The New Normal

My last day of classes was on March 12, and that was the last time I ever saw my school during my 11th Grade. I don’t like to say that I wanted the abrupt interruption of my school life, but I very much appreciated a break from having to worry over requirements I need to pass. My subjects were already giving us tons of online requirements to submit since the teachers were too busy to teach classes. Research presentations, manuscripts, and experiments were already giving my partner and I so many mental breakdowns since we were not meeting our advisor’s and teacher’s expectations. Stuff I needed to read piled on top of stuff I needed to write which piled on stuff I needed to answer. You couldn’t really blame a student for being happy about the cancellation of classes if it meant that they could actually sleep without panicking over schoolwork.

My school decided not to pursue online classes, which was definitely a godsend (our Internet can barely cope with Dad working from home). My school did a quick survey asking us about our home conditions and our internet connection. The results made them decide to cancel online classes entirely, which made me infer that many students did not have a strong internet connection. What my school did was maintain the grades we had during the 3rd quarter for the 4th quarter, send enrolment forms online, and start the next school year teaching students what should have been taught this year. I already fixed my enrolment forms, and I definitely joked to Mom that she should be proud of me for keeping my grades high.

Mom and Dad both wanted my sister and I to be productive this quarantine and I think my sister’s doing well in that aspect. My sister spends most of her time on her iPad writing stories online, but I can’t enjoy her stories because she likes to hurt her characters. I spend most of my time either chatting with friends, watching YouTube, or learning Kpop dances. I also started to review for CETs (college entrance exams), since I will be graduating this incoming school year. Dad doesn’t want my sister to spend the whole quarantine lazing around acting like everyday’s a vacation, so he wants to homeschool us. I’m a bit worried about that; in the 17 years of me knowing him, I bet he’ll lose interest as fast as he lost the motivation to use his treadmill.

My dream college right now is UP Diliman, since it’s the campus closest to me and I do not want to pay for tuition. I’m planning on taking other college entrance exams as well such as Ateneo’s and La Salle’s. In case I only pass for colleges that have tuition, I’m planning on being a working student since most of my parents will devote their resources to Galen. I’m still figuring out what career I really want, but my research helped me narrow out 2 options; I could be a child psychologist or a school counselor. I originally wanted to pursue criminal psychology since I became interested in true crime documentaries and crime shows. Over time though, I realized that I’d rather help out children and teenagers with their problems than people who make me lose hope in humanity.

This incoming school year will be my last year of high school. And I am dreading it. This year will be the most hectic school year I will ever take. My subjects may be few, but my teachers love giving online requirements even when they’re in school as well. I don’t blame the teachers themselves for being very busy, but a lot of students spend their lunch money on mobile load to be able to submit requirements. Also, the research I conducted with my partner was unfinished, and that’s a requirement for graduation. I’m not sure how I will manage reviewing for CETs, finishing research, studying for my other subjects, and managing extracurricular activities all in 1 school year. If I come out of this school year alive, it will be quite a miracle.

2020 was just supposed to be the year when I would finally become an adult, but so many events have happened. As much as I love the vacation I got from quarantine right now, I’m just waiting for everything to go back to the old normal so that I can socialize with people. For now though, I’ll stay safe, stay home, and pray that we can eventually win against coronavirus.

Quarantine thoughts

 

Thought #1
I never would have thought a virus could help us learn so much about how the governments of various countries, nations, and states would respond to a crisis. Thanks to freely-accessible news outlets, people can easily read the latest reports about how different people across different countries are trying to deal with the coronavirus. Many celebrities, politicians, and businesses have earned the respect of the public for donating their time and/or effort to help hospitals and patients, such as Angel Locsin, Risa Hontiveros, Vico Sotto, and Angkas. Others however have been denounced for breaking laws, preying on the collective panic and fear felt by the citizens, and promoting misinformation about the disease that may harm the public, such as Donald Trump, Koko Pimentel, and various price gougers that were found on online markets. The pandemic truly showed the voters who deserved the power granted to them, and who should have never been in power in the 1st place. Singapore and South Korea were 2 countries that come into my mind when I was researching about the best government responses to the pandemic. Sadly, the USA was a country that came into my mind for the worst government responses.

