Cebu, Cebuano History, History, Social History

Piecing the puzzle

A lot of historians from the provinces {like mine for example} say that Philippine national history has – unintentionally – left some (if not most) of provincial histories in the wayside and continues to be Manila-centric. This was a bone of contention almost 40 to 50 years ago. Today, several initiatives by provincial, regional and local historians have filled in some gaps in history and have allowed students of history to see the different historical processes and experiences in each region.

This blog post is an excerpt of a research proposal I submitted in graduate school: A Social History of Hunger in Cebu from 1899 to 1930.

Cebu in the nineteenth century was a rising commercial entrepot. Its geographical location and its natural harbor (See Canute Vandermeer’s work on Cebuano population) were advantages to a growing trade not only with its Southeast Asian neighbors but with the entire world as well. In 1860, Cebu was opened to world trade thereby increasing the volume of goods coming in and out of the province bringing in not only material stuff but a steady influx of new ideas, lifestyles and yes, even diseases.

As Cebu enjoyed its opening to world commerce, cultivation of sugar in some areas in the northern part of Cebu like Bogo increased. A preoccupation with land ownership began to emerge and land banking began at this time resulted in the displacement of a good number of tenants as land began to be a basis of wealth and influence in this time.

As more historical works of Cebu and its socio-economic development will be written by students of history, the puzzle pieces of national history will become clearer, more complete and more representative of the whole archipelago’s history. Cebu’s historical experience in its changes in landowning patterns, port-and-hinterland interactions and cultural developments show some similarities and contrasting patterns with other areas opened to world trade in the 19th century (Alfred McCoy & Edilberto de Jesus). Ports opened to the world economy did not necessarily have the same historical development and experience as that of Manila.

Recommended reading: Bruce Fenner’s Cebu: A Social-Economic History. It is a classic work in Cebuano History and a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Cebuano economy and development of Cebuano society especially the Cebuano elite. Several prominent families like the Osmenas, Velosos, Chiong-Velosos, and some mestizo Chinese families are featured in the book.

There’s also an interesting work/graduate thesis on the Cebuano port economy by a former co-teacher of mine from the University of San Carlos (Roquezon Rubia).

History, Teaching

Teach. Research. Community work.

Seventeen years after graduation and letting go of my fears and apprehensions, I am now able to articulate 3 areas where I want to focus on professionally:  teach (part-time), do research and write a book and write articles and do community work.

It has taken me that long to let go of my fears and sort out what I really want.

When I was much younger, it was the steady income and money that was uppermost in my mind.  I wanted a stable job never mind if the teaching requirements took up most of my time from doing research.  After an experience teaching 2nd graders in a public school and teaching 7th and 11th graders in a private school, I finally put my hands up in surrender and mustered enough courage to pursue what I want and what I enjoy doing and that is to teach a subject or two, read, read and read books and articles and write and have time for my blogs and other creative ideas.

As my dad again reminded me this morning during breakfast, “Tsi, don’t think about the money.  Work on what you’re passionate about first and then the money will come later.  Sow first by doing unpaid work first and then the income will follow.”

I guess I now have the strength and self-awareness to admit to myself that I am not cut out for an all-out teaching career.  The kind of teaching career that makes one stay all day in the school churning out lesson plans, grading papers and working on all the paper trail.  It makes my brains go out, makes me restless and bored.  I want to work outside the box (literally and figuratively).

I would rather go to school for my classes only, mentor a few students for their papers, work at the university library for research work and publish a book and some articles.  At the same time, I would want to work on a community project that combines some of the things I am passionate about which are:  community development and history.

It was scary at first contemplating about this move but it has been two months now since I left the school where I once taught and so far this has been the most restful, “busy but not stressful” and enjoyable time of my career.  It is a bit challenging though not to have a fixed schedule as you have to be mindful of keeping time blocks to make sure that you work on the research projects you are involved in.  I have found that these days while I do not have a fixed schedule and a time in, time out schedule, I am more punctual without absences at this time.

