From Frau M to Prof M

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via Daily Prompt: Total

So the past three months is full of life updates. As you may have known, these updates include the change in family name, revision of life plans, addition of a new title, and lately, of getting a new job (though it is not a totally unfamiliar territory. I may say, it’s just a homecoming).

Some years before, I was eyeing the international scholarship, which also at some point, the reason I chose my master’s thesis. But yeah, life can go on a total turn. Somewhere between exploring my possible research choices and my full-length study, I was keen on doing a language analysis involving foreign men and Filipinas. A total turn of events. Two years prior to graduation, I have fallen in love. Three weeks after graduation, I married him.

Four  years ago, I couldn’t think of anything else but going up the professional ladder. It was hardwork.

Then love came in and again it is hardwork. Not because I was forced or regretful but rather because I realized that along the way, I will have to give up, in total, the years of investment to getting where I am. Say what you want to say, but I am following my heart to where the tulips grow best. ❤

So, the past three months was a period of learnings, reflection and decisions. The plans were finally laid. The target is set. But, before I drop everything and fly to follow where my heart is, I am determined to get back to my favorite workspace. This time, with total transformation – new status, new family name, new title. Oh yeah, need I mention a new language?

Ah, truly, book is life.

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For the next few months prior to departure, I will be Prof. M. ❤ 

Life can go on a total turn, but I am totally fine.

 

Have you ever made a decision that changed your life in total? How did you face it?

 

 

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My 100 days for 100 followers

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Thank you, followers!!! 100 followers and counting today!Yay!

When I started this blog, I only have one purpose in mind: make it as an online outlet for writing about life and the things that revolve around the experiences we have as a German-Filipina couple. In fact, I have the status to “private” the first few weeks. I was too shy to make my personal stories available to the the “public” should I call it that way.

But hey! It wasn’t a bad idea after all. I’ve met a couple of people here who happens to share the same experiences (as interracial couples or adventure lovers) and I couldn’t be more thankful for getting some insights from them, too.

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So, to show appreciation to my 100 (and a little more at this moment) followers, I would love to look back at the things that happened in the last 100 days!

What had happened since February 7, 2017?

17039155_1454644241213987_8301719232475710307_oI was again pointed out for not wearing nail polish. This happened for the nth time, but come on, I mean.. is this really weird? I have had the opportunity to meet some good old colleagues I used to work with in the language school. One of them, who happens to be a photographer couldn’t help but snap what he called the only unpainted nails in the bunch. I like to see painted nails on others, but not on my own hands. With the 365 days, maybe it is safe to say the most number of days they are painted are only around 30. I go nuts, seriously. Should all office women or professionals in general have it? I made up my mind… I’ll paint if when I feel like doing it, doesn’t matter what others say.   Is it just me, or there are some of you who didn’t like the idea so much? 

***

Months after I started this blog, I was on frequent hiatus as there were things needed to be prioritized. While away from WordPress, I was behind the keyboard squeezing my brain to work. And it paid off. I have survived the series of panel defense, sleepless nights of reading, writing, proofreading and interpreting data for my master’s thesis. The sleep deprivation and the number of times I threw up or felt dizzy digesting the same ideas over and over again was rewarded. My thesis earned a nomination. I deserved a deep breath. Finally.

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***

I have always dreamed of getting my master’s degree but I chose a quite difficult path to get there. On the first semester, I enlisted myself under the “non-thesis” program which would have made me graduate after 4 to 6 semesters. Then I was in a class handled my a professor I admire the most, and with her advice and recommendation, I felt the need to change path. I got the feeling that I was selling myself short or not pushing myself enough to see how far I can go.  So I leaped.. only to realize I traded that “headache” for a “chronic migraine”.  But damn! I made it alive. Now they call me to go back and get that PhD. I cry blood for now.

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***

I left my job as a school head and it was not as easy as I think it would be. It was full of colorful memories and new learnings.  As the staff,  some teachers and I were parting ways, we had a farewell lunch at the kindergarten. We tried to pour in the emotions on pigging out instead. On our last Moving-Up Day, emotions kept flowing. Leaving a job is not always an easy one, right?  We ended up giving each other that one long group hug.