Thought #2
I’m quite active on social media. On most days, my social media walls are full of people who share news articles about the actions of the Philippine government and the privileged sector of the Philippines. As much as I hate global crises, they have a hidden silver lining: no one’s reactions to them are fake. It’s quite easy to filter through the news and list down people you want to resign from power, and vice versa. Humanity is diverse; it’s not erroneous logic that the responses would be diverse as well. It has only been 2 weeks since the lockdown in Metro Manila started, but I speak for all netizens when I say that we have been barraged by so many news articles. They seemed to have been written by frantic news reporters hungrier for anything to write related to the global pandemic than for food and water. Inquirer and CNN were reliable news sources that informed me of any news related to the global pandemic. It was a rollercoaster of emotions as I read through the various responses of people, organizations, and governments. Disappointment and sadness were the recurring theme for reading Rodrigo Duterte’s, Salvador Panelo’s, Donald Trump’s, and other’s remarks about the pandemic. Reading the responses of various businesses pledging to donate supplies and financial aid gave me hope and joy. Ligo (a brand of sardines) donated money originally budgeted for advertisements as financial aid. Lately, their advertisements have thrown subtle shade at the government, such as promoting quality testing, and having easy-open lids on all products with the caption “no special powers necessary”. It was interesting feeling my hope for humanity go up and down so erratically.

Thought #3
Coronavirus has affected my mom in an unexpected way: my baby brother will have to be born via C-section to keep mom and dad safe from Coronavirus. I asked mom why that decision was made; she explained that delivering Galen (my baby brother) normally would lengthen her stay in the hospital and could potentially put her at risk of getting Coronavirus. Mom and Dad chose another hospital farther from us to deliver Galen in because the nearest hospital because there were less confirmed positive patients. Mom’s pregnancy was already complicated from the start since she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which meant a change of diet to prevent erratic rising and diving of her blood sugar levels. Coronavirus sadly made her pregnancy even more complicated by making it harder for her to gain access to medical appointments and medicine due to the policies enforced by the government to limit its spread.
Thought #4
2020 did NOT start out right. But somehow, I think we have a chance to END it right. We’re making baby steps forward in our fight against Coronaevirus, and that’s okay. The important part in this battle is the progress being made in the first place, such as mass testing of the public, flattening the curve by minimizing interaction in the 1st place, donating important supplies to households and hospitals, and practicing good hygiene. Stay safe everyone, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

Stuck in Quarantine, Scared for the Citizens

I will be honest: I’m privileged. My parents have the kind of jobs that allow them to work from home or take a leave if necessary. My school has announced that classes are suspended until April 15 with no online classes. I should be happy, right? I have the time to spend with family, to binge on Netflix, and to just mooch around the house. The thing is, I’m worried for the other Filipinos out there. You can take away almost everything from them, but you can never take from them their will to earn a living. Many Filipinos, as you can see from the news, are ignoring the government’s advice to follow social distancing and to stay home, simply because they need to put food on the table, pay bills, and pay for their children’s needs.

Not all Filipinos have jobs that provide benefits. Not all Filipinos have enough savings in case of an emergency. Not all Filipinos have their own modes of transportation. Not all Filipinos even earn enough to afford the basic needs. What do all Filipinos have then?

All Filipinos have the right to basic needs, safety, and healthy environment,. These are examples of basic consumer rights as stated by the Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394). The government’s actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus so far are well-intentioned, but not all Filipinos have been able to benefit from them. The lockdown of Metro Manila was supposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus by limiting human interaction and increasing distance between them, but long lines at various checkpoints have already shown that social distancing was merely a privilege not affordable for the poor. In my personal opinion, the government should have provided economic relief along with the lockdown, since the driving force behind long lines at checkpoints is the need to earn money. Shutting down public transportation was a good concept in theory to prevent the spread of coronavirus between commuters, but frontline workers and other Filipinos were forced to walk to their workplaces because the government didn’t factor in Filipinos who still needed to work. Thankfully, many people within the government have already proposed solutions, such as free transportation for healthcare workers and the approval for tricycles to be on the road.

I’m making a new paragraph just because I want to call out all the hoarders. Yes, I’m talking about sellers of face masks and alcohols who put massive markups. I’d like to remind them that the Philippines is facing an EPIDEMIC, which should not be a BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY for others. You are robbing other Filipinos of their chance to protect themselves from getting sick. I also want to give a shoutout to panic buyers because you make me more scared than the virus itself. I’m not scared of the virus; I know to stay home, practice good hygiene, and limit human interaction. I’m scared of panic buyers and their selfishness. Sure, they’re prepared for many weeks, but in the end, they’ve created a shortage of supply for others who need the essentials you hoarded.

