The Teacher That I Was – 2

Upon my acceptance as an instructor for a certain Asian nation, my interest in the English language both as a teacher and a learner had germinated. It also helped me in gaining fortitude not to mention the discipline to get up early and show up for work regularly, in spite of my being a lifelong night owl.

Although not a remarkable English student in school, I was a heavy short-novel reader in my juvenile and early adult years. But never had I bothered with familiarization of standard grammatical terms. Having no previous training in teaching and purely armed with average English fluency, I started polishing my skills.

Below were my exact sentiments before I began my preparations as an ESL instructor:

Gerund, Infinitives, Participial phrase– What are they?

Present Perfect tense – Excuse me?

Past Perfect – Oh no no.

Future Perfect Progressive – Now I’m gonna go insane.

As I make headway at my profession, my initial question to every new student on the first day of class would be “Do you like reading?” If the answer was yes, I’d presume there would be not much of a problem. If the answer was no, well…

I pushed more for the comprehension of the reading materials and didn’t impose memorization of vocabulary. Homework was something I expected to be done. By that, I gained the reputation inside the academy (among students) of being strict, quite competent 😉 , smart, “kind but hard.”

The small number of industrious and attentive students sparked my diligence as a teacher thereby inspiring me to toil harder for the refinement of their English proficiency. With the right students, my occupation could provide worth and gratification. With the the lazy ones, it was a mere waste of time. In most cases, I had to endure (the torment of) “free talking” especially during man-to-man sessions even though I had little concern for their mundane lives and no enthusiasm to get chummy with them.

Money became secondary motivation what with the minimum pay I received throughout the years with zero job perks to boot.

On the whole, I’ll be honest in saying that I secretly don’t hold those kind of people in good regard. Why? They come from a nation where it’s perfectly normal to eat dogs; they look down on us Filipinos for belonging to a poorer country; and a big majority of the attendees in our academy for so long had been indolent, insolent, bratty, and cold. But I’ll be honest as well here in saying I stayed because I needed the job despite such assertions of disgruntlement.

I was determined to make it my finishing role as an employee. Procuring employment after the age of 35 is nearly impossible in our state, except for high-level positions. My teaching job stretched to a decade, and the end was due to incremental changes in the academy and the numerous inconveniences they brought. It was ten long years of my precious life, nevertheless.

Job Years Plus The Teacher That I Was – 1

Becoming a teacher was my first choice to study in college. But my parents objected because they knew teachers receive low pay; the female ones especially undergo too much stress from students — ending up as spinsters to boot. My father decided I’d take up BS in Accounting instead which I proceeded to labor on for four years. Wrong choice — considering my appreciable strengths lie in Language and the Arts. It was, however, too late for me to turn back.

After graduation, I took a job in the Circulation and Accounting departments of a local newspaper while at the same time reviewing at night for my professional licensure examination. Seven months later, I tried my luck taking the national test for Certified Public Accountants — I failed. It didn’t surprise me; my family was. They knew I wasn’t brainless. But you see, although the study of Financial Accounting had been fairly tolerable; it was the higher Accounting branches of Cost, Managerial, and Taxation that bored me to tears I spent most of my time daydreaming in front of our professors during class periods.

The second time I took the CPA exam, I surprisingly passed (with barely favourable outcome). My parents were delirious. I wasn’t. Because I was already alert to the reality I wouldn’t be successful in the field. I just don’t have passion for that kind of work.

Fast forward over several years of mostly job hopping as bookkeeper, Receivables Analyst, Auditor, Administrative Assistant in various companies throughout my singlehood. Then I got married and had a baby. Within three weeks after my son was born, my husband went home to his mother and kept on disappearing, I scrambled to find a job and managed to find one, thankfully. My husband turned up on and off in our lives for 10 years — even jeopardizing my occupational security when he demanded that I quit the job I was holding at one time — out of his, once again, irrational jealousy. Shortly thereafter, my marriage irrevocably crumbled and I earned incontestably the status of a single parent. I went back to work part-time generating financial statements and auditing inventories.

Through my sister’s connections, my husband (before he finally left) had started the tiny business of distributing government-sponsored tickets which he turned over to me as soon as we separated. Alas, earnings from that selling booth proved insufficient for my son’s pre-highschool education so when I saw one day in the newspaper an opening for English instructors, I went and got the job.

