Category Archives: education

You just failed in a class. What now?

Getting a failing mark for a subject at the end of a semester is one experience every college student should never wish to encounter. Aside from the bad psychological effect of having a grade of 5.0 indicated on your transcript of grades forever, failing a subject also has two more implications.

Since you failed, you will necessarily have to take the subject once more (I loved telling my students that “Starting Over Again” is the theme song for flunking kids).

That means spending another four to five months on the same subject! If the subject that you failed is a prerequisite of a higher level subject, you may not be able to finish your program on time.

And by the way, you do have to tell your parents that you failed and have to retake the subject as a consequence (brace for some volcanic eruptions!). Like any catastrophic event that we know, you getting a failing mark will not happen without any warning signs.

Why students fail

Your performance in a class is a matter that only you and your professor know best. In my two years in the teaching profession, I can say that students will not fail a subject just because he or she flunked the finals test (that will be another incriminating circumstance, though).

He/she will a grade of 5.0 because of frequent unexcused absences. A student who’s not attending classes is bound to miss a lot of quizzes and class activities. He or she is also the one who’s always not aware of class requirements.

technological institute of the philippines students

Giving a shout out to my students at the Technological Institute of the Philippines!

Is it avoidable?

Of course it’s a given that a student has an obligation to attend his or her classes regularly. He or she is also expected to perform to the best extent possible. Your parents are not wasting their money on you, right?

It’s a matter of recognizing that there is a problem and having the willingness to address it head-on. Will doing a special project solve your problem? Ask about it!

Maintaining an open line of communication with your professor will be a big plus. If you sense that you have a problem with your class standing, don’t hesitate to ask the teacher about it.

Teachers are required to be able to show students their class standing when asked for it. Needless to say, teachers must be approached politely. It must also be stressed that students should know how to get in touch with their teachers outside the classroom.

Uhm, grades are now entered and I got a 5.0. What do I do?

If you think that the grade you received is erroneous, make sure you have all the evidence (e.g. checked papers, returned quizzes, etc.) to back up your claim.

Grades, even if already encoded in an online portal, can be changed as long as it can be established that it is wrong. Notably, teachers are usually punished for such mistakes.

What’s next for you?

So, you’ve already come to terms with the fact that you got a failing mark for a particular class. How will you move forward from there? Are you going to get disheartened from doing your best in the coming semesters? Or will you take the failure as a sign for you to strive a little harder next time? The choice is your to make. 🙂

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Class suspensions – October 14 2013


The Iglesia  ni Cristo (INC), a religious sect known for bloc voting during elections, will hold its annual medical and dental mission around Metro Manila this Monday, October 14. The event is being referred to as “Kabayan Ko Kapatid Ko Lingap sa Mamamayan.” In anticipation of the event, local government units across the region decided to suspend classes for the said day.


Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada took the lead last Friday when he announced that classes in all levels are canceled within his constituency. In an executive order, Estrada noted that as much as 1.6 million INC members are expected to flock to the nation’s capital as part of the event. The class suspension, Estrada argued, aims “to help in efforts to preserve peace and order and ensure public safety.”

october 14 2013 class suspensions

Several cities have announced class suspensions for October 14 2013


As of Sunday night, Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro announced the suspension of classes in the areas listed below. Please note that October 15 is also a holiday by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 658, designating the day as the date for the Islamic festival Eid’l Adha.

1. Manila (including college level)
2. Quezon City
3. Caloocan
4. Pasig
5. Pasay
6. Makati
7. Mandaluyong
8. Taguig
9. Paranaque
10. Pateros
11. San Juan
12. Muntinlupa
13. Valenzuela

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Gregory John Smith, owner of stolen photo, speaks out

(NOTE: Gregory John Smith sent the following via Facebook in response to a query from The Filipino Scribe. He is the owner of the image that Mark Joseph Solis, a graduate student from the University of the Philippines, used in winning a photo competition organized by the Embassy of Chile last week.)

Please tell us about your background

I am a social entrepreneur of the Global Network of Social Entrepreneurs of ASHOKA, highly respected for their ethical practice and innovative actions to change the world. I founded the Children At Risk Foundation – CARF 20 years ago to help street children in Brazil and other parts of the world, including the Philippines. My project today helps almost 2000 children at risk in Brazil.

What is the photo all about?

