The Philippines is the 12th most populated country in the world with almost 102 million people. The Metro Manila area, where we are currently located, includes multiple smaller cities and is the home to about 25 million. Certainly, it is the busiest and most crowded place I have ever visited in my life. One of the most fascinating factors for me is that the majority of the daily activities take place outdoors. Besides busy traffic, crowds of people darting in each and every direction, markets, sports, etc., one might witness laundry or cooking to also be done outside. Privacy and personal space are not prioritized, and to the most part they cannot be. People are everywhere waiting in lines for almost everything. Maybe that's why they love to take selfies because it's a way to have some personal time (?). I keep observing people's reactions in the crowds. I haven't once heard anyone yell or act rude to others. People here don't mind the presence of so many others everywhere in there lives. Yet, to an outsider, this lifestyle looks like a chaos. Check it out.
Banchetto is a Friday night outside food event, lasting from 9 pm to 3 or even 6 am, mostly serving call center employees, where you can buy and consume any type of food/ drink or desert.
Traffic lights... Please notice all the three lights are lit. No wonder traffic is a problem here...
View of Mandaluyong
Teaching kids the values is very intentional in the Philippines. You might think children acquire those through religious education or practice. It is definitely true, but here I am talking about public schools. In fact, values integration is a part of each lesson, which is recorded in the lesson plan. I realize some people may be skeptical as to what extent lesson plan components are implemented. But, believe me, having observed 5 classes today, I have witnessed values implementation in every one of them.
My day started with a lovely 7th grade glass. Besides the reading and discussion of the parable of the Good Samaritan, I saw this example of figurative language on the board.
The Philippines makes me think. How hard is it to make this work in the US or other places? Does it take much time or effort to rise when a teacher or other adult walks into the room? Does it cost anything to wish someone a good morning and smile? We have spent just 2 days in JRU, but almost every student takes time to stop, wish us good morning or afternoon, smile, or at least wave their hand.
When kids are positively conditioned in every class, at home, in the community, it is no wonder they internalize the values they are taught. They live the values. No one wants to be bad; everyone wants to be good. Parents don't want their children to be bad. Then, why aren't we strategic about teaching them those values in each and every lesson, or making a separate learning target for it? At the end of the day, we need to be the Good Samaritans to those left on the side of the road unable to go on.
We have been here for just a few days, yet it feels as if our trip has lasted much longer. Surely it's because every day is packed with visits, meetings, events and discussions. The highlights of each day for me were the opportunities to see students and schools in action. Daily routines, school buildings, teachers at work, or lunch, or teachers lounge help me understand what it is like to be a teacher or a student in the Philippines. And, even though, the process is so similar, some aspects of academic life don't cease to amaze me.
Yesterday we had a chance to visit 2 public schools. Today we got to meet our host teacher, Rufo, and visit Jose Rizal University High School for the first time. I think that what I am about to show you will leave a trace in your heart, like it did in mine :)
Have you ever studied at a school like this one? Here the doors are always open, the campus is covered in flowers and other exotic plants, and the balconies are the hallways.
Have you ever studied in a class or taught a class of 45 students?
What would your daily life be like with only a fan and open windows for air conditioning on a hot day?
Have you ever been greeted like this? As we entered Makati Math and Science High School students sang to us and presented each of us with a beautiful rose.
We are famous in Jose Rizal High School even before our arrival. This banner is posted in the main hallway.
The hospitality of the Philippine people has no limits. Everywhere we go there are flowers, songs and dances in our honor, gifts and an abundance of delicious food. I don't know what can possibly top this amazingly touching experience.
Today when we visited St. Paul's private school in Pasig, one of the questions that fellows asked was, "What makes your school special? What's your success story?" The teacher answering the question said, "We focus on students' holistic development; we don't just teach academic subjects."
I have been able to observe the special dynamics that exist between teachers and students, or parents and their children here in the Philippines. Children are respectful, considerate of others and disciplined. How do the adults achieve this? I started looking around. If one pays attention, motivational messages are everywhere. These positive reminders and encouragements promote values and evoke reflection. Take a look.
St. Paul's students goal for this school year, "Live the word, light up the world".
Year of the Poor. This is what students are encouraged to do: