The Day I Openly Talked about My Homosexuality with My High School Students

Today is the day I felt I directly contributed to World Peace.

Our high school students were tweeting their hunches about our sexuality. So my co-teacher and I finally decided to talk openly about our sexuality and made it the topic for discussion where everyone can simply ask questions about homosexuality without fear and contempt.

Interesting questions came up.

  • How did you know you were gay?
  • Can you choose not to be gay?
  • Was it hard coming out of the closet?
  • Was it hard for you when you were growing up?
  • Do you want to have a partner someday?
  • Did you ever want to be a girl?
  • Have you ever had a boyfriend?

We explained several things about homosexuals too.

  • Being gay doesn’t mean we’re extra attracted to people–we are as attracted as anyone else
  • Not all homosexuals are pedophiles or sex offenders
  • Being homosexual and transgender are two different things altogether
  • Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality and that even if you don’t agree you have to learn how to respect these differences in belief.

It didn’t stop at homosexuality though. The entire point was respect and acceptance. In the end, all we are hoping for is harmony among people, that differences are to be embraced and not to be condemned, that this conversation we had with a bunch of 14 to 18 years old would help each one accept one another.

It was tough. It made us sweat like bacon in a frying pan, but we did it hoping to teach these young minds respect, love and human decency–hoping we made a difference.

(BTW, Here’s a book I really would love to have. Just saying! :P  )

taken from http://booksforkidsingayfamilies.blogspot.com/

Iloilo Love Affair

So I went back to Iloilo as part of the Mentoring the Mentors Program (MMP). The only thing different (aside from my weight) is I have more confidence in my being a comparative literature major mainly because of better grades (shallow, don’t you think?).

Well, with that I have come to talk to daycare workers/teachers not just as a pedagogue but as a comparatist-in-the-making as well. If only all teachers were comparatists then everyone would be more critical with the things they teach–especially the literature they use no matter how young their students are.

As I believe in mother-tongue (MT) based teaching and as K+12 will be following principles of MT, I humbly reminded daycare teachers in Iloilo that they have to strengthen their student’s Hiligaynon culture by, at the very least, looking for stories and books in their native language.  Here, I found an example of such a book.

Translated into Hiligaynon by Genevieve Asenjo, this book may just open a child’s world from thinking as an Illonggo to thinking as a human being who is part of this world.

Epistaxis :P

On a more personal note, the participants really loved my talk on storytelling for teachers (based on their smiles and faces). It was very humbling. I still can’t believe that people listen when I talk (or maybe they are simply forced to). I enjoyed sharing with them as much as I enjoyed listening to accounts of their experiences. Ewan ko ba. Ang saya talaga makipag-usap sa mga kapwa guro tungkol sa aming mga classroom, estudyante ang pagtuturo. Pero syempre, andun pa rin ang mga problema ng mga guro. Kahit saan naman sa Pilipinas madalas pare-pareho lang.

  1. sweldo
  2. mga pasaway na bata
  3. mga pasaway na magulang
  4. mga pagbabago

Anyhow, I love Iloilo. I fell for it the first time I visited to give a similar talk and I’m still in love with it. Kung pwede lang sa Iloilo na lang ako magtuturo. I love its airport, its food (Aligue rice!) its people, its languages, its culture. Though I admit two visits are probably not enough to give someone an accurate impression of the place. Eitherway, it was another happy experience. Another moment, another memory that will help me through days when I feel burnt-out as a teacher.

I love Iloilo. I love children’s literature. I love teaching.

P.S. Thanks to _geek_ for the cakes, coffee, books and the wonderful conversations! See you soon!

When Children Talk About Homosexuality

I have this grade 2 student let’s name “R” who seems effeminate to his classmates. He gets teased about it everyday (i.e. bakla!), specially by the boys of the class.

So today, as R was about to deliver his show-and-tell, I explained to the class that sometimes there are boys who simply move “gracefully”, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gay.

I also told them that to begin with there is nothing wrong with being gay. I then asked them if they knew of any nice and good gay persons.

As the hands of my students shot up the air, they named uncles, brothers, neighbors, and friends who they really love and like.

Then, I asked the boys of the class.

Those who care for R, come up front and hug him.