The child depicted in the winning image is one of my kids. The photo was actually taken by me in Brazil in 2006, whilst on Christmas holidays at the coast together with four brothers from the same poverty stricken family in Brasil, who were supported by our programme at the time. The photo was taken on a beach in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, whilst the kids were having fun chucking seaweed at each other. The original image can be found on my Flickr Gallery here:

How did you know that your photo was used by Solis without your permission?

I have been flowing over with letters of support from many Filipino friends who found the idea of an imposter entering my photo into such a respected contest as rather disgusting, also letters of support from many other citizens around the world. I obviously have many international followers on Flickr, where the many portraits of my children have had more than 10 million views according to Flickr Stats.

mark joseph solis

UP DIliman graduate student Mark Joseph Solis won a national photo contest by using an image taken by Gregory John Smith (Photo uploaded by Carlos Celdran)

Do you plan to pursue charges against Solis?

As I myself have already planned a visit to Manila and New Smokey Mountain at the beginning of 2014, together with some of the young people from my social development programme in Brazil, to visit a partnership programme that we support in a small way there called Young Warriors (I recommend that you all try to support those kids in some way).

I found this was a nice opportunity to suggest to the organizers of this contest that they revert the prize money to my foundation, also the travel prize, which we would make really good use of to help pay the trip for our own Young Warriors who will be going for the visit and who need all the support they can get, coming from poverty stricken families here in Brazil, instead of offering such a round-trip to Brazil and Chile to an imposter.

I think my suggestion is much more in line with the thoughts behind the contest. So I have commented to the contest organizers explaining the situation, also sent an e-mail to the chairman of the Jury, Mr. Oscar Lopez, a well-known Filipino businessman, as I am sure that being involved in such an episode plays havoc with his own integrity as a successful business entrepreneur.

I have also commented about the situation to the Chilean Ambassador to Manila, Roberto Mayorga, who conceptualized the contest. Unfortunately I do not have the time to hunt down personal contact information for these important people to make direct contact with them, so I am relying on the internet connections to do the job for me. So far I have heard nothing, but then again, it is the weekend, so maybe on Monday I shall get an answer from someone.

I really would love to see this unfortunate situation turned around into something really positive, seeing as we already have this inter-cultural exchange that we will be doing between the underprivileged Young Warriors of New Smokey Mountain and the underprivileged Young Warriors from my own programme in Brazil. I think that would bring more dignity to an otherwise rather embarrassing situation for the contest organizers. 

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Mark Joseph Tajo Solis’ ‘stolen shots’

“The higher you fly, the harder you fall,” the legend of Icarus goes. Mark Joseph Tajo Solis, a graduate student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, learned it the hard way. Just a few days ago, Solis won first place in the Embassy of Chile’s Calidad Humana photography contest. Aside from winning $1,000 in cash, he also won for himself a round-trip ticket to Chile.

The board of the judges includes the who’s who of academia and business: Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Oscar Lopez from the Lopez Group of Companies, the institution heads of UP, ADMU, DLSU, UA&P, and UST, among others. Chilean ambassador to the Philippines Roberto Mayorga even wrote an op-ed about it. See this link to see’s news story about the event.  However, Solis’ stay on Cloud Nine proved to be short-lived.

mark joseph solis

Mark Joseph Solis won a national photo contest for a picture he didn’t take (Credits:

Everything began to unravel for him early Sunday morning when Gregory John Smith, a Brazil-based social entrepreneur and founder of Children at Risk Foundation, posted on his Facebook page that he actually owns Solis’ prize-winning photograph.

“There is really no limit to people’s abuse of others in this world. This is one of my photographs that just won first prize in a contest that I never entered,” Smith said. He also posted a link to his Flickr account where he originally uploaded the image in 2006.

With the caption “Neptune, King of the Sea,” the photo shows a young boy drenched all over and with seaweeds on his head. In submitting the picture to the competition, Solis claimed that the picture shows a young boy from Zamboanga City whose house was ravaged by Typhoon Lawin back in 2012. To add insult to the injury, Solis entered the same image in a competition by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. For that contest, he claimed that the photo was taken in Ramanathapuram, India.

John Gregory Smith

Brazil-based John Gregory Smith is the true owner of the image Mark Joseph Solis used for the photo contest

Following the revelation, Solis deactivated his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Nevertheless, the damage has been done, and as it turns out, there were two other instances where Solis won recognition for submitting photos he stole from the Internet.

