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Friday, September 19, 2014

Why read? Six reasons why you should keep reading

Reading has been an essential part of our lives for thousands of years. There are various reasons why people read. Whether it is a restaurant menu, a newspaper article, a prayer booklet or the whole Epic of Gilgamesh, you can be sure that someone will enjoy reading it.

 The 35th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) advocates reading and gives us reasons why we should continue to do so.

1. It stimulates your mind
Studies from the online issue of the journal Neurology found that reading or doing other mental activities can slow the progress of or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

According to the news portal Science Daily, the rate of mental decline of those with infrequent mental activity was quicker by 48%.

2. It help improves your focus and concentration
Unlike the experience of reading articles online wherein you can get distracted by ads or the temptation to check other websites in just a click, reading a book can help you improve your concentration because you are focused on a single item, thus helping you absorb what you read.

3. It can help you de-stress
Research conducted in 2009 by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading is the most effective way to overcome stress. The participants of the study started to feel relaxed once they started reading.

4. It makes you more empathic
Reading fiction makes people more empathic, according to different studies made in January 2013. Being emotionally moved or touched by a story results in a boost in empathy as seen in experimental studies done during a course of one week for readers of Arthur Conan Doyle or Jose Saramago.

5. It improves your imagination and your vocabulary
Vocabulary is widened when you research on unfamiliar words you encounter in articles or stories you read. One’s imagination is also enhanced when reading because the mind tends to picture what is being read to achieve better understanding.

6. It can help fight depression
Studies from the University of Manchester published in 2013 state that people with severe depression can benefit from “low-intensity interventions” like reading self-help books.

Text courtesy of the Manila International Book Fair. Yahoo Philippines is a proud media partner.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Heroism is About Living, Not Dying

By:  Gilbert M. Forbes

For quite a long time, heroism is always associated with death.  Adults used to say that anybody striving to be hero is usually killed nowadays. (Pinapatay ang nagpapakabayani ngayon)  It is very popular that it has become a common knowledge and a warning.  In return, ordinarily, people just remain silent in the midst of evil occurring even within their doorsteps.  They have become afraid, paranoid, and passive.

Whenever we do things in the best way that we can,
we are heroes. (Photo courtesy of google search.)
The majority could be unaware of this fact but it could be observed on how we are delighted to learn news of we perceive to be extraordinary deeds of heroism the media usually reports.  As such the media are always in search for heroism that could be reported such as taxi driver or janitor returning million peso worth of properties left by their clients, exceptional type of public servant’s performance,  or whistle blowers brave enough to expose evil doings both in government and the private sector.

Those deeds mentioned are ordinary practice of citizens abroad but appear to be uncommon in our society this type of hype shows. Is our country in search of modern day heroes? Does heroism has become seldom and an extraordinary affair among ourselves?

The truth is its not!  There are various types of heroism ordinarily happening out there but are just clouded by the evil doers because of our passive stance to ward off these evils. Heroism isn’t only about dying because heroism is a natural gift to every one of us.

Farmers and fishermen who honestly, patiently, dedicatedly and industriously doing their jobs to support their families until they are able to slowly get out of abject poverty no matter how long and difficult is an extraordinary heroism already.  Teachers, policemen, soldiers, and all public servants who undyingly serves our people in the best possible they can all portray an extraordinary type of heroism. All government officials including politicians whose dignity remains untainted, honesty uncorrupted and service above self rendered is an extraordinary heroism.  Private individuals, who honestly pay taxes due to them, proudly follow the laws of the land; participate in all undertakings for the common good are all heroes.

They are all our MODERN DAY HEROES.  So who says therefore that heroism is difficult to do?  Who is saying that anybody who is striving to be heroes is usually killed?  Yes there are instances.  But we should not forget, we will all die if it’s our time already wherever we are.  There could be dead heroes but there are also lots and lots of living heroes.  All we need is to open our eyes and look for ourselves inside out.

As the lyrics of the song by Mariah Carey which became popular two decades ago, we just don’t have to be afraid of doing so.

