Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 In Books (UPDATE: Now Complete!)

The 2010 obligatory book list! I found the notebook which kept the first half of the list! Yay!

Titles in BOLD are highly recommended! :)

January 2010

1. Media Education by Cary Bazalgette
2. C.S. Lewis: Spirituality for Mere Christians by William Griffin
3. God As He Longs For You To See Him by Chip Ingram
4. The Soul of Kierkegaard: Selections from his Journals (Ed. Alexander Dru)

February 2010

5. Esther's Inheritance by Sandor Marai
6. The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie
7. God Said That? So What? A Bridge to Confidence in What the Bible Says by Harold J. Sala
8. The Sandman: World's End by Neil Gaiman
9. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

March 2010

10. 88 Days in India by Chet Espino
11. Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself by Ann Mah
12. Nagueños by Carlos Aureus
13. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
14. Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn
15. Mama Mary And Her Children: True Stories of Real People by James Reuter
16. The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism by Louis Bouyer
17. The Catechism of the Catholic Church

April 2010

18. Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton
19. The Honey Moon House and Other Stories by Grace Livingstone Hill

May 2010

20. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by T.E. Carhart
21. The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Final Year by Jay Parini

June 2010

22. Everything is Connected: The Power of Music by Daniel Barenboim

July 2010

23. Parallels and Paradoxes: Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said
24. Letters of C.S. Lewis (Vol. 2)
25. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
26. Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas
27. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

August 2010

28. A Mind at A Time by Mel Levine
29. Furry Logic: Don't Worry! by Jane Seabrook and Ashleigh Brilliant
30. The Relic by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child

September 2010

31. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
32. Mini-Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
33. The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
34. A Feast For Crows by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
35. Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
36. Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church by John Allen, Jr.

October 2010

37. Thunderhead by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
38. Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
39. The Viking Portable Library: Emerson
40. Dance of Death by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
41. The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
42. Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year During WWII by Charles Osgood
43. The Armchair Conductor: How to Lead A Symphony Orchestra in the Privacy of Your Own Home by Dan Carlinsky/Ed Goodgold
44. God's Way: Teachers (Living A Life to Inspire) edited by John M. Thurber

November 2010

45. Teacher in America by Jacques Barzun
46. My Sister, My Spouse: A Biography of Lou Andreas-Salome by H.F. Peters
47. Persuasion by Jane Austen
48. Reliquary by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
49. The Strain by G.Del Toro/C.Hogan

December 2010

50. Geraldine, the Music Mouse by Leo Lionni
51. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
52. Conversations in Bolzano by Sandor Marai
53. An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan

I've been busier this year, so I only read around half of my 2009 total. *sigh* At least I was able to average one book a week.

Previous Years:

2009 in Books (Total = 102 titles)
2007 in Books (the last quarter = 29)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reflections from a Teacher's Retreat: The LEPI Manila Conference, Dec. 3-4, 2010

Top: Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido and Dr. Christopher Bernido
Bottom: Dr. Josette Biyo

Once in a while, one gets to attend a conference that's really special, one wherein you meet people whose lives and deeds are so heroic and inspiring that you can't help but be infected with their passion, self-sacrifice and nobility of heart. Tata and I were extremely fortunate to have been sent on such a conference by our employers.

The LEPI (Leaders In Education Programme International) Conference was held in the Ateneo, and Tata and I left for two entire work days earlier this month in order to learn from the best teachers of the country, including some from Singapore, Germany, Australia, Brunei, etc. And boy oh boy, did we learn!

But more than the newfound knowledge that filled our brains, we got to interact with real-life heroes and let their passion touch our souls. And among all the leading educators from the different countries, the ones who stood out were undoubtedly the three Filipinos whose pictures are featured above.

The Bernidos and Dr. Biyo are three of the world's most outstanding teachers. I've read of them and their achievements, and actually, THEY were the primary reason for my being so excited to go to the LEPI Conference!! It makes me so emotional to think that people like them exist, and it makes me so proud to be a Filipino teacher. Meeting them in the flesh... exchanging words with them... was an experience I will never forget. (To read about the Bernidos, click here. For more on Dr. Biyo, go to this site)

I will always remember what Dr. Christopher Bernido told me when we spoke for a bit:

"You (young teachers) are the hope of the country."

Not your students, but you.

Whenever I get a bit stressed and bummed out from the emotional rollercoaster job of teaching, I'll look back on the two days of the LEPI Conference, and I just KNOW that it has given me reserves of strength and inspiration which will help me through rainy days ahead. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Mania for Accessories

I was never much of an accessories gal, until that fateful day (about a month ago) that my twin sister and I walked inside that most evil store, ACCESSORIZE.

