Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It’s gotta be the hair!

Recently, my co-worker and good friend gave me a tremendous compliment.

She was in Manila attending IGNITE 2011, which is one of the biggest gatherings of youth ministry students and leaders from all over the country.  One of the guests was Paul Tan Chi, the son of the senior pastor of our church, Peter Tan Chi.

The name Peter Tan Chi might sound familiar to you; as he was one of the two speakers, along with Francis Kong, in last year’s PARENTING WINNERS, which I advertised heavily on this site last year…and if you were there you would’ve seen a video of his son, Paul giving a fantastic testimony on his parents’ parenting excellence.

left: Peter Tan Chi; Peter’s wife, Dionna; Francis Kong

Anyway, my friend texted, while Paul was speaking, that he reminded her so much of me.  A bit flabbergasted, I joked, “It’s gotta be the hair!”  Well, it’s true.  You want proof?  Here it is:

Paul Tan Chi — Ignite 2011

Me and wifey

However, the next day, she forwarded to me a podcast of his talk/interview and simply said, “listen to him speak,” implying that that was where our similarities lie.  (S-so it’s not the hair?)

Well, whether she’s right or not (I feel the comparison sells him way short) I was very moved, as usual, by his words.  The interview touched on his upbringing, being captain ball of the Ateneo Blue Eagles while maintaining Cum Laude grades, and resisting peer pressure and teasing while being vocal about his message and example…including one time where he was pressured by his coach to go against his values and drink alcohol so that the team can skip practice the next day (wow).

I have attached the podcast below, and please set aside several minutes of your time to listen to it in its entirety…especially if you or your child is going to university.  It’s an awesome talk.  God bless you all.

Paul Tan Chi – Living a Life of Excellence

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy 61st birthday mom…and a revisit to my most popular blog

No lengthy post this time.  Just want to greet my mom, Caroline P. Alado, a happy 61st birthday.  Many of you may know her as one of the senior personnel in the Brown Group of Companies and one of the people in charge of running things at Mountain Pines Place (if you haven’t visited it yet, you’re missing out a lot).

Probably my most popular blog entry of my personal website was my piece on her 60th birthday party last year.  Now would be a good time to re-visit that very heartfelt entry on that very special day (it was quite an occasion, while today we just hung out and treated the grandkids to see Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D).

Click here to go to that entry, which includes a speech I made in her honor.  Below is a video made for that occasion by a very good family friend.  Enjoy, and once again, happy birthday, mom!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A (school) year in review photo/video journal of the Abba’s Orchard’s high school program.

Darn, I couldn’t find the pics and videos that I took for the Elementary Open House in the Abba’s Orchard.  In a previous post regarding my son’s Casa (preschool) open house, I promised to give you a glimpse at my daughters’ Elementary presentations…but nooo, I couldn’t find the videos & photos.

So, I’m going to have to skip that and go straight to the Erdkinder (High school) program, in which I am a faculty member.

Last March ends another school year and in a month’s time a new school year begins.

I would like to give you all a bird-eye view of my experiences in the last school year.  Part of this is to also showcase how different the Abba’s Orchard Erdkinder is from any other high school, and hopefully you will decide to enroll your child there one day.

Shamless plug: The Abba’s Orchard will have a parent orientation TOMORROW, May 14, 2011 at its Alwana campus, in Alwana Business Park (you may know Marco Hotel, also in the biz park).

Anyway, on to the photo/video journal (note, some of these are from previous years, as I don’t have a lot of pics/vids from this year):

Occupations Projects
Every year, the students are grouped together for the school’s farm business projects (one of the things that clearly separate AOS from other schools) and they have to purchase, raise, and slaughter farm animals for profit.  These animals are raised organically, so they also have to grow crops for their food (and they also have projects with the crops they grow).
This is not so that they can become farmers (although that’s not a bad thing), but so that they realize the value of hard, toiling work under the sun and to be immersed in the socio-economic world of the adults that they would one day become (such as production and consumption).