“There’s a hero.  If you look inside your heart, you don’t have to be afraid of what you are.  There’s an answer, if you reach into your soul, and the sorrow that you know will melt away.”

The song further says that, once the hero comes along, it goes with it the strength we need to drive away all our fears including the knowledge that we can survive.  It furthers, “So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you.

Evils should not be happening within our doorstep for evils to occur is for few good men to do nothing.  Being a hero isn’t about dying for it is more about living.  It is about living a good, godly righteous life which is as easy and natural as breathing because we are all designed to be good and live the best and righteous way that we can.

Kudos brothers and sisters out there!

Watch out for stories of heroism particularly among our teachers in the succeeding post as we celebrate the World Teachers Month.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Always Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time: A Reflection of a Public School Teacher

By:  Evelyn R. Magpantay 
Padre Burgos Central School 
Padre Burgos- Agdangan District, Division of Quezon

Another year had passed as things happened along which had contributed much to our performances not only to our families and our love ones but most importantly towards our works and attitudes in the performance of our duties, responsibilities, and mission as teachers.

Hope that this year would be a more fruitful year to all.  Hoping too that God continuously shower us with the gifts of life, wisdom and strength to cope with the challenges of our works each day.

Having moments of reflecting as to how I am doing my job as a teacher in relation to my pupils’ performance and feedback from my peers, parents and school heads, it is easy to think about getting to the conclusion that I’m still okay.  It’s because I am sure to myself that I am doing the right thing at the right time.  I make it to a point that every moment is important especially to those who are interested to learn.  I assume that everybody does for if they don’t, they will not be in school.

No time is wasted because they are slow learners and their picking up span is short that I have to make use of that precious time for them to develop the basic skills they need to learn each day.  I know they are eager to learn too that’s why I try to make the lesson simpler for them to understand.  As to my colleagues, everything is going smoothly.  The relationship with them and the parents are amazing and wonderful.  That’s why, I’m happy about it.

I am proud to inform my school head that my desire to be an effective teacher is in my heart and soul ever since I became a teacher.  And so as always, my priority is how to make these pupils improve their eagerness to learn, to study and develop their skills gradually.  

It has been my desire that they remember me years after or even if I’m gone here on earth.  That some of them my recall and say that if not with teacher Babes (Evelyn), I haven’t learn how to read, to multiply, I had stopped and so on;  that they remember and think of the good points in me instead of my weaknesses.

To others, it may not be that important but it’s all that makes me happy.  The best price I can get from laborious days of hardship each day and for many years as a public school teacher.

I think that in my age now, there is nothing more to change because I see to it that I do my best shot each day inside and outside the classroom.  I recognize that I have limited talents but I work hard for the skills bestowed in me to be a good teacher in the best way I can.  Sorry if I at times or many times I can’t cope up with the rest of the expectations from me.

Finally, I will still be what I used to be.  That is always working to be efficient until my retirement comes.  I pray to God that He looks upon me and give me longer years to live with my family and love ones, to share what I can share to others, give love to all and be contented for what I have.

(Teacher Evelyn R. Magpantay is a grade three teacher of mentally challenged pupils.  She's in the service for 35 years and her passion to teach just keeps on burning.  She is retiring in two years time.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Independence and True Freedom: 7 Things to Avoid to Have Freedom From Self-Centerdness and Selfishness

By:  Gilbert M. Forbes

Many of us are constantly searching from some sort of freedom.  It is a type of freedom from enslavement of self which is considered as the true essence of freedom.

This is usually attained true self actualization which according to Maslow is the topmost in the pyramid of needs. Basically, most of us are gifted with this ability because of being an spiritual creature.  However, this is overshadowed by our own weaknesses usually as a result of un-contained pride and prejudice to others. We tend to believe that we know ourselves but the truth is, we are not.  

This happens when we don’t recognize apart from knowing our weaknesses, how other people look at us and perceive our personalities.  This is the so called dark side or shadowed part of our self.  Psychology experts commonly call it the gray area.  These are the things that we know but people around us don’t know or things they know but we ourselves don’t know.