And then almost all of the boys, even those who teased him, hugged him tightly.

Everybody smiled as R started talking about his remote-control car.

:D

My List Why “Labels” for Children With Special Needs are Good.

The term regular school doesn’t mean no children with special needs (CSN) are enrolled. CSN can be sitting inside your classroom even without you noticing. They can pass your tests, get promoted to the next level without your knowing that they have special needs.

As special education (SPED) has boomed in the past decades, more and more students are assessed of having exceptionalities (mind you, exceptionalities are not diseases or abnormalities). From behavioral to cognitive, your students may be part of the supposedly growing number of CSN.

It isn’t easy having a CSN inside your classroom for so many different reasons. And recently one of these reasons I learned is the issue of labels for I believe labels are necessary to strengthen my role as a teacher to CSN.

Labels are names with stereotypes annexed to them. For instance being labeled as “Austistic” (even though this has already been replaced with Child with ASD for Autism Spectrum Disorder) stereotypically means you look and act weird . Being labeled ADHD means you are mischievous, aggressive, magulo/makulit again without any rational proof.

Labels therefore negatively affect both the student and the parents involved specially when the exceptionality is prominent (i.e. a child with ADHD who shows aggressive playfulness inside the classroom). Although not every CSN is stereotyped or boxed out, the child may be unwittingly considered by his or her classmates as someone who has an abnormality or someone who is bad and should therefore be avoided. These kids cannot be blamed altogether as they get hurt sometimes by impulsive actions of their CSN classmates (i.e. ADHD). In addition, these preconceived notions of children regarding CSN is greatly affected by stereotypes held by their parents. Consequently, parents of CSN feel bad for their child. Who wouldn’t?

Because of these negative stereotypes and connotations parents of CSN might go in denial of their children’s exceptionality. Some parents who get pass denial and starts to accept their child opt for non-labeling (if there is such a term). This means though they know their child has an exceptionality they do not find any reason necessitating that they tell other people of their children’s exceptionality and thus they don’t. In the classroom this may mean they tell the teacher but when other parents ask about their CSN, the teacher is requested (or coerced) not to talk about the exceptionality.

I used the term coerced for as a teacher I am taking a side to this debate in special education–whether to use “labels” or for a better term “classifications” or not. As I have stated earlier, classifications are necessary to empower the teacher to do what is best for CSN or for children in general.

In the United States labeling or classification is required for CSN to receive of special education services such as disability or exceptionality ( Labeling and Eligibility for Special Education). Unfortunately, Philippine Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, in my opinion, has a weak stand regarding labels and classifications.

Why do we need classifications specially for regular schools? Here is my list.

  1. Just like doctors who first diagnose patients to identify what needs to be addressed, teachers need to identify who has exceptionalities in the classroom to maximize that child’s potential without expecting too much or too little from him or her.
  2. Euphemisms for exceptionalities such as “makulit lang” for children with ADHD prevents people from understanding what needs understanding. Euphemisms only support surreptitious gossip and unfair labels that work in the minds of other children, parents and even teachers.
  3. Exceptionalities are not diseases. A child has ADHD. So what?
  4. Children are not innocent, non-thinking beings who are insensitive of their classmates’ exceptionalities. Instead of avoiding the topic of special needs why not discuss this with your students who, even at early grades, has the capacity to understand even at a superficial level. With the internet being part of these children’s lives, their capacity for understanding sensitive issues have increased by a lot.
  5. The reason why many people argue and fight is because they do not have open communication. I am not saying openly talking about special needs will necessarily bring about peace and understanding in the school setting but at the very least it will foster efforts for talking, processing, understanding differences among individuals whether it be exceptionalities or mundane uniqueness.
I know this is very ideal. I know I do not have an inkling how parents of CSN feel. I can only imagine. But as a teacher, I need classifications to help students who are CSN, to help other parents realize that there are CSN who need the support of society, to teach my students that differences are to be embraced, to teach everyone that the world needs love and understanding. 

Of Tables and Teaching

I have a table to show you.

Not that table.

