From the classroom, to the Universe

Archive for March, 2013

Debt, Deadlines and Death

The news about a student who has committed suicide has brought once again issues regarding a school’s policy on students financial obligations.  Different schools impose different policies  but one thing keeps me in question, which does provide greater importance, the schools measure to secure operations or students current financial capabilities? As isolated as this case maybe according to the officials, but this is only the tip on the iceberg on how a student feels every time tuition fees are pressed against their right to access education which for some is their ticket out of poverty.  While most students do not resort to suicide, many most would be in emotional torture dilemma since they have to think of a way out of it. How can one be at their best form in reviewing for their final exam if they are in the midst of the uncertainty of having be able to pay their tuition debts?

My school is implementing which what we call as  Examination Permit Policy, students are only allowed to take examination if they have either an examination permit, which means they had paid their dues or a provisional permit if they can’t settle their accounts on the agreed date.  It might look pretty convenient but I find it really difficult as a classroom teacher. Though it is true enough that the school does not also offer me a promissory note during paydays, however I believe that examination is still a part of teaching learning process. Examinations provides a feedback to teachers the gauge of a students understanding and barring them the right to take exam because of their parent’s lack of financial obligations is like also robbing them the right to learn. Assessments and evaluation is a vital part of teaching learning process, without it a teacher can not say that they have done their part of the bargain. Schools would always wave their grandeur vision and mission in developing children but they should also include that it comes with a price, no such thing as a free lunch after all! And students do not really have a choice in this and I believe that it poses a negative impact on students attitude in taking exams and coming to class. I am sure there can be ways to be strict and stern in fees and other financial matters that does not include barring exam or even attendance.

While I do well understand that the life blood of the school’s operation is based solely from its tuition and fees but let’s not forget the fundamental reason  why a school was founded  and that it to teach students.


Deep-Sky Observing Marathon at Big Handy’s Ground Tanay, Rizal

The Philippine Astronomical Society hosted a deep-sky observing marathon at the dark skies of Big Handy’s Ground located at Tanay Rizal. It was an off-the-grid camp site, literally – no signal, electricity, water supply and is away from buzzing sounds and blinding lights of the metro, a perfect get away from daily urban lifestyle. The site offeres 360 view of the skies with minimal obstruction from mountain tops and though light pollution from Manila can be seen afar in the west, faint stars that are usually invisible in the metro doesn’t shy away and glitter fantastically and steady that you’ll get lost in the sea of stars! Its such rare occasion for me that I stared in awe above and have to reorient my self to what constellation I am looking into. Faint DSO’s are resolved easily that hunting them was a breeze, only if clouds had not rolled in quick!View from Big Handy's Grounds

View from Big Handy’s Grounds

Members of the Philippine Astronomical Society

Members of the Philippine Astronomical Society


Members of the UP AstroSoc joined us also in this event

Winter Triangle

Fish Eye View of the skies of Tanay, RizalParticipants Group Shot

Participants of the event included students from RTU Astronomy Society, UP AstroSoc, individuals from other walks of life – PAS members and non members alike.

Big Handy’s Ground is located at Brgy. Cayumbay, Tanay Rizal and welcomes camping, star gazing and other stuff. For more information in the site you may send Mrs. May Serrano an email at

For anything about astronomy, you may attend events of the Philippine Astronomical Society which is free and open to the public. Clear Skies!

Photos by:

Kashogi Astapan