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Barcelona Conference

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (93)

To be relevant to today’s education needs, educators, these days, do not just teach. They engage in a whole myriad of activities. University lecturers like myself, for example, not only take on teaching but also conduct research and share them in international conferences for a couple of reasons.

One, we share our research results because, two, we need to get feedback as well to make better sense of our findings. All these are, of course, for the purpose of being able to provide our own students a better and more meaningful learning experience.

In this post, I share with you some of those I consider the highlights (a few of them my personal choice) of the Global Studies Conference I attended in Barcelona, Spain a little more than a year ago.

HIGHLIGHT 1: Of course, top-of-my-list highlight was my having been able to present my paper, receive substantial feedback from other academics and gain their interest in my topic.

HIGHLIGHT 2: Going to conferences also usually allows you to meet known academics and scholars. In my case, I was able to meet and have a chit-chat with Bill Ashcroft, one of the authors of “The Empire Writes Back,” considered the first major theoretical account of a wide range of postcolonial texts.

HIGHLIGHT 3: I also love that I was able to participate in a discussion of some major issues with other academics, the most important of which was about the emerging threat to liberal arts education in favor of courses that are deemed beneficial to industry leaders.

The educators leading the conference, representing five different countries, felt that the need was that strong that they called for an ad hoc session to listen to what other participants had to say. True enough, they were not the only ones who felt that there had to a be push back, if only to make sure that the world produces professionals who have cutting-edge skills needed in keeping with the needs of the times and the heart to be compassionate in the time of ever-growing technology.

Coming back from the conference, one takeaway I had with me was hope. Many generally feel that industry demands are slowly but steadily chipping away from the traditions of liberal arts education in favor of market price, values and ROIs. But for as long as there are educators (and graduates!) who are willing to push back, knowing that the world does not live on profits alone, then there is something to look forward to.

HIGHLIGHT 4: Last, but not the least, I was of course thrilled to have had the chance to explore Barcelona and enjoy cultural tourism. (And, yes, below you'll find tons of photos of my cultural tour of Barcelona. Enjoy!) The photo above is the facade of Casa Milà where the La Pedrera Museum is.

The signature you see above says "Gaudí." Why? Barcelona is a Gaudí country. Antoni Gaudí was a Spanish architect whose works are mostly located in Barcelona, Spain. It should not surprise you then, should you visit Barcelona, to find a lot of things Gaudí.


This is inside the restaurant of La Pedrera which is inside Casa Milà, one of Gaudí's main residential buildings. It is considered to be one of the most imaginative designs he had. For one, the facade of the building looks more like a sculpture than a typical building.

This one's inside La Pedrera Museum housed inside Casa Milà. Notice how beautiful and different Gaudí's architectural design is.

My first Barcelona breakfast. 

Here's more... Iberian ham platter and bread toast with tomato and queso. 

Casa Batlló below is Antoni Gaudí's modernist museum redesigned in 1904.

Now let's head to my food hunts...

Paella was one Spanish dish I never got tired having when I was in Barcelona. I must have tried most of the kinds of paella I laid my eyes on. In this photo, my new-found friends and I had paella mixta, a combination of paella Valenciana and paella de marisco. It basically contained both seafood and meat. 

And because I couldn't have enough of paella, I went for another one, this time arròs negre. Arròs negre, known sometimes as paella negra, is a Valencian and Catalan dish. 

And I had another one...

This was paella Valenciana this time. This paella Valenciana had a mixture of chicken and pork (although it may at times contain rabbit meat).

Should you get to Barcelona, find this awesome place called L' arròs at Port Vell, where FIlipino waiters attended to me. It's where I had this really yummy paella. (See photo of their resto below.)

An interesting sculpture I stumbled into while aimlessly strolling in the area.

I was on my way to Catedral de Barcelona (I was coming from the back part of the church) and there were several kids playing bubbles. I thought the bubbles were cute that I casually took a photo of them. I didn't expect them to come out this nice in the photo. Enjoy!

This is the facade of Catedral de Barcelona. While entrance is free, you need to queue up for several minutes, as the staff don't want the church to get crowded. After all, regular masses are held in this church a few times a day. 

I took a lot of photos inside Catedral de Barcelona, but I chose just a few to share with you so as not to inundate you. This one's a baptistery which I found to be one of the most interesting features of the church.

From Catedral de Barcelona, I headed straight to Sagrada Familia, another Gaudí masterpiece, if not his best. A part of UNESCO World Heritage, Sagrada Familia is a really huge but unfinished Catholic Church in Barcelona. This explains why you see cranes on top of the structure.


Sagrada Familia details...

