May 20, 2012

Here We Go Again: Debate Workshop, Batch 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 11:15 am

I’m back! I hope my temporary hiatus gave you a rest from the steady diet of debate, debate, debate I’ve been feeding you over the past few days.  Hopefully this was enough, for here’s another long, and I mean LONG post (though not long at all compared to the previous two about Batch 1) about that very topic (be ready.)

As the title says, we’re already on Batch 2 of the debate training at City Science. (Sorry if I keep using the words “workshop” and “training” interchangeably. I’m just used to it.) There’s a whole new group of people, many of whom I don’t even know slightly, and with different vibes. The morning group of Batch 1 is different from the morning group of Batch 2, the afternoon group of Batch 1 is different from the afternoon group of Batch 2, and the morning and afternoon groups of Batch 2 are different from each other. It’s like we’re seeing four different batches instead of just two.

One difference I immediately noticed was the lack of preference for only one door. While the Batch 1 people preferred one door to the other (especially the afternoon group) both the morning and afternoon groups of Batch 2 held both doors open. Also, they were usually more dressed-up. Few would show up in class wearing flip-flops and ordinary (not denim) shorts and those that did were mostly Batch 1 people sitting in. (I’ll get back to that later.) But one thing they had in common was the enthusiasm for the class (although the Batch 2 people, seemed more shy than the Batch 1. No offense, please!)

Recent Events

Drew apparently had gotten into hot water with the Batch 2 people when something he posted on Facebook pissed them off. It went something like this, “We came here to assist them, not to pawn them” referring to their plan to sit in with the Batch 2. The others were like, “US, be PAWNED?” And so a minor squabble, which thank goodness is over, resulted. Lesson: be careful what you say, for it can be used against you.

Although on Monday and Tuesday last week quite a number of Batch 1 people sat in, come Wednesday no one sat in during the morning and in the afternoon, there was just Drew. Mama’s idea seems to be working. The Batch 2 people are getting more enthusiastic and they’re not as shy anymore. Looks like their older peers’ “fire” is rubbing off on them. (And USI may face another school to fight with when the next debate tournament rolls around.)

We weren’t able to continue the training as planned because my maternal grandmother died and we had to attend the wakes and funeral, so I don’t have much to say about the Batch 2. 😦

Funny Moments, Quotable Quotes

One time my mother brought some short selections to be read aloud by the class as a warm-up exercise. Few dared to come forward (and for once Mama’s trying to convince them by counting down didn’t work) so it was really noticeable (glaring?) that one particular student came up to the front 3 times to read 3 different selections (especially that some didn’t even get to read one.)

Mama: If you were given the topic, “THBT: Alcohol and tobacco are not a healthy mix”, how would you define “alcohol” and “tobacco?”

Brian*: I would define “tobacco” as a stimulant that is chewed or smoked…

Mama: And what about “alcohol”?

Brian: “Alcohol” would mean rubbing alcohol. Not a healthy mix!

The class was divided into 3 groups and we were having a debate about which kind of sugar is the best (white or “refined”, brown, or washed.) When one person from the “washed” team was talking about the differences in color between the two extremes and that they were the best of both worlds because they were neither too white or too brown (or something like that). Then someone yelled, “That is racism! Color coding!”

* Pseudonym.


May 15, 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful (A Little Reflection on Life)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 3:55 am

In memory of my grandmother, Ester Salvador Ceas, 1928-2012.

Life is short. I know that myself; we just attended my maternal grandmother’s wake. But this doesn’t mean we should sit down and give up our lofty ambitions, beautiful dreams, high hopes, assets, etc. because we’ll die anyway. Especially in the case of assets, and specifically monetary ones, because, as they say, you can’t take your riches into heaven. It’s hard to argue with that, right?


That very fact that we can’t take the things we love to “the other side” is precisely why we should enjoy our lives more. Life’s too short to mope and rant. So while you have things as nice as a delicious dinner, money, or even just the thrill of seeing a cute guy on the street, savor the moment! You may never experience the thing again.

