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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Dear Survivor, It's Nice To See You're Smiling Again...

Dear Survivor,

How are you? No one ever asks that question anymore. Some do ask, but they'd just ask because they're just curios.  And if you try to tell people, they attack you for being negative or for simply feeling unwell. Feels like you are fighting this battle alone, don't you? So I am asking you instead. How are you? 

In Myanmar, whenever you are asked that question, you always felt awkward telling truths about discomfort or of being unhappy or sad. Why was that? You always wanted people to think that you are okay, even though most of the time, you were not. Although you are honest in most aspects, it's the "How are you?" questions that you feel needed a positive answer. So right now, can you honestly say you are not okay?  Or, would you still tell people that everything's fine and that, you are coping. Hmmm..

It has been more than 2 months since you were repatriated from Myanmar due to the unrest under the military rule. The pandemic didn't scare you that much, although your salary and benefits suffered a lot due to low enrolment brought about by it, but because you stayed home most of the time,  it was safer to stay in, and budget was also bearable, you never complained. In fact, you considered it still a blessing to have income in a crucial time. But the military takeover last February 1 drove you to leave your second home and come back to the country with almost nothing. It was a scary and heart breaking time in Myanmar, you cried everyday and every night, for fear, and with all the deaths and killings of innocent lives. Waking up to nearby shootings and the noise when the military use guns, and tear gas to disperse the people who fought for their democracy day in, day out. You were scared for your Burmese brothers and sisters, but couldn't do anything to help them. Coming home was the safest option. Everything and everyone is monitored, even until now. Communications were cut off during the night and in the morning you hear news of kidnappings and killings, buildings being burned. There was a time you were afraid your family wouldn't be able to contact you as Internet and phone lines were cut. No one monitored the COVID situation for a time, and people were dying by the gun. Traumatic for them, so much for you who can't help, or do anything to make their voices heard. How are you with that? 

You said you're going to jump to another country but first you needed to renew your licenses and prepare new sets of documents and make sure your daughter can also transition well to Senior High School before you leave again. You liked being an OFW for the salary you can't get in the Philippines plus the perks and benefits of being a foreign teacher  that it's the best option you'd always choose, but you said you will not go back until you have prepared everything. You said you're going to focus on online teaching first and do freelance work while you wait for your next departure. You have revived blogging and ventured on to vlog in YouTube. Perhaps make it monetized and earn from it too. Well it isn't too late. 

But then everything didn't work out the way you hoped they would. The house was too noisy, even noise cancelling microphones wouldn't work so you kept postponing your demo. Starting over in blogging is strange these days, and vlogging? Your subscribers are still way below the required.  Deployment and movement of OFWs are at a stand still due to travel and border restrictions! Plus,  await the schedule for vaccination. Ha! Savings have now been depleted, loans and insurance need payments, you end up thinking of ways to make things work. Overthinking right into panic's door.

So last June 11, this happened to your face. 
Bell's Palsy.. You dealt with it with your  parent's help, mostly their care and their money because you have nothing anymore. Medication, doctors' fees and rehabilitation are shouldered by them. Good thing you have siblings that care too. They made things comfortable for you. Oh how you felt ashamed, and worried because your senior citizen parents are also dealing with their own medical maintenance. You are supposed to give them comfort, and not be a burden to them. You always cringed at the thought of people being dependent on their families or the government, yet here you are, penniless like a beggar and helpless like a scared cat.
You can't speak properly, lisping most times, can't pronounce words correctly, can't smile like before. Can't move forward with your online teaching plans. Can you say you are still okay? Most times you cry without tears, and at times tears fall without you crying. But on the outside, you laugh..


Are you really sure you are still okay?

You gather yourself together, find means to earn, with your mother lending you a small capital, that you started to venture into selling Black Rice, Salted Eggs (Itlog Maalat), Dragon Fruit, then decided to make use of unsold fruits and made them into Dragon Fruit Jam to sell.


A little squeeze of creative juices here and there, until they get sold.


But your hard work came back badly knocking you out, and instead of you getting better, your Bell's Palsy has reversed healing. Oh no!

You are a mother so you assist your daughter in her scholarship application for Senior High School, and you read her scholarship application essay and cry your heart out... Is this the work of a 15 year old? She was when she wrote this,  she's turned 16, 3 days ago. 

Oh how you felt sorry that your daughter feels she is in dire need of the scholarship because you have nothing to spend for her education at this point in time. Hurts like hell, doesn't it? You ask yourself what kind of parent you are for making her go through this. Are you still saying you are okay?