It was a long day that day that I decided to treat myself to a cup of chocolate caliente, topped with yummy whipped cream, and churros.  

Oh, delicioso

Here are some of the things Filipinos will also find familiar, other than paellaLet's start with gazpacho. Just like in the Philippines, this soup, made of blended vegetables, is enjoyed cold. This has an Andalucian origin.

Here's calamares Romana. Unlike the usual crunchy/ crispy calamares or calamari commonly served in the Philippines, calamares Romana is tender, yet not soggy. 

Of course, I had to try (and bring home) polvoron!

While the Spanish polvoron and the Philippine polvoron have a great similarity, the one from Spain is more crumbly and refined. The one from the Philippines is more powdery and holds a little bit longer (maybe for a split-second...? ha ha ha). The Spanish polvoron also has a bit of white powder sprinkles on the surface. 

Next off, there's turrón. This one's called turrón duro. It may look like a white nougat, but it actually is more like a puting panotsa (white caramelized peanut or peanut brittle), even the taste. 

I'm sure there's a lot more to discover in Spain. I hope to get back there someday and explore further. Till next time, folks!

Sawasdee Pee Mai Travel Destination

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

A huge Buddha statue on the way to Khao Yai

Teachers, more often than not, work not only within the confines of the classroom, but also outside, and, in fact, many times at home. Yes, due to their workload, they often have papers to mark even if they so deserve to rest when home.

And since Songkran, the Thai New Year, is just around the corner, I'm dedicating this post for them (and of course, anyone living in Thailand!), sharing my family's experience especially to those who are thinking of where to go during the Songkran break.

In this post, I share notes on one travel destination that my family and I love to go, again and again, and why we super-love it: Khao Yai!

One of the largest forests in Southeast Asia, Khao Yai (meaning, "big mountain") is a three-hour drive away from Bangkok. Other than the national park itself, it also delights in its local travel destinations which I'll talk about in this post.

Just outside Primo Piazza


If you want to indulge in the tranquility of Khao Yai, Primo Piazza is the place to go. It offers scenic spots that would make you forget you're in Thailand. 


One of the best parts of Primo Piazza I love the most.

The barn in the background adds to the meadow theme of the place.

I love the fact that the place is not crowded at all compared to other tourist destinations in Khao Yai.

Evidently, Sophia was having a good time driving her tractor here.

One activity Primo Piazza offers is the chance to feed their animals: llamas, alpacas and sheep. Paulo, Isabelle, and Sophia couldn't be happier!

The place has plenty of beautiful things to adore, just like these flowers.


The Bloom is Khao Yai's biggest flower garden.


George and I love the varieties of flowers the garden showcases.


Piazza Palio is the place to go if you want to do a bit of shopping. Most of the items, however, are knickknacks, mainly meant as souvenir items. There are some shops though that sell other non-souvenir items.

In one of the corners of Piazza Palio, with the kids...



Although food items are a bit pricey, a trip to The Chocolate Factory is worth it. The chocolates, many of which use Belgian raw ingredients, are yummy. The variety of chocolates prepared in full view for the public to see is quite entertaining.


Each armed with a favorite book, we headed to Bunny Coffee for a slow afternoon respite. While the coffee shop indeed has bunnies, they're actually caged in outdoor pens, perhaps to give them a sense of their natural habitat.

Inside the coffee shop, however, you will find ornaments that are all things bunny. 

Credit goes to Ate Isabelle for arranging the objects in this photo.


Khao Yai also boasts of many places to eat. Unlike Hua Hin, however, where you can find a lot of restaurants for a really affordable price, many restaurants in Khao Yai are a bit pricey. The redeeming value, however, is that the food offerings and the taste are worth the moola.

The Mew is one place we've visited a couple of times during our two visits. We just love not only the food but also the ambiance.

A platter of calamares and other tempura-like food items. This is one of our favorite dishes from The Mew.

Homemade pizza!!! Who would not fall in love with this?  

Walking out of The Mew, we couldn't help but stop and adore this sight.

If you haven't made any travel plans yet for the Songkran celebration, why not head to Khao Yai? I bet the place will offer you a memorable (and tummy-filled) experience, no matter how short your stay will be.

Sawasdee pee mai, na kah!

Five Things You Need to Know about Teachers

Posted on April 7, 2018 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (1)

In my many years of teaching, I have come to realize that what teachers do are sometimes taken for granted. I guess this is mainly because people think they understand enough what teachers do and what their work really entails.

In this post, I share five things that people need to know about teachers, contrary to popular belief or knowledge about them.

FIRST. Just like other ordinary beings, teachers need to have their own "life" other than marking papers or computing grades outside of class time and work hours. Yes, they also go to bars or have some fun somewhere when they need to.