In knowing ourselves, the most difficult or challenging task is to accept how other people perceive our character.  Commonly this could be considered as the greatest blunder towards changes for the better. These types of people may listen but later reject what they are advised to do because they couldn’t simply accept the difference in personality or character they know and what others perceive.

Having some or even a few of this kind of personality in the workplace or team could be a great blunder particularly when urgent reforms are needed.  It’s because, people who couldn’t recognize or accept their gray areas find it difficult to do the following:
  • Get out of their comfort zones.  They are good at defending their turf in the guise of the common good.  They are good to seek and have the support of others in their immediate circles so their leaders who don’t want friction have to resort to win-win solution jeopardizing the fast speed of reforms that need to be achieved.  At the outset, sectors of the organization who are expecting for immediate changes are either disillusioned or have to wait and be patient.  The worst, if they succeeded in their bullying strategy and as a result just choose a let it be stand.
  • Adjust to the increasing demands of work.  They tend to do the same thing over and over again even when the same result comes out.  Innovations are difficult to implement even learn a new tool such as the use of current available technologies.
  • They possess natural gift on the art of demolition.  Peers or leaders who are considered threats are either to be tamed or silence.  Those who can’t be because of their principles and idealism are the targets of demolition jobs in the nature of false accusations, assumptions, etc., usually aimed at tarnishing their untarnished names.  They are good at pretending.  To an unsuspecting individual, they thought that they are being treated well but once turn their backs, they are the ones spreading lies.
  •  Generosity and selflessness.  They are easy to complain on the kind of losses that may arise on something but find it difficult to give more in the name of service.  They used to ask more but give less.  Once they have done a favor or ask to do some over time work, they are expecting for something in return or they themselves will find ways to recover what they have given in different ways either obvious or not. 
  • Trust,, responsibility and accountability.  They find it easy to circulate gossips undermining the integrity of their fellow workers and most importantly their leaders.  They commonly distrust fellow workers who are trying their best to do the right thing always.  They usually distrust their immediate authority even in the presence of transparency.  They forget the fact that they are responsible and accountable to all the things they do.  They might be unaware about possible consequences of their actions but the truth is once leadership of any institution is weaken, its credibility challenge, if the institution falls, they themselves fall.  Hence they would not trust others, they themselves aren't trustworthy.  To test this fact, one may check the accuracy of your company or institutions log books.
  • Adjust to the lifestyle their incomes can support.  Most of the time, our gray areas falls on our inability to adjust the life style that our respective pay checks can afford.  Ordinarily, these are the people who before experienced some forms of let’s say bounty.  So to support and continue this life style, they learn to engage in other income generating activities- which the worst form would be to become corrupt.  Others who don’t have the position may do some extra income activities banking on their positions.  It is no surprising at all to know personnel who are selling this and that either in offices or in academic institutions.  There would be no wrong at it at first glance but once conflicting interest exists, apart from considering guidelines relative to it, delicadeza should apply.  On the other hand, others resort to borrowing finding out later that they are already indebted to the neck.
  • Punctuality.  This couldn't be considered a gray area of our personality but once it is done habitually, it becomes part of our character.  As it becomes part of our character, we tend to defend and elaborately reason out though there's no amount of excuse that could make it acceptable.
Is there something to hope for with this type of people or personalities?  We people are naturally ambivalent. So, it is an inherent trait that we are usually unaware of our respective gray areas.  But what is important is after we become aware of it, we could easily adjust- for the better.  Not only for the good of the organization where we belong, but most importantly for our self growth towards self actualization.  This ability is what separates us from ordinary living creature.

What about you, how are separated and different from ordinary creature?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Surigao’s First Inhabitants: Empowering Mamanwa’s for the World

By:  Felix Najial Bagnol, Phd
Surigao City Pilot School
District II, Surigao City Division

Education is said to be the equalizer for all.  Those who want to climb up the social and economic ladder must pursue their dreams on the basis of knowledge and learning. But for the Mamanwas living in the hinterlands of Surigao del Norte, much needs to be done to put an end to the marginalization of their communities.