Let me give you this excerpt from Jacqueline Wilson’s book Vicky Angelfrom the scene where Jade reads one of Vicky’s English essays (entitled Reasons to be Cheerful) at her funeral (Note: some of the words may be different from the original version)

“Life is fun, one great big roller coaster swoop, right? It’s fun to have a laugh with your best friend, it’s fun to go out with a boy, it’s fun to turn up your music and sing really, really loud to wind people up, it’s fun to shop for new clothes with your mom, it’s fun to sit on the arm of your dad’s chair and wind him round your little finger, it’s fun to make a funny face in front of the mirror and poke your tongue out…

“More reasons to be cheerful. Life is beautiful. Not just all the nature stuff, the blue skies and blossoms and little bunny rabbits. Town things can be beautiful too. I think Lakelands Shopping Center is seriously beautiful! The big houses up the hill are beautiful. London is beautiful, New York is even more beautiful and I can’t wait to go there. Travel is definitely beautiful. Holidays too.

“And one last to be cheerful…Life is short. You don’t know if you’re going to live to see tomorrow. Don’t waste your time moping. Enjoy yourself!”

Although the book is fiction, Vicky’s essay definitely has a point. There are lots of nice things in life that you should definitely savor while you’re still around on earth.  So don’t waste your time.

Even the not-so-nice things in life have a positive side. To demonstrate this, I’ll give you this little list:

If it’s unbearably hot, think that there wouldn’t be too large a chance of a storm anytime soon;

If it’s raining buckets, think that it wouldn’t be very likely that there’ll be a drought on the horizon;

If you’re annoyed with your siblings, think that they make the house feel less empty (and you’ll have somebody to point your finger at if there’s an accident or something);

If you’re an only child, think that there won’t be too many people to share your cellphone, laptop, Playstation, or anything else with (if you’re a privacy freak);

If you live in a tropical country, think that it’s less likely that you’ll experience ice storms or tornadoes;

If you live in a temperate or polar country, think that once you get used to it,  everything will seem normal;

If you are poor, think that you are less likely to be robbed or have your children kidnapped for ransom;

If you are stuck in a traffic jam, think that you have a genuine excuse for being late for work or school;

If you are ugly, think that you are less likely to be raped (if you’re a girl);

If you are short, think that you can easily hide if somebody’s trying to attack you;

If you are obese, think that if you are shot, the bullet just might be caught in your rolls of fat and leave no harm (not to mention that you are less likely to drown);

If you fail several quizzes in a row, not too many people will accuse you of cheating;

If your peers call you a nerd, think that someday, some of those people might be working for you (remember the Bill Gates quote?)

The list goes on and on and on and on and on.

Anyways, you get the picture. If you expand your horizons a bit, you find that there is a bright side to almost every seemingly bad situation. With this evidence in hand, we have proven that it is stupid, useless, and senseless to feel bad either about life’s little hassles or terrible tragedies. 

Sure, there’ll be people itching to rebut my statement, but this is MY opinion.  In the meantime, I’ll be off. See you next time!

May 8, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 3:00 pm


…and wacky.


Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 3:00 pm


Batch 1 of the debate training. Formal…


Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 2:57 pm


My would’ve-been temporary colleagues (had I not been called out in the middle of their debate)


Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 2:56 pm


Researching material for his speech…NOT! (I caught him playing Angry Birds Rio a few minutes before.)


Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 2:54 pm


The teams Batch 1’s morning class formed on April 27. (See how wacky the names are?)

Debate Training, Part 2 (Batch 1)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 2:48 pm

Hello again, guys. Sorry I wasn’t able to keep to my one-post-every-other-day goal, but the Internet connection was so erratic, and if you have ever shared your computer with four other people, you know what I feel at having to sit back and watch the mutiny. But all things have a bright side, and the bright side of this was that it gave me time to try to organize my thoughts. So I won’t keep you waiting any longer by ranting. Without further ado, I’ll now go on with this post.