It is EVIL because there is no way that any red-blooded female can walk away without spending a peso (unless, of course, your wallet is devoid of both cash and credit card in the first place)! Rows and rows of (color-coordinated) bags, bangles, belts, necklaces, scarves, earrings, rings, footwear, eyewear... it's a fashionista's idea of Heaven on earth! They've even got SPONGE STICKERS!

My twin sister and I were "held up," haha, as we spent a small fortune on beautiful, BEAUTIFUL investment pieces!

Various neck pieces, including "The Never Ending Story" medallion (our personal nickname) and "The Caged Songbird."

Pretty pearl necklace (looks great over a black top) and its colorful counterpart (adding happiness to a plain white uniform)!

Working-girl-friendly bangles! Sure to add "oomph" to even the plainest of get-ups, and so easy to remove (not like charm bracelets, which can be rather noisy as well). They're made of plastic and/or wood... quite durable!

Being teachers, we have a "stud earring only" policy, and we immediately zeroed in on these classy designs. These earrings are hypoallergenic, which is a blessing for sweaty and acidic gals like us!

As we walked out of the store, we agreed that we didn't need any more accessories, that we were set for life, and we solemnly swore an oath that we would never buy accessories again.

Yeah, right.

* ACCESSORIZE - PHILIPPINES is on Facebook! Go to their page at!/pages/Accessorize-Philippines/83267796457 . They have outlets in Festival Mall, Robinsons Ermita, Northwing SM Cebu, Greenbelt 5, Robinsons Galleria, Trinoma, AliMall, Marquee Mall and SM Davao.

* Some UP students sell accessories, and I'm a happy customer! See Mikki Chua's designs and Pat Rodriguez's art works.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jacques Barzun: Teacher in America

Lest the title of the book mislead you, it is NOT a how-to manual to transfer residence and teach abroad.

It is one of the wittiest and most accurate commentaries about education that I have read in a long time. Barzun is a realistic idealist, one who believes in Education as a powerful force that can shape society for the better, but also one who sees the limits of teachers and their regenerative powers.

"Education comes from within; it is a man's own doing; or rather it happens to him -- sometimes because of the teaching he has had, sometimes in spite of it."

"An hour of teaching is certainly the equivalent of a whole morning of office work... The fact is that at 12 noon a teacher who has done his stint is as limp as a rag."

"Teaching is a 24 hour job, 12 months in the year; sabbatical leaves are provided so you can have your coronary thrombosis off the campus."

"A college (of music) is NOT a conservatory and it must balance the intellectual diet of its charges; all music and no economics makes a lopside A.B."

"The college doesn't pretend to "educate." It can only furnish the means of later self-education."

"The study of the arts ... is a gradual and deliberate accustoming of the feelings to strong sensations and precise ideas. It is a breaking down of self-will for the sake of finding out what life and its objects may really be like. And this means that most esthetic matters turn out to be moral ones in the end. Great art offers a choice -- that of preferring strength to weakness, truth to softness, life to lotus-eating."

"The highbrow or man of facts is a mere container... the trouble with him is not that he knows these things... but that they are idle possessions of which he is proud."

"The teacher must see to it that when he has achieved this mastery (of learning to follow a score), the student does not become an insufferable prig, for music can go to the head as well as the heart."

I wish I got to read this book earlier. Barzun taught History at the college level in Columbia for several decades, and he had several words of wisdom for would-be college teachers, which I wish I'd known when I started out teaching (it would have saved me a bit of heart-ache!).

Back to the daily grind tomorrow. Things are going to be a lot busier this 2nd sem!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What is the most beautiful national anthem?

Apart from the Philippines' "Lupang Hinirang," of course? (Hehe, fervent patriot here. OF COURSE I'm biased!)

I find Israel's and Hungary's sooooo beautiful! Listening to these songs brought tears to my eyes.

Israel's HATIKVA:

Here's the Hungarian anthem:

What other anthems strike your heart? :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Style Stalker: Spotted at the UP College of Music

I'm a closet kikay/fashionista, and I love seeing friends and colleagues wear dignified yet stylish clothes! Ms. Therese Gemora of the UP College of Music was wearing such a "winner" outfit a month ago when I took this picture, I HAD to take her photo!

(to enlarge, click on the photo above)

What makes a "winner" outfit? Of course, comfort and practicality above all else. I loved how utilitarian this outfit was, yet also versatile! This look would be perfect for a multitude of settings: the office (just change the sandals into flats or pumps)... the mall... heck, even for commuting!

Introducing the newest fashion accessory: the file folder! I loved it so much, I took a separate close-up picture of the folder beside Jet Gemora's bag (the folder costs only P100 from National Bookstore!).