Some testimonies include:
•    realizing how hard their parents work to put them through school
•    how important it is to manage resources
•    dynamic problem solving (ran out of feeds, loss of income from a death of an animal, soil not fertile, etc.)
•    the importance of teamwork
•    the willingness to do some really dirty work for the sake of the team.

Another goal is the real-life applications of their academics, such as business letters for English, feed-conversion ratio (among others) for math, and loads and loads of stuff for science.

Humorously, some students from other schools label Abba’s students as “sosyal” or privileged and spoiled.  Well, if only they know what our students have to go through on a daily basis…unless they think making pig food bare-handed or scooping their manure onto the corn fields is sosyal.

Well after forming their multi-year level farm businesses (a team led by a senior student) and giving them names (some of my all time favorites being Pinoy Big Baboy, Goats R’ Us, Chicken Ala Cluck, and Quack Chow), they had to do a business plan presentation in front of their parents.

This is fantastic training for the students, as they had to dress up in business attire and convince their parents to invest in their business.  They had to show them profit and loss statements, how they’re going to organically raise their animals from babies to slaughter, and how they will promote the meat when it’s ready (product, price, promotion, place).

So the students, above all their academic demands, had to be hands-on in raising and caring for these animals on a daily basis, and at the end of the year, slaughter them for profit.  This is always a big deal for the students, who, after so many months, finally get to reap the benefits of their hard work.

They all earned a little profit, but the lessons learned vastly outweighed any monetary gains the teams would get.

Goodbye, seniors of AY 2010-2011
We had to let go of another group of fine young men and women last month.  These 13 students, for the most part, served as excellent leaders of the AOS Erdkinder community.

They were also a very winning batch, and this was a very winning year.  50% of their batch passed the UP exams, and about the same percentage passed the ADMU exams…which is a hair better than last year’s batch (47%, I think).  I’m glad we were able to deliver academic excellence…but if that’s all we do, then we fail as a school.

The word “senior” isn’t only a title here in the school.  They lead by serving, as leaders of the businesses, leaders of the daily chores, leaders/disciplers in the MSD (see Revenge Is Sweet entry)…basically they lead their underclassmen in just about every non-academic area there is.  And EVERY senior leads, not just the natural leaders.  It’s a big responsibility to be a senior in AOS…and a lot of leadership skills and life skills are learned in the process.

One of the most poignant moments of any academic year is the graduation ceremonies, and this year’s occasion is easily the most emotional of all.  In the Abba’s Orchard, since they’re so few (13 students graduated this year), every student gives a graduation speech.  This year, very nearly all the students cried while delivering their speeches, and we all cried with them.  We teachers handle them from 1st year all the way up to the time we let them go, so we see them grow up and know them very well, become a great part of their lives as mentors (and not just in the academic sense).  Every speech was great and I wish I could feature them here.

Senior Apprenticeship Program
One of the things I GM’ed this year was the apprenticeship program of the seniors.  For a few weeks in the 2nd trimester, senior students do not report to the school.  Instead, they report to actual workplaces.

Where they go depends on what they’d like to take up in college.  If they’d like to take up medicine, they apprentice under a doctor; if they want to take up HRM, then they work in a hotel; and so on.

The main reason why this is done is to inspire them.  Many of today’s college students are lost and unfocused.  But with the apprenticeship program, and we have had testimonies of this, they become inspired to really pursue their chosen college courses with gusto.  We also have instances where, after apprenticing in a certain field, they realize that it’s not for them and choose another course…which is also great.  At least they’re not lost.

Athletic excellence as well…GOALLLLL!!
This was also a very winning year for soccer, the unofficial sport of AOS. They boys pretty much won every single tournament they entered (although there was an irritating controversy brought about by a nearby rival school earlier in the year, which they promptly repaid with a 5-0 thrashing in their next encounter); while the girls were also tournament champions.