It’s impressive that something so small can create big problems that cannot easily be remedied. Coronavirus has immediately shown the world how various governments responded to an epidemic. Sadly, in the Philippines, the actions of citizens and LGUs are given more praise than the actions of the national government. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my 17 years of existence on Earth however, it is the fact that we ourselves have to be the change we want to see in our society. It is not enough for us to merely complain on social media about the actions of others; we must take part as well and help others. It can be as simple as only buying what you need at stores, and as grand as donating packs of face masks and other essentials to hospitals. Everyone’s already busy complaining about each other, let’s be busy actually helping one another.

Summer Fun in Boracay

Hi, this is Garrett. My summer has started a month ago, which is kind of late compared to others who start school in June. During that month, I mostly spent time with my sister in the house mooching around and doing chores. I mostly swam and danced to Kpop dance practice videos, so I’m not sure if that was me being productive.

What I wanted to write about is the Boracay trip that we went on to celebrate my aunt’s and my sister’s birthday. It lasted around 4 nights, and we spent most of our time swimming. All of us came back with serious tan lines, but it was a very relaxing and amazing vacation.

So the first day started really early because our flight was at 7 am. We got ready and all, but due to stuff that the announcer said that I forgot, we ended up leaving Manila at 8. The flight was uneventful, and it was only when I stepped out of the plane that the reality hit me: I was in Boracay. And I’ll be honest; I was awestruck, but that admiration slowly turned to horror when I kept hearing the prices of common goods. To foreigners, they might seem cheap, I won’t lie. Ice cream for like maybe 1 USD doesn’t sound expensive. But to Filipinos who normally buy the same ice cream for way less, that is quite a shock. It seemed like lots of items had a markup of past 100%. There are many various reasons why, and I won’t bother explaining. But do know that if you travelled to somewhere in Luzon, you would pay way less to get the same goods.

Once we arrived to our hotel via e-trike, we ate lunch and waited until 2 pm to check in. During that afternoon, we went to D-mall at Station 2, where my younger cousins and my sister swam at the beach. D-mall was mostly sprawled out, and we walked a lot just to check out most of the restaurants and shops they had to offer. The beach though is what I truly liked. The sand was so soft, and the waves were so strong. It may not sound impressive to others, but the only beaches I’ve been to so far were quite rough on the feet. That beach was what you would see in advertisements of Boracay. We ate dinner at a high-end restaurant, then we hit the hotel again to rest.

The second day was mostly spent at another beach. We woke up early to visit Puka beach via shuttle. Puka was a great beach, but the sand was kind of rough. I think my relatives liked it because very few people visited it. One highlight of that day was my mom, sister, aunt, and cousins getting their hair braided. Both my mom and my sister got Dutch ponytails, while my aunt and cousins got a diagonal French braid.  We had lunch, then went swimming until 2 pm. We went back to the hotel and rested for a bit.

Mom then took me along to Citymall via shuttle. There was a very loud Zumba class ongoing, which made me look at the foreigners and think, “Is this what you think we do all the time?” We went to Watsons to get some supplies, then visited a pasalubong store to get barquillos. Lastly, we visited Mang Inasal to get dinner for all of us, then we left for the hotel.

The third day was the most eventful. We went island-hopping in the morning, then we swam in Station 2 the whole afternoon. The island-hopping experience was magical. We visited 4 stations around the sea, where the boat would drop the anchor and we could snorkel. Snorkelling was a blast! The colourful aquatic biodiversity of Boracay was so breath-taking. Fishes, sea anemones, coral reefs, and sea urchins lured the eyes of the tourists, and made them acknowledge their ethereal beauty. It made up for my frustration at my 2 younger cousins who were a bit high-maintenance.  I managed to see shrimpfish! They’re fish that swim vertically, btw.

After the island-hopping experience, we ate lunch, then went swimming at Station 2. I had a lot of fun there, truly. The waves were strong enough to knock me over, while the sand was so soft. It was a bit crowded, but that was okay. I kept on swimming from noon to sunset, so you could already imagine the very strong tan lines I had. Even as I write this, my face still sports a tan line around my eyes. We ate dinner at Dencio’s, then we went back to the hotel.

We spent the first half of the 4th day at Station 2, and the other half at the hotel. We went swimming, and ate lunch at Max’s. I was so tired from all the swimming we did since coming to Boracay, and so I took a long nap, only to be woken up for picture-taking. Then we spent the night celebrating the birthdays of my sister and aunt with a nice dinner.

We woke up very early on the 5th day because we had to be at the airport around 6. The flight was uneventful, but it felt great to come back home. (It didn’t feel as great to do chores, though, but stuff had to be fixed.)

So that’s what happened during my vacation in Boracay, I hope you enjoyed reading this.