Look out for more style stalker pictures in the future!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hoping for a restful sembreak (soon!)

I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that the academic calendar is very similar to the Christian view of history... and truly, don't we all passionately look forward to sembreak? Aka "the-end-of-suffering?" We equate sembreak with Heaven! (Except that, with semesters, the cycle starts anew with each enrollment period. A temporary version of eternal rest, gone all too soon.)

While my sembreak will not start for another week (let the countdown begin!) and will only last a week (bitiiiiiiin!!), I already feel the slower pace. I've been bringing home less work and I've been sleeping better, too.

Was able to attend our org's book session last Saturday (after missing out for two months due to acads!!), and I enjoyed the excursion to Bookay-ukay, a secondhand bookstore hidden in a cozy nook along Maginhawa Street, UP Village... off the beaten path! Of course, we HAD to have our comfort coffee and sandwiches afterwards, where we discussed books ranging from the deep and profound ones (with endnotes, diba Bernice?) to the lighthearted and entertaining. Looking forward to our next one, guys!!

The topic of "sembreak" reading was brought up, and it was mentioned that sembreak books are ideally those that make you pause and take a long,hard look at your life.

Looking forward to doing just that, soon! But first, gotta proctor the 2nd quarterly tests at RMM... and prepare my preschool students for their United Nations programme! *hums Hava Nagila*

What books are YOU reading over the sembreak?

(Aside: I've been writing academic papers and lesson plans for so long, I'm no longer used to writing blog entries!!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Winnie Monsod's Last Lecture

I love this lecture! I believe, with all my heart, in what she says. No wonder, because my father has been saying these things to me since childhood! A must-see, especially for UP grads!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Something Worth Sharing: Ben Cameron's TED Talk "The True Power of the Performing Arts"

I am a cultural omnivore, one whose daily commute is made possible by attachment to an iPod, an iPod that contains Wagner and Mozart, pop diva Christina Aquilera, country singer Josh Turner, gangsta rap artist Kirk Franklin, concerti, symphonies and more and more. I'm a voracious reader, a reader who deals with Ian McEwan down to Stephanie Meyer. I have read the "Twilight" tetralogy. And one who lives for my home theater, a home theater where I devour DVDs, video-on-demand and a lot of television. For me, "Law and Order: SVU," Tine Fey and "30 Rock" and "Judge Judy" -- "The people are real, the cases are real, the rulings are final." Now, I'm convinced a lot of you probably share my passions, especially my passion for "Judge Judy," and you'd fight anybody who attempted to take her away from us, but I'm a little less convinced that you share the central passion of my life, a passion for the live professional performing arts, performing arts that represent the orchestral repertoire, yes, but jazz as well, modern dance, opera, theater and more and more and more.

You know, frankly, it's a sector that many of us who work in the field worry is being endangered and possibly dismantled by technology. While we initially heralded the Internet as the fantastic new marketing device that was going to solve all our problems, we now realize that the Internet is, if anything, too effective in that regard. Depending on who you read, an arts organization, or an artist, who tries to attract the attention of a potential single ticket buyer, now competes with between three and 5,000 different marketing messages a typical citizen see every single day. We now know in fact that technology is our biggest competitor for leisure time. Five yeas ago, Gen-X'ers spent 20.7 hours online and TV, the majority on TV. Gen-Y'ers spent even more -- 23.8 hours, the majority online. And now, a typical university entering student arrives at college already having spent 20,000 hours online and an additional 10,000 hours playing video games, a stark reminder that we operate in a cultural context where video games now outsell music and movie recordings combined.

Moreover, we're afraid that technology has altered our very assumptions of cultural consumption. Thanks to the Internet, we believe we can get anything we want whenever we want it, delivered to our own doorstep. We can shop at three in the morning or eight at night, ordering jeans tailor-made for our unique body-types. Expectations of personalization and customization that the live performing arts -- which have set curtain times, set venues, attendant inconveniences of travel, parking and the like -- simply cannot meet. And we're all acutely aware: what's it going to mean in the future when we ask someone to pay a hundred dollars for a symphony, opera or ballet ticket, when that cultural consumer is used to downloading on the internet 24 hours a day for 99 cents a song or for free? These are enormous questions for those of us who work in this terrain. But as particular as they feel to us, we know we're not alone.