Now, now. I think you are weighing things much more heavily than you should. Your daughter is smart like you, and a survivor too. This is a phase in her life that will shape her and prepare her for the bigger world you want her to conquer. She'll be fine. She'll excel as she always have. Don't feel sorry, don't feel bad. Your daughter's understanding of your situation is deeper than anyone can fathom. That is her strength.

So, Dear Survivor, stop! 

Just stop! Accept that you are not okay and deal with it!

It's time to give yourself time to heal. You haven't really rested, as both your doctors ordered. You're stressing things out and it's taking a toll on your health, mentally, physically, psychologically and if I am not mistaken, your spirit is drowning too. Save yourself. You are the only one who can!

Where is the fighter that you once were? But in order to fight, you need strength. Where is the person who always makes sure she wins? But in order to win, you have to be okay. Where is that smile that brightens everyone else's day? Bell's Palsy may just make you smile differently, but your eyes twinkle every time you do, so it has nothing to do with the mouth area. Besides, with a mask on, no one notices anything but the smile in your eyes. 

Dear Survivor, take this time not as a downtime to wallow in self pity and give in to depression, but take this as a time to replenish your energy. Think of this as a vacation. A halt. A temporary phase. You always said everything in life is temporary, so why not think that way now? Give in to healing. Everything that you feel you've lost will surely come back. Money will come. Your life will be in balance again. But you have to take this time to fully heal... 

Dear Survivor,  don't just survive! Win this battle! Because you can! You always have, you always will!


Much Love, 

Mommy Dharlz 

<3

Dear Mommy Dharlz,

You have read this blog post over and over, and cried buckets of tears reading every word. How are you now?

Self

<3 

Dear Survivor,

Yes, I have cried an ocean as I read through each word I posted. Everything I have written was personal, but I didn't care who've read the blog anymore. I felt liberated. I read through all the comments and I am glad I have let go of these feelings that has burdened me. I am better. I am ready to heal. 

I saw my two doctors this morning, and for the first time since my Bell's Palsy started, I could say I am ready to focus on my healing. My mother and I had a heart to heart talk in the car while my father was out, and for the first time also, I saw through her, the loving woman that she is, always ready to assist me, whatever happens in my life. The same love I have for my daughter. 

I am glad I did this. 

Thank you Universe.

Mommy Dharlz

<3

Dear Survivor, 

There is nothing that worries me anymore. Perhaps I felt overwhelmed by the situation because this is the first time in my life that I have felt useless, and a burden. Looking at how the world is suffering right now, and how everyone is dealing with losses brought about by the pandemic, I didn't want to be someone who will add to the misery of people, especially not to my loved ones. That was perhaps what's bothered me. Well... That's hardcore over thinking. Ha! A battle within thyself. 

So congratulations dear survivor, you have finally broken the chain that has bound you, and hindered you to move forward with your healing.

Let me remind you of what you have accomplished even with Bell's Palsy. You continue to care for your family in the chores that you do. Cooking for them with love, when you can. Oh how they enjoy your delicious meals. 


That's not being a burden, you still contribute in the best way you can. 

And just recently you, as the president of your "clan", organized a 3 day online Pass-the-hat for a relative in Manila who passed away. You were able to collect P 35,000 from relatives abroad and in the country, with constant monitoring, that the bereaved family hasn't stopped thanking you for organizing it, and helping them through the toughest time in their lives.
See? Is that someone who is useless and a burden? Plus, you have started to capitalize on your other skills to make money. Isn't that something?

Anyway, I am happy you have finally come to your senses. 

Enjoy your vacation dear survivor. Everything will work out fine once you have healed. 

Lastly, give yourself a pat on your shoulder. Thank you for always trying, no matter what. 

Thank you. Thank you..Thank you..

Love you always,

Mommy Dharlz


***

"This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project Season 2: Dear Survivor”. The initiative continues to respond to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis.  The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. The “Write to Ignite Blogging Project” Season 2 is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, with Eastern Communications and Jobstreet as co-presenters, with AirAsia and Xiaomi as major sponsors, and with Teleperformance as sponsor."

Monday, May 31, 2021

CHED and REX Education recognize model HEIs’ flexible learning and innovations through Gawad Edukampyon Awards 2021

In a time of great difficulty and challenges not just for the education sector but for the whole country, many schools and educators rose to the task to continue providing holistic and enriching learning for students throughout the country. It’s time for these heroic efforts to take the spotlight and be acknowledged.


The Gawad Edukampyon Awards 2021 was created for this very purpose: to celebrate innovations and excellence by higher education institutions (HEIs) during the most challenging time in recent history, and bring together educators and institutions to create, refine, and implement innovative programs suited to create better and sustainable learning in the 21st century’s new normal of education. 