One Job Down – End of Another Era

Man oh man, January was a crazy time indeed. I finally gave up on my teaching job (gasp!) last January12. After ten long long years. Yeah. Now my remaining occupation is as a government agent. I wish I could say I were the stealthy Miss double Oh-7 working for the British Secret Service. Alas, merely an agent that helps generate online 20-peso tickets to gambling freaks is everything I currently am.

Several considerations led to the decision. The dominant factor, however, was the impending off-peak season (which is start of February), when my bosses’ preschool and gradeschool children will be back. And all of us teachers will be forced to serve as their nannies again.That was what had been tormenting me. I’m talking about those four bratty small children whose ages range from 4 to 8 years old. Heaven save mister macaroons.

Two of them is a four year old girl who screams at the top of her lungs out12062046375 of the blue to elicit attention, plus the seven year old boy who’d swiftly touch his teacher’s boobs all of a sudden (#%!& grrr… seven year olds…). We, six properly educated permanent winsome teachers, would report promptly for work in our lovely dresses and shoes and accessories wearing pretty makeup – only to be each assigned to any of the four little rascals who’d make us look like Hilda the Beast by the end of the day.

Have I forgotten to mention I am not that into children? (except for my own child I raised, of course)

me on the left wearing green feeling tipsy after downing only a bottle&1/2 of Red Horse. girls night out.

I used to handle only adult or university students. But my boss has become frustratingly more and more detached as our manager that his fellowmen from the entire nation of unremorseful canine-eaters have come to learn how he literally sits in front of his computer watching k-soap operas all day long. So for the last two years, no worthy students had been turning up following the return of bunch and bunch of indolent middleschoolers to their homecountry every end of peak season.

geenaAt least I’ve proven to myself that once in my life I was able to hold a job that long. Ten years. Wow. To think about the dear people to me that got sacrificed within that period. Three beloved casualties. The third one I might not have talked of before was the best female friend I’ve ever had who began suffering from health ailments and for whom I couldn’t be there because I was constantly preoccupied with the low-paying teaching job of mine. My bad. Our 20-year friendship, as a result, went down the drain.

Plus my job situation was making me more and more unhappy I would academyfoto2console myself by eating at pricey buffet restaurants on the weekends; not to mention the many instances I’d go down to 7-11 during school breaktime to snatch an unhealthy delicious snack to make up for my miserable condition.

12272010031My booth operator also had asked me a few months ago,“What are you still working so hard for? You have long finished sending your son to college and he now has a fine job.” Good good point.

It was an intention I had expressed late last year to my family –my mom, my sister and my brother: the aim to quit my 9 to 6 livelihood soon, which periodically changed whenever I told myself “just one more year” so I’d be able to save a bit more to finance my future objective to go back to Europe for another brief recreational voyage.

school1But I came to figure the amount I had managed to save could already be enough. My sister even asked, “Why not Japan or the U.S. the next time?” to which I replied, “No more Asian countries for me and there are too many Latinos and Asians in America. I want to see mass and mass of blonde hair with matching ultra delicate fair skin. Why would I want to see what’s in profusion here in our country?” Besides, my trip in Europe had been a magical one which I look forward to undergo again. Wait, I think I just digressed right there. 🙂

Anyway, perhaps this time there’ll be ample opportunity for me to definitively study advanced grammar, read outstanding literature, take up yoga seriously, get around to watching the much-talked-about Game of Thrones series, habitually entertain myself with young pretty pole dancers and sundry other stuff on You Tube, kick off doing charcoal-pencil art again, stay relentless at my pathetic attempts composing cheesy juvenile romantic poetry, hook up in passionate abandon with the hottest-looking, brawny rum drinker available around the neighborhood (just kidding), and sign up -before it gets too late- as FHM’s next cover model representing the sultriest lady approaching her 50s (kidding again).

A lifelong nightowl that I am, staying up late and not getting up early have been the sweetest halloweenpayoff so far. I’ve stopped popping the low-dose doctor prescribed anti-allergy pill to fall asleep at weeknights. I admit, though, of two or three mornings when I woke up feeling mild panic realizing I am not bound to get up for work anymore. Nice thing about holding a job is it gives your day a sense of structure. But, ultimately, I just can’t have it all.

I haven’t told my family yet because they might soon ask me to run errands for them. I realize I haven’t taken pleasure having the apartment all to myself since my son moved out more than a year ago. I worked steadily like a robot, soldiered on my daily affairs like a zombie. I’m taking things precious and easy now. Plus there’s lots to do and, er, clean.