All of us are engaged in a seismic, fundamental realignment of culture and communications, a realignment that is shaking and decimating the newspaper industry, the magazine industry, the book and publishing industry and more. Saddled in the performing arts as we are, by antiquated union agreements that inhibit and often prohibit mechanical reproduction and streaming, locked into large facilities that were designed to ossify the ideal relationship between artist and audience most appropriate to the 19th century and locked into a business model dependent on high ticket revenues, where we charge exorbitant prices, many of us shudder in the wake of the collapse of Tower Records and ask ourselves, "Are we next?" Everyone I talk to in performing arts resonates to the words of Adrienne Rich, who, in "Dreams of a Common Language" wrote, "We are out in a country that has no language, no laws. Whatever we do together is pure invention. The maps they gave us are out of date by years." And for those of you who love the arts, aren't you glad you invited me here to brighten your day?



Now, rather than saying that we're on the brink of our own annihilation, I prefer to believe that we are engaged in a fundamental reformation, a reformation like the religious Reformation of the 16th century. The arts reformation, like the religious Reformation, is spurred in part by technology, with, indeed, the printing press really leading the charge on the religious Reformation. Both reformations were predicated on fractious discussion, internal self-doubt and massive realignment of antiquated business models. And at heart, both reformations, I think, were asking the questions: who's entitled to practice? How are they entitled to practice? And indeed, do we need anyone to intermediate for us in order to have an experience with a spiritual divine?

Chris Anderson, someone I trust you all know, editor and chief of Wired magazine and author of "The Long Tail," really was the first, for me, to nail a lot of this. He wrote a long time ago, you know, thanks to the invention of the Internet, web technology, mini cams and more, the means of artistic production have been democratized for the first time in all of human history. In the 1930s, if any of you wanted to make a movie, you had to work for Warner Bros. or RKO because who could afford a movie set and lighting equipment and editing equipment and scoring and more? And now who in this room doesn't know a 14 year-old hard at work on her second, third, or fourth movie? (Laughter) Similarly, the means of artistic distribution have been democratized for the first time in human history. Again, in the '30s, Warner Bros., RKO did that for you. Now, go to YouTube, Facebook; you have worldwide distribution without leaving the privacy of your own bedroom.

This double impact is occasioning a massive redefinition of the cultural market, a time when anyone is a potential author. Frankly, what we're seeing now in this environment is a massive time, when the entire world is changing, as we move from a time when audience numbers are plummeting. But the number of arts participants, people who write poetry, who sing songs, who perform in church choirs, is exploding beyond our wildest imaginations. This group, others have called the "pro ams," amateur artists doing work at a professional level. You see them on YouTube, in dance competitions, film festivals and more. They are radically expanding our notions of the potential of an aesthetic vocabulary, while they are challenging and undermining the cultural autonomy of our traditional institutions. Ultimately, we now live in a world defined, not by consumption, but by participation.

But I want to be clear, just as the religious Reformation did not spell the end to the formal Church or to the priesthood, I believe that our artistic institutions will continue to have importance. They currently are the best opportunities for artists to have lives of economic dignity, not opulence, of dignity. And they are the places where artists who deserve and want to work at a certain scale of resources will find a home. But to view them as synonymous with the entirety of the arts community is, by far, too short-sighted. And indeed, while we've tended to polarize the amateur from the professional, the single most exciting development in the last five to 10 years has been the rise of the professional high-bred artist, the professional artist, who works, not primarily in the concert hall or on the stage, but most frequently around women's rights, or human rights, or on global warming issues or AIDS relief for more, not out of economic necessity, but out of a deep, organic conviction that the work that she, or he, is called to do cannot be accomplished in the traditional hermetic arts environment.

Today's dance world is not defined solely by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet or the National Ballet of Canada, but by Liz Lerman's Dance Exchange, a multi-generational, professional dance company, whose dancers range in age from 18 to 82, and who work with genomic scientists to embody the DNA strand and with nuclear physicists at CERN. Today's professional theater community is defined, not only the Shaw and Stratford Festivals, but by the Cornerstone Theater of Los Angeles, a collective of artists that, after 9/11, brought together 10 different religious communities -- the Bahia, the Catholic, the Muslim, the Jewish, even the Native American and the gay and lesbian communities of faith, helping them create their own individual plays and one massive play, where they explored the differences in their faith and found commonality as an important first step toward cross-community healing. Today's performers, like Rhodessa Jones, work in women's prisons, helping women prisoners articulate the pain of incarceration, while today's playwrights and directors work with young gangs to find alternate channels to violence and more and more and more. And indeed, I think, rather than being annihilated, the performing arts are posed on the brink of a time when we will be more important than we have ever been.