In 2011, Solis won the SAY PEACE Photo Contest organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for his purported picture of a young boy from Koronadal, South Cotabato. However, some Facebook users discovered that the boy in the picture is actually a Nepali and that it was shot by Alexandre Sattler, a photographer from France who uploaded the said picture in his Flickr page way back 2006. See Sattler’s original image in this link and compare it to Solis’ enhanced version here.

Last July, Solis won second place in the photo competition organized by the Philippine-based Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and the Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (INNOTECH) for the culture category.

He submitted a photo taken from the Ati-Atihan Festival in 2009, for which he got $300. See his ‘winning’ entry here. In reality, the picture was actually taken by travel blogger Renzelle Mae Abasolo. The picture is included in a slideshow she uploaded in her website in August 2011. Check out her post here.

At the very least, Solis should be stripped of all the accolades he dubiously earned. Contest organizers ought to make sure that happens. Now, can he be expelled from UP DIliman for his actions? The 2012 Code of Student Conduct (CSC) penalizes plagiarism and other actions analogous to intellectual dishonesty by suspension for one semester or expulsion (read the draft CSC here).

However, as pointed out by UP alumnus and lawyer Victor Bernabe, Solis might be able to escape that through a technicality since he did not use the photos for an academic requirement. Nevertheless, Solis now faces the challenge of living the years ahead in shame a la disgraced journalist Stephen Glass.

*In his apology to Mr. Smith, Solis said he was merely driven by his “youth, lack of experience, and the inability to see the repercussions of my actions.” He added: “The sheer amount of the prize, the stiff competition, and the unique opportunity to be abroad blinded me from undertaking what is supposed to be an honest and a rightful conduct.”

But how does that explain the fact that he committed the same crime thrice? Is he that morally bankrupt? Sorry, but I cannot buy his apology.

(PS: Mr. John Gregory Smith sent a statement in response to a query from The Filipino Scribe. We will be posting it here soon.)


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Strike at Holy Angel University now on its fifth week

And why you don’t hear about it in the news

The month-long impasse between the administration of Holy Angel University (HAU) in Angeles City, Pampanga and the school’s teachers and employees union (HAUTEU) remains unsolved with just a few weeks left before the current semester ends. The union began the strike last August 13.

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, the union outlines their complaints against the university. The HAUTEU claimed the school’s administration violated Republic Act (RA) 6728 or the “Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act.”

Section 10 of RA 6728 mandates tertiary institutions to hold consultations with student governments or councils, alumni, and faculty associations whenever they intend to impose tuition hikes. School administrators are also ordered to show audited financial statements to authorized representatives of these sectors. Read the full text of RA 6728 here.

In line with this, the Commission on Higher Education stated in its Memorandum Order #8 for 2012 that 70 percent of the incremental proceeds from any tuition increase should be used to augment teachers and school personnel’s benefits, salaries, and allowances. Download the said CHED memo here.

holy angel university strike

The workers’ strike in Holy Angel University enters its fifth week (Credits: HAUTEU Facebook page)

The union filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) case against the HAU administration before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The complaint centers on the alleged non-compliance of the university with what the abovementioned laws require.

To solve the dispute, the group is demanding a transparent computation of the school’s finances. The amount involved in the discussion is P20.9 million. Read the group’s statement here.

And while the dispute remains in the backyard of DOLE for resolution, the fate of HAU students hang in the balance. According to the HAU administration last August, nearly 100 teachers went on strike. One source told The Filipino Scribe that certain sections had been merged so that classes will proceed as usual.

Hence, some instructors are now handling double their usual teaching load, the source added. While this is good for the teachers financially, the setup can be physically taxing. The source is a female faculty member who didn’t join the strike. She requested anonymity for fear of possible repercussions from the school administration.

All is not well in this setup, however. Some students, the source adds, are in limbo since it is unclear to them whether they will take instructions from their substitute teachers or abide by what their original instructors say. The problem reached a low point during the midterm examination week in late August, with students unsure to who will administer the exam for them.

holy angel university

Holy Angel University official seal

A news blackout?

Despite the fact that the strike had been going on for a month now, it has received little attention in the national media. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported about it last August, and that was it. Business magnate Manuel V. Pangilinan is listed as the chair of the school’s board of trustees.

Pangilinan serves as the chair of a long number of entities with interests in virtually all sectors including telecommunication (Smart, PLDT, and most recently, Digitel) and other public utilities like MERALCO and Maynilad Water Services, to name just two.

