Sunday, February 21, 2010



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mardi-Gras in New Orleans

"Mardi-Gras is of course a relic of the French and Spanish occupation; but I judge that the religious feature has been pretty well knocked out of it now. Sir Walter has got the advantage of the gentlemen of the cowl and rosary, and he will stay. His medieval business, supplemented by the monsters and the oddities, and the pleasant creatures from fairy-land, is finer to look at than the poor fantastic inventions and performances of the reveling rabble of the priest's day, and serves quite as well, perhaps, to emphasize the day and admonish men that the grace-line between the worldly season and the holy one is reached."

- Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kung Hei Fat Choi

It's already February 14 in Asia. Kung Hei Fat Choi... Gong Xi Fa Cai… Greetings to everyone who celebrates Chinese New Year.

In the five years when I was a teacher at Xavier School, I celebrated Chinese New Year. Now living in NYC, I intensely miss the people, festivities, souvenirs and FOOD associated with the Chinese New Year celebration in XS.

I have XS to thank for immersing me in the Chinese -Filipino culture. Xavier is a Filipino Chinese Jesuit school in the Philippines where I absolutely fell in love with teaching. (Sigh…I miss Xavier. Xavier will be a totally separate blog entry since it IS such a big part of my life… )

On to Chinese New Year lest I digress some more…

Chinese New Year 4708, or 2010 in the Western calendar, is the Year of the Metal Tiger. Like the houses of the zodiac in the Western astrology, animals of Chinese astrology are thought by many to dictate personality traits or, in the wider scope of things, even impact world events.

I was born in the Year of the Snake. Let's see if the descriptions are true for me.

Snake personality traits
Like a deep river, Snake people are usually placid on the surface, but their thoughts and emotions run very deep.

Quiet and unassuming, they prefer to work by themselves and are more often in the spotlight for their real and lasting accomplishments than for outward attempts at garnering attention.

Snakes hate to fail, and are very lucky when it comes to making money. With reputations for being hoarders, they are very frugal and careful about lending money to friends for frivolous reasons. However, they often show extraordinary sympathy when presented with an opportunity to help those who are truly in need.

Essentially loners, Snake people commonly keep their own counsel and rely on themselves to get ahead in life, mistrusting others' thoughts and opinions on matters of the utmost importance. Facts, too, get in the way of decision making for most Snakes, who prefer to use their own deeply held feelings and intuition in negotiating life's crossroads.

In matters of the heart, Snakes can be deeply amorous, jealous in nature, and do not handle rejection well at all.
And woe to those who betray the trust and affection of the passionate snake!

In business dealings, Snake people command respect for their accomplishments and can enjoy great success as teachers (:> yey!), writers or philosphers.

Snakes are most compatible with : Ox, Rooster
Famous people born in the Year of the Snake: Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Dick Cheney, Bob Dylan, John F. Kennedy, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso

 ** Hmm… can I own up to these personality traits? (",)**

Friday, February 12, 2010


"I count myselt in nothing else so happy
As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends."
- William Shakespeare
"I love having those friends where years could pass, and it's as if you saw them just the day before. " 

AMZ posted this on facebook after our impromptu dinner date.

 Everyday, we get so caught up with the motions and demands of our own lives that if we do not make an effort, it would be so difficult to stay connected with friends, especially those whom we are not in contact with on a daily basis. Days, weeks, months and years can go by without us being connected with these people. Yet, despite time, distance and different circumstances, there are friends who you rarely see, but when you do, it feels like you were just together the day before. 

This was the case for AMZ and me today. Though we live in the same city, we had not seen each other for two years. Yes, we send instant messages here and there, but nothing can still compare to the quality and experience of the face-to-face conversation we had tonight over dinner. There's nothing like good conversation over  good food with good company. (Flo Lounge Restarant was a great choice, A  :>)

Today, I've had the chance to reconnect with a few more of my friends.