Recent Events

Lately Batch 1 of the debate workshop/training has been dead set on the culminating activity to be held on Saturday, May 5, 2012. When Mama heard that the people in the journalism track weren’t allowed to run in the student government, she decided to have a mock Meeting de Avance with “political parties” and debates between the candidates, campaign paraphernalia displayed around the venue, and the principal and parents in the audience. They greeted the idea enthusiastically. When we streamed into the Syphyphers Media Center (weird name, isn’t it?) for Thursday’s dress rehearsal, I noticed that many of them wore black blazers and slacks and quite a number of girls wore high heels. Groomed to the teeth, folks! (Too bad they chose to wear them during such a hot day.)
The same couldn’t be said about their practice debates, however. This was especially glaring when you compared the morning and afternoon sessions. The morning group was more disorganized and boring. The intermission numbers weren’t well-prepared, their speeches weren’t interesting enough, it was so hot in the room, and since there were so many people (total 35) by the time we reached the last two positions it was already quarter to twelve, so we had to do away with the cross-examination and rebuttal just to let the kids go home for their lunch.
The afternoon class could not have been more different. Their intermission number, a dance by three of the boys, was really funny, and the exchanges at the end were so heated (“If you are going to ask for help from the PTA, then why do we need the student government?”) I promptly dubbed it Word War 1. I wanted to video it but the phone could record only a few minutes at a time.
I overslept on Friday morning so I wasn’t able to attend the morning session. However, I was able to come in the afternoon. They did pretty much nothing all day save talk and organize the matter for the next day’s activity. Some also helped fix up the venue. While there weren’t too many activities (actually there were almost none) it was nevertheless a nice day.
The next day, Saturday, was the big day. Oh, joy! Although it was still extremely hot, the microphone didn’t work well, we weren’t able to borrow the projector, and only two mothers came, it was good overall. (Will be explained in the following sub-posts).

More about Drew

I recently learned that the two of us had one thing in common: we’re both trying to write books. His book is about a wanted criminal who becomes a detective to set his fellow criminals free (or did he change the plot?). Mine is about a Filipina and her French classmate living in the United States. When I stumbled on this tidbit of information I got curious and thought, “Finally, there’s something both of us are into!” You see, until this time, we seemed to have no similarity whatsoever. He likes the limelight while I’m shy, almost reclusive. He often comes into the class wearing just a shirt and shorts; I almost always take care to wear jeans and a blouse.
On the Thursday dress rehearsal, Drew arrived in fake nerd glasses, a blue long-sleeved checked shirt, and dark pants. He so resembled Clark Kent in Superman that Mama began calling him precisely that.
On Friday, he wore his usual ensemble, a shirt and shorts that looked like he had just pulled them out of his drawer before leaving the house, plus what was probably a Sony Walkman over his ears. Once, he actually lay down on top of the lockers (which is stupid, since it might be really dusty) and started to sing along to Adele’s “Someone Like You” followed by “Rolling in the Deep”, the volume cranked up so high I could hear it from where I sat. I had to clamp my lips together to keep from singing myself. (But that didn’t save me from getting a bad case of LSS [to the uninitiated, Last Song Syndrome] later.)
His partner in the next day’s activity, Sandra*, told me that Drew was really weird. Like one day last year, they were scrubbing the classroom floor after it got flooded and as a result it looked like it had snowed inside. She swore that he had used one of the broken blinds to get the suds out of the room and as a result repeatedly slipped. (I’ll tell you more about Sandra in my next sub-post.) It was so funny I couldn’t help being surprised. Later that day, before Mama and I left, she showed a few people, him included, a video of me, my brother, and my cousin when we were little kids. Some of them said I was really cute. Then Drew told me that I didn’t seem to age, and later he said, “Make sure she’s not embarrassing you.” I replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll tell her if she embarrasses me.” I wished to call him by his first name right then and there while I answered him, but I just couldn’t!
During the Saturday culminating activity, he wore this gray jacket and pants, a white long-sleeved shirt, a black necktie, and once again the fake nerd glasses. He actually looked quite good from afar, although the effect wasn’t as good at close range. But when he was talking, I didn’t really get what he was saying. I had noticed that even during the previous sessions, when he bluffed around almost nothing. Yet as I said in my previous post, he’s a pretty good speaker. There are better ones, I know, but there’s something about him that (at least to me) screams LISTEN TO ME!!!!!!!!