 

Goodbye 2018

Hello everyone, it’s Garrett. Today is January 2 for me, and I’ve decided to look back at what 2018 brought me. I’ve spent the first day of 2019 cleaning the house, which was very much needed after my relatives stayed for Christmas and New Year. I also spent the first day getting to know another Kpop band, Day6. Yes, you’ve heard it, I have gotten into Kpop. Before I explain how I got there, let’s see what 2018 has given me.

I started 2018 with a new phone. Well, technically, it’s a hand-me-down from my dad who upgraded to the iPhone 7. It’s a 64 GB iPhone 6 Plus that was already showing its age, but I was very grateful for it, because I used that phone throughout 2018 for education and entertainment. I still have it now, and I very much appreciate the presence of a headphone jack. (I’m still a student, and I’m not blowing weeks’ worth of my allowance over a wireless headset.)

I attended a friend’s birthday party in January near my house, which was something considering that most of my friends are far away from me. What stood out the most was that I was the only guy friend of hers that attended. Also, I was a few minutes late, and I was nervous that I missed out on a lot of things, but it turned out that the party hadn’t even started yet. Filipino time is real. If you don’t believe me, try being on time to any gathering. Everyone will think you’re early. The party was great, I had a fun time with her friends, and the food was delicious.

February was when I had my first prom experience. To be honest, I didn’t see how asking someone to go to prom with them become the norm. All of us batch mates dreaded going to prom, but the experience itself wasn’t that interesting. The batch above us attended too, because our prom was about them passing the responsibility of being the oldest batch in the junior system to us. The food was great, sure, and everyone looked amazing in their prom attire, but my batch didn’t care much for the entirety of it. The only reason why all of us went was because we had a dance number that was going to be graded as our final exam in PE. When it came to the dance floor being free for everyone, most of my batch mates stayed in their seats on their phones while the others were dancing crazily with the upper batch. I took my chance to dance, because I didn’t wear nice clothes to sit down and be boring. When it came to the slow dance, everyone danced with everyone. No one really cared who was dancing with who. The most memorable thing I can remember is seeing a good friend of mine dancing with his scientific calculator.

March was mostly spent by my section and I preparing our class play for our English project and exam. We started on the props, the script, and the auditions. I auditioned to be one of the main characters but I wasn’t picked, so I ended up becoming one of the props men. When the script was done, we started doing run-throughs. When the props were done, we started practicing with the props.  That’s when we realised that changing sets under 10 seconds was harder than we thought. Our play had to be within 1-hour, and we had to adjust many things to make our play fit.

March was also when I had an outreach with my club. We went to an elementary school in Zambales to teach them about math. The school was located somewhere near the mountains, and the buildings needed some work. The students were very attentive to us when we were teaching, but it was my first time encountering classes where exams had to be read out loud by someone. I asked why the teachers had to do that, and they said the students had a hard time comprehending stuff written on the paper. Before we went to the school, we met an important official who acknowledged our efforts at helping the students of the elementary school in their subjects. March was also the month that my section discovered my love for dancing. One of our classmates had to create the choreography for an 80s song to be used as the entrance, and he asked for volunteers. I was one of them, and as we practiced, I always gave my all, which impressed everyone. Practicing the choreography was fun, amidst all the changes that were made to make it more interesting. I was given the title “Most Energetic” because I had the most energetic performance.

April was when we had our class play. Our play was based on the book “Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe”. The other 2 sections based their plays on “They Both Die At The End” and a Nancy Drew book that I forgot the title of. To summarise the event, most of the plays featured LGBT themes. Our batch made history by being the first batch to introduce LGBT couples in our plays. The thing is, the lone play with a straight couple got the most awards. I don’t blame the section behind the Nancy drew play; it was definitely a delight to watch, but something felt off with how the judged awarded the sections. The most memorable experience for me was the opening choreography of our play. Our play started with a main character leading the dance with Footloose. At that moment, I didn’t care about the audience, I just focused on having fun. Mom was ecstatic and said that my dance reminded her of when I was a kid. Sure enough, I saw the video and realised that I danced like I was on a sugar rush. Everyone else was chill, but I was dancing like I was going to be graded individually on a group project.

What stands out the most to me during summer was the 3-week internship that I took as a requirement for graduation. I’ve talked about this before in another post, and basically,  it was the internship that made me start commuting via the trains. The place that I worked at was great, and so were the people that I worked with, but it was so repetitive, my ADHD self couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t imagine how other people with conventional jobs could stand doing this for the rest of their lives until they hit 65.

Summer was also when I got braces. I still have them now, and I’m used to them already. I usually stick to various shades of blue or green whenever I change rubbers, although I still look awkward while smiling in them. Back then, though, I was in pain all the time especially when they put on the rubbers for the first time. Eating anything was hard, which sucked because I had the rubbers put in my mouth right before we went to Singapore for my sister’s birthday.