You know, we've said for a long time, we are critical to the health of the economic communities in your town. And absolutely. I hope you know that every dollar spent on a performing arts ticket in a community generates five to seven additional dollars for the local economy, dollars spent in restaurants or on parking, at the fabric stores where we buy fabric for costumes, the piano tuner who tunes the instruments and more. But the arts are going to be more important to economies as we go forward, especially in industries we can't even imagine yet, just as they have been central to the iPod and the computer game industries, which few, if any of us, come have foreseen 10 to 15 years ago. Business leadership will depend more and more on emotional intelligence, the ability to listen deeply, to have empathy, to articulate change, to motivate others -- the very capacities that the arts cultivate with every encounter.

Especially now, as we all must confront the fallacy of a market-only orientation, uninformed by social conscience, we must seize and celebrate the power of the arts to shape our individual and national characters, and especially characters of the young people, who, all too often, are subjected bombardment of sensation, rather than digested experience. Ultimately, especially now, in this world, where we live in a context of regressive and onerous immigration laws, in reality TV that thrives on humiliation, and in a context of analysis, where the thing we hear most repeatedly, day-in, day-out in the United States, in every train station, every bus station, every plane station is, "Ladies and gentlemen, please report any suspicious behavior or suspicious individuals to the authorities nearest you," when all of these ways we are encouraged to view our fellow human being with hostility and fear and contempt and suspicion.

The arts, whatever they do, whenever they call us together, invite us to look at our fellow human being with generosity and curiosity. God knows, if we ever needed that capacity in human history, we need it now. You know, we're bound together, not, I think, by technology, entertainment and design, but by common cause. We work to promote healthy vibrant societies, to ameliorate human suffering, to promote a more thoughtful, substantive, empathic world order.

I salute all of you as activists in that quest and urge you to embrace and hold dear the arts in your work, whatever your purpose may be. I promise you the hand of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is stretched out in friendship for now and years to come. And I thank you for your kindness and your patience in listening to me this afternoon.

Thank you, and godspeed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blast from the Past

I'd forgotten that I previously owned a blogspot account! Apparently, this is my 2nd already. Check out my original blogspot online journal (with only one entry dating back 7 years! haha):

I'm struck by how negative, sad and insecure I used to be. It was a one-time baring of the soul. Reading between the lines, there's such anguish and self-doubt. My poor 16-year-old self seemed so lost and forlorn. I want to hug her and say, "Don't give up! In 5 years you'll graduate and finally KNOW what you're meant to do!"

How quickly time flies!

Photo taken from this site.

I'm moving!!!

To Blogspot.

My new blog will be at 

Multiply has been wonderful but the editing template at Blogspot can't be beat!

Hope to see you guys at my new blog!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A few more weeks to go...

... before the sem break.

I badly need a break. As much as I love my job(s), sometimes it drains me waaaaaay past the point of exhaustion. Weekends go by with me barely glancing at my latest pocketbook, and they are usually spent catching up on a big backload of work.

Thank goodness for five-minute breaks, friends, decaf coffee and de-stress blogs that I visit:

Because smart women deserve to look great, too. :) So sue me for me being girly!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Blog's New Home

It's official. This will be my new online home and repository of rants/raves.

For previous posts, please visit my old blog at

Monday, August 30, 2010

An Attempt to Revive my Inactive Blog

   I haven't been updating in ages!! Bad, bad blogger. Have been busy with new things, apart from the usual work-and-grad-studies combo.

   First, I'm now part of a fashion-advocacy group called GUTSY. Come visit our blog at !

   (Some of you might be going, "Gabi? And Fashion?" I don't blame you. I'm a closet fashionista, that's what I am. And besides, GUTSY isn't your typical fashion group. Go check the website to find out what our cause is.)

    Working with Blogspot has made me seriously think of relocating there. The template is more user-friendly.

   Next, I've also joined the Philippine Organization of Classical Singers. Expect big things from this new group, folks! 

   I'm also giving a talk on Friday to graduating college students, I'm supposed to motivate them to consider teaching as a career. I've only got 15 minutes!!! What to say, what to say, what to say? Fellow teachers, please help me!

   There! Update done! :) Hopefully I'll have a more intelligent one soon. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A New Beginning

   The first month of the new school year is always an extraordinarily busy time for me. Adjusting to a more hectic pace after two months of "slow-motion" living, and for me, learning to handle the new responsibilities that comes with being a (preschool) class moderator, has meant very little time for reflection.

   Which is why last Wednesday was a welcome break from the tyranny of Work. Though I did not physically attend the Inauguration, my family and I watched P-Noy on television as he gave his speech. As our favorite priest, Father Mario pointed out, Noynoy did not speak in a grandiose, oratorical manner, but he more than made up for it with his sincerity. Father Mario narrated during his homily how he had been present at Quirino Grandstand that day. Upon hearing the words of the new President, he turned to the lady beside him and said, "My God! He means business!" The lady's reply was striking: "Father, we should ALL mean business."