I met this girl a few days into the debate training. One day she asked me why I was so shy. I said, “Because I’m so afraid I’ll make a mistake.” She said something like, “Everybody makes mistakes” and unexpectedly enough began to tell her story.
According to her, she also used to be a shy kid. At the age of 3 her parents were already teaching her reading, writing, and speaking foreign languages, namely Chinese (her mother was working in Taiwan at the time) and Japanese. (Unfortunately she can’t remember how to speak those!) She learned in English and Tagalog and was rather bright for her age. Then she got this tutor, who I think was named Maria. Jennifer said this woman wasn’t nice and would often mock her, and as a result she began to hate her. Around that time she developed an aversion to public schools because when she went to one, the other kids would gawk at her because she was so advanced compared to them. So her parents sent her to an elite private school in Cavite.
In third grade, their family went back to Bicol, and it was there that she began to loosen up a bit and make new friends. It was then that she realized how much she’d been missing when she was still a little kid. So she advised me not to be too shy and self-conscious. Then she started telling me about the others attending the afternoon class. She only got to describe two: Helen*, who was very innocent (she would titter when she heard of s*x and act all surprised when hearing about murder) and Clarisse*, who used to be so afraid of dancing but now really liked it. When she was talking about Helen, I told her it reminded me of an incident in sixth grade Filipino class when we had to write on the board the good and bad effects of OFWs. One girl wrote that the person would become “a certified Casanova” (she misspelled it as ‘Cassanova’) and be at risk for “premarital —.” The teacher didn’t know what Casanova was and had to ask! Then, upon seeing the second sentence, she erased the “—“and wrote the real word on the board, with irrepressible titters running through the class. Jennifer explained that s*x itself wasn’t bad, as long as it was done within marriage. (That was exactly what Ma’am said!)
She was chosen as a moderator for the Saturday culminating activity on Thursday and showed up at the event in a white flowered dress and heels. She was okay at the job. After all that happened, she told me she would be sitting in with the next batch since she had missed three sessions and wanted to make up. I thought that was all well and good. I’ll be able to see her again if I wake up early enough to attend. In the meantime…I wonder if she has an e-mail address?


I didn’t really talk to this girl until the Thursday dress rehearsal. That day, one of her groupmates in the mock Meeting de Avance, a mischievous boy named Vincent*, that she needed help with her speech. So I went over to her seat and offered help. She asked me how I knew and when I told her that Vincent had told me, she yelled at him, “I’m really going to kill you!!!!!!!!!!” After her outburst, the two of us sat down and I offered her a guide to her speech, which was something like, “Being a leader is a big responsibility, and being a vice-president is no exception…” Of course, she thanked me afterwards.
On Friday, she approached me again for help, this time to think up some disadvantages of the intramurals shuffle (hint: Instead of the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors grouped into separate batches, students in all four year levels would be evenly distributed into different groups.) As I helped her, she started talking to me about herself. I heard from her that she liked anime (she even suggested some websites), lived in San Fernando, and she and her best friend used to be called weird because they talked to plants (i.e. “Guys, meet Mr. Plant!”) She said that while they still do it from time to time, they don’t do it as much as they used to. In addition she mentioned that their chickens were so good at tree climbing that they would sometimes sit in their garden and watch them climb. But, she told me in passing, they can’t do that as much anymore since there are too few of them now. (Hmmm…they ended up in tinola?) That reminded me of a Grade 6 classmate’s story that in Bombon, where she used to live, if a chicken strayed into your yard you could slaughter it and have it for dinner that night. (That particular classmate is also going to study at City Science.)
On Saturday, she arrived in a white blouse and orange pants, plus an encoded script. She was very nervous as she delivered but miraculously was able to go on with what she was doing. Later, I told her that one part of her speech (“We simply cannot go against the status quo”) was an example of an appeal to tradition and was therefore a weak spot in their argument, but it stood since nobody contradicted it. I think she nervously whispered, “Thank goodness.” I don’t know.
At the end of the activity, she put her hands on my shoulders and said, “Goodbye, I might never see you again!” I also said goodbye, for by this time I had started to like the girl although we only started to really know each other two days before that. Before we parted she said she would try to watch the anime I suggested (Ouran High School Host Club).