My sister’s birthday trip to Singapore was very enjoyable. I revisited some places that I loved back then, and we visited new places and restaurants to eat in. My sister had fun too, although I think I enjoyed myself more than she did. We found out the hard way that she wasn’t a fan of Universal Studios Singapore. Both of us loved Science Centre, and the hotel that we stayed at was also amazing. Gardens By The Bay impressed all of us, but I wish I didn’t almost fight with my mom and my sister over my power bank. All of our battery lives were short at that time, and I was the only one who packed a charger. I was a fan of Singaporean cuisine, and their transportation, but I was shocked at the prices.

August was when I started Grade 10. This year, I was separated from most of my friends in school. I only had like 2 friends in my section at first, and I felt the walls around the other friend groups surrounding me. It wasn’t that they hated me, I think it was just a result of sticking with the same people for so long that everyone ended up creating their own world.

September was when my batch presented the laws that they made for various countries that would help fulfil Sustainable Development Goal #4 : Quality Education. It’s a tradition among Grade 10 batches, and it was our project for Social Science. My team was assigned Philippines, and our policy targeted educational facilities and learning environments.

October was when I became 16. I checked exams on my birthday and got some scores back (worst birthday gift ever), but during the weekend before that, my relatives came over to celebrate my birthday with me. After I went to my boarding house from school, I treated my roommates to chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald’s.

October was also when I got my first report card for the school year 2017-2018. My grades were good, but I flunked Physics. Again. I can’t exactly remember the grades, but I will always remember what my advisor said about me in the remarks: “He’s a kind and gentle student but he’s encouraged to be more open to socialization to gain more friends.”

November was when I was truly making an effort to gain more friends in my section. That meant that I immersed myself in almost everything related to Kpop. Why Kpop, you ask? I observed my classmates to see what would help me start a conversation with them, and the answer was Kpop. Most of my batch mates listened to Blackpink, Twice, NCT, Seventeen, BTS, and other 3rd generation bands that you can imagine. So, I did my research. I searched the songs that most people say every Kpop fan should know, and I listened to them. Once I found the songs that I liked, I downloaded them on my phone, and searched more songs sung by the band or singer. Interestingly, I realised that most of the songs that I enjoyed were sung by either 1st or 2nd-generation Kpop idols. Super Junior, 2NE1, Girl’s Generation, BoA, Wonder Girls, SHInee, Shinhwa, and more captured my attention. I asked a friend for help in identifying the members of Super Junior, and we became closer over the fact that both of us were fans of Super Junior.  I still couldn’t make friends over my taste in Kpop, though, until I started listening to more 3rd-generation bands, like NCT, Monsta X, EXO, Red Velvet, BTS, EXID,  and so on. One memory that stood out the most to me was when a BTS fan complimented my ability to dance to Red Velvet’s song Peek-a-boo in 2x speed. Another one was when I showed my section that I could dance to Boombayah by Blackpink, and the last one was when I showed some classmates how to dance to Gashina by Sunmi.

December was the saddest month for me. I lost my grandma, Lola Ana, on December 2. We went to her memorial service on December 21 and 22. It was the saddest funeral I’ve went to, because my grandmother was kind to so many people, and she cared deeply for everyone. Everyone cried for her, and I think the heavens did too, because it was raining on those 2 days. I cried really hard especially when it was time for her to be buried, because the gravity of the situation sunk in deep, that I was never going to see her smile again.  I think what helped me move on was the fact that she was in heaven being rewarded for all the good deeds she did to us, and that if we were good too, we could see her again in the afterlife.

Now, it’s January. It’s the first month of 2019, and I’ve discovered a K-rock band, Day6. Their songs are great to listen to while you do your daily tasks, and the members are very talented especially when they play their instruments. Their vocals are underrated, and I’ve decided to start 2019 right by becoming their fan.

One wish that I have for 2019 is that I get to hang out more with my relatives and friends.  It’s a bit hard because both my relatives and friends are kind of far from where I live, but nothing beats the feeling of having a good conversation with people you are close with. Also, this is probably because I’ve watched too many shows that depict teenagers always having fun with their friends in various places out of school. You can’t blame me for feeling a little bit jealous at that, can you?

Anyways, It’s the start of 2019. I have yet to see everything that it has to offer, but I’m pretty excited for what it can be.

