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Filipino Christian Families of Today

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His Holiness, Pope John Paul II has mentioned in Familiaris Consortium that, “the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes”pope-john-paul-ii

From our own experience, we know that this crisis is true in the Philippines.

Since the family is the primary cell of the Philippine society, it symbolizes the kind and characteristics of the society in which we are living in.

Due to the excessive poverty among the poor and consumerism among the rich, parents are concern about the material well- being at the expense of the Christian formation of their offspring.

This neglect of Christian parenting is especially serious during the crisis of adolescence.

This distortion in the priority of values create dysfunctional families.

One of the early signs of  dysfunction in a family is the severity of the power struggles parents and children experience.  If these struggles are not being resolved satisfactorily, ill effects will penetrate the behavior of children.  Children are like strings; they tend to resists when they feel pushed or forced into doing something they do not wish to.

The more you push, the more powerless the child feels, therefore, the more rebellious they become.  Rebelliousness often results when children allow their emotions to control their behavior.  This is because they want to get back at the persons whom they feel are controlling them, they want revenge.

Children copy the way they see parents deal with their emotions.  If parents expect them to be more controlled in their expressions of anger, they must first see it modeled by them.  Effective parenting is usually done by action, less by words.

Our country at present has a vast number of dysfunctional families.  However, we must never lose hope.  In this perplexed world, God wants us to depend upon Him and not on human resources alone.  He desires that we have a new heart.  Let us always remember that parenting is non-formal education without graduation.  But with God’s help and our Christian conversion, our Filipino dysfunctional families can be healed.


A Visit to Cherish

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Moments spent at Missionaries of Charity Home of the Sick and Undernourished Children was worthy to be cherished. I was with a group of teachers from Doña Carmen Denia National High School.  I could never be thankful enough to my sister for leading me to this place three years back.

It was my third time to do a charity visit to this orphanage. It was also the second visit of the Samahan ng mga Guro sa Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao [SGEP].

I saw for myself how “special” these children are and the reason I keep visits. The sight of the sick children was heartbreaking.  I tried to look tough and not to show emotion in front of the sick, special and undernourished children.  We were moved with such mercy and compassion.  We tried to hold on our emotions.  Few found the best thing to do is to give way to emotions in obscurity and discreet. Others entertain themselves by cuddling, caressing, carrying, showing affection, making face to make the children smile. One male teacher in awe at sight was amazed how the children were reared by the institution.

The “Missionaries of Charity Home of Sick and Undernourished Children” caters special children, sick, undernourished, poorest of the poor, and abandoned. When you visit them, the nuns (Sisters of Charity) will encourage you to “really be with the sick children”.  To talk, touch and take care of them.  It was really an eye opener for all of us to personally experience how it is to be with them. We found that the more you stayed with them the more you will find they need so much compassion.  As heartbreaking it was to see and touch these sick children, the more it was heartbreaking to part with them.  They get attached to their temporary friends and refused to be left behind or to return to their beds/cribs.  They really are longing for human touch and attention.We brought to them rice, milk [Bonna], can goods, biscuits, and eggs from the kindhearted and generous Denian students and teachers.

1897814_758567654178673_7046839680935306027_n I remember observing the children in the play pen. One child trampled at play and the other quickly caressed and consoled him. Another one had her top mangled in play then one quickly hold her and fix it.Their actuations made us realize that they were being taught how to love and care for each other. I deeply appreciate the nuns doing such mission.  Short chat with them strengthens my faith that the One up there is really sending His angels to take care of His favorite children. The nuns were accommodating.   They told us that the children are lucky during Christmas season (charity season) because there are many visitors and donations.  They said that they have less stock during the low charity season and so they are encouraging visitors to come back.

10169436_880636191946960_3780429889279105150_nHere are some facts that may be helpful in visiting the Home for the Sick and Undernourished Children:

  • Taking photos is only allowed at the gate, terrace, kitchen, and grounds. Strictly no taking of photos at the nursery, ward, infirmary, play pen and playground when children play.
  • They follow an early schedule starting with an early breakfast, lunch at 10AM, snack at 2:00PM, dinner before 5:00PM and lights off at 7:00PM. This schedule gives ample time for the children to rest early and to save electricity.
  • (During our visit) They house around 42 sick children with 4 nuns and volunteer helpers attending to the sick children and house chores.
  • They also take care of sick but not abandoned children from poorest of the poor families who bring their sick children to the nuns. The nuns take care of them and provide them food, medicines including medical attention. Parents can visit and take their kids back home once cured.
  • When a child reaches school age, the institution will endorse them to the Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD] for follow through.
  • The Missionaries of Charity is the order of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  They are located at: Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City. Their telephone number is 296-0577. You may give a ring anytime of the day.

