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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where Had It All Began?

Trail from Torrey Pines State Reserve to Del Mar, May 7, 2011 
Today was a very relaxing day for me, this is the first weekend where my mind is not preoccupied with the thoughts of what to write to beat the rubrics of meeting the standards, of how should I teach Math to a very diverse population. 
California Sea lavender- lined Trail
Now, without heavy thoughts clouding my mind how to answer the many questions, while I walked along this wildflower lined trail with flocks of California brown pelicans flying North to South and vice versa, 
I had the luxury of time to reminisce about the joys back when I was still in the Philippines. Every summer (April- May), my 2 nieces and nephew would join us and my very loving late mother would be so filled with extreme joy whenever they came. My mother loved the sea so much that whenever we got the chance we would go to the beach to enjoy the salty water and sea breeze with my 2 nieces and nephew! With our canvases, pencils, water colors and brushes, we would sit by the beach, look out at the beauty of the sea and the swaying leaves of coconut trees. Then we would start sketching and painting! My nephew, ahhhhh, yes, my very fun loving and logical nephew was always the first one to finish his work of abstract art! He would give me a paper, with some straight lines, some wavy curves, and would tell me, "tita, the empty space is LIGHT! light is beautiful, now, can I play with the sand?" i would say something like, "are you not going to wait for our work to finish?" and he would reply, "I will, but while waiting, I will play with the sand. Your paintings will be beautiful too, won't be as beautiful as mine, JUST DIFFERENT!" Sometimes, I wondered if my nieces and nephew were really just 6, 5 and 3 year olds because of the way they talked. Our day at the beach would not be completed without us getting into the water, played with the waves, had fun with the sand and watching the birds flew by.
Then at home, we would have timed activities. We would have time for reading the bible, we would have time for writing self-reflection to the passages in the bible we read ( I read and wrote to my 3-yr old niece then, but the other two were on their own). We would have time for Math, we would have time watching TV, and we would have time playing computer logical and analytical skill games. Because I only had one computer at home, it was very timed :( We would take turns! 5 minutes per person per turn! I would start being the teacher, I taught them the mechanics of the game, and how to play. I would lead in the first few rounds, but after several 5-minute turns, I found myself stuck in level 14, while my nephew would move past level 14! I enforced to them "no cheating" policy each time, no one was allowed to look at the screen when it was not their turn. My purpose then was, I knew they have very good memory, and I did not want them to just simply memorize the strategies. I wanted them to develop their logic and their brain power to think, to analyze and to problem-solve! Ahhhh, that was what I thought. I was the "tita-mom" who enforced the rule, but sometimes, I wished I could cheat and look at what my nephew was doing why he was already in level 18 while I was still at level 14? When I finally solved level 14, my nephew past level 24! and then, it was no longer free :( Yes, we never played online analytical skill games that we had to pay, we simply availed the ones that were for free! It was fun, maybe for something my level of logical thinking, freebies were good enough, but for my nephew? He had to be contented with my explanation then, "jan, though you may win prize there too playing higher level, but tita has no money to upgrade to higher level skills games, what we can do is we will look for a different free skills game, because it is a different puzzle, you would still be thinking!" Proudly, my nephew would understand my explanation, and would say, "okay tita, when I grow up tita, I will become a computer programmer, I will write many analytical games for free! up to level 400, for free!" and I would smile and give him an affirmation, " yes, you will!
Well, time has quickly passed. My nephew is now taking BS Metallurgical Engineering in University of The Philippines-Diliman campus. He had been chosen several times as one of Philippine delegates to World Math Olympiads where he went to different countries to represent Philippines when he was in Benedictine Abbey Elementary and Philippine Science High School. Though now he no longer talks about being a computer programmer that will write analytical games up to level 400 for free, yet his dream of computer programming continues! His plans right now is after BS Metallurgical Engineering, he would proceed to MS Computer Science and PhD in Computer Engineering. He still is focused to write computer programs, some of them, well, maybe games for his leisure, his dream when he was a kid, but most of them to answer the world's technological needs and advancement in industries that involves metallurgy. As I look back at those days I was enjoying my role as "tita-mom", and I look at the present where my nieces and nephew are right now, I ask myself, "where had it all began?"
1. for my 6-yr old niece back then, who now is on her way to finish her BS Biology in University of the Philippines -Diliman campus, is her desire to become a marine scientist, all  began from our exploring of the ocean?
2. for my 5-yr old nephew back then, who now is taking BS Metallurgical Engineering also in UP-Diliman, is his desire to become a metallurgical engineer-computer scientist-computer engineer-computer programmer all began from that desire of writing a program that will give analytical skills game for free up to level 400?
3. for my 3-yr old niece, who now is in Philippine Science High School, who also wanted to be engineer and at the same time nature photographer, is her love for photography and engineering all began from our exploring and painting together of the outdoors?
Ahhhh, so hard to tell, all I know is, it is so much joy to be working with kids, that's why, I am working my way to work with high school kids until I retire! And I hope I make it!