Aside from owning the television network TV5, Pangilinan is also a shareholder in two national dailies: the Philippine Star and the Inquirer. Last year, he nearly acquired broadcast giant GMA Network. Aside from his significant control of the Philippine media, Pangilinan-managed companies are also heavy advertisers. Given that reality, it is logical for the national media to avoid antagonizing him through negative reportage, journalism ethics be damned.

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WALANG PASOK: August 22 2013

Citing the effects of heavy monsoon rains the past five days. several local government units (LGUs) and education institutions once more decided to cancel classes for Thursday, August 22. Others went as far as suspending classes for Friday. It is expected that other LGUs and schools will make similar announcements within the next hours. Credits to ABS-CBN for this partial list:

  • Makati (until Friday, August 23; all levels – public and private)
  • Pasay City (until Friday, August 23; all levels – public and private)
  • Caloocan (all levels)
  • Marikina (all levels)
  • Taguig (all levels, until August 23)
  • Manila (all levels)





  • Malabon (until Friday, August 23)
  • Valenzuela (until Friday, August 23; preschool to high school – public and private)
  • Muntinlupa (until August 23, preschool to high school)
  • Laguna (until Friday, August 23; all levels – public and private)
  • Mandaluyong (preschool to high school – public and private)
  • Pasay
  • Paranaque (all levels – public and private)


  • Asia Pacific College
  • Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela
  • Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Paranaque and Laguna campuses; suspended until Friday, August 23)
  • St. Scholastica’s College – Manila (office work to resume)
  • Saint Francis of Assisi College (all levels in all campuses)
  • Valenzuela Polytechnic University

(The list will be updated from time to time. You can also use the government website as a guide.)

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#WalangPasok – August 20 2013

Metro Manila

  1. Caloocan City (preschool to high school)

  2. Las Piñas City (all levels)

  3. Makati City (all levels)

  4. Malabon City (all levels)

  5. Mandaluyong City (preschool to high school)

  6. Manila City (all levels)

  7. Marikina (preschool to high school)

  8. Muntinlupa City (all levels)

  9. Navotas City (preschool to high school)

  10. Pasay City (all levels)

  11. Parañaque City (all levels)

  12. Pateros City (all levels)

  13. Pasay (all levels)

  14. Quezon City (all levels)

  15. San Juan City (all levels)

  16. Taguig City (all levels)

  17. Valenzuela City (preschool to high school)

    typhoon maring PH

    Typhoon Maring has intensified the southwest monsoon in Luzon.

By Province

  1. Province of Bataan (all levels)

  2. Province of Cavite (all levels)

  3. Province of Laguna (all levels)

  4. Province of Pangasinan (preschool to high school)

  5. Hagonoy, Bulacan (preschool to high school)

  6. Malolos, Bulacan (preschool to high school)

  7. Meycauayan, Bulacan (all levels)

  8. Obando, Bulacan (all levels)

  9. Dagupan, Pangasinan (all levels)

  10. Angono, Rizal (preschool to high school)

  11. San Mateo, Rizal (preschool to elementary)

  12. San Fernando Pampanga (all levels)

School Specific

  1. De La Salle University – Dasmariñas (all levels and office operations)

  2. De La Salle University – Taft and STC Campuses (all levels and office operations)

  3. Far Eastern University – Manila; FEU East Asia College; and FEU Makati (all levels and office operations)

  4. Mapúa Institute of Technology (all levels)

  5. Makati Medical Center College

  6. Perpetual Help – College of Manila (all levels)

  7. Philippine Women’s University – PWU Taft, PWU HS, JASMS INDIANA, JASMS QC (all levels and office operations)

  8. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Bataan (all levels)

  9. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Parañaque (all levels)

  10. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Maragondon (all levels)

  11. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – San Pedro, Laguna (all levels)

  12. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Sta. Mesa, Manila (all levels)

  13. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Sta. Rosa, Laguna (all levels)

  14. Saint Francis of Assisi College (all levels, all campuses)

  15. San Pedro College of Business Administration (all levels)

  16. San Sebastian College – Recoletos, Manila (all levels and office operations)

  17. University of Perpetual Help – Biñan Campus (all levels)

  18. University of Santo Tomas (all levels and office operations)

  19. Lyceum of the Philippines University – Cavite (all levels)

  20. Lyceum of the Philippines University – Manila (all levels)

  21. Xavier School Nuvali (all levels)

  22. La Verdad Christian College, Caloocan

  23. St. Paul University, Manila

  24. UP Los Baños

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