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***

And after all the chaos with my professional life, it was time to do what has to be done. I have successfully ticked off the entry called “finish the thesis” off my list. Then, not long after that, I was able to shade the choice “get yourself a black robe and call yourself a graduate” from my planner highlighted as one of the targets for the year. I checked my computer and saw a strike-through in red on the line that says “kick your ass off the office and go back to the classroom” written on my reminders.

And so there was one thing left to do. We booked the ticket, flew to Hong Kong, and with nearby skyscrapers in sight, I stole his family name.  

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So, there it goes, my dear followers! Those were the major things that happened in the last 100 days.

 

What is the most significant thing that happened in your life in the last 100 days?

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things I learned from my First job

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The first day on the job is as clear as daylight even after some years. As with many “firsts” in life, it also leaves a lasting impact. I was not someone confident enough to withstand scrutinizing eyes or harsh words, and I put myself into something where these two come like the air I had to breathe.

I was 18 when I threw myself for that junior reporter post. I kind of love the sound of the job title, until the editor, without much orientation and niceties, said there is a deadline to catch for the weekend issue. It was late in the afternoon of Thursday and the task should be accomplished first thing in the morning.  I had to interview a local official who eluded the media frenzy the entire week. My knees started to tremble and I was secretly crying inside, asking what I got myself into.

That was not the only moment I asked myself the question.

As scary as it has been on countless occasions, there are 5 things I learned from my first job:

  1. You just have to go figure things out. Since it was my first job, I really didn’t know everything. I was an editor for our school magazine but the real world is just too harsh. Despite falling short on gathering my courage to run after an interviewee and shot the questions, I did it anyway and later replayed all the blunders on my head. I surprised myself for a good number of times. No one in the bureau seemed to really care about how hard it was to get the story. Even the regulars got reproached for breakfast, so I felt I had no right to say I can’t interview Mr. X or get an appointment with Ms. Y. You just really have to force yourself to figure things out. 
  2. As much as possible, do not take things personally. Working in the press can be full of new experiences that include dealing with a difficult boss who often seem to lose temper. There are also a good number of people who may have the scoop I was looking for yet arm themselves with snobbishness and haughtiness. I learned to not take things personally and dwell on the harsh words. I always treated them with respect and not burn the bridges. I realized later on that it is a good thing to not be too sensitive to avoid the drama and of course, to keep a relevant individual for my job hunting references.
  3. Pay attention to even the smallest of details. As every word is crucial, it is also wise to take note of the small details. While on my stint, I learned that directly quoting the person can save one from being put into hot water or get caught in the conflict. A minor error can be taken as a diversion or partiality and thus costs one’s credibility. When people say something, look them in the eye, mind their gestures, remember their tone, and recall their facial expressions. It is quite easy to just leave out the small details as not getting the job done. One of the editors was fired when he missed one letter on the headline of the banner story. While he meant “PUBLIC APPEARANCE”, he forgot the letter L and lost his job. The most minor of the mistakes can cause a total blunder.
  4. Always do more than what’s expected of you. Nothing can be frustrating than a lazy colleague who seems to count every single lift of the finger he has to do extra. Some people may be good at faking the way they perform their jobs and deliver only the bare minimum. The same people seem to get themselves stuck in the same routine work and get burned out quite easily. When you perform well without the fear of taking new responsibilities, you are bound to reach new heights. I see the importance of getting to work early, helping out on things, and taking new responsibilities. You will not only stand out among the employees but you are bound to not get weary coasting through your job.
  5. Associate with the right people. It is quite easy for me to gain new friends but I learned to be truly careful with who I associate myself into. As I was working with some junior reporters, I found it quite a must to hang out with them during breaks or free time. They talk quite eloquently and are confident, something which I would fancy. One day, the boss shouted at them as they were caught playing computer games and failed to notice he has arrived. I was helping the administrative staff arrange some leaflets as the voice reverberated around us. She later told me I need to distance myself  from these people who might associate me with their issues. I learned to rather be independent than get looped in the wrong crowd.

A year after I earned my degree in communication, I left the job and taught English to foreign students. Later, I realized that the job in the press isn’t for me. I found my peace and happiness teaching people and learning along the way. I pursued further studies and took units in education, taught in higher education, managed a preschool, and later earn my master’s degree. It has been rewarding doing the job for the last 7 years.

