Monthly Archives: June 2019

5 Inexpensive Ways to Learn As A Child

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou

My main purpose of writing this article is to share some techniques to young people, preferably high school students, or maybe their parents, so they can get tips on how to motivate their children.

This is not supposed to be an emotional, but more like an empowering piece. But I need to lay down the premise by starting with my story to inspire young people out there who think they have enough miseries in life to simply throw it all away. Guess what, if you are facing a lot of challenges today – embrace the mission to survive them. Like lifting weights, more weight will test your strength. Pick up yourself everyday and train your mind.

My childhood years were very challenging. It was difficult to grow emotionally, mentally, even spritually in a family environment where you are expected to be self-reliant at age nine. My motto as a child – sad is normal. At a tender age, I already knew that I will have a small chance of living a normal life. My mother died when I was nine, and the eldest of five other siblings. My father was a difficult man whose life was made more difficult by having to take care of so many children all by himself. Our house was always emotionally charged. Our life was like a “survivor series” TV show. So I made it my mission to survive but first to teach myself how to survive despite all the odds. And I was of the strong belief that learning, learning new things, learning consistently will help me cope. As the saying – “what does not break you, makes you stronger.”

So buckle up. Here are some of the major techniques I developed as a child to help me learn and survive despite the lack of resources. Many would have the same experience or even harder but I want to take time to write mine in a very simple way so I can share and inspire other children.

1. Read. Read like you need to eat everyday. And do not read only because you are told (the most boring books are what they assign you to read in schools). I read aloud in front of the mirror to observe my mouth. Read according to your own imagination. Stretch your mind by memorizing subjects you are fond of. I used to borrow books from neighbors and relatives and rent from stores. There was a “book club” somewhere in Plazamart which rented books for a week for 5 or 10 pesos per book.

I am lucky to have a grandfather who was a teacher and so had several books at my disposal. In grade school, aside from the scahool-prescribed Storytime Teller, I enjoyed reading hard bound medical books and law books. I was so engrossed by the colored pictures of the human cardiovascular system. My brain cells were jumping as I trace how the human blood flows back and forth our hearts. Reading exercises your imagination and brings you to places. My bed was definitely not as soft as other kids my age but when I read I was ransported to beautiful castles where it felt like I was sleeping comfortably as a queen.

Today, young people watch movies or listen to audio files like it can substitute reading. Not quite so. There is something surreal in holding a book as child. I also enjoyed watching shows on TV and movies when I was a child but reading is something I knew will help me more. Indeed, fast forward to the future, something that I probably won’t understand in grade school but there are benefits that can be derived from reading:

  • Mental Stimulation
  • Stress Reduction
  • Knowledge
  • Vocabulary Expansion
  • Memory Improvement
  • Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills
  • Improved Focus and Concentration
  • Better Writing Skills
  • Tranquility
  • Free Entertainment


2. Read aloud. At around age 11 or 12, I conditioned my mind to learn how to speak and write, to express myself concisely and effectively. I was conscious of the fact that there were children my age who spoke well in English because of upbringing or family environment. Understanding that children belonging to well-to-do families have a headstart, I trained myself to catch up. Even without a trainer, I practiced speaking in front of the mirror. I read aloud newspaper stories, mostly written in English but I also read the ones written in Tagalog (or Filipino eventually). I needed to hit two birds with one stone. My goal of training to be eloquent and to comply with my father’s daily test about current events and issues. We get an earful from him everyday. I can still hear him say “dugay-dugay magiyera na sa kalibutan, wala pa kamo ya kabalo!”

3. Write. Write incessantly like your hands needed to hold a pen everyday. In these modern times, I think, I should rather say “type” but then again the feeling of holding a pen and staring at a crisp blank paper in front of you as your brain starts to load up is really therapeutic. True because diary writing saved me from depression and made me love writing up to this day. Writing for me was like visiting a colorful carnival for a child who loves carnivals.

There are so many benefits in writing as a child – you learn to journalize your daily life and imprint in your head the memories you wish to remember. It also helps you study like when you take exams. I practically wrote down in several notebooks my whole Remedial Law text book during my bar review, knowing I am weak in that area and it is subject which weighed the highest percentage on the total bar results. Writing is an extremely useful habit. If you love it, it will surely love you back.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

— Virginia Woolf

4. Converse with older people. When you always talk to people your age, you miss the opportunity to see the lens of the older generation to expand your horizon. I love sitting and listening to people older than me, especially the intelligent ones. I love sharing insights from the latest books I read or my plans when I grow up and just picking the other person’s mind.