Jotted this down with a rate of 10 words/second. I’m exaggerating, no doubt. But the first time I came across this table back in 2009  in a Masters class made me really curious. And being an undergraduate then I wondered, would this hold true for me when I graduate? Fast forward 3 years later. I’m done with my first year. Had myself check this again. Interesting. Confessions:

  • Yeah, I sometimes wonder about a career shift, say a teacher but this time training agents in a big insurance company. I heard education majors do good in this department.
  • What about the call center industry, they ‘effin make big bucks which makes my salary seem like poop.
  • Going abroad, anyone?

My second year of teaching is coming. Based on the table I am still surviving. How about you? I would love to hear your thoughts! :D

Agawang Buko

Nung isang linggo, ginanap ang Family Day sa Grade 2 ng aming paaralan. Higit dalawang buwan na namin itong pinaghandaan kaya naman nakakatuwa na lahat ay nasiyahan sa isang kakaibang family day.

Filipino Outdoor Games ang napagdesisyonang gawing theme. Tuwang tuwa kami ng aking co-teacher na si Teacher Haydee dahil Hunyo pa lamang e ito na ang gusto naming gawing theme. Ang galing na pumayag ang mga magulang na ang family day ay sa putikan, umaraw man o umulan.

Ito ang aming mga nilaro:

  • Karera ng Sako
  • Ipit Abaniko
  • Hilahang Lubid
  • Palo Sebo
  • Agawan Buko

Di ko akalaing isasali pala ako sa larong latumbas ng Rugby ng Europa–ang Agawan Buko. Hindi ko alam na sobrang nakakapagod at napaka-pisikal ng larong iyon. Kaya naman natuwa ako na nasiayahan ang aking mga estudyante at ang kanilang mga magulang nang makita nilang kaya pala makipagsabayan ni T.JM sa mga tatay nila.

Isa sa mga rason kung bakit ito ang aming napiling theme at dahil bihira na lamang makapaglaro sa labas ang mga bata sa mga kadahilanang may basehan at katotohanan.

  • delikado sa labas dahil baka kung ano ang mangyari
  • wala na masyadong lugar na palaruan
  • mas may access na ang mga bata sa internet at computer kung saan maraming mga laro at gawain na hindi na kailangang lumbas pa
  • may mga batang mas sakitin tulad ng pagkakaroon ng allergies at asthma

Sabi nga ni Sue Palmer sa kaniyang librongToxic Childhood wala nang pagkakataong matutunan ng mga bata ang bagay na sa labas lamang ng bahay maaaring matutunan tulad ng pagakyat ng puno na nag-de-develop ng gross motor skills.

Maliban dito, kaya namin nais bigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga bata makapaglaro sa labas ay dahil sa mga Triviang ito.

  • Alam niyo bang mayroong bacteria sa putik na nakakapagpalabas ng endorphins o happy hormones sa ating katawan?
  • Alam niyo bang kapag mas maraming kulay berde na bagay sa palaigid tulad ng halaman at mga puno ay mas maayos ang paglaki ng bata sa emosyonal at intelektuwal na aspeto?

Nakakatuwa ring isipin na may mga batang maselan sa putik kaya buti na lamang napilitan silang maglaro sa putik at damo na makakabuti sa kanila.

Masaya ang naging Family Day. Sana nga lang kasama ko rin ang aking pamilya o kaya’y kasama ang sinisinta o iniirog. Kung sino man siya o kung mayroon man. LOL

Nang ako ay Masuwelduhan

Sa Ikatlong buwan ng pagtuturo dumating ang aking unang suweldo. Alam naman ng lahat na hindi kalakihan ang nakukuha ng mga guro pero ok na rin naman para sa isang solong nilalang tulad ko na wala namang dina-date o kung anuman (ang pait!).

Katulad ng aking plinano, pagtanggap ng aking suweldo ay kaagad kong tinawagan ang aking mama upang sabihin na sa pag-uwi ko sa linggo ay lalabas kaming pamilya at ako ang taya. Hindi ko akalaing masarap pala talag sa pakiramdam ang malibre mo ang pamilyang gumabay at sumoporta sa iyo mula noong akoy musmos pa lamang.