It’s amazing that a school with only a few students, and therefore a very small pool to choose from, can perform so amazingly well.

In the try-outs for the Junior Azkals held recently, out of the handful of players chosen from Mindanao, a whopping 4 of them are incoming freshmen this upcoming school year, so I expect the winning to continue.

In Luke 2:52, it says that Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually), and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually), and man (socially).  You’d like your children to grow this way as well, and if you ask me, The Abba’s Orchard is one of the best schools to give your child this kind of growth.

Here’s a video collection of what you can expect once your high schooler is enrolled here.  If you have any questions, you can comment here or email me at carloalado@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How materials enhance preschool learning…highlights from an awesome open house.

Every year, as the school year comes to a close, The Abba’s Orchard School does an Open House to showcase what the children have been doing.  While some of the previous AOS-based blogs were done by me wearing a teacher’s hat, this article will be done by me wearing a parent’s hat, as I have my three children enrolled here and I am a huge fan of what the Montessori school is doing.

I’d like to start with my son and his classmates, in what they call Casa (the Montessori equivalent of preschool).  I’ll cover elementary and Erdkinder (high school) in future posts. Here is my James (aka Happy) as he handles a Trinomial Cube.  To the uninitiated, it looks like he’s handling a mere puzzle or a bunch of blocks, and as a 5 year old that is indeed what he thinks (and there’s even a cute story that goes along with it).

But the purpose of the material is to have the young child learn about trinomials.  Yes, trinomials.  As the child puts the self-correcting material together, he will eventually realize that he’s solving for a trinomial equation.  I don’t know how it’s done, but one of the colored blocks represents a2, the other b2 and the last is c2.

Of course, Happy will not do the pencil and paper work, he just puts the thing together.  But as he gets older, he will start doing this on paper, he will get the concept of trinomials in a flash because he has formed them with his bare hands and it’s much more tangible than simply solving equations.

The presentation of his best friend, Brent also shows how materials enhance learning.  Here he is, doing some work with the beads, materials that Montessori is very known for.

The beads really show the child that if you add 5 to 15 you get 20, and if you add five to that you get 25, and so on.  As you can see, before the child learns how to multiply on paper, he works using the bead materials, and learning is enhanced because it is more real.

Any number squared is shown in a form of an actual square, and any number cubed is truly in a form of a cube!  When the child wants to make 7 x 5, he just gets 7 pieces of the 5-beads and counts ‘em.  It makes math so much more real, tangible, and (gasp!) enjoyable.

Same with geography.  Not many of us like attaching names to countries…so boring!  But not with puzzle maps, a Montessori staple. 

Here, kids put the continent maps together like a fun puzzle and get so engrossed in it.  First it’s simply putting the puzzle map together.  Later on, as seen in the picture, they start to identify the countries.  Below are some more puzzle maps from the casa:

Later in the elementary years, they start putting capital cities into the mix.  It’s so part of them because they put these maps together since they were so small.

Now that’s learning.

One of the most amazing testimonies, from my own kids and from others, is they have grown a LOVE for work, and a love for doing things excellently.

I mean, a child wouldn’t want to leave the table, or the school for that matter, if he can’t finish his Africa puzzle map or the Trinomial Cube…and this desire to finish the job (and finish the job right) rubs off in everything he does for the rest of his life.  No need for forcing or carrot-and-stick rewards.  In AOS, all that is needed is excellence…and what an excellent school to inculcate that in children.

It’s also fantastic how kids as young as casa are trained to present to adults, and their level of confidence and social skills are fantastic.  This is especially evident in the elementary world, which I will cover in a later entry.

Speaking of which, part two of this entry, coming in a few days, will highlight my daughters’ presentations in the AOS elementary classes…including a video on Mesoo’s amazing grammar presentation.  Part three will be on the Erdkinder (high school) side, and here I’ll be wearing my teacher’s hat.

