Okay, I’m ready. Tanggap ko na. I guess I just needed to hear it directly from the Deputy Director for Academic Affairs. At least now it’s clear; hindi yung kung anu-ano ang conclusions ko based on indirect evidence. Saan ko kaya itatambak lahat ng papel na naipon ko within the past two years?
The feeling of being kicked out of your home sucks. ICE has been my home since I became a student assistant way back in 2009. Now, I know that it may not be true in general that they’re kicking me out, but the recent turn of events made me feel this way. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me question whether or not I should still show up at my desk in the morning.
The cat’s out of the bag, so I guess it’s time for the whole story.
As you probably know, I have begun feeling a bit disillusioned with the graduate program in my university. And let me just put this on record: it’s not because of incompetent teachers. It’s more of a personal competition with myself- a constant longing to aim for something more. That is to say, I guess I was becoming too comfortable with my current place, that I began to wonder if this was all I could ever be. I love teaching, but I wanted to grow in a sense. And I felt that I wasn’t growing very much.
December: I apply for a scholarship to a consortium of universities in Europe. Early February: My application is rejected. Late February: I scramble to make an application to a university I have been collaborating with in Tokyo. Middle of April: Despite my rushed requirements, my application is accepted.
So yes, you can say that at this point, it would seem sure that I would indeed be leaving my current job to accept this offer. I mention this to no one except my cousin Gigi. I continued to perform my regular duties as a faculty member, even teaching during the summer term, while gathering the requirements for the embassy.
June: The scheduling committee begins to draft the course schedule for the first semester. I ask to be assigned a newbie instructor’s load, thinking that should I leave, a new instructor would be able to easily take over my classes. I am assigned two large class lectures and a team-taught RGEP course. Definitely not a newbie instructor’s teaching load.
I inform the scheduling committee head of my possible scenario. He supports me in pursuing the opportunity to study overseas. We come to an agreement to retain the currently assigned courses, and to just look for instructors to take over my classes when I go.
A few days later, I inform our director of my possible departure. He, too, is supportive of grabbing the opportunity before me. He advises me to withhold my resignation until all documents are finalized. He reinforces my agreement with the scheduling committee head.
The director then discusses the matter for the first time with the Institute Academic Personnel Committee (IAPC).
Immediately after, rumors of my departure begin spreading to the other junior faculty members. For the record, I explicitly stated beforehand that my decision has not been finalized yet. And recall, the only people in the faculty who should know about this are the scheduling committee head, the Director, and the members of the IAPC.
July: I find out that a member of the IAPC is responsible for spreading the rumors. I am offended, because he disseminated information that should have been confidential at the time because it had not been verified. Personally, I believe this is a very irresponsible act from that person.
Days later he sends me a text message, asking if it was true that I would be leaving in September. I don’t reply to this. I wish he had asked me that before spreading such news. I have never really liked this person, but I always respected him. I wish he would have shown me some respect too.
Already, more and more of the faculty members are asking me of my resignation and despedida parties and all that. I feel very uncomfortable.
Today: The scheduling committee sends a revised version of the course schedule for the first semester. Nothing is assigned to me. Nothing. What the hell happened to our earlier agreement? Now, he basically just informed the whole Institute that I would be leaving. More premature information.
A senior member of the IAPC approaches me and asks for an update regarding my plans. I inform him of my intent to teach up until I have to leave for the start of the study program in Tokyo. He agrees to this plan, but reminds me to make proper arrangements for those who will be taking over my classes. This was before I found out that all my subjects had already been assigned to other people.
The gossipy IAPC member (not the senior one referred to in the previous paragraph) happens to hold a key position with the Engineering Science cluster of courses. He schedules a meeting with supposedly all the ES coordinators. As far as I know, I am still the coordinator of ES 11, yet I am not informed of the meeting until it is finished. In my place, the instructor who is “expected” to take my place as coordinator attends. I do not know any other way to digest this except to be offended. Greatly.
The gossipy IAPC members explains to those present that he failed to inform me because I did not reply to his text message days before. He says he did not know if I was still using the same number. Even so, with all the other coordinators present, not one of them tries to contact me. Not even Maxell, who at least told me some of the things discussed in that meeting.
So here I am now, writing this piece because I can’t help but feel that the ES cluster and the scheduling committee are already getting rid of me even though I have not yet handed in my resignation. And even if I had, I would have indicated the effectivity towards the end of August. I would have wanted to teach, or at the very least, to be of some use to the Institute before leaving. I understand that there is a need to finalize the schedules, but still, I feel something is wrong with the way my situation is being handled.
Also today: I receive the Certificate of Eligibility from Japan by mail. This makes my departure around 99% sure. The final step is to apply for a Visa at the embassy. Of course, it can be denied, hence the 1% uncertainty. Also, I have yet to inform my mom of all this. I think I can convince her to support my decision this time. My dad already expressed his support, but warned me that he could not help me financially in the coming years because his retirement fund had already been allocated.