   The over-arching message that I got from the inaugural speech was this: Change must come from ALL of us. The President said as much in his speech, when he asked all those present to make the vow to themselves and to their countrymen, that no one will be left behind in this quest for change.

   Below are some excerpts from his speech, the parts that really touched me:

   "...I am like you. Many of our countrymen have already voted with their feet – migrating to other countries in search of change or tranquility. They have endured hardship, risked their lives because they believe that compared to their current state here, there is more hope for them in another country, no matter how bleak it may be. In moments when I thought of only my own welfare, I also wondered—is it possible that I can find the peace and quiet that I crave in another country? Is our government beyond redemption? Has it been written that the Filipino’s lot is merely to suffer?

Today marks the end of a regime indifferent to the appeals of the people. It is not Noynoy who found a way. You are the reason why the silent suffering of the nation is about to end. This is the beginning of my burden, but if many of us will bear the cross we will lift it, no matter how heavy it is...

We are here to serve and not to lord over you. The mandate given to me was one of change. I accept your marching orders to transform our government from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation.

This mandate is the social contract that we agreed upon. It is the promise I made during the campaign, which you accepted on election day.

During the campaign we said, “If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.” That is no mere slogan for posters—it is the defining principle that will serve as the foundation of our administration...

The first step is to have leaders who are ethical, honest, and true public servants. I will set the example. I will strive to be a good model. I will not break the trust you have placed in me. I will ensure that this, too, will be the advocacy of my Cabinet and those who will join our government.

I do not believe that all of those who serve in our government are corrupt. In truth, the majority of them are honest. They joined government to serve and do good. Starting today, they will have the opportunity to show that they have what it takes. I am counting on them to help fight corruption within the bureaucracy.

To those who have been put in positions by unlawful means, this is my warning: we will begin earning back the trust of our people by reviewing midnight appointments. Let this serve as a warning to those who intend to continue the crooked ways that have become the norm for too long...

Our goal is to create jobs at home so that there will be no need to look for employment abroad...

...If I have all of you by my side, we will be able to build a nation in which there will be equality of opportunity, because each of us fulfilled our duties and responsibilities equally.

After the elections, you proved that it is the people who wield power in this country.

This is what democracy means. It is the foundation of our unity. We campaigned for change. Because of this, the Filipino stands tall once more. We are all part of a nation that can begin to dream again.

To our friends and neighbors around the world, we are ready to take our place as a reliable member of the community of nations, a nation serious about its commitments and which harmonizes its national interests with its international responsibilities...

Today, I am inviting you to pledge to yourselves and to our people. No one shall be left behind.

No more junkets, no more senseless spending. No more turning back on pledges made during the campaign, whether today or in the coming challenges that will confront us over the next six years. No more influence-peddling, no more patronage politics, no more stealing. No more sirens, no more short cuts, no more bribes. It is time for us to work together once more.

We are here today because we stood together and believed in hope. We had no resources to campaign other than our common faith in the inherent goodness of the Filipino.

The people who are behind us dared to dream. Today, the dream starts to become a reality. To those among you who are still undecided about sharing the common burden I have only one question: Are you going to quit now that we have won?

...You are the ones who brought me here... I offer my heartfelt gratitude.

I will not be able to face my parents and you who have brought me here if do not fulfill the promises I made.

My parents sought nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.

My hope is that when I leave office, everyone can say that we have traveled far on the right path, and that we are able to bequeath a better future to the next generation. Join me in continuing this fight for change.

Thank you and long live the Filipino people!"

   (This link contains the transcript and video of the Inaugural speech, and its English translation as well.)

   Last elections, I voted for Gibo, but I must say that I heartily approve of our new President's actions. If his first few days in office is merely an indicator of good things to come, it makes me very optimistic indeed. :) Go Noynoy! Go Philippines!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The New Year

   In 51 hours, I will be standing in front of a new class of freshmen music majors, starting my third year of teaching.

   In a week, I'll be doing the same for my very own preschool advisory class. The familiar faces of my old high school/ grade school students will greet me as I walk down the hallway, only they will be much much taller after only two months of summer! And I will be shocked at how some of them will have to peer down to speak to me.

   Ask any teacher, and they'll tell you that for them, the New Year starts not in January, but in June. There is that powerful sense of expectation, of rebirth, of regeneration... and it comes not with the fireworks and half-devoured quezo de bolas, but with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the crackling sound of brand new notebooks and textbooks, the echo of students' laughter in the hallway. For the UP College of Music, it starts with the strains of Westlife, The Corrs and Alicia Keys heard in the corridor, outside the classrooms where students congregate, jamming to non-classical music while waiting for their professor to meet them for the first time (the chance of which is something like 1 is to 4, haha!).