All Work and No Pay

My school decided early on that all incoming Grade 10-11 students must undergo an internship with a minimum of 80 hours as a requirement for graduation. To be frank, I wasn’t excited at all for “a chance to experience working in a field of science”. A job with no pay? Really???

I did a 3-week internship in the Aquatic Biology Research Lab at U.P. Diliman Institute of Biology. The personnel were really helpful and kind, and I managed to learn new things from them. My intern-mates were also really fun to be with as I found out. I managed to be friends with one batch-mate and two students from Mindanao. We all shared more interests than I thought possible and we helped each other out when needed. At the final day of the internship, all four interns including me were given a sample of benthic macroinvertebrates (I’ll explain later) from different families. Overall, it was nice and chill, and I’d recommend it to anyone else who’s interested in aquatic Biology.

I actually didn’t manage to show up on two days of the internship. I couldn’t attend the first day because of an overlap with a vacation, and the third day because of a passport renewal appointment, and a loose bracket. (The vacation’s a future post in the works. Stay tuned.)

The second day was when everything started for me. Mom accompanied me going to the building, but it was a little complicated because the main road to the building was closed. It took Google Maps to show a long but scenic route. (I found out 2 weeks in my internship that there was a shorter one that would have saved my legs and feet.) Once we got to the building, I saw the lab and all the people inside. I was left alone by Mom after she told the supervisor I had ADHD.

I was given an orientation about benthic macroinvertebrates. There’s Google for all you readers, but I’ll give the gist on what they are. They’re a diverse group of sedentary invertebrates that are bottom-dwellers, and their presence and/or absence is used to monitor the quality of water. I was tasked to sort out all the benthic macroinvertebrates from their samples. If you guys know those Hidden Objects games, then you already have a grasp on what I was doing throughout the first week. That went on until lunch, where I managed to talk to the other interns. The afternoon was fine. The personnel managed to point out certain animals I mistook for debris like leeches. My batch mate was kind enough to let me ride with them going to SM North EDSA to get on the train going home.

The following days until the end were honestly very repetitive. Commute, work, lunch, work, commute, then repeat all over again. The commute going to the building was quite long. A train ride, a jeepney ride, and a walk altogether took 1 hour and 30 minutes. Also, peak hours inside a train are no joke. You can get squeezed to the point where you have to fight to get in or out. Woe behold the people in the middle section who have to get off, because not getting out in time is a fear all the riders have. Lunch was the only thing that was different every day. We explored as many cafeterias near us as possible and ate as much food was possible. I had two lunches per day, which Mum was quite happy about with me.

Also, I was introduced to the process of elutriation during the first week. Basically, it shrinks the sample size by removing as much debris as possible to make sorting easier. Imagine rinsing out a piece of clothing and removing all bits and pieces of dirt from it, and then doing it for 4 cycles. My arms were aching by the time I did all sample bottles.

The work I was doing differed per week. The first week was dubbed “Where’s Waldo”. The second week got the name “Who’s Waldo”. The third week was a mix.

The second week was spent identifying the animals that we sorted out from the week before. We started identifying to order-level via dichotomous keys. I wasn’t so bad there. When it got to identifying up to family level, I realized I was the worst out of all the interns. Woohoo, right????? Thankfully, the personnel simply told us the features to look for to identify certain families and didn’t judge us so much.

The third week was a mix, honestly. The first day was a continuation of last week. The second day was spent wrapping centrifuge tubes full of samples with parafilm to preserve the ethanol and the animals submerged inside. The third day was the main event: fieldwork. The personnel simulated what they did when they collected samples from different water sources. They evaluate the site and check if it meets the criteria for an optimal reference site. Then they use physical and chemical measurements to analyze the site. Lastly, they start collecting the samples using either leaf packs or a D-net. The last step was honestly tiring. The afternoon was spent learning to use a software program used in Statistics. The next day was spent answering an exam and preparing a presentation for the final day of the internship. And the last day of the internship was spent mostly on the culminating activity. Lots of labs had students from different regions of the Philippines, and everyone’s presentation was nice. We all got certificates and remembrances from our lab.

It was the little things during the internship that I remember fondly. The playground near a building, the time everyone gathered around a laptop to watch an anime on the cells of the human body, the card games played during break, and all the confessions that happened over lunch tables. I also liked the times when someone had a birthday and everyone was invited for food.

This was definitely quite an experience. I really hope I can put this in my future CV.

Brace For It

Hello! Garrett here. Sorry for not uploading any stuff for a long time, Grade 9 sucked the soul out of me. The gist is: new subjects, flunking Physics, realizing that apathy was never a good method of coping, and batch mates flirting with each other.

Alright, so the big news is: I now have braces.