Today, many young people seem to focus their attention on gadgets like phones and computers. Though these gadgets enable them communicate with others there is no subsitute for human presence. That feeling when you look at the eyes, the face, the expression of the other person and listens to his or her every word is simply surreal. Human conversation is indeed the highest form of human activity.

5. Experiment. Create prototypes. It was fun “creating” things with my siblings when we were young. These moments were the fun parts of my childhood. We get a lot of sermon and spanking but it was all worth it. Experimentation is among the best way to learn. Maybe because we lost our mother at a young age, we had no choice but to learn to cook – but we are thankful we had no choice. Cooking is a lifeskill everyone must know.

As a child, I would experiment creating a radio drama by recording it in casette tape with all my siblings playing a role. We had a good laugh listening to the end product. Our specialty was action and horror dramas. I also remember how we prcaticed and visited houses doing Christmas carols even when we were not gifted with good singing voices. One can create a lot of things from scratch even as a child. We should allow creativity as means to learn. As Pablo Picasso says ” “Everything you can imagine is real.” Creativity is a very important skill today.

Studies show that “kids’ imaginations helped them cope better with pain. Creativity also helps kids be more confident, develop social skills, and learn better.” This site provides helpful insights.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Leguin

Today, I continue to learn. To read, read aloud, write, talk to older people, and create. From 6 to 46, my life has been about surviving and learning is the best tool. Life is a never ending series of learning. When I read my diary many decades ago, I cannot help but admire my younger self. It is to my younger self who chose to survive that I owe to keep going today, no matter how difficult life becomes.

Me and my Mom.
The Author

A Young Leader’s Letter

A young man’s letter was among the many things that brought me that quiet but heartwarming feeling of accomplishing a difficult mission. The letter captured the messages of other young people during the whole journey. What inspires me the most is the thought that the next generation of leaders are growing steadily – and many of them, most of who I am acquainted carry the perspective of hope. I am sharing this letter with the writer’s permission in the hope of inspiring the next generation of leaders to carry on with the fight. My generation may have fell short of setting a strong and clear direction for our communities but through our small acts and examples – we hope to continue guide and encourage those who are next in line. I pray we find enlightenment in this letter.

May 18, 2019

“It doesn’t take a hundred years to do this, it takes political courage…” – Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (The courage to change)

Mayor Jocelle!

A well fought electoral campaign! Going beyond the result of the election, One Bacolod is an achievement not only in terms of the bravery in engaging an elitist and traditional election but also for opening up the space for a campaign that is volunteer and advocacy driven. If ever we are serious in pushing for governance that is accountable, participatory and transparent, we need to do away with money politics/campaign.

When you decided to run and face a giant, you actually did us a favor by giving us the option for an alternative candidate. I have taken part in your campaign not out of personal interest/advantage or even to make money but out of an advocacy for good governance and I believe that you are the better alternative candidate.

Defeat is never ours but rather an accumulative experience and strength which is a prerequisite for our eventual victory for a politics and governance that the people deserves.

Your bravery and leadership is an inspiration. Never will I forget the time when you had a consultation meeting with the fisherfolk leaders from different barangays here in Bacolod, I was amazed on how you authentically listened to their concerns and laid out a 10 point agenda for them. It was specific, sustainable, and comprehensive and also the first time I heard from a local candidate to have that much potential of a program for the sector. If only you were given the chance to have it implemented.

This is not the end but only the beginning of a much longer struggle for a governance that is people-centered. Ako mangin padayon nga kabahin sa ini nga adbokasiya.

Padayon kita Mayor Jocelle!

Griderick Alila Brgy. Kagawad Brgy. 29

Griderick Alila’s handwritten letter which I received five days after the May 13 elections. This is intentionally blurred to keep the privacy of his signature and penmanship.

I requested from and was given permission by Griderick to feature his letter in this site. He is a young kagawad in one of our barangays in Bacolod. During the campaign, I have received many messages coming from citizens of Bacolod, mostly young people. The messages were as inspiring as Griderick’s letter.