At least, too, there’ll be no more furtive pinching of my nose whenever “those peeps” (at work) are around, them keemchee-eating species….

And if ever I’d feel regret about giving up the job I’d held for 10 long years, I’d simply remind myself this: The ewoks are comiiing!


Talking About My Job Which Has Become The Biggest Part Of My Life

This blog is a running record of my life, my thoughts, my emotions. Therefore, I am entitled to express anything I wish regardless of who I might offend. K?

Taken a week ago by my student using my Polaroid tablet. Polaroid stuff are supposed to take very good quality pictures, right? Nice view from glass window behind me is surprisingly non-existent. But  I look 8 years younger, at least. :-)
Taken a week ago by my student using my Polaroid tablet. Polaroid stuff are supposed to take good quality pictures, right? But the nice view from the glass window behind me is surprisingly non-existent. Well, this shot made me look 8 years younger, at least. 🙂

As a teacher, I am well aware of my abilities. I love what I do. Give me a student who is willing to study, who’s willing to be taught, and I’m good.

A group class is more challenging for me, which is abundant during peak season, a period each occuring at the middle and end of the year. Handling a group class provides the same benefits of a performance; I like being in charge in front of an audience who, in this case, are my students.

There were a few students who became dear to me – something that could only be engendered by the enthusiasm they had shown me in studying the language. Without that, there is really nothing much to connect me to any of them. In case you’d be intrigued to know, throughout the annals of my teaching profession, I can count with two hands the mere number of trainees who had shown interest in assimilating my favorite dialect.

There is another confession to be made here why I am not crazy about these kind of people: They are among the highly self-absorbed inhabitants of this planet, IMO. The superiority complex has been attributed to their rapid financial progress since the 1990s. You may get surprised how the new generation is spawning bratty kids who have no genuine desire for gaining knowledge; who may end up economically dependent on their parents their whole lives. You’d also be surprised to know most of them dislike the English language – and the American people.

But the more disturbing reality for me is their general lack of concern for animals. The majority of them even hates cats. The most repulsive fact of them all? They eat dogs – something that’s deemed legal in their state; Heart-crushing for an animal lover like me. Well, I live in a country where dogs get eaten, too (I know I know, how horrible), especially on drinking sprees during festivities. I find it abominable to my very core. It’s considered against the law, nevertheless, and we do not have legitimate restaurants for dog-meat consumers.

Why then am I working for them? I was past 35 years of age when I got this job. One hardly gets hired where I live once you start approaching your 40s. Besides, this line of work was decidedly ideal for me because I love English. I didn’t want to go back to accounting and administrative work – the line I had been trained for in college. A wonderful opportunity as well to read the good books that are available in the academy for my self-development beckoned. And I needed the income.

It has been eight years now. There has been countless of times when I’ve had misgivings on the worthiness of it all. Heaven knows what I gave up for this job within those years.

This is how I’ve honestly felt in spite of my fondness for English and my vocation. A bit of hard sentiments from me I guess, but I’ve come to augment my standards on the ones I interact with.

And perhaps you now get a better understanding as to why I just have to frequent the blogosphere and seek my few favorite writers who give me back my sanity at the end of a full day’s work. 🙂

My Vocation As An ESL Teacher

How time has flown. I’m running on my seventh year in my current job yet it seems like only yesterday when I walked along the hallways of a newly-built academy for an interview, anticipating my acceptance in a field that I barely had substantial experience at and no essential qualifications for.

I had liked my brief stint when I taught bookkeeping to a class of young female adults studying in a finishing school – for administrative assistant hopefuls – in the past. So when I decided to quit the accounting profession (as it’s not my true destiny) at the age of 36, the teaching field had already become an appealing option.  On our side of the hemisphere, once you get past the age of 35, you automatically stand an awfully frail chance of undertaking a career makeover or even procuring a level-entry job.

Our Teacher's Party late last year. That's me in the middle, wearing a purple dress.
Our Teacher’s Party late last year. That’s me in the middle, wearing a purple dress.

