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Grasshoppers. Caterpillars. Frogs. Leaves. Stones.

These were a few of the things my children brought for me from school. They also came home with faces streaked with (a bit of) dirt, socks (somewhat) black on the soles, knees of denim pants turned white (or brown )from kneeling on the floor to play board games, and the bottom back of white uniforms turned brown from sitting on steps while socializing with classmates. In the early grades, they brought mats and pillows to school because they had one-hour naps.

They came home excited, narrating what they did and learned. Sometimes, they showed off a portfolio of artworks they did in school.

They learned to play wonderful sentimental music with various instruments. Once, my eldest child, who was in the lyre and flute ensemble, serenaded nuns in a hospice. They played old songs which brought tears to the nuns’ eyes. Another time, they were invited to an expensive exclusive school for girls. My daughter said the campus was big but didn’t look friendly.

They had stage plays mounted in school and in other schools as well. I should know, because my son used to play a main character in one which enjoyed three runs.

They competed (and won!) with other schools in various intramurals.

My husband and eldest daughter joined a Father and Child campette twice while I stayed home for a change.

All my children enjoyed camping in school and with other schools in different venues. We celebrated and still continue to celebrate Earth Hour every year as a school year-ender for the Scouts.

Whatever was the child’s family’s religious preference was respected: there were Religion classes for Catholics and special classes for non-Catholics. There were interfaith prayers in programs when the school community is gathered.

These are just a few of my children’s experiences (and other children before them) going to school in JASMS or Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, the basic education department of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) in Quezon City.


The JASMS Way taught my children that learning is not defined by grades in report cards and that learning is done not just within the four walls of the classrooms.

I have three children and all of them, except for the few years we home-schooled the two younger ones during their early grades, are or were JASMS-QC students. As of this writing, I only have two children in JASMS-QC because the eldest graduated high school two years ago, with a Loyalty Award pinned on her graduation dress.

The JASMS learning experience

Where we live, we have a lot of school options, but we chose JASMS for our children and these are some of the reasons why:

1. JASMs helped our children develop their self-confidence through a balance of learning academics and nurturing their gifts in the other intelligences traditional schools do not give importance to.
2. The school focuses on wholistic development, such that youngsters were able to hone their skills in the fields they excel in, whether theatre arts, music, sports, writing, speaking, visual arts, etc.
3. It offered a learned process that allowed children to value their self-worth, develop their confidence, sharpen their thinking processes and explore different ways to learn within and outside the classrooms.
4. I am a special needs teacher and having my children mingle with children who have special needs is very important to me. In JASMS, typically and atypically developing children learn side by side. Thus, they learn to respect and accept each other, regardless how differently they learn and cope.
5. The school and the parents work together in the children’s learning process.

One time, at the nearby supermarket, I noticed a young school boy who, at 7pm, was still squeaky clean, polo shirt still white and black pants with no marks on the knee part, looking like how he might do if he were on the way to school. I discreetly pointed him out to the children and said: “Look at the boy, still looking clean even at this time.”

The children were unanimous in saying that he looked like he did not have fun in school. “Di naman siya masaya.”

Masaya = happy.

Happy learning

The children were happy with the playground (muddy when it rains) and whatever was there they can play with. They did not mind the sometimes leaking classroom roofs or the flooding from EDSA during heavy thunderstorms. Children still went back to the school even if classrooms were submerged during Ondoy and the children’s books, mats, and most of the first-floor rooms were flooded and majority of the materials there were destroyed. (Thank you, QC and JASMS Parents Association, for having that creek/concrete barrier fixed.)

The children played happily in the only court in the quadrangle, even if they had to schedule basketball and volleyball practices till late because they had to share.

We witnessed a lot of performances in that court: Field Demo, Family Day, English Night, Drama Club performances, Grade 5 and 6 Turn-Over Ceremonies, Graduation Rites, First Friday Masses, Monday Flag Ceremonies, Camping Programs and Basketball and Volleyball Tournaments versus other schools.

This was the same court where performances often had to be stopped because it was raining and the audience had to wait for the weather to clear out. We didn’t complain about this much. For us parents, what mattered most was that our children loved the school, lock stock and barrel.