Despite not finding bliss in the media, the work ethics it taught me goes a long way.

And oh, that first assignment I had from the first job landed as a banner story.

What was your first job?  What have you learned from it?

Foreign Men and the Pinay Online Dater: A social experiment

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***This post was written about 3 years ago, and was originally published on my other blog. After this research on discourse, I met a wonderful German guy online. We ended up sharing the same family name. ❤

 

Hey there, online daters! How does the following go?

“I am 65, retired, and travelling to your country in two months. I am looking for a younger woman to live with me being there. Maybe it will continue if we like each other after some time. I can support your family every month with supply of gas, a sack of rice, and P1500 worth of groceries.”

Perhaps, for many online daters who had been around the dating sites, this is an everyday thing. For the fraction of regulars, this might even mean an opportunity served right in front of someone ready to grab a chance. Who wouldn’t want to live without having to work on night shifts or 8-5 jobs, and still get to be provided with such necessities? For sure they are perks… and maybe curses too.

For me, that was one of the most amusing statements I have heard.

Basically, I can’t blame him though.

There has been the decades-old view among Filipinos that goes something like “improve your race” (translated as: your kids have to at least look a bit better than you), “half-foreign breeds are just the most beautiful” (you can produce a bunch of actors and actresses), and “be practical, make your children’s life better, so go marry a foreign man” ( insert dollar sign here).

The most common stereotypes. Pinays dating or married to foreigners even get stereotyped in their own country.

We love everything foreign: clothes, chocolate, shoes, language, TV shows and even mates. That’s how 333 years of Spanish colonization, 40 years of US control (if we have been really freed after 1946), three years of Japanese occupation, added to what has originally been a product of interaction with Indians, Chinese, Malays and other sultanates of South East Asia, have shifted the standards of every thing in the Philippines. The colonial mentality thrives as well as it was in the previous century.

 

Of course, the easiest way to find a foreign man is through a free dating website. I have family members and friends who married foreign men (though not from dating sites), and I’ve even been in a relationship with foreign guy myself. I can attest that it was not a bed of roses entirely. There are major cultural misunderstandings, social stigma (though not as strong as it was previously), and confusions. So, just extra caution for online daters.

With all that, I realized that before you jump the gun and get into an inter-racial relationship, you must be able to reflect on the following questions:

  1. Are you ready to get stared at while you both are in public?
  2. Is getting your conversation eavesdropped tolerable?  
  3. Is getting labelled a “gold-digger”, at some point, something you can shake off?

Those are just the basics. You see, Pinoys are fond of making other people’s lives part of their business.

An example of how widespread Fil-foreign marriages are. Screenshot from Christian Filipina.

But there are still many Pinay online daters on countless websites, which watered my curiosity. In one of my linguistics classes in grad school, we were tasked to study language use (English) in the different facets of life. While many chose print ads, billboards, novels and short stories, I opted for a strange one; the dating site.  

I was fresh from a heartbreak that time, and it was quite a good diversion too. Of course that entailed that I sign up for one site, and so I chose Date in Asia.

When I presented it in class as part of the discourse analyses project, it plastered smiles on my classmates’ faces, burst of laughter from some who can relate, and curious facial expressions for those who heard them first. I admit I was personally stunned by how far some Pinays will readily go to get to that “greener pasture” aspirations. There is nothing wrong with online dating, what’s surprising is how some can tolerate the kind of treatment they get from foreign men (to be fair, not all of them). Anyway, there must be “good matches” for every one of us.

Here are the remarkable finds:

1. Men vary in their language choice depending on your profile content. Yep, you get that right. Not all men who sign up in dating sites are blind or frustrated; they can be choosy, too. I made three profiles on the site, all varying in language ability, social status, profile picture, and means of flirtation (haha. I can’t believe I can do that! hell yeah, I can do that!)

Profile A (which adheres to all the qualifications I have) received messages that are quite respectful, educated and grammatically correct.  With 30 men I observed (they initiated the talk), 26 of them claimed to be educated, can use English well enough (despite not being a native speaker), and ask open-ended questions. Two men expressed the desire to have a relationship upfront, and two have offered support for my family if I agree to live with them. On this experiment, it is safe to say that 26/30 have quite sanitized language.