If, as a result of this, you are interested to find out more about The Abba’s Orchard, feel free to comment on this entry or email me at carloalado@yahoo.com.  Oh, you’re in luck, because the school will have a parent orientation this Saturday, May 11, 2011 at 10 AM.  I would very, very strongly encourage you to join this.

There are two campuses here in CDO area, one very near Xavier Estates, and the other (where the parent orientation will be held) is in Alwana Business Park in Cugman (very near Marco hotel).

There’s also two campuses in Manila, one each in Cebu and Davao.  If you live in that area and you’re interested to learn more about the school or wanna inquire of parent orientations, pls feel free to ask me and I’ll find out for you.

Schools are all the same, you might think…and the differences between the good ones and the poor ones have to do with number of students, talent of the teachers, etc.  That may be true for traditional schools, as it’s just a matter of doing the same thing better.

But you also have to look at the method used, and an alternative method like Montessori, and a true Montessori school that is (such as AOS) can make a huge difference, indeed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother’s Day tribute

This morning in church, for Mother’s Day, my daughter, Lynn was part of a group of kids and singles who sang a song in a touching tribute to the mothers in the congregation.  I took a video of it using the digital camera I had with me.

Sorry for the low quality of the video below, but anyway, may the song they sung and the prayer for moms that followed warm the hearts of mothers everywhere.  May God bless you on this special day.

To close this piece I also have a quote that I got from a FB friend’s note.  I think it would be much appreciated.

from the book, A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson:

I have founded charitable organizations, run them, and raised hundreds thousands of dollars to support them. I have lectured around the world to many thousands of people, and I have written a number-one bestselling book. Raising a child is harder.

It takes more energy, more focus, more sensitivity, and if done well, at least as much intelligence. And if we raised happy children, we wouldn’t need so many charities, lectures, and books on how to have a happier, more balanced life. The idea that a woman is somehow doing more with her life if she has a job out in the world is insane. There is no such thing as a non-working mother. Having waited so long to have children, the baby boom generation can be blind to the incredible burden—however joyous it is—of bringing up children. This will change now as more and more people begin to realize there is no job in the world that, when done well, requires more work and intelligence than raising our sons and daughters.

Women will continue to be oppressed, socially and politically, until we recognize the roles traditionally associated with women as being among the most important in our society. Someone’s got to take care of the house and raise the kids. The I Ching says that if the family unit is healthy, then society is healthy; and when the family falls apart, society falls apart. How dare we make a woman feel that her life is less important if it is lived in service to family, children, and home? And how dare we make a man feel that his life is more important if it is not? We are all here to serve each other, and the choice to do that is no less valid when the people we serve are the ones in our own family.

Jacqueline Kennedy had said that her greatest service to the nation while she lived in the White House would be to take care of John Kennedy. There was a time when I would have found that an unliberated answer. Today, I find it sublime, sane, and feminist.

It is feminist because it honors the role of the feminine—nurturing, care giving, compassionate, loving—whether it is performed by a man or a woman. How do we quantify, for others to see, the energy it takes—emotionally, intuitively, spiritually, intellectually, physically— to love well? And no one is more important to love than the members of our own families.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Summer is a great chance for kids to do chores

So, April has come and gone…and the “School’s over!!!” euphoria is likely replaced with “I’m bored…when will school be back?”  Is that true with your family?

This is a great chance for them to do chores in the house.  Many Filipino homes, especially in the homes of where I live and in the clients of the school I teach in, have maids or helpers.  But they’re there to do just that, help…not replace.  I even think one of the greatest disadvantages of growing up privileged is that there are servants in the house who wait on the kids hand and foot.

It should not be so.

Instead, kids should hold their weight in the upkeep of the house…in preparation for the houses that they will eventually have when they’re adults.  I try, but unfortunately don’t always succeed, in trying to inculcate this attitude in my children.  Still I press on, even if I sound like a broken record in reminding them.

