Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Journey

      I don't know where I'm going but I know where I have been.  In my life's journey, I collected a few things and put them in this bag.  Let's take a look at them.

     This is where it began (show a flag of the Philippines), the Philippines, the country of my birth.  From the sidelines of my early childhood, I watched my father claim victory as the congressman of the first district of Bohol and saw the enthusiasm of the crowd as they proclaimed him their leader.

      I admired my grandmother who was a vision of strength, independence and self-sufficiency as she ran a store serving home-cooked dishes and other small-town necessities.  My younger brother and I romped around under the coconut trees warmed by the tropical sun while my sister captured the town's admiration with her singing and acting.  My mother's long-wearing patience, creativity and warmth glued the family together.

     The town was alive with music as families gathered in the evenings to sing together with guitar accompaniment. I looked forward to participating in the various fiestas and festivities that dot the calendar year.  Early on, I learned how to be a part of a group and have fun.

     The church bells reminded everyone to pray the 'Angelus' with a spirit of thanks for the day that has just ended.  It was my job to light the kerosene lamps for the house and candles for the prayer table.  This daily task made me see the beauty of the flame and taught me to keep the light of faith burning no matter what happens. (Show candle from the bag).

     I felt responsible in doing an important job, that of shedding light unto the darkness.  I dreamt of someday becoming a useful, contributing member of the community.  What would that be?  I did not know.  I first tried getting into chemistry and biochemistry. (Show molecular model).  

        I had dreams of inventing the miracle drug that would wipe out tuberculosis in 
the Philippines.  However, I did not stay long in that field to realize that dream.

        Shortly after working in biochemical research at Abbott Laboratories, I synthesized a biochemical phenomenon of my own, I became pregnant.  I was first married before this event.  Awaiting the birth of my first born son, I turned my whole interest in preparing for the most important job in the world, that of nurturing  and educating a child. (Show rolled-up blanket to represent child).

     I began to study the works of Dr. Maria Montessori, the first Italian woman physician, whose observations led her to start a unique method of child rearing and education now known as the Montessori Method. (1,2,3,4)  When my son was three months old, I took the training to become a certified teacher at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Chicago.

         My experience with the Montessori system made me aware that children are far more capable  than we normally think they are.  I was   amazed  at  how they can be totally absorbed in doing various tasks in the Montessori environment (show pink tower) and show with their faces 
the joy of learning.  The shouts of  "I did it by myself"  to announce  a  newly-acquired  skill  was  exciting.   I felt at 
home with the philosophy and the method.  I was convinced that what happens to  children during  their  formative years 
is far more important than whatever happens later on.  Early experiences serve as a foundation for a lifetime of learning and living.

    Storms come into one's life.  Child caregivers are among the lowest paid professionals.  Dogcatchers, parking attendants and used car salesmen even rank higher according to the Department of Labor Occupational Classification.  The public in general does not consider this to be a highly-skilled job and is not prepared to spend money towards early education.  The frustrations are many and appreciations are few.

      What shall I do?  Shall I quarrel with God like Job and ask how long will this go on?  Shall I echo the words of the song, "I'm tired of living but afraid of dying?"

          Shall I try another song? "One of these mornings, you will wake up singing.  And you spread your wings and you take to the sky."(5)

     The words from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran comes to my mind.  "When love beacons you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep." (6)

        Once again I look inside my bag and find the candle of my dreams still burning.  I  remember the many little candles that I have lit without diminishing my own flame.  Perhaps  I  can try to carry this candle  a little  longer and continue to shed light upon someone's path and in the process find my own.

     I'll walk with a song because.....
                                    Without a song, a day would never end.
                                    Without a song, the road would never bend.
                                    When things go wrong, a man ain't got a friend
                                    Without a song. (7)

                                                       Without a Song,  music by  Vincent Youmans, 
                                                                                              lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu.
            So I walk and sing a new refrain.....
                                 "Old man river I'll just keep rolling along." (8)

           1)   Montessori, M.:  Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook
           2)   Montessori, M.:  The Montessori Method
           3)   Montessori, M.:   Secret of Childhood
           4)   Montessori, M.:   Discovery of the Child
           5)   Music by  George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward "Summertime" 
                          from Porgy and Bess Without a Song"
           6)   Gibran, K.:          The Prophet
           7)   Music by  Vincent Youmans, Lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu. " Without a Song"
           8)   Kern & Hammerstein:  "Ole Man River"  from Showboat
L to R Ijya,  Papa, Mama, Vril, Nany (back row)         Ijya graduates. chem, Mapua

     L to R Ijya, Nany, Vril, Mama, Papa                 Ijya, chemist at Wesley Mem. Hosp

                                           Tulloss family: Carlos, Ijya, Jim, Mark

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