Yes, you heard it right, now I am dealing with many inconveniences and annoyances just to set my teeth straight. I just had them activated today, since I actually got them last week but I also had an extraction too that day. So yeah, it was painful for a week. The sad truth for me is that I will have to endure more of those operations soon because the x-ray showed 6 IMPACTED TEETH. Basically, those teeth gave up on their main purpose (that is to shoot up) and decided to go anywhere else but up. My wisdom teeth are laying down like they stopped giving a care about getting out.

Alright, so if you have or had braces, you’ll nod your head at this list. If you don’t have them but need them soon, don’t worry. You’ll get used to everything about them. Here goes:

1.) Food will get stuck everywhere. I’m not kidding, you have to bring a portable toothbrush and toothpaste everywhere you go cos there is nothing more embarrassing than having to talk to someone with bits of rice or whatnot stuck in every nook and crevice you can think of.

2.) Eating makes you question everything edible. You’re usually given a list of foods you can or cannot eat. The number one question is, “Can I eat that?” It’s usually followed up with, “Is this worth brushing out afterwards?”

3.) Brushing becomes a serious commitment . I’m serious, if you rarely went up to 2 minutes while brushing your teeth before, now, you will. Also, now that you have braces, you now have the responsibility of making sure the braces and teeth don’t get damaged. But really, the main reason why is because no one likes food bits stuck everywhere. There are special brushes for those with braces. I recommend the manual orthodontic brush by Oral-B. Honestly, you just have to find a brush with a small head and soft bristles and you’ll be fine.

4.) Your mouth will get scratched from the inside. I already got two sores because of two brackets. You might be given wax by the dentist or not, but my orthodontist said the rubber bands will help make the brackets go smoothly against the cheek.

5.) Pain is inevitable. Especially if you get them tightened. Painkillers are advisable for this, but you will also get used to it too.

The only nice thing so far about my braces is that every 3 weeks I can pick a color for my rubber bands. That’s it, really. If I’m gonna suffer all these just for straighter teeth, I might as well make my braces look cool.

That’s it for now. Tune in for another post soon!!!

Looking back…

 

Once this post is uploaded, either it’s 2018 already or we’re really close to it. There are two ways we can go. Either we look back at what 2017 has been for us, or we look forward to what 2018 has in store for us.

2017’s quite a ride for me, but it cut me some slack in terms of emotions. I have more control over how I feel, and I can easily not give a damn about stuff I hate that affects me. (Not sure if it’s a good thing or not, but it’s either that or I care too much). When it comes to academics, well, I might need better work ethics to pull some grades up, but I’m working on it. Also, I did things I didn’t expect I would. I ran after a dog owner to ask about the dog. (The dog’s name is Fritz and he’s a Pointer). I tried being a bit of a thrill-seeker by choosing really scary rides. (It was fun, but man, my vocal cords need to rest). I raised my hand to audition for a role in a school play. (It was really fun.) I also managed to have awesome conversations with some lower year students too. It was quite a relief to know that they were just as weird and brilliant as my batch, too.

2017 also brought new challenges too. More tests, subjects, teachers, make-up classes, responsibilities, and social etiquette developed or discovered. (I have gotten myself in sticky situations because of this. ) Also, I had to learn to keep my mouth shut and not snark at teachers when they say something ignorant. (Not worth the trouble, believe me.)

I also discovered new interests (and friends!!!) in 2017. I found shows and books worth binging until the early morning. I found people who share the same interests with me (and introduce me to their own). I’m quite excited about what could happen next with my old and new friends in the upcoming years.

Speaking of 2018, I’m not exactly sure what’s coming. Well, I do know what’s on my school calendar. And on other people’s calendars too. But, with a supportive network of friends and family, well, let’s see what happens this 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Gifts: A Stress to Give, A Joy to Receive

Ah, the holidays. Full of happiness, traffic, parties, and stress. Can we even say Christmas is near if don’t get stuck in traffic on the road or in the mall? Can we even convince ourselves that we have the Christmas spirit in us if we don’t suffer from cashier/ gift wrapping lines as long as NLEX? I don’t think so.

While I do agree that the holidays are quite merry, people do tend to glamorise it so much that we forget the stress involved. The stress of gifts, traffic jams, parties, nosy relatives, and financial issues are quite a formidable force of nature. I’m glad to say though that most of us have developed our own ways of dealing with them over time. Time (and money) management, good music, and epic comebacks are some of the ways people have found to be effective.