SECOND. Teachers work longer hours, much much more than you think. 

THIRD. When teachers set a submission deadline, they do not mean they'll wait for all student work to be in before sleeping. They are not 7/11. Just like any ordinary mortal, they also need to retire during the night to regain the needed strength for the following day.  

FOURTH. Just like everybody else, teachers have deadlines to beat, too. If student papers are submitted late, such late submissions contribute to the delay in their work. 

FIFTH. In the classroom, it is normal for teachers to feel exhausted, especially if they've had a long day. Just like their students, there are times when they also want to hit the bed during mid-day. 

The Joys of Travelling

Posted on April 7, 2018 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (10)

When not teaching, one of the things I love doing most is travelling, be it domestic or international. Travelling is something I remember I enjoyed doing with my mom. Back then, however, my travels were limited to the times my mom/ parents would head to Manila to buy goods to be sold in our ready-to-wear stores in Bicol. 

I can still clearly picture myself, perhaps I was five or six years old then, when, late at night, I would still be up and awake, busily admiring the places we were passing by. My mom, by then, would have dozed off already. 

Now that I'm an adult myself, I've always made it a point to travel either with my family or alone (during conferences) when time and funds permit.

Travelling, I believe, is one of the most important investments my husband I are investing in for our kids' future. Not that by travelling we would be able to acquire a piece of property. In fact, quite the contrary. Travelling, of course, means expenses. However, it is one type of family expenses that my husband and I feel are worth it, not only to make memories of ourselves together, but also--and more importantly--to provide everybody in the family a priceless experience. 

Travelling allows us to see the world for ourselves. It allows us to learn about things which one can never do within the confines of a classroom. Being able to see places ourselves, mingle with the locals of a certain place, enjoy a country's culinary tradition, among other things, all enrich our lives a hundredfold.

As such, my husband I will continue to trade buying a piece of property for travelling anytime, anywhere...

Nut's Grit

Posted on March 31, 2018 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The other day while I was marking a bunch of papers in one of the corners of MUIC's newly inaugurated working space, I heard a young man's loud voice echoing. Turned out, it was Nut, a former student of mine. He was very excited about the new place and, in return, he was saying out loud his fascination for it. If you don't know him, you'd wonder why he would have to verbalize that loud his excitement.

Nut, however, is special. Born with a congenital eye problem, he can barely see anything, except for a tiny glimpse into anything that is before him. But what makes him extra special is that despite his condition, he behaves as normal as you and I are, without calling for attention just because of his situation.

Nut is a very diligent student whose performance in my class from many terms ago surpassed an average student's. He writes well and studies well. In my class, however, I decided to provide him readings at least a meeting before the actual session to allow him to more time to read. He can only rely on one eye to read and see things. To get around, he has to rely on a walking stick to make sure he doesn't stumble into people and things, let alone be bumped into. In my class, he had to use a gadget that would translate for him a textinto an audio material. Despite all these, Nut way exceeded my expectations.

Oh, did I tell you that he also moves around the campus alone and lives in a nearby dormitory alone?

I further learned that Nut has recently applied to the College's student exchange program. He is looking forward to joining a university in the UK in the coming term. And, yes, he'd be living miles away from his family and friends alone as well.

You would wonder then how someone like Nut can do this. Is he not worried about his safety? Is he not afraid to tread into something entirely unknown to him and in a foreign country at that?

That is what I call grit.

Nut has shown to possess grit despite his condition. He is one person who does not recognize limitations just because of his limited physical capability. In fact, I doubt if he considers his eye problem his limitation. From how I know him and how he treats things, Nut is an epitome of grit and courage.

He lives it. He breathes it.

And if someone like him can afford to soar with flying colors, we should all be ashamed if we ourselves shy away from this life's challenges.

On Becoming a Good Writer

Posted on March 8, 2018 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (1)

A member of my writing class recently asked me a question I always hear from many students, "What do I do to become a good writer?" Apparently, he is struggling with a common dilemma beginning writers face with which, many times, have to do with diction.

As a composition teacher, I totally understand where students like him are coming from. With English being a second (or sometimes, a third language), many students often feel overwhelmed by the many word choices they have, among many other writing concerns they have to deal with. And when they are, at times, overcome with frustration, they ask you for a formula, a sort of a magic trick to address said difficulty.

In situations like that, my answer has always been pretty standard. I always emphasize that since writing is a skill that has to be learned and mastered over a certain period of time, there is no one quick fix to it, but there is a secret good writers know and do to get to where they are now: READ.

Specifically, here's what I told him: "Good writers become one because they're first good readers."