This is what the JASMS way is all about, that children have fun learning and that learning is fun.

Threat to the JASMS way

Lately though, the JASMS way is facing awesome challenges.


Aling Lita used to be a sewer, one who is involved with the tasks of sewing. She still is sewing but at present, she oversees a few other sewers in her home at Quezon City Gawad Kalinga Trese. Two other sewers have sewing machines and work in their homes.

Electrolux transforms worn out clothes into quilts with Gawad Kalinga’s Trese

Together with her husband who is the cutter of the patterns they need to put together to be able to sew quilts to be given to babies, they make up a team of sewers with a good business plan.

Electrolux transforms worn out clothes into quilts with Gawad Kalinga’s Trese

Blog Photos

The bayanihan spirit, the selfless act of giving help to those who need help especially during trying times and calamities have made us Filipinos create ways to do unique things.

In this regard, Electrolux, a global leader in home appliances, with its Delightful-E Simple campaign to collect used clothes and wash these clean before donating to various groups, jump-started a unique idea to transform these used (and washed!) clothes to be made into quilts to be given to babies and children in orphanages and other communities.

Electrolux transforms worn out clothes into quilts with Gawad Kalinga’s Trese

Working together with Gawad Kalinga’s Trese Community in Quezon City, Electrolux will upcycle donated used clothes to make quilts.

Electrolux believes that there must be dignity in the clothes that we donate. To make sure that every piece of clothing is in good condition, we will sort out the worn out, unwearable ones, then upcycle them into quilts with the help of Trese” said Andrea Pionilla, Electrolux Marketing Manager. “With this partnership, we aim not only to give quilts to children and new born babies but also another source of livelihood for this Payatas community.

Partnering with a group of men who make prints on shirts and bags in the same community, these quilts are really made with love. Mike Go of Human Nature oversees the business and guide these groups with their businesses.

Blog Photos

If you and your family and friends want to be a part of this meaningful advocacy, you can donate some pre-loved clothes to be made into quilts in any of these locations:
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Many people remembered Ondoy when Mario came.

No, these are not people’s names but names of weather disturbances that wreaked havoc to the country’s National Capital Region and its suburbs.

Ondoy deluge happened five years ago, on September 26, 2009.

I wrote a post about our experience during Ondoy in this post.

A week after Ondoy ravaged mega Manila, Pepeng did so much damage to the northern part of the country.

Last week, another big weather disturbance wrecked havoc to the same area that Ondoy ravaged. His name is Mario.

In this article I wrote, I asked three people to recount their experience during the two deluges:

Remembering Ondoy

*Louie’s son *Clay spent the night at his Lola’s  home in Marikina. Lola’s home is a two-storey house near the Tumana River. During Ondoy, he slept on the roof together with his Lola and Yaya  while his dad, Louie (and their dogs) slept on the roof of his SUV at their house in Cainta.

*Faye, who just gave birth to her second child, a daughter, spent their time on the second floor of their home with her husband, her son and his nanny during the onslaught of Ondoy. When the rains let up, they walked on top of fences to go to a higher place and seek refuge. They spent a few months at Faye’s family home in Rizal while their home was being repaired after cleaning up was done.

*Anne recalls Ondoy vividly as if it happened yesterday:

“Ondoy brought ceiling-high flood waters into our home, causing us to take refuge in a neighbor’s house opposite ours. The flood rose so quickly, we fled with only the clothes on our back, our wallets which could not buy us any food, and our mobile phones which soon either ran out of load or battery juice.

“We took turns sleeping in a room provided for us by the kind neighbor or looking out the window watching the water gobble up our house — roof and all — in a matter of an hour and later recede inch by painful inch over the following two days and two nights. We were hungry, wet and dirty; worried over our two girls who were stranded in Quezon City; and anxious over our dogs whom we left behind.”

The Mario experience.

Louie and Clay did not have to experience the recent floods that ravaged Cainta because they left the place soon after Ondoy to live someplace else that is flood-free.