Now, you know well as a student that you have to be a bit of a penny-pincher if you even want to think about giving gifts to friends. (I’m assuming you are not rich. If you are, you can actually focus on giving your friends the gifts they like.) What I would suggest is to give every gift a personal touch. Without it, you’d just be giving special giveaways. (Especially if you get them all the same thing!)
It really depends on your strengths. Since I got notebooks from Papemelroti for my close friends, I decided to write a personal letter inside each one. Everyone liked the letters, but one decided to write one back as a gesture of appreciation. I still read that letter up to this day.

On that note about gifts, I didn’t know there were some rules on gift-giving. Well, apparently, the general rules are: you’re not supposed to expect to get a gift back from the person you’re giving a gift to; but if you’re the one being given a gift, it’s usually polite to give one back. I suppose that’s why we re-gift unused gifts, too. Not only because we don’t like the gifts, but also because we can convince ourselves that we’re a good person by giving someone a gift we think they’ll enjoy.

One of my best friend’s friends decided to start the tradition of writing letters on every birthday gift, so I thought, “What if I write letters on gifts for Christmas?”. So I did. Personally, there’s just something really cool about getting a letter from a special friend, and I wanted to share that with people this Christmas season. Also, when someone gives you a letter as a friend, it’s like they’re willing to share a piece of themselves with you on paper for you to treasure. I know I do. (So does my name-sake in Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, but the letters were not read by the intended person, anyways. Whoops, that might have been a spoiler.)

There are some shops that are often visited by people with a low Christmas budget. One of them is Papemelroti, while another one is Miniso (depending on whether your local mall has one of its branches.) Both of them offer nice stuff for generally low prices. Think of Papemelroti as the anthropomorphic representation of the hipster side of Tumblr, and Miniso as the Japanese version of Divisoria. Papemelroti is generally well-known for its locally-sourced notebooks and jewelry, while Miniso is known for having almost everything at affordable prices.

While we can’t really say much on what to give people for Christmas, we do know when to draw the line when it comes to acceptable gifts. People follow different rules, and you might just have to find out on your own what yours are. Yes, you will find out by trial-and error sometimes. But, even if you give the wrong gift, at least your feelings won’t be hurt (much). We all have went to acting school at some point because of horrible gifts. (Because we all say thank you for the fact that the person thought of us enough to give us a gift, right?)

I’m either old or broke enough to know that Christmas can’t be defined by giving gifts. It can neither be defined by family gatherings nor the birth of Jesus Christ on its own. (Even if I’m a Christian, some non-believers do celebrate Christmas.) What I do know is that everyone may have their own reasons why they celebrate Christmas, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because everyone is focused on one thing that unites us: spreading joy. That’s what the holidays are all about.

Sugar, Spice, and Skating on Ice

On the day our President made his State of the Nation Address (SONA), my sister had no school. Mom took a leave that day. We went ice-skating in the mall in the afternoon.

That’s basically what happened on that day in a nutshell. Let me expand my experience on the rink. It started off with my sister and I getting the equipment needed, which were a pair of ice-skates and a helmet. Now, I’ll tell you something about those shoes. If you can walk in them, you can walk in any pair of high heels. Those skates only have thin slices of metal on their bottom, which is almost worse than those deceptive-looking heels that scream “style” on the outside and “pain” on the inside. (Note, I heard this from my female best friend in my old school, who wore a pair on our reunion in a mall.) Luckily, I was spared of the embarrassment of falling in those shoes while on land. While I was preparing for the ice rink, my sister found an old friend of hers who was about to enter the rink as well. (They stayed together throughout the whole time in the rink.) As I was about to enter the rink, I thought, “Maybe I could be a figure skater”.

As I fell on my butt on the ice, that thought vanished as quickly as my dignity.

As time went on, I slowly mastered ice-skating to the point where I could glide at a moderate speed without falling down and getting my arse frozen. I was no Victor Nikiforov, but my skating was enough for me to keep up with my sister’s friend who practiced regularly. The thrill for me was trying to glide as fast as possible without falling down. Of course, Mom just had to take a video of me falling down while gliding too fast.

Oh, and we had to take a break from skating so that the ice could be restored. We got to see the machine from Plants vs. Zombies! (Gosh, I sound like someone who stayed inside the house too much.) Seriously, though, it was amazing to see something like that in front of my own eyes for the first time.

As fun as ice-skating was, it slowly lost its thrill to the point that I exited earlier than my sister. Of course, if I had a friend with me, I would have stayed on longer. But I didn’t, so I left early, feeling like my feet stepped on Legos.

Would I ice-skate again? Sure. But I’d rather do it with a friend (or more). It’s much more fun to challenge each other and laugh at each other’s misfortunes.