Profile B (an unemployed Pinay with a bachelor’s degree, decent photo, and with extreme eagerness to talk) received messages that suggested sex after several exchange of information. With 30 men that initiated contact, 23 men started getting sexual after an average of 5 exchanges. Twenty-seven of them used endearments such as “baby, honey, sweetheart” early on. Fifteen of the men asked if I am willing to relocate, and if I wanted to have a job or stay at home after marriage. Twenty-five men used contractions in their language, like u instead of “you”, and 24 of them do not use proper capitalization. ‘zup bby?

Profile C (a young petite woman without a college degree, directly expressing the desire to marry a white man, with a decent picture, but poor language skills) received messages that contained the words, “sexy”. “hot”, “steamy”, “playful”, “submissive” and “baby” among others. Of the 30 men that initiated the contact, 20 had asked for or left their email addresses and/or skype name right away. Eighteen men asked if she has kids, 10 asked if she is gay, 5 asked if she can do oral, and the rest said something like, “will you taste my scrambled egg?”, “I want some pony ride tonight”, and “Can I be your slave?”

2. Men showed a trend in their approach according to country/region. Socio-linguistics have told us people use language differently, and this can be attributed to the society they live in. Some are quite direct, some are not. Though it is not true to every one, most of the men from the same region have shared similarities in their approach.

Europeans: They tend to be more polite, would compliment the profile (picture or content), and wait for a response before they start asking more questions. After some exchanges, they asked direct questions and would often apologize for asking such if they realized that might be too personal. They would express early on, if they like you. Yes, call that indecent proposals.

N. Americans: Many would start with niceties, clarifies what the woman is looking for, ask if the search is successful, and would proceed to more personal questions. Many would react to some parts of the profile content, questioning its validity (like, how sure are you there are men who are scammers here?). Would take some time before they say they like you, though they would be very eager to send messages regularly. Not an easy bunch to catch, if I may say. Because theirs is a culture quite popular around the archipelago, I find them the easiest persons to relate to.

Aussies: Similar to Europeans, they would start by complimenting your profile, open up quite sooner, and would not hesitate expressing their fondness of you. Of the 10 Aussies involved with the three profiles, one had blasted comments on why the profile picture was the one in sunglasses, and that the member might be a scammer. Another had a violent reaction when the messages he sent were left unanswered.

Asians: As I slightly expected, Asians are on for something else. Majority of the Asians (East Asians)  would ask about your work, educational qualifications, and knowledge of their country. If you know some things about them, they’re on for some conversation. After some exchanges, expect that they give themselves an ego boost, too. Some others would compliment your physical attributes and express willingness to communicate with you regularly (South Asians). Twelve out of 21 Pinoys who communicated asked why the woman was looking for men from overseas.

3. Men of different age groups vary in their communication style. Perhaps it is true that with age comes experience, and with experience comes confidence.

below 30: They are fond of using endearments right away. They would also ask if the woman has a boyfriend (which of course, is ironic. If you have some one, and you are sane, you won’t be there in the first place, right?)

30 to 40: Most men under this category are on for more fun talks. Most would discuss about adventures. Perhaps for the 34 men in this age range, 22 have talked about how they love adventures, holding hands or kissing in public, and yes, sex. They are concerned with social status and qualifications, too.

41 to 55: Most men in this range offer practical life topics (perhaps out of their personal experiences). Many would be upfront in expressing intentions, and would continually view the woman’s profile. They are the ones that will quickly have vacation plans, perhaps looking for a tour guide or some thing else. The group is also the most open-minded of all, while being practical on the side.

56 and up: Would most often say what they have to offer, and do not settle to selling themselves short. They are also the most aggressive, constantly sending messages despite not getting responses every time.

4. Men hesitate to admit how many females they chat with on the site.  Yes, I asked men how many women they are actually in communication with. For Profile A, 20 out of 30 men admitted they chat with someone else. For Profile B, 19 out of 21 answered they have “other friends”. For Profile C, 12 out of 30 said they are only talking to the woman exclusively.

You know what’s funny? Of the 20 men that communicated with the three profiles (A,B and C), nine admitted they are talking to someone else in the Philippines. So, fellow Pinays, be careful. Online dating sites can be a good avenue for finding romance, but it’s not for everyone.

