running in red stilettos
Oh well, it's legal, too. Sorry to disappoint you.


I have been asked so many times if homeschooling is legal in the Philippines. The answer is a definitive “yes”, as stated in the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines Article XIV: 

Section 1. The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

Section 2. The State shall:
(1) Establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society;
(2) Establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural right of parents to rear their children, elementary education is compulsory for all children of school age...

It would help if you talked to experienced homeschooling families if you’re considering homeschooling your children. There are many ways to get affiliated in homeschooling, but you would be shocked to know that some people in the Department of Education (DepEd) may not be able to answer your questions. I have spoken to five people at DepEd who were unaware of the concept of homeschooling (speaks a lot about our educational system). Based on my research, homeschooling families have experienced the same thing so please know that you’re not alone in this challenge. Looking for the right person to talk to at DepEd about homeschooling would be a challenge, I kid you not, so go ahead and look around so you can assess the best homeschooling method for you before you attempt approaching DepEd about it because I don’t want you to end up discouraged.  

The first two things thing that you might want to know is how to get back to regular school later on if you decide to; and what happens if your homeschooler is ready to fly high to college. We will deal with that in the next post. 

We have been homeschooling for a total of four years now and we unschooled during the first two years. Unschooling is a learning method which allows the learner to develop his interests without following a curriculum or a set of lesson plans. If say, your child is interested in skateboarding, you allow him to develop this interest and inject knowledge in science, math and vocabulary into this particular interest. How? If you look closely, the ollies and kickflips apply the basic principles of physics. Ask your learner to write an essay on what makes skateboarding so interesting for him or her and that’s English subject (theme writing and grammar) for you. So on and so forth. 

This can be a challenge to your creativity as a teacher, but imagine the fun that goes into learning. 

Now that our son is 12, we decided that getting him to a more structured learning would benefit him. We are independently homeschooling, which means we create our own curriculum.

"How On Earth Do You Do that?!"
Yes, we get that kind of reaction a lot. Deciding on what your children should learn for a homeschool year is not an out-of-this-world concept although it may sound that way since we have always relied on expert curriculum developers and teachers to design our curriculum and create lesson plans for our learners. One thing that makes homeschooling work is that you can customize your lessons. 

Lesson planning in homeschooling is based on what you think your child is ready to learn, how much information your learner can take in one homeschool day, the method of teaching that works for your learners and creating lessons that will also make way for their interests. 

“I Can Never Do What You Do!”
Yet again, so many people tell us that they can never be homeschooling parents like us because “they can’t do the impossible like we do”. We’re not hiding wings inside our shirts and we don’t morph into superhumans when no one is looking. We simply are parents who know our children better, therefore we brought education home. 

There are so many exciting things about homeschooling, and you just learned one of the most important information — that it is legal in the Philippines. Consider this a good beginning.

I'll leave you with this thought...
 

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running in red stilettos
Cagsawa Ruins, Albay


Commuting in Bicol is relatively cheap and easy although the tricycle tariff could be quite confusing at times. Base fare for tricycles and jeepneys is PhP8.00. But there are areas within the town or the city where the drivers charge higher. It is sometimes debatable what tricycle drivers consider “far”. For instance, we were charged a “round trip” fare for a one-way ride from the Naga Central Station at Cory and Ninoy Aquino Avenue to Magsaysay Avenue, which was barely a seven-minute drive. Drivers charge higher on the assumption that they will have no return passengers so they lose money on gasoline.
That was not the case for us though because the driver picked up a couple of passengers halfway through our trip to Magsaysay Avenue. A complaint presented itself to me, but the complaint of my rumbling stomach proved to be stronger. 

In most areas in Bicol, a “round trip” costs PhP40.00.

In other places in the Philippines, a “round trip” is called “special”. It simply means you pay for the full capacity of the tricycle, which usually is between 4 to six people, depending on which part of the Philippines you’re in because tricycle designs vary. So it’s considered a “chauffeured” ride (in a bumpy three-wheel, part-time amphibian vehicle), if you may. 

 “Round Trip”
Naga City
When the driver told me that we had to take a round trip, I asked him how and waited for him to give me directions. I actually thought he was trying to tell us to go somewhere else to board a different ride. He explained to us, sour-faced, that we just had to pay him PhP40 for that trip. Some of them may assume that you understand what “round trip” means and may lightly resent you for asking. But I just have to say that people in Bicol are generally kind and courteous. Not once in our entire trip did we feel threatened or offended by anyone, not even when we walked in the dark Bagasbas beach in Daet.