With 1% uncertainty remaining, I wonder if I should still fight for my place within the Institute. Or should I just hand in my resignation effective immediately? I haven’t even drafted that yet. Maybe I should start cleaning up my office desk. I want to stay. That’s what my heart is telling me. But if I stay just to pass the time until September, without teaching or being of some use to ICE, then I would rather leave. I don’t want to be a ghost in my own home. Yun nga lang, parang nabitin pa ako eh. Is it time to just move on?
So, it’s July. Less than two months to go.
From the series: "Redbook" Photographs, compiled 1893 - 1918. Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985
American troops boarding transport ships during the Philippine Insurrection, 115 years ago.
During the Spanish-American War, U.S. forces in the Philippines and Filipino forces led by revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo had a common enemy in Spain. As hostilities came to a close and the United States emerged from the war victorious, Aguinaldo and his supporters were eager for Philippine independence. However, as a result of the Treaty of Paris, December 10, 1898, the United States gained the Philippines as a U.S. territory. Many in the islands were not eager to see one colonial power replaced by another. This desire for independence soon resulted in armed resistance against the United States, beginning with a skirmish on the night of February 4, 1899, just outside of Manila.
Then comes the thunder a’rumbling,
Then comes the lightning flaring,
And then downpours the heavy rain.
But the lightning is my torch, the thunder beats
the cadence of my steps,
And for my walking cane the rain…!
– Traditional Ivatan poem
All over Batanes, the signs came days before the storm. The residents of the northernmost Philippine archipelago — even the ones without radios or televisions — could sense the typhoon’s approach. The hermit crabs began scuttling away from the beach. The moon looked full, but dull. Old folks complained of reawakened aches and pains in their joints. In Uyugan, a coastal town of 1,200 people, a friend called fisherman Alex Ibay with an urgent piece of news: The water buffalo was out.
Ibay, 49, remembered his grandfather’s simple warning about the islands’ severe weather: “Just be ready.” He taught Ibay to look daily toward the promontory called Disiay south of Uyugan, where the island’s main throughway, National Road, wrapped around a cliff. If a lone water buffalo looked out from Disiay over the water — forgetting, for a time, its grazing and its herd — a destructive typhoon was on its way to Batanes, one that would require the islanders’ best preparation. If the water buffalo was not there — if his friends were mistaken — Ibay could relax.
Ibay looked out toward Disiay on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. There it was: a brown water buffalo, unmoving, staring toward the ocean as if in vigil.
Ibay rushed to his motorcycle and drove north to the capital, Basco, the only town in Batanes with internet cafés. There he read that three days earlier, some 1,500 miles north, scientists at the Japan Meteorological Agency already had begun to watch a tropical depression roiling 800 miles east of Manila, the Philippines’ capital. The weather forecast, sent by the JMA to the Philippine weather service, PAGASA, confirmed what Ibay suspected: An ominous blue and red mass spun west toward Batanes. Its international name was Usagi. PAGASA named the storm Odette.
The Philippines has long been at the heart of the Pacific’s typhoon belt. Now, with the warmest decade ever recorded in human history, the seas east of the archipelago have experienced the highest degree of sea level escalation in the world: 60 centimeters, or three times the global average. With more water at the ocean’s surface, pushed by stronger, hotter winds, typhoons are becoming more monstrous. By day’s end, Typhoon Odette, which was rapidly intensifying, would be reclassified as a super typhoon.
Alex Ibay motorbiked from the internet café home to Uyugan. He and his fellow fishermen met near the port and agreed; they would bring their wooden fishing boats ashore, and, using the protective methods of their forebears, cover their hulls with the thick, heavy fronds of coconut leaves. Local officers at Batanes’ branch of the National Council of Indigenous Peoples have given a name to the indigenous methods of reading the arrival of a storm, one passed down through generations: ethnometeorology.
The people of Batanes, like Ibay and his grandfather, are the Ivatans. The Ivatans rarely fear or deny the storm. They have built their lives around their preparation for nature’s unpredictability. They know how to read nature’s messages and have minimized risk by building strong homes, always having a month’s worth of food on hand, and obeying commands to evacuate or remain inside for typhoon warnings. Their history and mind-set show that the people of Batanes are of the storm, shaped by the storm’s demands, rooted to their soil even as strong winds and rains buffet their fates. With lives made near unforgiving waters, Ivatans’ stories of unbelievable survival are far more common than unspeakable tragedies. For the Ivatan people, to die in a storm is so unnecessary, it’s nearly shameful.
Happy retirement pops. Despite all that’s happened, I’m still grateful for what you’ve done for us. I hope you enjoy your carefree days. I can’t post this on Facebook since mom will see. What a weird and wonderful family we are. :-)
Lowering the flag
Part of the retirement honors for a high ranking officer of the Philippine National Police is the lowering of his personal flag, which symbolizes the end of his years in service of the country. After more than 38 years, my dad finally looks on as his own flag is lowered, and looks forward as a new chapter of his life unfolds.