So I looked up what kids can do in the house.  I got the list below from one of my favorite parenting websites out there and so credit goes to them.  I made my kids write the age-appropriate information here as a guide for them.  Let this list serve as a guide for you as well.  It may be obvious, but no child should do these chores every single day.  It’s also good to do these together, as chances are high that they’d enjoy doing it if mommy and daddy are doing it too.

So, onto the list.  Remember, every child matures at a different pace, so adjustments may be made if need be.  This is just a guide, as I’ve said earlier.

Ages 2 and 3

Personal chores
  • Assist in making their beds
  • Pick up playthings with your supervision

Family chores
  • Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket
  • Fill a pet’s water and food bowls (with supervision)
  • Help a parent clean up spills and dirt
  • Dust

Ages 4 and 5

Personal chores
  • Get dressed with minimal parental help
  • Make their bed with minimal parental help
  • Bring their things from the car to the house

Family chores
  • Set the table with supervision
  • Clear the table with supervision
  • Help a parent prepare food
  • Help a parent carry in the lighter groceries
  • Match socks in the laundry
  • Answer the phone with parental assistance
  • Be responsible for a pet’s food and water bowl
  • Hang up towels in the bathroom
  • Clean floors with a dry mop

Ages 6 and 7

Personal chores
  • Make their bed every day
  • Brush teeth
  • Comb hair
  • Choose the day’s outfit and get dressed
  • Write thank you notes with supervision

Family chores
  • Be responsible for a pet’s food, water and exercise
  • Vacuum individual rooms
  • Wet mop individual rooms
  • Fold laundry with supervision
  • Put their laundry in their drawers and closets
  • Put away dishes from the dishwasher
  • Help prepare food with supervision
  • Empty indoor trash cans
  • Answer the phone with supervision

Ages 8 to 11

Personal chores
  • Take care of personal hygiene
  • Keep bedroom clean
  • Be responsible for homework
  • Be responsible for belongings
  • Write thank you notes for gifts
  • Wake up using an alarm clock

Family chores
  • Wash dishes
  • Wash the family car with supervision
  • Prepare a few easy meals on their own
  • Clean the bathroom with supervision
  • Rake leaves
  • Learn to use the washer and dryer
  • Put all laundry away with supervision
  • Take the trash can to the curb for pick up
  • Test smoke alarms once a month with supervision
  • Screen phone calls using caller ID and answer when appropriate

Ages 12 and 13

Personal chores
  • Take care of personal hygiene, belongings and homework
  • Write invitations and thank you notes
  • Set their alarm clock
  • Maintain personal items, such as recharging batteries
  • Change bed sheets
  • Keep their rooms tidy and do a biannual deep cleaning

Family chores
  • Change light bulbs
  • Change the vacuum bag
  • Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes
  • Clean mirrors
  • Mow the lawn with supervision
  • Baby sit (in most states)
  • Prepare an occasional family meal

Ages 14 and 15

Personal chores
  • Responsible for all personal chores for ages 12 and 13
  • Responsible for library card and books

Family chores
  • Do assigned housework without prompting
  • Do yard work as needed
  • Baby sit
  • Prepare food — from making a grocery list and buying the items (with supervision) to serving a meal — occasionally
  • Wash windows with supervision

Ages 16 to 18

Personal chores
  • Responsible for all personal chores for ages 14 and 15
  • Responsible to earn spending money
  • Responsible for purchasing their own clothes
  • Responsible for maintaining any car they drive (e.g., gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)

Family chores
  • Do housework as needed
  • Do yard work as needed
  • Prepare family meals — from grocery list to serving it — as needed
  • Deep cleaning of household appliances, such as defrosting the freezer, as needed

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fun can obviously change behavior for the better

I don’t know if you’ve come across a video going around in the internet lately about how fun can change the behavior of people for the better.  It’s a fantastic video that we all should watch, especially leaders of young people.  Here it is, and watch it in its entirety before reading on:

We can all apply this very simple, yet important principle in our everyday lives.