Once you have the term “round trip” sucked up in your vocabulary, begin to haggle. A couple of times I brought down round trip fares for PhP30 per trip instead of PhP40. Surprisingly, the drivers agreed without a trace of resentment and just happily drove us where we needed to go. Each trip was less than seven minutes long so PhP30 was not a very successful exercise of the penny-pincher in me.

Buses, Vans and Soon Trains
Bicol has a very organized transport system. Bus and van terminals are clean, but don’t expect to find decent rest rooms—a sentiment that’s true even among most of our malls and restaurants in the country.

Vans are the preferred transportation among travellers because they’re faster, so if you’re pressed for time it’s always wiser to take the van. Even the bus dispatcher advised us against taking the bus to Daet because the trip would take 3 ½ hours.

“You look like you can afford the van fare. The trip will be a lot shorter,” he said knowingly. And repeated it three times.

We heard over breakfast on our last day that Bicol is also slowly rehabilitating its railway system. The colossal dream is to extend it all the way to Metro Manila. I like the sound of that.

How Long, How Much
Legazpi, Albay to Naga, Camarines Sur  - 2 hours – PhP130
Naga to Daet, Camarines Norte– 2 hours- PhP180

Within Legazpi City
A jeepney ride within Legazpi City will cost you anything from PhP8 to PhP15. When in doubt about your direction, flag a LOOP 1 or LOOP 2 jeep and ask the driver if your destination is within their route.

Within Albay
Commute is via jeeps, vans and buses and getting to the farthest point from Legazpi City will not cost you more than PhP150. There are special trips that you will need to hire a vehicle for like Hoyop-hoyopan Cave because public transportations do not go that way. It’s a 15-minute ride from the main road in Camalig to the cave. You can hire a tricycle in Camalig for PhP100-150. 

Commuting in Bicol is easy, so worry not. Just go and have fun!

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running in red stilettos

Mayon Volcano, Albay

I thought June would be the perfect time to go on a trip to Bicol (or anywhere in the country for that matter) since the peak season for local and foreign tourists ended in May. And I was right. There were a lot of empty seats on the plane when we flew to Legazpi City (or was it because I got us the six a.m. flight?) I did not want to waste any time and had wanted to embark on an early morning journey as soon as we got to Albay. 

My son and I did a lot of research weeks before our flight, but since Bicol is a huge region divided into four provinces plus two other island provinces, it was a demanding task just to try to decide which places in Bicolandia to visit. 

Much has been written about Bicol and all the beautiful places dispersed in all of its six provinces, so we made other travellers’ experiences and a few articles on the historical places in Region 5 a significant part of our planning. 

Did our trip plans roll out well? Pretty much. I’m geographically challenged, but I am overjoyed to say that travelling alone with our 12-year-old son yanked the independent traveller out of me. 

Educational Trip
The trip was part of a series of educational trips that we’ve planned for the year. We’re a homeschooling family and one of the advantages of homeschooling is not being tied up to a schoolyear calendar that makes students suffer from studenthood. So when everyone’s boarding the school vans, homeschooling families like us could be on our way to places where we learn from experience and not from pictures from the books. 

I have a vivid memory of how Mayon Volcano looked like in our Social Studies book in grade school. I remember it so well I can still smell the ink from the 200-page or so book printed in newsprint. What we aim to do in our homeschooling years is to not only look at books but try to go to the places they talk about as well. 

Travelling Across Bicol
We traversed the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. We’re saving Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Masbate for future trips.

Albay
The Bicol region has myriad places for all kinds of travellers. For those who like undemanding uphill climbs, there are beautiful places in Albay with magnificent views of Mayon and the cityscape such as Lignon and Kawa-Kawa Hills. For a historical caving tour, Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave in Cotmon, Camalig is an enlightening experience for people of all ages. The Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga is probably the most-visited place in Albay, judging from the number of people with photos online going overboard with jump shots between the bell tower and Mayon. 

Cagsawa Ruins, Legazpi, Albay
A view from Kawa-kawa Nature Park, Guinobatan, Albay
Lignon Hill, Legazpi, Albay
Hoyop-hoyopan Cave
Albay is also the home of the Church of Nuestra SeƱora de la Porteria located in Daraga. It is a picturesque church on top of the hill with Mayon Volcano for a view.

