The canvas may have been too small to paint the picture we wanted to create but we tried.
When all the good you did and wanted to do is wiped out by some errors of judgement and apologies are unacceptable and you are nothing but a criminal, pariah, untouchable, Satan’s daughter (not mine), ungrateful, entitled expletive who has taken and has been given much, much more than she deserves because we’re counting here, keeping tabs about who deserves what because you don’t deserve to be loved for who you are but what you do, you don’t deserve to be loved because you did and said the wrong thing, you are banished and you yourself want to disappear because what is the point of living if somebody of all people thinks the worst of you and despair, desolation envelopes this thin, thin film, this thin, thin sliver of life that only yearns to be free, free to be, free of drama and this sense of unworthiness, seeking forgiveness in the wrong places because she has yet to forgive herself and pardon the expression but: we have. Been. Forgiven.
In the past few months, the teens at Abot Tala celebrated the Chilean and Brazilian way with food galore, the Pinoy way via a karaoke party, Star Wars via fencing, shot a short film in a farm location, let their imagination run away to the max via Dungeons and Dragons, studied sign language, shared what they learned with their families through the block presentation, spent time jamming, chatting and chillaxing. Nobody can take away the laughter, stories and memories except perhaps, if we let them.
Last year, we all wore purple for Laksmi. This year, Laksmi was still in purple but she also wore the teen-designed Abot Tala t-shirt along four other costumes, changing several times like Superman swooshing in and out of a telephone booth.
Somebody asked what’s the best take-away from the Philippine Homeschool Convention 2019 and there are just so many to mention. One is the realization that despite so many different styles of homeschooling, we are all united in our desire to improve ourselves, to encourage, support and learn from one another. It’s always inspiring to hear veteran homeschoolers and unschoolers share their stories and these are just some of my notes from the plenary and break-out sessions:
Dawn Fung, a leader-organizer of the homeschooling community in Singapore learned that she had to sacrifice her vision of trophy children. Donna Simpao said that her kids appreciated the focus on being a good person first and only after could they become a good student. Marla Taviano and her unschooling family moved from America to Cambodia where they built libraries and an adventure-filled life. Kay Ang emphasized experiences over material things and encouraged parents to take their kids to work. Aileen Santos advises parents to take on a coaching mindset while her 20-year old daughter, Fudge recounted how she developed self-discipline and initiative as a homeschooler and how she learned not to please everyone. Dawn Fung had a sizable audience break up into groups, brainstorm about their dream homeschool co-op, after which each group leader pitched the ideas back to the crowd.
A great shout-out of thanks to the organizers of the convention and much appreciation for the team of teens and mentors headed by Owie who made the Abot Tala booth a reality.
Abot Tala was originally intended for young people ages 12 to 18, but after opening this April 2019, we realized it was too good not to share the experience to kids from 6 to 11 years old. Thus, Abot Tala Junior was formed with its separate space and a complete team of mentor-teachers eager to redefine school for the 21st-century learner. As an interest-led learning center, Abot Tala Junior seeks to celebrate and honor each child’s innate curiosity, what they are naturally drawn to and their unique way of seeing the world.
The program focuses on:
1. Inquiry-based learning
Children will be provided with opportunities to ask questions, investigate, and figure out the answers to their inquiries. This will help them know their interests.
2. Project-based learning
Children are going to delve into exploring real-world problem, thinking of solutions, and creating one relevant project.
3. Personal and group goal setting
Teachers collaborate with the kids, especially when it comes to planning of the activities and setting of expectations. This will help build a sense of community where everyone looks after one another, solves problems, and learn together.
4. A buffet of topics and activities
They will be presented with a menu of stimulating topics and activities to see what will generate interest and spark curiosity.
5. Teachers as facilitators and models
The teachers will learn beside the kids, collaborate with them, and guide them in pursuing their interests. They are also responsible for developing in themselves the same things that they want the children to learn.
There are two sets of age groups: those who are 6, 7, 8 years old and those ages 9, 10, 11. There are two full-time teacher-facilitators and from time to time, guest teachers will come to give special pop-up classes. There is a limit of 5 to 6 kids per age group.
Just like Abot Tala for Teens, Abot Tala Junior is not a school. The children who join this program are either homeschooling already or intend to homeschool. Abot Tala Junior is an alternative to mainstream school. If the children want to transition to regular school, they need to take the PEP Test at DepEd or get a homeschool provider or support.
Abot Tala Junior runs Monday to Thursday from 9am to 3pm. Families can choose to join once, twice, thrice or four times a week. We accept children at any point of the year.
Following are quotes that inspire us:
“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” -Leo F. Buscaglia
“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Mr. Rogers
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” -Carl Jung
“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” -Plato
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran
That last quote keeps me dreaming of an open green space nearby where children could freely run and play on the grass, under the trees and sky. Oh, if we could find a place like Gopala Learning Haven in Silang, Cavite but here in Manila! Looking forward to the Juniors’ field trip there one of these days.
Burned and scarred
Burned and scarred
That’s what we are
Scarred and burned
Scarred and burned
Beyond wanting to try
Stretched to the marrow
Stretched further past
Patience and understanding
Extended in excess of
One lifetime’s quota
Terminated cartoon bridge
Free falling off a cliff
Burned and scarred
Too much to recognize
What took place before
Everything that added
To much too much
To the equation that never
Was meant to balance
Numbed beyond resuscitation
Erasing whole histories
Since hurt knows how
To hurt and lash back
Unto itself gallons
Upon gallons of bloodcurdling
Screams nails scratching
Chalkboard never again
Spared not one
Not even the unlikeliest
Catching us by surprise
Blocked and hardened
Blocked and hardened
Because it happens
That knows no forgiveness.
Hold it! Hold it! Ten years — did that whiz by too fast? His birthday rolls by and it’s not the same like the earlier years where my eyes stayed dry. He’s far from that baby I cradled and now in that tweenage phase. I wonder if my parents felt that strange sentimental mix when I turned a decade and over. I feel all the more grateful to my Mom and Dad for the years they stood by me. I feel all the more nostalgic about those years of cuteness overload near the starting line. I stare at pictures with amazement — this enormous gift, this privilege of being your Mom and just not wanting to screw up but being human makes this quite unavoidable.