Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mission Accomplished!

                                                                 Image result for woman harvesting bananas pictures

                                               Photo Credit:

April 17, 2013, Wednesday, eight in the morning. The sun was just a little above the horizon and the birds were merrily chirping. Helpers and drivers were in front of their masters'  houses doing chores. The sky was blue and the early morning air was crisp. Around me, I could see leaves of trees swaying in the early summer air.

After drinking the last drop of my black coffee, I set out to accomplish the mission I schemed the night before. 

Armed with a long bolo, I strode to the vacant lot right next to our school. There were a lot of weeds blocking my way. I felt sorry for them but they had to be cut down.  After a few minutes,  I reached the spot I wanted to be at, the place where a lot of banana plants grow. I found my target. There...the banana plant whose circumference was about 3 to 4 feet,  proud and erect with its big  cluster of bananas.  I went around the banana plant and  paused for a while. Next, I drew a deep breath, I aimed my bolo and...whoosh! whoosh! whoosh! After the 15th hack, the banana plant  fell down. Not wasting any moment, I went towards the fallen banana plant and claimed my prize...the big cluster of bananas. (I hacked the banana plant 15 times before it fell down, not because banana plants are sturdy, but because my bolo was blunt and rusty.) I bowed to my imaginary audience and said,  "Mission accomplished!"  Ha ha ha.  After a while I searched the area and saw a lot more clusters of bananas. One cluster will be ready for harvesting two weeks from now.

It was my first time to hack down a banana plant, but growing up, I saw my father do it a lot of times. 

Who owns the banana plants? Nobody.  In the Philippines, if bananas grow on a vacant lot, anybody can have them--- construction workers, helpers, dog-walkers, anybody.  It's just a matter of who sees them first, and  I'm not the type who would see them last. 

By the way, unless grown in plantations, bananas can reproduce on their own. There's  no need for planting or replanting them.  The suckers or shoots  that grow around the adult plants replenish those adult plants when they  die.  Each plant grows only one cluster of bananas. The only way to harvest the fruit is to slash the banana plant. That's the end of its lifespan. I know. I grew up in a big fenced-in yard where banana plants grew in abundance.

My two helpers baked banana cakes.  Hmm. I still remember the taste of the banana cakes; I still remember being savagely attacked by mosquitoes while I was hacking the banana plant. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Why Are Many People Obsessed with a High TOEIC Score?

Photo credits  Left Picture:  

Right Picture:

These days, almost all companies require a  job applicant to have  a TOEIC score which is, as much as possible, higher than 900. As a result, many job seekers scurry to cram schools and spend countless of hours studying for the TOEIC exam.
Many people  spend much time memorizing as many words as they can;  yet, on the day of the exam, they find themselves trying to recall all of the words they’ve memorized. Worse, most of the words they memorized don’t even appear in the actual exam.

In reality, it’s impossible to memorize all English words. Prior to the invention of the internet, there were already more than a million English words. With the internet, more technical words have been added to the dictionary. And because it is pointless to memorize all English words, it is not good to just rely on memorizing English words. There are certain skills and techniques that will help a reader or a test taker determine the meaning of a word when it is used in a sentence. One word can have multiple meanings. The meaning changes depending on how it is used in the sentence.

For example:
Let’s use the word crane.
1.  The crane is a beautiful bird. 
2. The car is too heavy; a crane is needed to get it out from the ditch. 
3. The teacher spoke too softly. She had to crane her neck to hear the teacher's explanation. 
What if a student managed to memorize only the first meaning of the word crane,  which means bird? If he reads sentence number 2,  does he imagine a bird trying to lift a car from the ditch?

Here are some points which may be surprising to many TOEIC test takers who don't use English as ther first/second/or official language. 

1. There are some specific skills needed in order to know the meaning of a word. 
2. There is almost no need to memorize all English words. In fact, according to one reliable source, the most prolific writer, Winston Churchill, used only about 60,000 out of 1,000,000 words in his writings. 

How, then, can a student know how to answer questions in exams, particularly in TOEIC exams?


実際には、すべての英語の単語を暗記することは不可能です。インターネットの発明に先立ち、既に百万以上の英単語がありました。インターネットでは、技術的な言葉が辞書に追加されています。そして、すべての英語の単語を覚えるのは無意味なので、英語の単語を覚えることだけに頼るのは良いことではありません。文章で使用される単語の意味を読者や受験者が判断するのに役立つスキルとテクニックがあります。 1つの単語は複数の意味を持つことができます。文中でどのように使われているかによって意味は変わります。

1. The crane is a beautiful bird. 2.The truck is too heavy; a crane is needed to get it out from the ditch. 3. The teacher spoke too slowly. She had to crane her neck in order to hear the teacher's explanation. 