Church in Daraga


Camarines Sur
Naga, an independent component city in the Bicol region, is roughly 94 kilometers from Legazpi City. Degustation is Naga’s twin word and taking a nice, long walk along Magsaysay Avenue should help set your gastronomic adventure. One thing Naga is known for is the Camsur Watersports Complex (just say CWC so people will know what you mean), but we skipped this one (for now) since my son decided that he wanted to take surfing lessons in Bagasbas, Daet.

Naga City
A city walk tour in Naga City is enriching and is also the best way to reach architectural beauties such as the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Penafrancia Basilica Minore, and the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Camarines Norte
Bagasbas Beach in Daet is one of Bicol’s havens for beginner-surfers. Waves roll in from the Pacific Ocean and the horizon behind it offers an awe-inspiring view to the two-kilometer stretch of the rustic beach. The boulevard is lined with no-frills restaurants and mini-hotels. 

Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte

Daet is the provincial capital of Camarines Norte where the very first monument for Jose Rizal was built. It is a quiet town that transforms into a colorful, lively place during the Pinyasan Festival held in the month of June. The sweetest pineapples in the Philippines, they say, come from Daet, thus the festival is named after the fruit. 

Very first monument for Rizal in Daet, Camarines Norte
I should not forget to mention that in 1919 Daet became an independent province on March 3, incidentally the same day as my birthday. 

More about Bicol in my next posts. Thank you for coming over and feel free to share this article! For other homeschooling related stories, click here.


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running in red stilettos
Lang, Andrew, ed. The Blue Fairy Book. New York: Dover, 1965.
Hansel and Gretel was one of the stories that enchanted me when I was little.  The story goes that Hansel and Gretel found a house in the forest made of bread (and sugar?) owned by a very old woman. The old woman, was in truth, an evil witch who pretended to be a good old dame to lure the children into her house.

Not long after, Hansel and Gretel found out that the witch had viciously planned to eat them so they fled her sacchariferous house unharmed.

How they outwitted the witch and how that story really ended escapes me now. All I remember is how amazing that hardbound book was with all the colorful pictures in it.

Whatever I know about Hansel and Gretel at this age come from faithful translations of Grimms’ Fairytales. We all reach an age when we discover that so many of the fairytales we knew as kids were sugar-coated and far from their original version.

One of the required readings in Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, an online course that I took up last year, was Children's and Household Tales by the Grimms’ brothers. What got me thinking was whether to let our children read the child-friendly versions of Grimms’ fairytales or let them wait until they’re ready and allow them to enjoy the English translations of Children's and Household Tales.

My husband and I decided that introducing them to a few chosen original Grimms’ tales was a good idea as we cherish genuine literature. We’re saving Jacob and Wilhelm’s other dark tales for when they’re older.

Musicals: Moments When We Embrace Happy Versions of Grimms’ Fairy Tales
 
Lyric Opera of Chicago

Watching musicals is certainly delightful and educational. They are also the kind of entertainment that we want our children to indulge in. Musical theater productions for children are created to fascinate and stir the imagination of young minds. 

Children also develop appreciation for theater if they are adequately exposed to it. In an  article at education.com, it interestingly mentioned that theater plays a major role in global literacy. (More on the positive effects of theater on children later.)

Although we want to remain faithful to the original version of Grimms’ fairytales, the whimsical, colorful and gleeful presentation of Grimms’ tales in musical plays should be embraced by families. There is so much about theatrical interpretations or adaptations of stories that open wide, shimmering doors into a magnificent world for children. The story itself is just a part of an entire magical world that they become a part of, so yes, Grimms’ fairy tales in musical should not be missed.

Hansel and Gretel: A Children’s Musical





Director Luigi Nacario and Musical Director Eugene Belbis will be presenting their interpretation of “Hansel and Gretel” in a musical on June 8, 2014 at the Eastwood Mall Atrium at 3 p.m. The musical will feature the CampArt Kid Actors.

Nacario’s “Hansel and Gretel” won the 26th Aliw Awards for Best Production for Children and the 2013 Broadway World Philippines Awards for Best Book, Lyrics for a Filipino Musical.

For details, you may contact Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Concierge at 709-9888, 709-0888 or 0917-8380111.
 







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