Language research is fun! Those men I have had great connections with, when told what  I was on, ended up calling themselves lab rats, guinea pigs. and cultured bacteria when they found out.

Have you been a member of an online dating site?

How was the experience?

The Real Cost of Education in the Philippines

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It’s the start of classes again, and I could feel that the downtown area gets crowded as we approach the month of June, the time of the year when most schools start the school year. What can I expect, this is the city that houses eight universities, more than 30 colleges, 200 secondary schools, and about 1100 primary schools.

I think this post is also quite timely as I am back in the classroom scene in the university. It’s not that I don’t like the previous administrative post I held at the kindergarten, but rather, I always think the classroom is my favorite workplace (as of the moment, I supposed). And this is something I would like to take advantage of, while I still can.

Mein Mann and I would talked about the cost of education in the Philippines as we are looking into the possibility of raising our family here in the tropics. He has read from a variety of topics written by Germans that most public schools, especially at the lower levels, would involved the kids mainly in singing and dancing. I have been working in the private academic institutions for a good number of years, and I PARTLY agree on this thought. I have seen it myself. I can’t blame the Germans as I personally admire their educational system.

But what’s really going on behind the face of Philippine education? 

By the school year 2011-2012, the Department of Education (DepEd) expressed that 6.38% of elementary school students dropped out of school. In the same year, the drop out rate is even higher among high school students, with 7.82% deciding to quit in the middle of the school year or not enroll for the next.

But, why do students drop out even when public education is free? 

Dropping out of the school is dictated by several factors. In a 2012 paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, it was revealed that the most critical factors that determine a child’s schooling include

  1. Parental and teacher perceptions on school readiness
  2. Educational attainment of the child’s parents
  3. Varying expectations on boys and girls
  4. The most common problem, poverty

Despite the fact that the Philippine public schools do not charge tuition fees, it’s not the only financial consideration for families. There are other things the family has to spend for which includes but not limited to

  1. School supplies and uniform costs
  2. Meals and transportation
  3. Sick family member needing medical care
  4. Parent/s becoming jobless

And, when they say it’s FREE, it doesn’t mean ZERO payment.

In 2015, the following estimation reflects the cost of public education in Manila, which is not really far from that of bigger cities outside the capital. 

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Starting this school year, 2017-2018, public universities will also observe the “no  tuition fee” rule. This, however, isn’t applicable with “other fees”.

Equally important, it should also be noted that state universities with subsidized tuition fees are also SELECTIVE. Simply stated, if the student’s college preparation is weak, he might as well lose the chance to enjoy the free public university education.

Here’s what my university’s website said about it:

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What about the private schools, you might ask. Well, I guess it is safe to say that fees for private education ranges from P25,000.00 and above for a semester, and we are only talking about a basic private school, not the elite private academic institutions. So, when a poor kid goes to a private school, it would basically means being funded by a scholarship, may it be academic or sports.

Take a look, for example, at the tuition fee of a mid-range private kindergarten in Iloilo City:

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So, going back to the question of whether the kids at the kindergarten or primary level mainly focus on dancing and singing… I believe the figures are enough to understand that parents will not spend the minimum amount reflected above just so the kids can sing and dance. The monthly tuition fee alone is equivalent to a year of spending for the public school kids, and it only gets expensive every year.

Often times, I told my husband that one of the best ways to avoid paying for the expensive cost of education in the Philippines is for me to stay in the academe. This, do not only give us the access to the “right people and networks” but also almost guarantee that our kids can study for free at whichever school I am employed. Does that sound practical enough?

So, what now? 

Given the fact that a good number of students dropped out of school every year (mainly due to poverty and lack of determination and guidance), and that the private schools are also expensive, the following might as well explain how this vicious cycle perpetuates. 

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I hope it gives you the mental picture of how challenging it would be for an unfortunate kid to get his/her “right to education” in this country where the best you can be is defined, in most cases, by the privilege you were born with.

I personally believe poverty in material things is not a hindrance to get an education . For me, it had always been the parental support and the academic opportunities that made a huge difference. Read here, should you need a proof. 😉

What do you think are the factors that affect educational success?

Do you think paying for the private schools can make a difference?

Please share your thoughts. 🙂