In these tough times most of us are dealing with our different problems and adversities that sometimes we feel that we also need some compassion and charity.  Despite our struggle, hope we still find time to spare and visit them. They are within our reach and waiting!

Radiant in Adversities

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Surmounting adversities in life requires a strong optimism. Undergoing twice-a-week hemodialysis via permanent shunt ‘vis-à-vis’ with a teaching career plus the role of a family head is indeed a burden.

Mrs. Gemma T. Casar, Teacher I, Doña Carmen Denia National High School, Toril, Davao City struggles her way amidst adverse life condition. She teaches Mathematics. She had been a dialysis patient beginning May 2009 due to ESRD [End Stage of Renal Disease]. Her attending physician is Dr. Franklin Guillano, Nephrology.

She definitely needs to continue her teaching career. Her compensation supports her family and her medical expenses. She is a woman full of optimism. She does not appear sickly. She carries herself well.

As a teacher, she radiates strong positivity towards students and co-educators. She is still concern of her efficiency in teaching-learning process.

The Department of Education is implementing the ICT integration in the teaching-learning process. Thus, ICT trainers in the school conducted series of trainings. She cooperates well during the trainings. Trainers noticed her intense interest during the phase I [Basic] training. During the phase II [Power point presentation], she was awarded as one of the Most Improved Participant. After the phase III [Wiki] training, the trainers found that her output stands out. Participants were required to make two wiki pages. She was able to make four pages which cover the whole chapter of the fourth grading lessons. Amazing!

One of the trainers asked why she was very interested, patient and persevered in that particular endeavor. She replied “Wiki is indeed of great help to digital learner students. That’s a legacy when I’m gone”.

Above is a person optimistic amidst adverse situations, with a humble acceptance that all things will come to its end.

Habit Delight

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Have you ever met an employee who would consistently report for official duty one and half hours before official time?

Here is one of my co-teachers in a public school. She got the job in the year 1980. She used to report to school as early as 5:30 in the morning. She is very consistent in her habit of reporting for duty much ahead of official time.

Upon her arrival, she would open the administration office where employees’ logbooks were kept. She would supervised the cleaning of the filipino department cubicle in the faculty room. She would entertain herself with the television set. She would wait for other teachers to come. She is the most punctual in school. She is Violeta Manuela Monteverde Ferriols.

Violeta Manuela M. FerriolsPunctuality is the hinge of an institution. It is a virtue which we all revere, in theory at least, even if we do not carry it into practice. The punctual person always works at an immense advantage. She has regard for the convenience of others as well as herself. The habit of punctuality has reference to money, time and labor engagements, and the person who is habitually on time in these matters is fairly on the way to success. She keeps her promises, meets her obligations, stands ready always to do at the proper time what is required of her.

I see in her the values of time consciousness and punctuality. If these values were inherent in all public school teachers, quality education will surely be within our reach.

Teachers’ Day: A Token of Appreciation

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Every teacher would wish for a student to say a heart pounding phrase “My Teacher, My Hero”.

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated every year on October 5th since 1994. It aims to activate support for the teachers. The secretary of the Department of Education, Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC issued a memorandum to its effect.

I am presently connected with Dona Carmen Denia National High School, Toril, Davao City. Mrs. Lolita M. Arciaga, principal III requested the Teachers-Employees organization under the leadership of Mr. Artemio C. Maboloc to spearhead the momentous event.

The organization launched varied activity open for teachers’ involvement and participation. It aims to redirect the focus of teachers from academe to sports, mind games, talent showdown, and others on a certain time frame . There was also a performance based Search for Most Outstanding Teacher. The organization sponsored cash prizes for the winners.

The school population participated the parade early in the morning facilitated by Hector Peter Paul S. Gana-an. It was followed with the reading of“letter to my teacher”. Games were played on a specific location inside the campus. Students’ cheering were loud and clear pushing for better performances of their teachers. Those cheers were very pleasing to teachers’ ears and joyful to the heart. I was in awe. The experience was indeed amazing.

Tribute program followed in the afternoon. Students offered flowers, cards, letters, poems, essays, and varied stuff of appreciation to the teachers. Outstanding teachers were awarded and the Most Outstanding Teacher for S.Y. 2010-2011 was Mary Jane Bordon- Ditching. “A salute to ma’am Jane”.

The event was described as momentous because teachers were expected to savor the moment. They were free from academic responsibilities. They would not be exposed to annoying attitude of students. Above all, the moment was an opportunity for the students to express their appreciation to the teachers.

Teachers must be afforded with utmost happiness on teachers’ day. Utmost happiness of a teacher would sink in when students appreciate their perseverance in preparing lessons. Students would appreciate the resourcefulness of teachers in utilization of teaching materials such as visual and audio aids. They would appreciate the prudence of the teachers in selecting strategies to be used in teaching and learning process. They would appreciate in-depth the patience of teachers in dealing students with behavioral problems. They would appreciate the fairness of the teachers in evaluating their performances. They would appreciate the practice of justice in giving ratings.