Funny Moments, Quotable Quotes


Patricia: We should feel sorry for stepping on ants because they have life too and we shouldn’t take life.
Mama: If that is the case then we should all feel ashamed of ourselves! For example, what did you eat this lunchtime?
Patricia: Pork.
Mama: And where’d you get it from?
Drew: From the slaughterhouse!

Mama: Give one use for a belt, aside from keeping one’s pants from falling down?
Alex*: Suicide instrument!
Mama: (a little surprised) What else?
Francisca*: Torture instrument!

There is one day I shall never forget about (except the date) due to a strange coincidence. That morning, the morning class had been asked to introduce themselves. When it was his turn, a student named Mike* said, “Good morning, welcome to McDo! My name’s Mike.” The same thing happened with the afternoon class. Drew introduced himself by saying, “Hello, welcome to Jollibee!”

Mama was trying to explain logical fallacies to the class. She said, “Imagine that your mother saw you with your friends. She says, ‘Oh, you should stop hanging out with those people! Why, I knew the father of that boy…he did blah blah blah…and I was in college with the mother of that girl…she did blah blah blah…you know that when you put a rotten fruit in a basket of good fruits, all the fruits will rot, so you should stay away from those people!’ Now, how will you react to that?” Joseph* stood up and said, “I’ll tell her this: Mother, that’s a false analogy because I am not a fruit.”

“When I say PARTY, you say…DUH!!!” (Jingle for Party D.U.H., one of the “political parties” formed for the mock “Meeting de Avance”)

During the Thursday dress rehearsal, one team was saying that it would be good to give prizes like money to the class with the cleanest room and fewest latecomers. Somebody on the opposition side countered with, “But wouldn’t that make the students…face-money?” (Actually, she meant ‘money-faced’, but she used the literal translation of the Tagalog phrase ‘mukhang pera’.)

On that same Thursday, Joseph was giving his speech on why he should be chosen for the position of auditor. It went something like, “I came from a poor family with 10 children and my father couldn’t work…later, when I graduated B.S. Political Science, I noticed the government stealing from the people…so please vote for me.” (Apparently he copied it off the Internet.) After that, one girl from the other team said, “Why are you talking about how you graduated from Political Science when you haven’t even finished high school?” (Right.) 

On Friday afternoon, Patricia and Melvin* asked me for help on the topic, “Advantages of Intramurals Shuffle.” When I offered to help, Patricia began to loudly sing (actually, shout): “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep…”

During the Saturday culminating activity, two groups were in a heated debate when the baby held by one of the mothers gave a loud scream. Everybody turned to look at it, then clapped!

On that same Saturday, another two groups were having a debate on the intramurals shuffle thing. One of them stood up and shouted, “Your idea is a piece of cr*p!” Of course, the other team retorted that it was not what they said it was, and pretty soon they were tossing the c-word back and forth over and over again until the moderators intervened with, “Observe proper decorum!” (This sentence was repeated several times during the debate.)

So anyways…despite all the blunders and mistakes, nervousness and fear, and the inconvenience of having to wake up early every day and the 3 rides to and from City Science…the smiles and laughter, your friendliness, and the experience I (and the rest of the participants) have gained helped make up for that.


Until we meet again,


P.S. There will be a second batch from May 7-18.  I’ll be posting heaps about it, so be prepared! 🙂

* These are pseudonyms.

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