Indeed, the series of consultations I have with various fisherfolks community in the 13 coastal barangays out of 61 barangays in Bacolod yielded a much clearer picture in my mind about the concerns of the sector. I am proud of the 10-Point Agenda which I was able to cull out from the conversations and given the unique opportunity to validate these policiy directions and programs I wanted to implement. I will share the agenda in due time but at the moment, I really wish to put the spotlight on Griderick’s message.

I am posting this to remind me always that there are young leaders who understand what needs to be done and are continously doing these things despite all the difficulties. Patronage and money politics will be difficult to eradicate in this country, but the mission continues. I am grateful and inspired by young leaders like Griderick who appear unassuming but firm in their convictions. I am also inspired by the clarity and purity of his thoughts. If our young leaders today in the barangays understand the pathways to good governance, this country will rise once more in full transformation.

The Vision of Change

Outline of Speech of mayoralty candidate Jocelle Batapa-Sigue delivered during the Opening Salva of One Bacolod last April 1, 2019 at the Negros Occidental Multi-Purpose Center

It is not a question of what Bacolod is today but what Bacolod could become in the future. For what Bacolod is today is not a work of one but of everyone – And the future we all dream is not going to be the work of one- But of every one of us.

We cannot allow our City to be left behind. When other Cities already demand specific and measurable developments and outcomes from projects and programs using public funds- Our leaders simply extend public funds to hire thousands of temporary workers near election time to serve as armies to justify their stay in power.

But to stay in power, to be re-elected is anchored on concrete indicators –

  • Have social services been delivered down to the last Barangay.
  • Have roads, streetlights, Drainage, and basic Infrastructure been properly maintained.
  • Have we eased the process of doing business with the city, removing long queues and processes.
  • Have we given each every sector a voice of planning for public projects. How public funds should be spent.
  • Have we planned and strategize clear goals for job generation, solid waste management, peace and order, traffic management, tourism development and many more.
  • These questions are for each and every Bacolodnon to answer – Not the Incumbent – Not the hordes of temporary workers now being paid by public funds to become campaigners. Some of whom are now even crying silently because they are pushed into oppression to vote 15-0.

Traditional politics has crippled our City for a long time – Politics anchored on slogans, patronage, hypes, personality. While these are not entirely bad. We deprive ourselves of real and genuine leadership.

A leadership anchored on a vision. When I joined politics for the first time in 2001, the first question I asked was- Am I competent? And capable of becoming a councilor? Can I deliver and fulfill my promises to author milestone legislations for women, for children, to create jobs, to impact the lives of people.

I spent my years in the council writing, crafting ordinances under my committee- women and gender to information and communications technology. Sadly, I have never chaired any other committee until my last year – When I handled tourism and trade.

But I am not giving up on my dream of making a difference. I used women and gender and CT to create a difference. I worked with as many organizations. With as many people over the last decade. I represented Bacolod in national and international avenues lifting the banner of Bacolod to the world as an Eisenhower fellow of the Philippines, Asia Society Ten Young Leaders, Philippine ICT Individual Contributor of the year, one of the Outstanding Women in Nation service and many other accolades.

You have heard this already – I was a neophyte in 2001 – trying to think if I can be valuable to this City- After 18 years- I dare say- I am ready. I am competent. I am capable. I am strong to be MAYOR of BACOLOD. My time has come. And tonight is NO longer about me. It is already ABOUT what this City can become.

Let me now outline my vision in 3 years:

  • Ubra para sa pamilya – 100k jobs by 2022
  • 100 Bed City Hospital/ 250 beds eventually complimented by 24/7 doctors or nurses in barangay health clinics
  • 100,000 Training Vouchers in 3 Tesda Centers across all industries.
  • 2 light industrial economic zones at the relocation site and at the old airport area.
  • 20-30% decrease in number of informal settlers by providing them housing settlement on site development
  • 80-100% solution on all drainage problems of Bacolod to avoid flood and health issues
  • Smart City integrated apps to make it easier for all Bacolodnons
  • Integrated Traffic, Security and Disaster Management System for Bacolod
  • Open systems for accountability and transparency to bring back dignity in public service
  • Integrated Solid Waste Management strategies to create new solutions
  • Improvement of markets. Vendors, Drivers, Farmers and Fisherfolks membership benefit cards
  • Barangays partnerships where all barangays are partners for solid waste management, health, livelihood and peace and order
  • Responsive programs for sectors – PWD/ Senior Citizen/ Retired police, creation of Data base

I will be your voice. I will stand for you. Please give me 3 years!