Bagama’t sa simpleng fast food ko lamang sila nilibre at bagamat pagkain lamang nang kami’y manood ng sine (astig ng SALT!) ang aking binayaran (puro pagkain ata nagastos ko)  sadyang ako’y natuwa na kahit papaano’y kaya ko ng magbalik sa aking pamilya lalung-lalo na sa aking pamilya. Hindi dahil sa ako’y may utang na loob kung hindi dahil gusto kong maipakita sa kanila na kahit ako’y sumusweldo na’y hindi ko sila makakalimutan bagkos mas mamahalin pa kahit sa simpleng pinansiyal na suporta lamang.

Simpleng mga bagay na sobrang magpasaya.

Salamat sa Panginoon sa mabuting pamilyang kinalakhan ko.

Ang Old School na Boy Scouts of the Philippines

Ipinadala ako ng aking pinapsukang paaralan sa isang basic training course ng scouting upang ako ay maging leader sa KAB Scouts sa aming departamentong Kinder to Grade two (K-2).


Masaya ang buong karanasan. Pagkain pa lamang solb na solb na ako. Sayang nga lang, medyo diet mode ako ngayon kaya hindi ako masyado kumain. Marami ako natutunan, nakaktuwa nga at maraming masasayang alaala ang bumalik sa akin noong ako’y naging boyscout sampung taon na ang nakaraan.

Kaya natuwa ako ng biglang kinanata ang awit na ito:

Walking with BP, walking everyday, walking all the way…

Naalala ko noong grade three ako kung kailan nagsimula ako sa boy scouts.

Marami rin akong nakilalang mga kapwa-guro mula sa pribado’t pampublikong mga paaralan.Ako ay naging bahagi ng Patrol Biik kung saan ako ang nagdisenyo ng logo namin. 

Ang hindi ko lang nagusutuhan ay ang patakaran na bawal ang mga lalaking guro maging KAB Scout leaders sa kinder hanggang grade three. Ang problema early grades teacher ako, sa Kinder hanggang grade three talaga ang aking pinag-aralan at gusto pagkabihasaan. Kaya naman sa halip na sa KAWAN (KAB scout training: Kinder – grade 3) ako ilagay, inilipat ako sa TROOP (Boy scout training : grades 4-6).

Ayon sa kanila, dapat raw kasing mother figure ang nakikita ng mga bata sa kanilang leader sa KAB Scouts. Natawa na lang ako. Kahit mga bagong pag-aaral ay nagsasabing kailangan rin ng mga male figures ng mga bata sa paaralan sapagkat kadalasa’y wala ang tatay sa bahay upang magtrabaho.

Napaka-patriarchal pa rin ng society. Ang pangangalaga sa mga bata, ang pagtuturo sa mga bata ay tinitignan pa rin bilang gawaing pambabae na hindi dapat ginagawa ng mga kalalkihan.

Naasar talaga ako. Taga-UP pa man din ang propesor na nagsalita tunkgol sa patakarang into ng KAB Scouts. Napaka-patriarchal at napakasarado ng kanilang isipan.

Napagpasiyahan ko tuloy magsulat ng liham sa pinuno ng Boy Scouts of the Philippines para malaman nila ang aking mga valid na sentimento tungol sa patakarang ito–na bawal ang lalaking guro sa KAB Scouts:

  1. May mga kalalakihang nagtapos ng Early Childhood Education sapagkat nais nila ng buong pusong mag-turo sa mga bata
  2. Hindi lahat ng kalalakihan o kaya naman ang mga lalaking iba ang kasarian ay mga child molesters.
  3. Kailangan rin ng mga bata ng father figure sapagkat sa panahon ngayon, ang mga tatay ay abala sa pagtratrabaho upang mabuhay ang kanilang mga pamilya.
  4. Kaya ng mga lalaking maging maaruga at magkaroon ng mahabang pasensya. Hindi lamang ang mga kababaihan ang biniyayaan ng kakayahang magalaga at magpasensya

Hindi ko naman hahayaang matapos na lamang sa ganito ang concern na ito. Naniniwala ako sa aking kakayahan at hindi ko hahayaang pigilan ako ng isang society o organisasyon na hanggang ngayon ay nakdikit pa rin sa patriarchy at male–species-ego. Isa pa, kahit mismong mga estudyante ko ay excited na maging Scout Master nila ako.

Ipagkakait ko ba yun sa kanila?