Anne and her family also put up their stuff on the second floor of their homes. After Mario left, she woke up to an organized home, thankful the waters stopped short of their gate and for extra hands that moved furniture and stuff back where they belong.

Faye and family were as fortunate. The flood only threatened but didn’t quite enter their house. However, they now have to move their stuff back to the first floor. Hard work, she says, but still a breeze, compared to what they went through during Ondoy.

Lessons from Ondoy… read the complete article here at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Posted by teacherjulie @ 8:18 am

Exploreum in the Philippines was recently opened. This exciting place to be “Where Science Becomes Fun”.

The Exploreum will let the curious learners experience learning in a fun and memorable way because it believes and give value to science as an indispensable tool for understanding the world and enriching people’s lives.

There are 10 galleries covering a wide range of topics on some of the following topics:

  • topics related to life on Earth
  • fundamental nature of the cosmos
  • technology advances
  • environment
  • mechanical advances

Here are some (mobile) photos of the learning experiences that Exploreum has to offer:

Exploreum Manila
You can try to fly this plane yourself, using a simulation of course 😀

Exploreum Manila
Do you know how to operate this one?

Exploreum Manila

Exploreum Manila
Science on a sphere is just wonderful.

Click here for more photos.

Exploreum will let learners experience different mediums like 3D holograms, realistic wax models, virtual reality simulations, optical illusions, detailed replicas, games, audio-visual presentations and more.

Exploreum can be found at the Ground Floor of Southside Entertainment Mall at the SM Mall of Asia.

Posted by julie @ 9:11 pm

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

We all trooped to Quirino Grandstand and Luneta last Sunday to participate in the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon happening in Manila. Read the HIGHLIGHTS of the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Asia here. Our main purpose is to see the cars running in the race tracks. There were nine entries from the different Philippine universities including the eldest daughter’s uni. The team got fifth place overall in their category while two other universities did good too, in another category.

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

Security was tight, and we didn’t mind. There were designated entrances and exits and foot traffic was good. Visitors will be able to see the races before they enter the main venue where different activities for visitors await them. The foot bridges constructed where visitors will get access to and from the main venue had barriers to keep visitors from being directly above the running cars.

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

We first went to the venue where the mini Shell Eco-Marathon cars are being assembled. Every visitor gets one. It is your choice to assemble your car kit or not, such as it is your choice to enter in the race or not. We got five race car kits and assembled three.

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

We raced two mini SEM cars and the youngest daughter won her race, besting nine other cars. The best thing aside from assembling your mini SEM cars? These run on saltwater “fuel”. Cool huh?

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

We also went to the Energy Lab where the visitors can take part in the different activities and learn about energy.

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

My kids loved the activities there.

2014 Shell Eco-Marathon Manila

Posted by julie @ 7:29 am
Shelved under Philippines

There will be very strong rains, very strong winds and very strong and high storm surge according to the weather bureau.


Go to safe places.

Prepare typhoon kits.

Go to evacuation centers if homes look like these could not stand 295kph of wind and torrential rains to be poured by the buckets.

This is a supertyphoon. This is Haiyan.

The tropical cyclone (the blanket term for hurricanes and typhoons) packs winds up to 200 mph (320 km/h), according to estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with gusts up to 225 mph (360 km/h), said Brian McNoldy, a tropical weather expert at the University of Miami. This is the equivalent of a very strong Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, used to rank cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean. ~Source
Indeed it was the strongest typhoon for the year 2013, the supertyphoon called Haiyan, Yolanda as the locals refer to it.

When electricity was still on, videos and photos started streaming in social media sites to be shared over and over again, viewed by people who are either not directly hit by the super typhoon or those who are in the path but awaits its arrival.

Viewers gushed at how strong the winds are blowing and how it seemed that the nightmare of being in this super typhoon’s path feel like hours instead of minutes.

Could they ride it out? Would they be safe throughout the ordeal? How much more could they stand being in the midst of winds up to 200 mph (320 km/h), gusts up to 225 mph (360 km/h) and storm surge possibly reaching 10 feet and more? The wind speed is unprecedented and is off the charts,  Haiyan’s winds go beyond any recorded wind speed in a super typhoon.