  1. Beautiful memories and time spent with your nieces and nephew, Betchai. See what you've started it? :-)

  2. This is my second time to read about Metallurgical Engineering. My nephew is studying also in UP, but that's all I know about it.

    Still debating about going to Torrey Pines this Sunday or accept an invitation to fly a Cessna 340 (as a passenger).

    If I can visit TP with our group, it would be nice to see the wildflowers.

  3. thanks icy, Bengt and Ebie.

    @ Ebie, flying a Cessna as a passenger sounds exciting, are you up to getting aerial photos? it's one of my plans to do someday too, get some aerial photos around here. if ever you get to TP, the pictures here are not in the reserve, this is the trail that goes out from the reserve to Del Mar. Not a lot of tidy tips now, they have turned mostly brown, but the sea lavender still continue to grace the landscape.

  4. Betchai your post is truly inspirational. I like the fluid narration. you're a good story teller ma'am, a mark of an excellent teacher. Your kids are lucky to have you (nephews, nieces, students and us readers). You spark their imagination and make them dream dreams. and like the way you showed us your trail to this trip, sharing the beauty you've seen, you likewise guide our way through the wonders of nurturing nature's most valuable resource, the mind.

    Thanks for sharing this piece betchai. and if i may answer "where did it all began?"...it all started with the desire to explore, discover, learn, find answers...and a guiding hand that blaze the trails with good intentions...

    please tell us more stories buddy...

  5. Thanks a lot Carmen, your presence here always add joy. And I love your response, very deep, very intellectual. How I wish I had thought of those lines when I wrote this, I was just excited I can use my reminiscing for a blogging assignment. but then again, that's the purpose of friendship, aside from sharing the fun, it is the sharing of experiences and thoughts that defines us and friendship deeper. So I am so glad I learned from your wise thoughts today.

  6. OH Beth, am deeply touched by this sharing. Your efforts are paying off wonderfully. The seeds you planted in your nieces and nephew are now blooming and yielding a rich reward. I can feel how proud you and your family must be of those kids! I agree, if we start early, then they have a solid foundation! Kudos to you, Beth! :) Such lovely memories to look back at! :)

  7. thanks Tes, just so happened my nieces and nephew are old enough now to have more priceless moments to look back and compare to where they are now....am sure with Cate, Yam and Teki, you will have loads of priceless memories with them to look back as well. Hugs to them.

  8. You have a very good and organized life Beth. Now I know where your love for nature started. Your nieces and nephews are amazingly bright, runs in your family !

    Enjoy the trail Beth !!!

  9. thanks a lot Chay, looking forward to our mini-reunion and double celebration :)

  10. your nieces and nephew are so lucky to have you for an aunt Betchai! i wish you could be my kids' teacher! aaahhh i'm still dreaming of one day listening to you lecture on Mathematics, i'd bring a lot of tissue to wipe my nose when it bleeds hahahahaha, love yah! i am such a huge fan!




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