Apply it in parenting, for example.  I remember this kid, or this toddler (I don’t remember anymore) who absolutely refuses to drink his milk, to the exasperation of his parents.  Then one day, the dad decided to make this into a game.  The next day there were two glasses of milk instead of one, and the child was challenged to a milk-drinking race.  After narrowly losing to his father, the kid gave a very determined stare and exclaimed, “let’s go 2 out of 3!”

This can be applied to eating vegetables, doing chores, you name it.  My kids are all vegetable eaters because I made eating vegetables fun when they were in diapers (two words: colored rice…plus theatrics from yours truly).  This morning, my kids washed the cars…although they were more thorough “washing” each other than the cars, themselves.

As much as possible, I try to apply this to my work as a high school teacher.  I have lots of gags in my lectures, and I try to put as much humor as I can in my exams (in some a. to d. multiple choice questions, one of the choices is something really silly, which the kids appreciate, and some even add their own jokes; “e. Chuck Norris” being especially common).  Hey, one of the biggest reasons why Francis Kong is one of Asia’s most respected and sought after speakers is because he makes his talks so much fun.

But I think the area in our lives where applying this principle is needed most in these trying times is on spiritual matters.

A fellow church goer was once asked, “how come your church is so full of such vibrant, devout, and Godly young people; while the youngsters in our faith’s churches wallow in sin, apathy, even contempt?”

Immediately, the reply came, and it was simply that the church, through the youth ministry, speaks their language and gets into their world.  If you ask me, a large part of their language and world is, in the words of the great Rebecca Black, “FUN, FUN, FUN, FUN, FUNFUNFUNFUNFUN…FUN!”

Give them that, and, like the video so clearly shows, they’re completely yours.  Of course, you also have to make it relevant, God-honoring, and life-transforming.  But, like the pictures on the menu, fun is what’s seen first.

I cringe when I heard the question above and so many others like it (and the ones given by young people are quite venom-filled, such as “I get absolutely nothing from going to my church,” and “If I had a choice between going to church or a dentist’s drill, I’d chose the dentist in a heartbeat”).

The video above shows the easy solution.  Get into their world; speak their language; make it FUN!

A very good example of this is our recent youth camp our church’s teen youth ministry has held in Dahilayan, called SOLD OUT.  Lynn begged and begged me to let her join, but I found her too young (she’s 11, not a teen yet) and didn’t allow.  But I know she prayed really hard for it and God set it up that I had to be in the venue as well, for work reasons.  So she joined…and had the best time of her life.

For four days, 150 teens (and pre-teens like Lynn) were exposed to:

great games like Amazing G-Race (haha, catchy), 4-way tug of war, some weird type of hockey, and much more;

Go Lynn, Go!!

Lynn and Charissa...ready to take 'em down!

Uh...broom hockey?

tug of war x 4

God-honoring talks by stellar speakers (“A Father’s Love,” “What’s so bad about sin?” among others);

Dr. Allan Melicor

One of the materials

Chris Barrameda

and amazing camaraderie with like-minded youngsters, all set on being “completely, totally, unashamedly SOLD OUT to JESUS!”

Victory for the blue team, oh yeah!!

The participants

Are these teenagers perfect?  No, of course not.  Teens, especially teens today, have great struggles, and these guys are no exception.  In fact, many of them are downright broken.  However, if the church and church activities are made for perfect people, than you and I, and these teens for that matter, cannot enter nor participate.  But there has to be environments set up to enhance their lives; environments that effectively and inspiringly bring them to the One who loves them, despite their faults and all that they’ve done.  I hope CCF is that church, and that the environment that the guys in the TEENS ministry work so hard to set up is that kind of environment.

Lynn just came back from a fun-filled SOLD OUT Reunion at The Abba’s Orchard.  The summer is not yet over, and for teens, for kids, for college students, you name it…there’s more where that came from.  I will use this website to invite you to whatever these are, if you don’t mind.

All for His glory and for the service of these precious young souls.

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