Hopefully, I get to work on my planned Instagram and blog for Cebuano History and Culture.  That’s always been my dream:  to someday work on something that will make the ordinary Juan de la Cruz and the Bisayang Dako (like me) passionate, more aware and more knowledgeable about our local history.


*Photo mine – Taken at the Museo Parian sa Sugbo 1730 Jesuit House*



HANDOUTS (PDF and Word versions)

Dear LET Reviewees,

I am in the process of converting my PowerPoint files to Word versions.  Here is the first file I have converted.  It is a combination of the following files:  Society and Culture, 2Q1_Socialization, Maslow and Alderfer’s theories, Social Inequality and Cultural Assimilation & Diffusion.  Thank you!

*Other files to follow 🙂


PDF1_HANDOUT_Society & Culture_Jun 17

Word version:  HANDOUT_Society & Culture_Jun 17


PDF version:  PDF2_HANDOUT_Economics

Word version: HANDOUT_Economics


PDF version – PDF3_HANDOUT_Constitution

Word: HANDOUT_Constitution


Updated Social Studies (Gen. Ed.) files

Dear LET reviewees,

Here are some updated Gen. Ed. Social Studies files from yesterday’s lecture.  Feel free to download them.  God bless you and I’ll be praying for you as you study and prepare for the LET.  🙂 Phil Constitution articles1 Phil Constitution_final

2 State and Government

3 Rizal’s world

4 Society and Culture


6 Phil History _ Part 2

7 2Q.1_Socialization

8 Agrarian Reform & Taxation

9 CULTURE_Assimilation Diffusion

10 Economics

11 Maslow and Alderfer theories

Addendum:  12 Social Inequality:  Social Inequality





PDF_Agrarian Reform & Taxation

PDF_CULTURE_Assimilation Diffusion


PDF_Maslow and Alderfer theories

PDF_Phil Constitution_final

PDF_Phil History _ Part 2


PDF_Society and Culture

PDF_State and Government

PDF_Rizal’s world

PDF_Social Inequality


Maki-Uson din ako

I don’t know where to start. All I know is that my Facebook news feed is flooded with posts against the appointment of the blogger Mocha Uson to a government post.

What has become of us? But then again, is this a manifestation of postmodernism in our society today wherein the grand narrative of needing Civil Service eligibility, proper and extensive training in writing and communications can be done away with because the powers-that-be have written off the usual qualifications for this one?

Does this mean that I have to study the provisions for political appointees in the first place and stand corrected if, technically, the President is indeed entitled to appointing whoever he wishes to. Key words are “entitled” and “wish to”.

If that is the case then, I go to the issue of morality and propriety. Is is proper and fitting for a Mocha Uson to be appointed to a government for the simple reason that she is rabidly loyal and very pro-Duterte in her writings and stance? As the president pointed out, he appointed her out of “utang na loob” which, to me, is actually a detrimental Filipino cultural trait. In the name of “utang na loob” hundreds (if not thousands) of unqualified candidates have been given government posts or jobs because of it. The one who appoints owes them something — a debt of gratitude that cannot be paid in cash and must be paid only through a favor.

This and other questions run through my mind. Is this my UP arrogance (as some would contend) speaking when I call her out as unfit for the role of an Assistant Secretary simply because she does not look, talk, write or think like it? I still think that government leaders must have a modicum of propriety and proper training when appointed to office. But then again, if you look at many of our politicians today that seems to be a rare thing in politics these days.

TV shows would pale in comparison to Philippine politics today. Our politics and the politicians resemble that of a circus, a comedy of errors (to borrow from Shakespeare’s title) and a wrestling match. It’s both a sad and an amusing reality and way of life. But hey this is the Philippines where anything goes and nothing is impossible.

Just look at Mocha Uson and her being an Assistant Secretary.



Someone once asked me if I write.  I told him I write whenever I’m happy (very happy), sad and mad.  Today, I feel the latter emotion.  Mad and infuriated is more like it.  I had a very good day today at work — reading my journal articles and discussing history and life with a workmate — until I got on Facebook and saw all the posts about Sen. Sotto.  I was already disappointed and kind of mad knowing that Sec. Gina Lopez’ appointment was not approved by the Commission on Appointments.  And like adding salt to a wound, came Tito Sotto’s remarks about DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s civil status.

