#PUSO: A Short Letter to the Cohort

2017 CohortA_10.jpg

A week has passed since the Summer Institute of Teach for the Philippines ended. Sepanx is creeping in (hence this post) and I’m just gonna lay it all out now:

To the 36 strongest and most passionate people I ever knew,

You’re nuts.

I mean, who in their right mind would take on this challenge and still believe that the education system in our country would change? You’re a bit crazy to commit yourselves and be part of TFP’s advocacy. It could have been a scam or a hoax, and yet you showed faith.

And while you are not in your right mind, I know for sure that you are in your right heart to put your strength and dedication to something as big as this. Ambiguity is the way we’re going but your love is certain enough to conquer this. #PUSO

For the past two months, everytime I see you, you all radiate passion and perseverance. There were times you wanted to give up but still you continued to pour your heart out. It is so ironic how one day you are crying and wanting to quit, then the next day I see you teaching in your classes all so energetic and enthusiastic. You keep on saying things like, “I can’t go on”, “I’m going home” and yet you finished stronger and more resilient than ever before.

And while I was with you in all these events, I too, became nuts.

The two years will be more challenging than what we had for two weeks. When reality hits (and it’ll be on June 5!!!), I know you will still complain about making LP’s and establishing classroom management. It’ll be totally different and difficult more so because no one will be guiding you. But you always have the whole cohort who supports and encourages you every step of the way. We’ve created a bond so solid that even our PTM’s call us clingy (well, we don’t care hahaha).

As you go start your own journey, remember your “why”. After all, you’re doing this #ParaSaBata at #ParaSaBayan. You do it for them. Because whatever you do, you’re already a change maker. So make that change visible and possible for the Filipino children.

Lastly, self-care! You are on your own. You are your best IM. One day sick leave is equivalent to one day of no learning for the kids. You gotta take care of yourself to take care of others as well.

Padayon, Cohort 2017!

All smiles,

Donna, the daydreamer

PS. This also serves as my personal reminder huhu

Photo: © Sarah Co



Batang Katulad Ni Darwin

“Sa mundong hindi ka tanggap at walang naniniwala sa’yo, narito ako upang maging iyong gabay at liwanag patungo sa magandang kinabukasan.”

Bago pa man ako maging bahagi ng Teach for the Philippines, nakilala ko si Darwin sa isang community immersion sa Biñan, Laguna. Nag-aaral siya sa Dela Paz Main Elementary School at nasa ika-limang baitang (noong panahong iyon). Kung aking mailalarawan, si Darwin ay isang pangkaraniwang bata na umaasta ayon sa kanyang baitang. Hindi maituturing na espesyal, pero hindi rin ganun kaordinaryo.

Higit sa kanyang panlabas na anyo ay pumukaw sa akin ang kwento ni ‘Cher Ging na kanyang guro sa pagbabasa. Si Darwin pala ay labing tatlong taong gulang, mas matanda kaysa sa kanyang mga kaklase, at nahihirapan pa rin bumasa. Bihira lamang siya dumalo ng reading remedials kung kaya’t madalas itong bumabagsak. Sa araw na iyon, naroon kami upang kausapin ang mga magulang ni Darwin.

Pagdating namin sa tahanan nila ay malugod kaming sinalubong ng mga kapitbahay at ng kanyang lolo. Sila na lamang ang nagpapalaki kay Darwin. Ipinaalam nila ‘Cher Ging ang sitwasyon ng bata at ang maaari nilang maitulong sa bahay upang makatapos ito ng pag-aaral. Sa halip na suporta at pag-intindi ang aming marinig sa bibig ng matanda, walang hintong pinagsabihan at pinagalitan si Darwin – sa harap namin at ng mga kapitbahay.

Hindi ko lubos maisip ang nararamdaman ni Darwin. Nakayuko lang siya at tila nahihiyang nasa kanya ang atensyon ng lahat. Iniiwas niya ang tingin sa mga nasa paligid at walang magawang nilalaro ang kanyang tenga. Ano nga ba ang mararamdaman ko kung ako ang nakaupo sa silyang iyon? Lamunin na sana ako ng lupa. Hindi dahil ako’y nahihiya kundi dahil ang taong inakala kong naniniwala sa akin ay wala pala talagang pag-aaruga sa akin. Marahil ay maiiyak ako sa ganung sitwasyon.

Ngunit inilagay ko rin ang aking sarili sa pwesto ng kanyang lolo. Hindi ko magagawang magalit sa kanya o sa kanino man na magulang na ninanais lamang na matuto ang kanilang anak. Ang tanging kailangan lamang ay ipaintindi ang kanilang gampanin sa loob ng bahay upang mapagyabong ang pagkatuto ng mga bata.

Kung kaya’t bago ako nagtraining bilang guro, isinapuso ko ang alaala ko kay Darwin. Ang mga batang katulad niya na pinagkaitan ng paniniwala at pagtanggap ang siyang aking naging inspirasyon upang magpatuloy. At iyon pa rin ang aking magiging motibasyon sa darating na pasukan. Bilang guro, pinapangako kong maniniwala ako sa kakayahan ng aking mga estudyante at sa kanilang mga pangarap. Magiging mahirap ngunit ito’y aking paninindigan.

Subalit, sapat na nga ba ang isang taong handang maniwala sa kanila?

All smiles,


Surround yourself with great people

Three weeks ago, forty people committed themselves to something big and scary – an understatement – that will change their lives (and the country, too!) They became friends, colleagues, and siblings who will continue to learn from each other and work hand in hand to achieve one goal. Each has their own “why”; but ultimately creates one voice.

They are all unique and special. There’s a gun owner, a board topnotcher, a SpEd teacher, a statistician, a social worker, etc. Some hold a degree in Filipino, Biology, Political Science, Mathematics, Speech Communication, Psychology, Asian Studies, and even Philippine Arts. Never in my wildest dreams that I would be in the same room with these people who have been and will continue to be great in their own ways.

Being with them is my life’s greatest present at the moment. I am learning a lot from their stories, experiences, and lessons. The things they share make me see the world in a different perspective. And it’s only been three weeks; how much more in the coming months that we’ll be together? I am very excited for what’s ahead of us!!!

All smiles,

Donna, the daydreamer

Progress Track: 6 Out of 20 Books Read for 2017!

(This post was written last March 26. It was supposed to be up before I left for my commitment but WordPress betrayed me haha so here it is!)

March is closing, and I’m so happy to have read six (6) books for the first quarter of 2017! Last year, I only finished SEVEN. And for me, that was already a feat as I wasn’t really into books. But this time around, I resolved to read at least twenty (20) books and challenged myself to make reading a habit. Which means, I’m at 30%-ish of my goal! However, I can’t review most of these books (for now) so I’m collating all the summaries here. My theme for the first quarter: Love, romance, relationships – whatever you call it! 🙂

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