   I look back on the past two months of easier living, on the mornings where I had time to savor my cup of (decaf) coffee while listening to Mozart or Renaissance polyphonic music on YouTube, and am glad.

    In the 10 months to come, I shall say goodbye to one hour more of sleep, one more novel read during weekends... but shall have the ineffable joy of interacting with hearts and minds so different from my own, which shall become as dear as my own... and truly, no amount of R&R can compete with that.  :)

    Ah... the life of a Teacher. There is nothing quite like it!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Call for Scholarship Applicants

Sometimes, all it takes is a helping hand given at the right moment. One semester can make the difference between a student continuing and eventually finishing his studies at UP, or stopping his schooling in order to work. The trouble with the latter is that they rarely get the chance to complete them.

It is because of this that our NGO, Ex Libris Philippines, organized our "Concert For A Cause" fundraising activity last May 21, 2010. We're now looking for beneficiaries for our scholarship project. We seek undergraduate students who need financial assistance to continue their studies at the University of the Philippines for the first semester of A.Y. '10-'11. (Partial and complete scholarship grants for one semester will be granted based on the applicant's need)
Do you know of any deserving U.P. student of good moral and intellectual standing (preferably no INC's or 5's, with a GWA of 2.00 or higher), who REALLY NEEDS this one semester tuition fee grant? If you do, please send their contact information and any other pertinent info (e.g. references, mini bios) to 
Gabriela Francisco (09209470835) or Tata Francisco (09209470861) (or any other Ex Libris Philippines member you know). 
Thank you so much! Please reply if you know someone---anyone---an orgmate, collegemate, friend, or classmate. A UP student who you think is deserving, and who really needs the financial aid. Just a name (or several names!) and contact number/s will do---and of course, a few sentences (personal recommendation) will be a great help. 
Please forward this to your teachers/students, family and friends; perhaps they may know of people who need this scholarship. Thank you so much!
For more information about Ex Libris Philippines, please go to
For interested applicants, please submit the following:
   4 pcs. 1x1 ID picture
   Copy of parents' most recent ITR
   Copy of TCG (a CRS printout of grades will do)
   3-4 names (with complete contact info) for references

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Replugging: Concert For A Cause

(Please click on the poster to enlarge)

Book-lovers and world-class musicians...
Uniting for a great cause.

May 21, 2010, Friday
6:00 p.m.
Abelardo Hall, UP College of Music

See you there!!! :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Repost: An Appeal for Support

We are Lester Pascua’s friends.

We come together to give a voice to his story.

Five unknown men, brandishing baseball bats and hidden by masks, viciously attacked our friend, Lester, in Katipunan at the night of April 29. As our friend Lester was walking to buy dinner, these men mercilessly, and without any provocation, attacked him. They ganged up on him and beat him to a pulp. As if their treachery and brutality was never enough, they soon drove off in a silver Vios (plate number ZMD 300) to escape.

As his friends, we continue to receive persistent reports that this crime was a fraternity-related hit gone wrong. Knowing that our friend Lester was never a fraternity member in UP, and had no known enemies, only heightens our suspicions that this was a case of mistaken identity. In our eyes, Lester was an innocent person caught up in a senseless act of vendetta.

Even as we still piece together what really happened in this case, and we trust our authorities in their investigation, we still condemn – in the strongest terms – this barbaric act. If it was indeed true that this was a fraternity hit, these men who attacked him are no different from criminals. These criminals, whoever they are, must not go unpunished.

We are angry that these things can actually happen in our streets. We are indignant that these hoodlums think that they can get away with their crimes. Nonetheless, we are united by our demand to exact justice.

As Lester’s friends, we come together as one to bring attention to his case, and never stop until the criminals who have done this to him are punished.

If you believe in what we stand for, please repost this note and tag your friends.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kodaly 2010

(see my Kodaly 2008 blog entry here)

(From left to right: Doris Maddaford, Jean Ting, Ma'am Lilymae Montano, Joyce Tan, Sir Laszlo Nemes, Ma'am Daisy Marasigan, myself, Krystl Buesa and Herbert Yonathan)

     Each year, the Kodaly Society of the Philippines holds an intensive two week course on the Kodaly method of teaching music, with Conducting and Musicianship classes as well as Methods, Materials, Practicum, and "extras" like Philippine Music, Asian Music, Vocal Techniques and Recorder classes. The lecturers come from the UP College of Music and the Ateneo, and while they are all excellent, the teacher who contributes most to the course's effectivity is our beloved Hungarian mentor, Dr. Laszlo Norbert Nemes. (Hungary is renowned for its excellent music education system. How excellent? Well, their high school students transcribe Bach fugues for dictation. And their children's choir can sight read Bartok choral pieces.)