“Haiyan has achieved tropical cyclone perfection,” Florida meteorologist Brian McNoldy tweeted earlier today. “It is now estimated at 165kts (190mph), with an 8.0 on the Dvorak scale… the highest possible value.” ~Source

Haiyan or Yolanda was thrashing different places like a woman scorned gone stark mad: destroying everything in its path, uprooting trees, ripping roofs, smashing glasses, pulling doors and windows off its hinges, blowing homes and buildings away and bringing with her storm surge, water from the seas surrounding these places.

The sea was at Yolanda’s mercy, moving with her, slamming on homes, bringing with it precious belongings, parts and parcels of houses made homes, claiming everything in its path, bringing with it anything that is in its way.

These waters have been the source of income to most of the residents, helping them make a living to sustain the family’s needs. These waters that brought joy and peace to some who enjoyed the relative calmness and tranquility churned like water in a pendulum, bringing water here and there.

The sea waters that gave these people a living blindly lashed out and in its path, claimed the lives of those who depended on it.

“Mom, let go and save yourself,” said a little girl to her mom who was holding on to her because she was trapped under something that came down on their home when the waters started rising.

This village captain brought his neighbors to places to think were good to go, leaving behind his family because their home is made of concrete and is probably strong enough to withstand the wrath of Yolanda only to find out that his family didn’t make it.

This family stayed at the second flood of their homes thinking the storm surge will not get to them but it did, with them holding on to the home’s beams so that the fast rising water won’t sweep them back to see. They found a way to crawl through the ceiling and stay on the house’s roof without any protection above their heads.

A man held on to his father as they both hugged a coconut tree as storm surge and turbulent angry waters swirled around them. The older man was not able to hold on anymore and had to let go.

Tales of harrowing survival and near death experiences, of seeing loved ones swept to sea, pinned under fallen debris hurting and pained but they could not do a thing, much less lift a finger even if they want to so much so it rips the heart apart. Seeing properties destroyed and swept away is like having salt added to the wound that are left open to the elements.

People walking here and there with blank eyes, with dazed expressions, some were carrying their dead loved ones, some were crying tears unabashedly, saying incoherent words because of grief, grief beyond anyone has ever experienced.

People are numb with fear and with guilt for having survived, for being there at all, for having experienced something unprecedented and survived where their loved ones didn’t.

Where do they start cleaning up? How do they start anything to rebuild their homes, their lives, the meager things that withstood Yolanda’s wrath? No one can answer that at first because there is just no way everything that just happened is real. No. Everything will be back to normal once this harrowing nightmare is over.

They think it is.

Only the nightmare is just beginning after Yolanda has passed like nothing happened, leaving behind a wake of destruction that also became a nightmare to people around the world.

The number of people who did not survive is fast rising and the reason might not be because they did not survive Yolanda’s destruction but because help and aid was too long in coming.


Billions worth of cash and aid started pouring in with more to come. Families and organizations have started to pull in resources to be sent to the Philippines, a calamity-fatigued country.

Those who are in the know on how things work in underhand ways are wary and that includes me. Would these all go to where they are supposed to go to or would a few have fat pockets after a few weeks? People can’t help but think about this especially after the country’s coffers are being plundered and bled dry.

Now is the time to do something, in little or big ways, through reputable organizations and charity groups who will deliver the goods needed.

Here are just a few ways on how you can help:

#MovePh Relief Operations List

Google’s Person Finder

Sagip Kapamilya

Donations through Philippine National Red Cross

GMA Operation Bayanihan

Tulong Tomasino Super Typhoon Haiyan/ Yolanda 2013

Ways to help people who live in places where Haiyan/Yolanda devastated

Clothes for Hope with the help of Electrolux

1000 Bearhugs for the children in places devastated by ST Haiyan

Some more of the numerous lists of organizations that are helping out in the #ReliefPH ~Source more complete list I have without shame copied some of the contents.

Click this LINK, #MOVEPH for easier scrolling if below proves a bit too much.

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