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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our Class Night at Falcon Crest!

The first Class Night of my life was in 1995 when I became the babysitter of the sophomore class of UPIS.
That night also happened to be Janet Jackson's first concert here in Manila, and I was not in a very good mood. (The year before, she released her hit "That's The Way Love Goes" and the amazing Velvet Rope album - and I was very excited to see her - but it wasn't meant to be huhu)
The kids though were very sweet - and it was a fun night and their class president, with the whole class, gave me this very thoughtful token.
Fast forward to 2017, and this weekend naman was Class Night for my senior's class and we headed off to this modest but huge outdoors resort somewhere in Norzagaray, Bulacan.
To those 80s soap opera diehards, it was surprisingly named, 'Falcon Crest'! I'm sure the parents of the current owner were fans of that TV show!
The place was up there in the hills, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by this lush forest. It felt like we were encroaching on the environment.
A spider and a snake even made it into our rooms, much to the screaming horror of the girls!

Friday, September 22, 2017

It's Shaping Out to be a Very Crowded 2018 Oscar Best Actress Race

The 2018 Oscars is still a few months away but the race for the Best Actress award has been one of the most competitive in recent memory.
I mean, how can a no-name actress possibly get a nomination this year when the perennial nominees, the heavyweights and today's current A-listers have released movies with amazing stories and great performances.
In this list alone, all these women have either won, or have been nominated before.
Emma Stone won the award earlier this year and she continues the buzz with a great role as tennis legend, Billie Jean King.
Judi Dench, who has won as Queen Elizabeth, and has been nominated as Queen Victoria, may finally win as Queen Victoria, this time around!
Frances McDormand already won for Fargo and may win again for a kick-ass performance as a mother whose daughter is murdered.
Annette Benning plays a Hollywood movie star who transplants herself to Liverpool.
And my bet, is Sally Hawkins, already a nominee herself, as the mute lover in The Shape of Water.
And Jessica Chastain, Saoirse Ronan, Michelle Williams, and even Margot Robbie are in the mix as well. And of course, the queen of them all, Meryl Streep, is coming out in a Steven Spielberg movie later this year.
Spielberg's movies are a perennial Oscar nominee so let's see if Meryl gets in the list.
Grabe, it's so freaking crowded I wonder how all the award-giving bodies are going to vote!

In the Pursuit of Scholastic Excellence: Anxiety Attacks and Hyperventilation

Today, one of my students hyperventilated and had an anxiety attack, feeling pain in her tummy She had to go home and when asked why she was feeling this way, she said she was overwhelmed by all the school deadlines she had to meet.
This is the second time one of my students felt this way. Last year, one of my best students, a cheerful boy, suddenly became withdrawn in class. He was doing very well in my subject, being a good writer and is capable of analyzing things, so the sudden shutting down was difficult to watch.
I was really puzzled because he was consistently getting A* in my subject but in the last term - he kinda became a catatonic zombie, He just withdrew into his shell and decided not to finish the schoolyear anymore.
He is now being home schooled.
I don't know what is in the Mental Health Act but I believe that the stress of school work plus all the other extraneous factors - traffic, pollution, problems at home, problems with parents, problems with peers - and the need to excel and get high grades - can push these young people to the brink.
Both of my students were very good in my subject and based on feedback from other teachers, are just as capable of getting 90++ in their other subjects.
So it is disquieting to see them crumble in the face of all this school pressure.
I think what adds to the pressure is that with the advent of social media and camera phones, a student can easily know the score of another student, and because most of them are part of their own Messenger or Viber groups, it would be very easy to make fun of classmates who don't do well - adding to the anxiety and the pressure to do well always!
And of course there are the helicopter parents - always on the prowl of their children's grades. As if getting a B once in a while would be the death of their children's academic life!
I hope to see this girl student of mine on Monday, happy and well.

The Breathtaking Nomadic Towns of Zagora and Merzouga

Thanks to one of my co-teachers, I get to practice my French because of an app she introduced me to.
Knowing how naughty I am, 90% of the people I chat with in French are all good-looking men and one of the more interesting guys I've talked to is this Moroccan guy who is well-educated but comes from a nomadic tribe.
My brother and the kids' mom have been to Morocco and they did visit the desert, but since they were there as guests of a family friend, they missed going to the nomadic towns of Zagora and Merzouga, which my chatmate friend, Simo, is talking about.
He showed me these breathtaking pictures of these towns and they're just south of Marrakech.
Going to the desert is not really in my bucket list since I have zero survival skills just in case an accident happens and a desert can be a very scary place to get lost in. With my stupidity, I am pretty sure I will die very easily!
However, it would be nice to visit these towns right at the edge of the vast Sahara desert, and meet all these nomads.
I also posted his pictures here, which is in his thread in the chat. He's quite cute and very respectful when he chats.
I think French is not his first language (mais, bien sur!) because like me, he is very formal in using it.
By the way, we don't need a visa to visit Morocco, so go if you have the extra money! It should be a very interesting place to visit, and if you can speak a little French, that would be helpful too!

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Quiet and Relaxing Estancia Mall

I did not know of the existence of Estancia Mall until a few weeks ago.
Going around it gives you the impression that you are not in Manila, because of the wide open space around you.
Of course, for how long they can maintain that, is a big question mark.

Unfortunately, without any public jeepneys to ferry in the masa, the mall was almost empty, and I was there on a holiday.
I guess, it also has something to do with the mix of the stores and shops. I went around and most of the shops were expensive so I had to think twice before whipping out my wallet.
However, it is a cool place to just hang out since wala masyadong tao and is a welcome alternative to an SM mall, especially if you're not in the mood to be shoved, to queue or to just have so many people in your face!