Mostly distinguished because of their kinky hair, Mamanwas are said to be the first inhabitants of the province, older even than the popular designated Negritos. These “kongking” are crisscrossing the vast Diwata mountain ranges being the “first forest dwellers” as the term Mamanwa derived from “man” (first) and “banwa” (forest). Characterized by their black skin, short stature, curly hair, snub nose and with black eyes, these people can easily get attention yet some shrugged their shoulders seeing them in the streets.
Displaced IP's in Mindanao.  (Photo courtesy of google search)

Regardless of their physical attributes, Mamanwas are amazing people with unique, indigenous character.

One of their most celebrated customs is the Bonok-bonok. Most historians described Bonok-bonok as an ethnic Mamanwa dance performed by the natives during thanksgiving, worship, and wedding ceremonies. It is a communal tradition of the Mamanwas, where the elders from different villages—the most respected men in their communities whom they consider leaders—along with the women, dance, cheer, and sing for happiness and friendship. Men and women dressed in colorful native attires complete with their ornate accessories punctuate the whole festival. For the Mamanwas, dancing reflects their way of life and serves as an expression of their affinity with the spiritual and natural world, where earth, water, wind, air and fire are alive.

Without question, that is Mamanwas’ contribution to the rich and flourishing cultural heritage of Surigao.

Over the years, Mamanwas are a people undergoing tremendous change - from nomadic hunters and gatherers to semi-permanent village dwellers, from nomadic outsiders to those who are now taking part in modern society, from being illiterate to becoming educated.

Sadly, they remain indigents and missed all the opportunity of developing themselves. Many of them are still mired in poverty, lacking access to basic health and education. They lament the loss of their ancestral lands, the passing and vanishing of their traditional practices, and even some of them have fallen victims to extra-judicial killings.

Mamanwa settlements particularly in the town of Claver, Surigao del Norte are displaced because of the mining activities. Reports told that chieftains have divided themselves as to who get the largest pay over their demands of 1 percent royalty fee from the mining companies. Under the Indigenous People’s Right Act (IPRA) of 1995, mining firms must allocate royalty payments of “not less than 1 percent of the value of the gross output of minerals sold.

Emancipating poverty through education

Realizing that Mamanwas must be equipped with skills and understanding to nurture their own  culture and instill individual pride, the Department of Education  and the Province of Surigao del Norte organized the 1st Indigenous Peoples Congress on December 19, 2012. The maiden launch was held in Brgy. Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte and attended by other education bigwigs in the region and division, LGUs and tribal representatives. Primarily, it was aimed to strengthen the culture of Mamanwas as a vital component for a progressive new Surigao.

According to Regional Director Atty. Alberto T. Escobarte, Jr. in his keynote message read by Josita B. Carmen, the Department of Education is doing its best to reach out indigenous communities like Mamanwas to be part of a mainstream in government schools.

Under the adopted National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy (DepEd Order No. 62 series of 2011 ), the Philippine educational system include and respect the diversity of learners especially those belonging to the minority groups to achieve Education For All by 2015 and the Millennium Development Goals, and to pursue the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda.
In a statement of DepED Education Secretary Armin A. Luistro who was supposed to attend the congress, he described the policy as a basic mandate of DepED to provide basic education for all, and to recognize and promote the rights and welfare of IPs to enable them to face various social realities and challenges.

“When we were working on the education policy framework for IPs, we had in mind their special needs, history, language, culture, as well as their social and economic aspirations and priorities,” Luistro added.

IPs remain the most vulnerable and marginalized citizens because of their lack of access to basic social services, limited livelihood opportunities which lead to social, economic, and political exclusion.

It was not a promise but Director Escobarte brought hope that by next 2013, there are 100 items available for IP teachers who are eligible. And with the strong support of LGUs in opening schools exclusively for Mamanwas next year, according to Gov. Sol F. Matugas in her State of the Province Address last July 2012, there is a higher hope for Mamanwas, our link to the world, as empowered Surigaonons.