The Man, The Robber, and the Socks

Free stock photo of money, gold, coins, finance

Photo Credit:

A bus was being robbed at an isolated place. When the 3 highway robbers brandished their firearms and shouted "Holdup! Give us your money or you'll get shot!", the passengers fearfully but willingly gave all of their valuables to the men.

One passenger managed to jump out of the bus and ran as fast as he could. He was immediately seized by one of the robbers.  At gunpoint, the man surrendered his wallet to the robber, which the latter greedily opened.

"You have only P100.00 in your wallet and you ran as though you had a million in it?! Here, take back your wallet!" shouted the robber indignantly.

"Ah, sir... I thought you would also take away the P100,000.00 hidden in my socks, that's why I tried to escape..."

I Taught My Student Grammar. She Used Her Grammar Knowledge to Teach Me About Life.

                                         Image result for EVENING STAR pictures
                                                        PhotoCredit: Tangerine Dream - Towards the evening star - YouTube
Tangerine Dream - Towards the evening star

My student and I were on our way to a buffet. It was dusk, and the evening star was already visible in the horizon.

“Look at the star. It’s beautiful, but it’s alone.” I said with a sigh.

“Teacher, you said that the adjective we want to emphasize must be placed after the conjunction but. I want to improve the focus of your sentence. The star is alone, but it’s beautiful.  I think it’s better that way. It sounds more positive.”




Friday, April 20, 2018


                                                 Image result for LITTLE BOY IN CONVERSATION STOCK PHOTOS


After teaching my 10-year-old student the meaning of the word priority, I asked him, "So, what are your top five priorities?

Little Boy:   Soccer, baseball, food, computer games, cellphone games...

Me:             How about your homework??!!

Little Boy:  That's Number 2, 421...

Me:              How was your soccer match?

Little Boy:    We lost...

Me:               Why? What went wrong?

Little Boy:     I was the goalkeeper.

Me:                 In life, balance is very important.

Little Boy:      Yes. I hope our school will have balance someday.

Me:                 Balance in what?

Little Boy:      Like... one hour class, one hour break time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Students Attack!!! (Attack Me Back, That Is...)

                                 Image result for STUDENT LAUGHING AT A TEACHER  PICTURES
                                      Photo Credit:     student-                                                                                              gm950887456-259561057

It’s both funny and heartwarming when the students whom I painstakingly taught basic grammar to, such as Subject-Verb Agreement, have improved so much that they can finally attack me back from different an amusing way, of course. Here are some light moments with some of my students.

Me:       And why are you laughing at my drawing??!!
Student: And why shouldn’t I??!!

After watching a video of a komodo dragon mercilessly attack a defenseless deer:
Me:        I wonder what komodo dragons are for.

Student: Komodo dragons also wonder what humans are for.

Me:      I am going on a date on Saturday night.

Student: Finally??!! Oh, God is Alive!!

Me: During my time, exam days were tough because our  teachers would  hit us on the          butt for every mistake that we'd make.

Student: Oh, noooo!!!! Teacher, are you okay??!!


Me: Any unusual news today?
Student: My uncle finally took a shower last night. 

Listening to a student put into practice what he/she has learned is truly rewarding for a teacher. Teaching, indeed, is a noble profession. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kids Are...Well, Kids

                                                          Image result for mischievous kids pictures

Photo Credit:

Here are some of my favorite conversations with kids.

1.  Five-year-old boy: The people in the congregation say I am very     handsome.
Me: Did you believe them?
Boy: Well, for a couple of times I heard you say the same thing about me.

A four-year-old girl reviewing for her Science exam  asked me to draw objects so that she could identify them as either Living Things or Non-Living things. I drew a flower.

Girl: Has this been plucked?
Me: (Not knowing what to answer,  I erased the picture of the flower and I drew a tree instead.)


My then 5-year-old nephew on seeing a spider on its web for the very first time:
"Hey Auntie, come and see what I've found in your garden! It's something so little, it's moving, and it  looks like Spider Man!"


My brother needed some cash so he prepared to go to the nearest ATM machine, a good 10-minute-walk under the scorching sun. My five-year-old nephew wanted to tag along and his father could not stop him, so I sensed my brother needed some help.

Me: The ATM machine is so far away from here.

Nephew: (teary-eyed) Like... how far is it?

Me: You will cross 7 seas and climb 10 mountains.

After about an hour, I saw my brother and my nephew arriving home, both drenched in sweat.

Nephew: Oh, Auntie... my dad and I have just been to the nearest ATM machine. We crossed 7 seas and climbed 10 mountains....


One day I hugged a cute, chubby little girl so tightly.
Little Girl: Hey, don't squeeze me. I'm not a lemon. 

Me: If you say bad words, Grandfather Diego will come here and cut off your tongue.

Four-year-old nephew: The dentist told me that someday, when I lose a tooth, another tooth will grow. If Grandfather Diego cuts my tongue, will another tongue grow? 

Oh... I wish I could be a kid again!