      I have been fortunate enough to benefit from the mentorship of many excellent teachers during my undergrad years, but Sir Laszlo is altogether in another dimension!! Never has there been such a personification of excellent musicianship, gentility of soul, good humor and a generous, loving nature! Discounting the fact that my solfege/dictation skills have greatly improved under his tutelage, he has also taught me much by his example of kindness and humility. He is, quite simply, a teacher's teacher.

     Forgive me, none of my raving can do justice to such a wonderful human being as Sir Laszlo. Being his student in Musicianship and Conducting for the past few weeks has been, quite simply, the best two weeks of my life, both as a musician and as a teacher.

     It's quite humbling to realize just how far I still have to go in terms of Musicianship, but it did a world of good for me and my classmates (among them was Ma'am Isay Pineda, who was my former Theory teacher during my undergrad).

      I will always remember the early morning Musicianship classes where we sight-read and harmonically analyzed excerpts from Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro." We also had excerpts for dictation. What bliss!!

      And who can forget the joy of singing in a choir composed of some of the most beautiful voices our country has to offer? We did William Byrd's "Haec Dies," Zoltan Kodaly's "See the Gypsy Munching Cheese," Franz Schubert's "Salve Regina," and for our Conducting class we did Thomas Morley's "April Is In My Mistress' Face," Orlando Gibbon's "Almighty and Everlasting God," Edward Elgar's "As Torrents In Summer" and Benjamin Britten's "Deo Gracias" from A Ceremony of Carols.  All sublime masterpieces!

     I heartily recommend this two week course to all musicians, conductors, and music teachers. It is quite intense, as there is a great deal of homework to accomplish. But the rewards are well worth the sleepless nights and stressful days. :) No matter how stressful things got, I always woke up with a smile on my face, ready and eager to face Sir Laszlo with the Mozart arias memorized in solfa syllables. And I'm armed with a wealth of pedagogical techniques and lesson plans.

     The Kodaly method is, I believe, the most effective one there is. Singapore is already getting Dr. Laszlo to train its teachers, they will be implementing the Kodaly method in their education system very soon. I wish the same would happen in the Philippines. 

     What attracted me to Kodaly was the philosophy behind the system, which is very patriotic (use of the finest folk songs, use of the Mother Tongue, etc.). Upon further study, I am convinced that its emphasis on the voice as the primary instrument, its use of relative do solfa (compared to fixed do solfa), and its developmentally appropriate teaching sequence is superior to others. What's even more nice about Kodaly is the fact that it can appropriate elements of other methods, like Dalcroze.

     But I digress. Back to the main topic of my blog entry: Sir Laszlo.

     During the lunch break on our last day (which is known as The Day of Important Conversations, because it's the only day that we course participants are no longer cramming our homework, hehe), Sir Laszlo spoke to my batchmate Joyce and I. He truly believes that the best music teacher is someone whose level of musicianship is that of a performer. Food for thought!!

      Tomorrow, I go back to my workplace, to my summer students, recharged and re-energized with the burning desire to share my newfound knowledge. I can hardly wait!! :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Concert For A Cause: A Fundraiser for the Scholarship Project of Ex Libris Philippines

                                       (Please click on poster to enlarge)

Our NGO, Ex Libris Philippines, a SEC-certified, nonstock, nonprofit organization of book enthusiasts, is raising funds in order to help send deserving but financially challenged UP students to school. Our last two fundraising projects held March 2007 and April 2008 have funded the education of seven deserving students at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. 

We are now holding our third fundraising project for our NGO's Scholarship Project. This year's fundraising project is a Concert for a Cause, with performances by faculty, students and alumni of the UP College of Music. All funds to be raised will go to the Scholarship Project. The concert will be on May 21, 2010, Friday, 6 p.m. at the UP College of Music, Nicanor Abelardo Hall.


Treat yourself to a night of music and magic, and help out in a good cause, too! You'll be helping send students to school.  Please also help spread the word to your friends and family, and invite them to come as well! 

 Tickets are at Php 300.00 each. For tickets, please contact Tata Francisco at 0920-947-08-61, or Gabi Francisco at 0920-947-08-35. You can also email us at, or

By simply forwarding this email to your friends, you'll be helping us A LOT already. Please help us spread the word about this Concert For A Cause! Thank you so much.

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