.

What I don't like about it is the long hours of constant traveling that
took hours and hours! Why don't they make these places more accessible?

That night after dinner, I won about two hundred bucks in our favorite card
game, Red Dog! It's a game where you're given two cards and you place a bet based on the ante hoping that the next card would be in-between the two cards that you have. Ollie lost about a thousand bucks. He would get a king and an ace prompting him to place the biggest allowable bet and
guess what, he'll get, another king or an ace. We were so noisy I feared
the hotel guests would be complaining. Well, we stopped at around 2 in the
morning with nary a complaint. So, I guess the hotel rooms were sound
proof after all. Nice, no?

What I don't

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Sunday, April 04, 2004

It's National Poetry month again in the US and writersvillage is showcasing selected poets including me and other poets at the Seniors group. The exhibit is introduced by Linda Austin in her essay entitled "The Roots of Poems". The poets include:

Chris Bloom
David Nourse
Glennis Hobbs
Gwen Austin
Jeanette Oestermyer
Kathy Kubik and,
Lori Romero

This is the second time writersvillage is exhibiting the works of its student-writers. The first exhibit can be found at the archives. It's truly an honor to be included in this roster of 21st century poets as most, if not all, have been published.

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