The longest-running occupation I had before this one was my 3 ½ years Accounting and Auditing positions at a leading news publishing firm (before my era of improvident job-hopping). So dissatisfied and insignificant I felt about my work there that I once or twice punched my time card in the morning and went out the whole day to do something else – instead of proceeding into the office. I know, I know, what a horrific thing to do. I was 20 years-old then (It’s the best excuse I could come up with, sorry). At least, I am capable of remorse now. 🙂

academyfoto1My current job has been one of the darlings of my existence largely brought about by my passion for everything English. But things hadn’t been all quite rosy for me. Office politics, you say? Ah yes, I experienced that in the most contemptible fashion hundreds of moonlights ago. I almost got kicked out by my co-pioneers who wanted the non-conformists out of the academy (in which half a dozen of our colleagues fell). What they failed to realize was I am harmlessly and silently invincible. I hanged on. Just like in the many arenas of my life. Besides, my bosses made me stay. Most of the people who schemed for my ouster are gone now. The few that remained I was able to get along by way of civility up to this day. I’ve gotten comfortable with the fact that there’ll always be people who’ll commend my strength and people who’ll be put off by the placid gutsy interiors of mine.

academyfoto2Teaching the English language is easy and pleasurable. I even get a kick out of pronouncing the words and courageously manage a modicum of the British accent every now and then. The straining part is effectively allying with these students who come from one of the most affluent countries in Asia. These people have got fairer skin than most Filipinos, which could only aid in jacking up their superiority complex. They’ve been spoiled by their nation’s wealth and technology the teachers here, almost always, are obliged to dole out concern for their personal well-being. Well, there had been students I couldn’t care less – by reason of misbehavior or ill manners, and there had been students I developed compassion for. My students generally range from 20 years old and above – male and female. Some can be sweet and pleasant and likable you end up doing your very best for them. A perk of this vocation: Once in a while, you cross paths with a student who’d be willing to get molded in his or her English fluency and at the same time be led to a more linear direction to become a better individual. That’s when I feel my most productive while doing my work. You also end up sanguine for these young souls who might find genuine happiness in their tomorrows – despite a culture dictating to them that a plenitude of material possessions is the principal reason for existence.

How do you motivate a class of inhabitants who hardly appreciate the English language? Whose main purpose for learning it is to compete with the rest of their fellow citizens in clinching a high-paying job? That’s the never-ending challenge for ESL instructors like me here. Invariably, the students prefer “free-talking” than learn the rudiments of grammar or render some effort to expand their vocabulary. FYI: they’re better at Science and Mathematics, admittedly. The majority aren’t even into reading any genre of world literature. Funny thing is, they’d request we teach them Tagalog words instead – and as soon as we give in, our deed gets so well-received their faces would gleam in glee. Puzzling.

From middle of last year: That’s me on the left wearing green. I really don’t drink, you know.

A popular personal question that’s been asked of me by my close friends: Do I go out with any of my students? Yes, we teachers do that – e.g., going to the mall, go karaoke singing, club-hopping, drinking and conversation – nonchalantly for reasons of goodwill and diversion. But what about in more than friendly terms, you ask? Uh…it happens. Sometimes. Teacher and student (of the same age) engender romantic feelings for each other – even fall in love (“pol in lab” as we filipinos endearingly termed it here) – and start dating. It’s not tolerated in most academies. Yet it happened to me (and to many other other teachers, too) I confess. A learning experience I don’t intend to go through again. Never. Mark my word :-). Why? I’ve had misgivings if it had been worth it (Translation: the sex wasn’t phenomenal. joke-joke-joke)…although we could only normally think this way from a backward glance.

I know not what the future holds for me, as anything can happen, although I ponder that perhaps this is the last full-time job I’d be holding. It doesn’t pay much, mind you, but the Monday – Friday, 8:00 – 5:00 schedule has been ideal and the job isn’t too demanding. I also get to do other things during off-peak seasons when there aren’t many students. Like reading and writing blogs. He he…


Since I’ve been frequenting You Tube more often, I get to find the songs I liked when I was a child. The Philippine English song below not only hit our charts but Malaysia’s, as well. Yeah, it’s mawkish. But I’m sentimental – you already know that. And I was only 10 years old then. Surprisingly, the song is about a father who misses his young daughter after they got geographically separated. I didn’t know it then. Again, I was only 10 years old at the time :-). Two versions of the song down here: The first one is the piano version (by a Filipino talent), the second; the original one.


All I want is

Only to hear you say

That you love me, love me with all your heart, and to say

That you need me, like you’ve never needed anyone before

Except for God and your little dolls and your story books

Just me…

–      Missing You by Rafael Centenera