Thursday, November 28, 2013

My journey to the land of the rising sun

by Ramil S. Pederio
Master Teacher I, NCS-II

In 2005, my desire to study in Japan started when a former colleague introduced me to an opportunity being offered by the Japanese government. It was only in 2010, however, when I became qualified. I immediately grabbed the opportunity.  I underwent the document screening, medical examination, written examination, and the interview. Fortunately, I was one of those who qualified for the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship Program under Teacher Trainee Category.

In October 2010 to March 2011, I took an Intensive Japanese Language Course in Kobe University. Japanese language proved to be indeed challenging efor me who did not have any background about the language. My class would normally start at 9:00 in the morning, and end at 3:00 in the afternoon during the weekdays.

Japanese Language has three forms of alphabet: Hiragana, katakana, and Kanji. As a beginner, I studied mostly Hiragana and Katakana, but also learned the most commonly-used kanji. Reading and writing class took place in the morning, while the speaking and listening segments happened be in the afternoon, usually in the form of individual or group presentation. As my final output, I presented our country’s history and educational system in Japanese Language.

During weekends and holidays, I taught in an English Tutorial School teaching mostly Japanese students. It was exciting to teach English toJapanese students especially in an elementary level knowing that English is not even their secondary language. Japanese students, I discovered, however, are very eager to learn English.

I also attended different Japanese festivals and ceremonies like the tea ceremony, flower festival, pottery making, and others. 

After completing the six months of intensive Japanese language training, I moved to Hyogo University Teacher Education in April 2011. There, I studied  Educational Management. I was given the chance to observe different schools in such as Kinsay Elementary School, Nishiwaki Elementary School, Aogaki Junior High School, Yashiro Junior High School, and Yashiro Senior High School. 

I found out that all the schools were provided with teaching devices like projectors and computers. Science laboratories and music rooms are also well-equipped. Teachers there have little difficulty to discuss their lessons because of the help of these tools. It is generally easier for them to give the classroom instructions, which are also understood more easily by students.

I also observed that generally the government gives much support to public schools. Considering that every prefecture has the responsibility and accountability of managing the schools within their jurisdictions, the image of every school in their locality somehow reflects the kind of management that the head of each prefecture has. In particular, the Board of Education in a prefecture has the main task to manage all the schools within its area and thereby coordinate with every school principal for the betterment of the school. In all of the schools I visited, I could say that all the principals were really doing well in terms of how they managed their schools. In Kinsay Elementary School, for example, the involvement of parents association is really apparent. On that day where I visited the school, some parents were doing gardening duties and cleaning some areas of the school. In Nishiwaki Elementary School, I was invited to be a part of after-school activities of the students, which I really enjoyed. We had games and conversations with the parents, students, teachers of that school. In Yashiro Junior High School, everyday they had a short meeting, which the principal attends. During the meeting, they discuss the important things that happened that day about the students` and teachers activities, and the other concern of the school.

I believe that among the prefectures, the In Hyogo Prefecture has the best Board of Education because they truly cooperate with the different schools in their area. As a matter of fact, most of the international students like me were invited to do some presentations about topics related to our respective countries, school system, culture and other things. It was an excellent avenue to exhaust all possible learning resources for the students especially since learning now tends to be interactive and globalized.

I took that program for almost a year and eventually earned my certificate for completing the course.

It was indeed an amazing experience which I would treasure forever.

I envy how Japan has successfully managed to keep its indigenous culture while still staying on the forefront in development, cutting-edge technology and modernization. I like the dedication and the  insistence on perfection of Japanese people in whatever they do.

Deona’s brand of leadership

There had been several choices that were available to Bicol Regional Police Director Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona when he was confronted with the recent Rapu-Rapu mining mishap.
For one, he could have simply ignored the fact of the tardiness of the report, and protected the ego of the police officers that were involved. He could have denied that the report was late, or ordered for the issue to be covered up entirely, especially since many did not even know about the late report until its news broke out.
Deona, however, opted to follow a different path. Such choice would likely make him unpopular with the police officers that he reprimanded. His choice could even make other police officers scoff at his insistence on punctuality—a value that many in society would regard as optional, but by no means obligatory.
But what popularity he lost to those who do not take their job seriously, is replaced by the surge of respect that he incurred from those who do. For those whose hearts are in the right place, Deona displayed unmistakeable courage and commitment to his job as the police chief of the region.
Deona epitomizes what one proverb admonishes: “The choices that we make, make us.” The choice that Deona made not only manifested what his conscience dictated, but also fortified his sense of justice that would be crucial for all other future decisions.
He could have easily taken the easy way out. He could have made the police officers happy and immensely grateful by keeping the failure a secret. Yet, he recognized that decisions such as these are the mark of a flimsy spirit—easily swayed and unable to stand one’s ground, and ultimately unsuitable for a true leader.
It is worth mentioning that while it may seem that the police chief was only annoyed by the lateness of the report, his anger, in fact, had deeper basis. Justice relies heavily on time, as one legal maxim suggests. Each moment that justice is not served is said to be just as bad as the victim not receiving any justice at all. In the case of the victims of the mine blast, the delay of the report meant that the investigation was also deferred, as with the filing of any charges, if the need arises. It was not a mere case of late submission; the lateness was equivalent to denying immediate redress for the victims.
Other leaders would do well to follow Deona’s example. What he showed was strongcommitment to his duty as police chief as well as firm faith in justice, despite the threat of unpopularity that may emerge from those who, lamentably, do not share his views.

Deona slams late mine blast report


PILI, CSUR— Bicol Regional Police Director Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona lashed at the chief of police in Rapu-Rapu, Albay as well as other police officials after the same purportedly failed to give a report on a mining-related explosion on time.
The explosion, which happened on November 20, involved a coal mining facility owned by Sammajo Mining Corporation in Bagawbaw, Batan Island. Said accident took the lives of two people, as well as injured two others.
Supposedly, the island was under the supervision of Senior Inspector Gilbert Otivar, acting Rapu-Rapu Municipal Police Office chief. However, Otivar and the other police officers assigned to the area only found out about the accident on Monday, November 25, five days after the explosion occurred.
Meanwhile, the report was forwarded to the Bicol police chief almost six days after the accident happened.
In the report, it was stated that the accident happened at around 9:00 in the morning. The four victims had been in around 34 meters below the surface in a 125-meter tunnel. They had been mining coal when one of the victims hit rock that prompted a spark. Such spark caused the explosion.
The victims were Antonio Grajeda, Jerson Dela Cruz, Moises Boyon and Christian Santillan.
All four victims hurried out of the tunnel, seeking help. Several villagers who saw them emerge immediately took them to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, where they were given medical assistance.
Only Boyon and Santillan, however, survived and were able to tell the police what happened. Grageda died at about 11:00 a.m. on Saturday while Dela Cruz perished at around 4:00 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, Otivar’s report also noted that the Sammajo Mining Corporation is registered to Engineer Carlito Aparri. Their investigation revealed that the Department of Energy had already ordered for the mine to be closed because of the risks that it brought to the villagers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Deaf awareness week

Participants of the recent Deaf Awarness Week in Naga City learn new livelihood skills to keep their hands busy with something other than sign language (PHOTO: SHIELA BASBAS)


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