Launched in January 30, 2021 by Rex Education and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the Gawad Edukampyon Awards 2021 is driven by CHED’s #WeLearnAsOne Bayanihan efforts and Rex Education’s Edukampyon advocacy. 

“I encourage all HEIs to join the Gawad Edukampyon and showcase your innovations. It is during these challenging times that we must empower and inspire each other, draw strength and learn from one another,” said CHED Chairperson Prospero “Popoy” De Vera.

Flexible learning is here to stay

Rex Education has always rallied behind the Edukampyon advocacy, which calls for the involvement of the whole community and all education duty-bearers to ensure all students are Filipino Whole Learners—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and values-oriented inside and outside their learning environments. This has become especially important and relevant given the context and changes in education in the new normal, where flexible learning has become a more viable modality for the years to come.

“[There is] no going back to the traditional, full-packed, face-to-face classrooms. The Commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue in the school year 2021 and thereafter,” said De Vera. This statement comes after the release of CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 04, series 2020, “Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Learning,” which also presents flexible learning as a sustainable system that should be part of every school’s Learning Continuity Plan (LCP). 

Given the new investments of many HEIs in technology, teacher training, and retrofitting of facilities to adapt with flexible learning, and with this modality already long-adapted by many universities across the globe, it only makes sense for institutions to embrace the new landscape that flexible learning brings. This adaptability and learner-centered approach to education has always been at the core of Edukampyon, which—through the many studies and real-world applications it draws from—argues that learning should not just be delivered from the classroom curriculum, but from the whole community and through every possible learning moment. 

“The Edukampyon agenda lobbies that as members of the community, everyone is part of this learner-centered solution, and are thus duty bearers morally obliged to support initiatives that will benefit our learners. We acknowledge that the efforts to realize the vision of Edukampyon is continuously growing. We may be at the very first steps of this years-long movement. But taking the first step is always the most crucial moment in every revolution. With the help of every HEI and of everyone, we hope that this first step leads to a march where we create more programs and campaigns that would allow us to be champions for the Whole Filipino Learner. And we hope Gawad Edukampyon Awards 2021 will lead that way,” said Don Timothy Buhain, CEO of Rex Education.

Award categories and prizes

There are four categories under the Gawad Edukampyon Awards. Each category will be awarded to the school who has implemented a project or initiative that best exemplifies excellence in the particular field and has been demonstrated during the pandemic. 

The Gawad Edukampyon for Excellence in Flexible and Responsive Management is an award to be given to HEIs who created policies or specific projects and practices that ensured the continuity of education, as well as the health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, staff and school-community during times of disruption. This includes efforts that set a clear framework and system for the transition and integration of flexible learning approaches, excellent and strategic leadership and management, and innovative management approaches that provided tangible support to the staff and students’ well-being especially during pandemic.

The Gawad Edukampyon for Excellence in Flexible Teaching and Learning Innovation is an award to be given to HEIs with exemplary innovative and adaptive learning approaches and solutions, including innovative platforms, tools, pedagogies, and appropriate learning assessments; efforts to promote learner-centered teaching; technology-enhanced or arts-based learning; setting up mobile open online courses (MOOCs); or creating significant reforms in the curriculum to accommodate the changes in the delivery of learning.

The Gawad Edukampyon for Responsive Research and Development is an award to be given to HEIs with outstanding research and development of products that significantly contributed to the community through research and materials dissemination to other LGUs or other HEIs, as well 
as researches that have been used as an input to public policy or adopted into a local community project, and case assessments or action-research that can improve the government’s COVID-19 response. 

The Gawad Edukampyon for Public Service and Community Engagement is an award given to HEIs with outstanding outreach projects that alleviated challenges experienced by their community because of COVID-19. This includes those that have increased community resilience or improved response to the pandemic and communication campaigns that have engaged the community or resulted to transformative decision-making.

Two winners will be awarded for each category—one from the public sector and another from the private sector. Each award category winner will receive a cash prize and an educational resources package worth P200,000. The narratives of all winners will be featured in the Rex Education-led publication, Padayon.

How to join

All HEIs who wish to participate in the Gawad Edukampyon Awards can now submit their letter of intent (LOI) signed by the HEI head or authorized representative to edukampyonsecretariat@gmail.com with the subject heading “The Screening Committee, Gawad Edukampyon 2021”. The deadline of submission of LOI is on June 4, 2021.

For the full mechanics on how to join, and to access the forms, application information, and other updates, you may visit Gawad Edukampyon on Facebook, head to the link bit.ly/GawadEdukampyon, or contact the Gawad Edukampyon secretariat at edukampyonsecretariat@gmail.com or 0956-812-3896.