April 29, 2007

Julia Campbell at Divine Word College of Legazpi (DWCL)

Filed under: Life,peace corps,Uncategorized — dakidog @ 1:31 pm

You must have read Julia’s blog- Julia in the Philippines and her vivid stories about her stay in this country. My story is a smaller version of that- Julia at Divine Word College of Legazpi (DWCL).


It all started in October, when our secretary informed me about a meeting with Peace Corps Country Director Karl Beck and Sector Manager Estella Gandionko to discuss possible assignment of Peace Corps volunteers to teach at DWCL. Honestly I was not very familiar with Peace Corps so I investigated and met for the first time Director Karl Beck and his adorable pets through the internet. After that was the face to face meeting.


When Director Beck offered us the services of an American teacher for free, I couldn’t believe my ears. Wow! We will have an American teacher, a native speaker of English, and for free! Of course, I couldn’t hide my excitement and happiness because I know how badly we need help in this department. It was decided that we would adopt team teaching strategy. She would be working with 3 counterparts in teaching 6 classes.


I heard the name: Julia Campbell. Cool. So it was settled. We’d just wait for her to arrive in Legazpi City from Donsol, Sorsogon.


Then the thought of teaching with an American made me feel uncomfortable. A native speaker will easily detect errors in grammar and pronunciation. I was really anxious. But there’s no turning back, so I just waited for that day.


And so after the long wait we finally met. Towering in front of me, she introduced herself, Julia Campbell. And to make sure I understood she said, “You know the canned mushroom?” That’s my name, Campbell with a silent p.” Okay, nice to meet you Ms. Campbell, canned mushroom with a silent p. With that funny first encounter, all my worries about working with an American vanished. I didn’t worry about my imperfect English anymore.


We had a good time teaching our students. She was very energetic and eager to teach our students everyday. She sometimes spoke in Tagalog and our students had fun listening to her amusing accent. It was even more fun when she brought chocolates and candies to give to students who did well in recitation and games.


Everything was perfect.


One day, she invited us all to a farewell party. It was held at the AB office, Tuesday, April 3. She had a new look. I said, nice hair, Jules. She said, ya, yellow. The food was delicious- bihon and all native delicacies. She bragged about cooking everything herself but later confessed that Elena helped her. Then, I wondered why there was a despedida party. It was too early for that.


That day, April 3, was the day I last saw Julia. That wasn’t supposed to be. She was supposed to be with us until the end of May. In June she flies back to New York to pursue graduate studies in New York University.


So, I waited for her on April 11. We all waited for her. She was supposed to be one of the ushers during our commencement exercises at the DWCL gym. Her sash was waiting for her. It would have been a spectacular sight to have a pretty lady ushering guests to their seats.


But she never came. And our worries grew stronger because it’s not her nature to come late or miss appointments. At first, it was a hushed worrying for her, but as the days passed we really couldn’t stop talking about her anymore. Calls from the Peace Corps asking her whereabouts increased our fears.


We tried calling her cell phone many times but it was dead. Friends and colleagues started wondering why she didn’t text anymore. She was in constant communication with us, even during calamities.


I remember how touched I was when Julia texted me during one of the most horrible typhoons that hit Legazpi City. She said in her text, Annie kumusta kayo diyan? Ok lang ako dito. But I know she was not ok. She must be terrified also like us. She was alone in her apartment.


So how could we not worry for this angel? It’s a terrible feeling not knowing where Julia was after days of searching and waiting. Some of us went to Julia’s apartment at Marquez St. a few blocks from the DWCL campus, to scour more information but we went home still confused about the whole thing.


Wednesday noon, April 18, Peace Corps Regional Manager Luzvi de Lumen called me. She asked if I’ve heard the news about Julia. I said, yes, she’s been missing and that we’ve been trying to locate her. Obviously, that wasn’t what she wanted to tell me. It took her a long time to tell me Julia was found dead that morning.


I couldn’t believe my ears. Something gripped my heart I couldn’t breathe for a while. It took me some time to resume talking with Luzvi. She too sounded strangely faint.


It’s terrible losing someone as precious as Julia. But her life has become a perfect example for all of us. As I have said I was not very familiar with Peace Corps. But Julia’s life defined it for me. Julia was a part of it. Peace Corps is a group of wonderful people, working for peace, desiring peace, world peace.  I may not become a bona fide member of Peace Corps, but in my heart I have become one because of Julia Campbell, Peace Corps volunteer, at DWCL.




April 20, 2007

Cho Seung-hui Alive and Growing in Number

Filed under: Uncategorized — dakidog @ 3:12 pm

It is a fact that an abused or battered child grows to be a self-destructive and repulsive adult. When a child grows in a very hostile environment he develops an extremely repulsive behavior. Often the person becomes very course in his speech and arrogant in every way. The person also becomes defensive when asked a simple question. Other signs of abuse include being pessimistic, resentful, sensitive, reckless and angry.


Children who are tortured by adults physically and emotionally, especially by parents or relatives, unwittingly develop hatred or disgust which will be very difficult to handle or control. The damage could even worsen if it is aggravated by other factors such as insensitive authorities and antagonistic peers.


At some point the abused person will try to socialize but will become very confused in the process. One successful attempt can encourage him to continue socializing and build his confidence but one slight rejection could shatter all chances to fix the damage. Only two things could be expected: either the child becomes a forgiving and loving adult or a vindictive and violent member of the society.

January 4, 2007

Pinoy Learning the English Language

Filed under: Uncategorized — dakidog @ 9:27 am

Learning English as a second or foreign language is quite complicated. If you’re a Filipino like me you will encounter a lot of queer words that don’t even sound like they ought to be. But then, we try our very best to learn and use it because it is the official language here.

Some common pitfalls for Filipinos learning English include pronunciation, spelling, subject-verb agreement and preposition. Really, one will understand the difficulty given the kind of language Filipinos have.

For one, Tagalog or the Filipino language has a very simple spelling and pronunciation. If you write, “Mahal kita” (I love you), that is exactly how you are going to pronounce it. No mystery. All the a’s are pronounced like the a in “ah.” We only have five vowel sounds: a, e, i, o and u. And the sound never changes when combined with consonants.

There are also consonant sounds and diphthongs not found in the Filipino alphabet hence the production of the sound is also difficult. We don’t have the v, f, soft and hard th and other combinations. Instead of saying v we say bictory, or pace for face. We say tenk you for thank you and pader for father.

Another thing is the subject-verb agreement problem. Singular and plural subjects pose a big problem for most of us. Choosing the right verb or predicate for the subject is quite tough. Even the tense of the verb is also a big problem.

Not to be overlooked is the problem with preposition. The trouble begins when you combine the verb with a preposition. Simple combinations like look at, look into, look over, go on, go to, go over, go into, etc., really are mind-boggling for the non-native speaker.

Nevertheless, we continue to struggle and work our way into the labyrinth of the English language hoping that one day we will be able to use the language meaningfully and beautifully and enjoy its benefits.

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