I wanted to lash out at him, at his supporters and even his family.  I wanted to tweet and post something vitriolic and harsh but something caught me.  It allowed me to think twice and see all these from the lens of history and from a social scientist.  What does it say about us as a society?

A thought just crossed my mind about how the Senator got into Congress.  He was elected by the masa (masses).  And so I thought about how his remark caused a furor on social media TODAY but tomorrow and in the years to come, will the masa learn from this incident or will they revert back to their short-term memory?  Just like how we treated the Marcoses, welcoming them back to power simply BECAUSE WE FORGAVE.  Will this incident be among those that will be chalked up as something “forgivable” instead of something to really THINK DEEPLY ABOUT and cause us to examine issues?

Yes, I wanted to post something harsh and bitter but then again what we are seeing right now is simply a mere reflection of us.  I might not have voted for him but the majority did seeing as he is part of the Senate right now.  It makes me think what I, as a History teacher, keep lamenting against:  that most of the Filipino DO NOT REALLY THINK DEEP AND HARD about Philippine politics, social issues and Philippine History.  What we care more are personalities and yes, money.  I sound harsh, cynical and bitter but this is the truth without its sugar coating.

Call me an intellectual snob and I am indeed one but this is precisely the reason why I chose to teach Philippine History when I was younger.  I dreamt that — someday — the masa would eventually learn to study History, think hard about politics and choose politicians who are full of integrity, wisdom, intelligence and a fear of God.  Sigh.

And while that remains a dream, I will keep talking about this in the classroom and calling on young people to think and study Philippine History as if their lives (and the future of the country) depend on it.


Sen. Sotto’s conversation with the DSWD Secretary

Sen. Sotto: On a lighter note, Secretary.  We’ve been looking at your personal information and found out that you have two children? Daughters ba or sons?

Sec. Taguiwalo: Yes, two daughters.

Sen. Sotto: But you’re single? (This question drew laughter from the room.)

Sec. Taguiwalo: I’ve never had a ‘normal’ family, if that’s how you call it, growing up.  But it’s a non-issue.

Sen. Sotto: Ah kasi sa amin, if you have kids, tapos wala kang asawa ang tawag diyan ‘na-ano lang’. (Drawing more laughter from the room.)

Sec. Taguiwalo: Senator, I teach women’s studies in UP.  The definition of a family also includes solo parents.  Thank you.


Social Studies Files

Hi LET Reviewees,

These are the files on General Ed. Social Studies.  You’re welcome to download them.  I will upload the PDF versions in a while.

A link to the Google Form docs for practice test will be “live” hopefully by the end of this week which is Friday.  Thank you for your patience!

God bless you as you prepare and take the LET! Will be praying for you guys!

Yen Cano

Phil History _ Part 2


Rizal’s world

Phil Constitution_final

State and Government

Agrarian Reform & Taxation


Maslow and Alderfer theories

Social Inequality



Assimilation Diffusion



PDF versions of these files

PDF_Agrarian Reform & Taxation


PDF_Phil Constitution_final

PDF_State and Government


PDF_Rizal’s world

PDF_Phil History _ Part 2

PDF_CULTURE_Assimilation & Diffusion

PDF_Maslow and Alderfer theories

PDF_Social Inequality


Lacking pdf version of Socialization and Types of Families but the powerpoint version is available – Check the ppt versions in the first part of this post.



Part 3: Refined in the Waiting

WARNING:  The waiting period is very challenging.  And in the waiting, God refines you and teaches you to just really surrender and trust Him.

I learned that on the day the September 2016 LET results came out.

It was our school librarian, Miss Bea, who called me up and told me that the LET results had already been released and our conversation went like this.

Bea:  “Miss, the LET results are out.”

Me:  “Oh my, really miss?  I’m scared.”

Bea:  “Do you want me to check the results for you?”