There's LD  with whom I shared a spirited phone conversation tonight. It was nice to reminisce about the past, talk about how we learn from them and how we gain 'wisdom' and more character over time, and sure, throw out some 'what-ifs' too...

Then there's always TN who I consider my kindred spirit. I continue to admire her and be inspired by her.

And of course, there's ever loyal and strong-hearted AO who has been my best friend since high school.

There are so many more special people who I will write about later. You know who you are. 

Here's to the special people in my life who remind me of the kind of friendship that transcends time and space. Thank you for the gift of your wonderful friendship.

*FRIENDSHIP - of Germanic origin, and related to the Old English fréond with the same meaning, and the Old Teutonic frijôjan, to love.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Today was not the usual hectic day at work – several students were absent, perhaps due to the aftermath of the snow storm. It gave me the chance to sit with my students and spend a little more quality and personal time with them. In particular, I spent some time talking about poetry with 'A' who is very quiet and shy. I learned that other than graffiti art, she was also into poetry. She shared with me the different types of poems she learned in middle school. It is impressive that she still remembers the many different types and how easily she composed poem after poem as I sat next to her. I loved how her eyes twinkled and her face beamed as she read her newly-written poems to me.

In Humanities class, after watching a few clips from "When the Levees Broke", we had quite a powerful discussion about race, responsibility and identity. Our students shared pretty profound observations and insights. It is amazing how they can take one topic/task at a higher level. When asked to freewrite about a place they long for, 'R' later shared an evocative poem about longing to be back in his mother's arms. It's safe to say that the class was blown away by his personal poem.

During lunch, one of my advisees presented her autobiography.  It was another opportunity to see a student outside her 'student' persona. Our school's autobiography goal is to help students understand that by reflecting on their personal history, they will better understand how the people, places and events of their past have shaped who they are today and deepen their sense of self. 'N' has surely exhibited that. She also showed me how much strength she has. At such a young age, our students have gone through and are going through so many challenging times, yet, they continue to show up filled with energy and smile to school everyday. I draw strength from them (as much as I say they take so much energy from me after a draining day). Their strength, insight and wisdom are truly remarkable.

Tonight, another student emailed me his written autobiography piece which he will be presenting tomorrow. After reading it, I emailed him back saying that it was one of the best ones I have ever read. It was very descriptive, well-written and genuine. I can't wait for his visual and oral presentation tomorrow. I feel very honored that he asked me to sit in his autobiography committee.

I am grateful for opportunities to get to know my students at a deeper level. I vow to continue to get to know my students at a more personal level. Before "students", "sons", "sisters", and other titles assigned to them, they are "persons" first above anything else – with their own interests, attributes, strengths and quirks. It is truly a great honor to get to know these wonderful people, and indeed, I find it a great pleasure to know each of them.

Yes. Today was quite a good and 'poetic' day indeed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I love what I do.

There's never a dull day in the classroom - no moment is ever the same; no class is ever alike.

Here are snippets of how my day was yesterday:



I was modeling to my students how to fill out a writing bank ('my writing territories' sheet).

Teacher Jo-Ann: "Help me fill out my writing bank. What is one thing that I love the most?" (I was thinking of music.)

Students: "Teaching"

… And my heart just melted.



Tough-looking student: "Do you have a writing utensil I can borrow? Thank you…"

Wow! That's something I rarely hear anymore these days? Usually it's more like Yo! I need a pen".

Hmm… there is still hope in the human race …

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

FINALLY – after a hiatus, I have decided to write again. This year, I vow to continue pursuing my passions and interests. Writing is at the top of the list next to music, reading, poetry, art, photography, volunteering and traveling.

Everyday, I'd tell myself, "Okay, just scribble some words and begin." Yet, I get sidetracked and find seemingly more pressing matters to do.

Yet today, it seems like I was sent a message not to wait any longer but to start writing now. Work has been called off due to the winter storm –blowing snow and blizzard warning. Hmm… this would make for a nice day of writing.

So here I am …

Where should I begin? And I was brought to entries of blog's past (