How rewarding if students would be appreciative of teachers’ effort everyday. Teachers would surely have a happy and cheerful disposition inside the classroom.

Student Today, Driver Tonight

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I believe in the old saying which goes “Poverty is not a hindrance to success”.

It was an inspiration which pushed me to perform best in studies. After many years of perseverance I became a public school teacher.

In my 21st year of service I met a senior student assigned as computer laboratory aide. His name is Abbe Atega. He is very hard-working. He is diligent and responsible. He is witty. He is determined to be a professional in the coming days.

Last August 17, 2010 his task in the laboratory was done much ahead of time. He spent some minutes chatting with me.

He shared that he was once a drop-out from school due to financial difficulty. He was sent to a farm where he worked for his living. Later he realized that he will be farming for the rest of his life if he will not continue his schooling. He went back to school.

The family’s financial difficulty was mitigated by the illnesses of his parents. His mother cannot work for a living. His father’s income would only sustain his medical maintenance, food, shelter for the family, and for the schooling of her older sister in college. He was aware that if he would not sort out whatever resources available, he would end up a bystander.

His class ends at 3:45 p.m. He used to go home right after his class to do some personal chores. At 5:00 p.m., he is off to the road for a living. He would drive a motorcycle with side car. Time and weather were not essential to him. His focus was on the delivery of the passengers. He would stop at 11:00 p.m. to rest. His usual net income would be Php 100.00. He would remit Php 80.00 to his mother and Php 20.00 for his allowance in school. At 6:45 of the following day, he would be at school for studies.

I find this guy very amazing. I would feel the sacrifices he made in order to continue his studies. I salute him for that. I see in him the value of perseverance. This value is rare in teenagers. Teenagers today would prefer quitting school and earn a living. Persevering attitude is very hard to acquire. Sacrifices must become a habit to acquire this value.

Perseverance is the quality of continuing with something even though it is difficult. The first step toward attaining success is understanding how to persevere.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Victory belongs to him who has the most perseverance.”

With due consideration of those tiresome routine he still garnered rank #1 in his class on the first quarter of the school year.

A teenager like him will preferably make a difference. In him I am convinced that attitude and character are two vital values that would bring out person’s success.

Deep Sleep in Pain

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Right after thirty-nine years of living, I was at the portal of death.

I suffered Acute Glomerolunephritis and was treated with hydrocortisone. After sixteen months I got Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In 2006, this illness was considered rare. One of its symptoms is ascending paralysis.

On the eve of August 19, 2006 I was rushed to the hospital because it became very hard for me to grasp my breath. I would not swallow food. I would not urinate and no bowel movement for five days. I would not walk. I felt severe pain all over my body. I suffered water retention [edema]. In the afternoon of the next day I was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. I asked for a priest because I felt that I needed the last sacrament “anointing of the sick”.

The following day I was disoriented of time, environment and with the people around. Three of my eight attending physicians told me to strengthen my faith in God and pray a lot. They promised to pray for me too. Then I fell in a deep sleep.

I still heard some messages from my sisters, brothers and husband. I would not see them anymore. The severe pain was always aggravated. It was the very moment that I gave up my life to the Lord.

I travelled from one place to another. Some places were the ones where I have been. Many others were new to me. I met nice people to talk with. I did not have strange feeling to the people I encountered. I felt I was just in new places. Whenever I talked with them I was always reminded of my teenage sons. Repeatedly I would hear the voice of my husband “fight for the sake of our sons, let’s go home soon”. I felt the emptiness. I was always longing to hug them. I always prayed to be given the chance. I was very hopeful.

Coma is a state of unconsciousness in which the patient does not reply to verbal stimuli, may have varying response to painful stimuli, does not move voluntarily, may have altered respiratory patterns, may have altered pupillary responses to light, and does not blink. In general, the longer the coma lasts, the more likely it is irreversible. [Black, Joyce 8th edition]

After six days of travel, I woke up. I felt I came from a very deep and long sleep. I had a feeling that I rested quite long but still in severe pain. I would not move any part of my body. The attending nurse taught me how to open my mouth and she brushed my teeth. I would not even do the close-open exercise of my fingers. I would not do the thumbs up. Lying in bed, I would not even manage to turn right nor left.

State of coma is not just sleeping in-depth nor being subconscious. Severe pain is inescapable. It would make you give up your life and be with the Lord and have a peaceful rest.

Those moments were considered as severe depression for me and my family. However, we remain steadfast in hope. We believed firmly that God will give chance to persons He loved the most. God’s intervention was always there. Friends offered spiritual support. Priests paid regular visits and prayed unceasingly.

I was then sure of something special. God always give chance to hopeful faithful.