Me:  “Yes, please, if it’s okay with you, miss.”  (I put down the phone, praying and telling the Lord, “Ikaw na bahala, Lord, if I don’t make it.)

She calls after a minute or more.

Bea:  “Miss, you passed!”

Me:  “Huh? Bitaw, miss?  Basin naay laing O_____ C____.”

Bea:  “Di ba you’re middle name is P___?”

Me:  “Yes, miss.”

Bea:  “You passed, miss. Congratulations!”

I was still a bit nervous that time but it was no longer anxiety that I felt.  It was like a more settled feeling that pass or fail, God had my future in His hands. 🙂

Upon learning that I passed, I was so elated that I went out of the faculty office wanting to shout at the top of my lungs “Thank You, Lord!”  Of course, I did not shout.  I was in school.  The students in the hallway who had seen the funny expression on my face asked what had happened.  I had no words.

I did not even know at this point I had made it to the top 10.  I only knew I passed and for me I was already very grateful.  No words could describe my gratitude to God.  I knew it was a God-thing.

In my elation, I mistakenly went to another classroom to start classes after the bell had rung.  I was dazed.  After the class, I went back to the library to work on a school requirement and received a text from Teacher Jane telling me that our jokes about topping the board exam finally became true.

I did not get my friend Jane’s text and told her “Yeah, I wish.”  She replied with a “No, ‘Cher, this is not a joke.  You topped the board.  10th place.”  “What?”  I told her it was not a nice joke.  She told me to check my Facebook.  The librarian who had earlier checked the result said, “Oh no, miss, it’s really true” after she checked the LET results the nth time that day when I told her a friend of mine said that I made it to the 10th place.

The moment I confirmed the news, I rushed to our school’s fifth floor and there, near the school chapel, broke down in tears.  My first thought was, “Lord, thank You, this is for my parents.”

You see during the last week of studying, I only wanted to pass for my parents because they had assisted me financially in the preparations especially in buying different reviewers and other materials.

Had I studied straight for several months for the LET and answered all the required 10,000 questions, I would have attributed it to my superb intellectual prowess. Hah! But as I see it, it was all God’s grace and goodness.

I did what I had to do and gave God the rest, trusting in His wisdom and grace.

So as I end this, I give all the glory and praise to God for passing and making it to the 10th place.  This is all for His glory and for His honor.  I am just a vessel of His faithfulness, mercy and goodness.


10 Tips when Taking the Licensure Exam for Teachers

Passing the B.L.E.P.T. (Part 2)*

Last summer, it was my turn to sit in a class for a whole day and listen to the reviewers lecture.  Like any class I have been to, I was in a range of emotions.  From wide-eyed and “hungry” for more information and learning to down out almost a dozen coffee candies just to stay awake especially when the lectures were after lunch.  Still, I kept on.  I took notes and faithfully listed what the reviewers’ tips were.  You could probably say I followed them almost to a T except when the things I followed did not work for me.

To the one reading this, you’ve probably searched for the key words or tags in this post because you’re preparing for the LET September 2017 exam.  And if you’re like me, I want to be informed FIRST before I dive in.  I’m cautious like that.  I want to study first and know what I’m getting into before plunging in.  So I’ll write 10 things that worked for me in this post and feel free to add your top 5 or top 10 for you that worked for your study sessions.

Know.  Position yourself.  Download.  Show up.  Prepare.  Answer tests.  Take notes.  Read.  Pray.  Team up.

1.  KNOW – After I enrolled in a review course, I searched the net using key phrases like “how to study for the LET”, “how to top the LET”, “tips for studying the LET”, “tips for topping the LET”, “tips to top the board exam” and similar topics.  I’m a geek so what works for me is information.  I listed tips that appealed to me and something that I could work on and bookmarked articles and blog posts about passing and topping the LET.  I searched for the TOS (Table of Specifications) for the Licensure Exam as well as the topics.

One important sub-topic to KNOWING was knowing one’s self.  What I mean by this was after listing the topics I needed to study, I took note of the topics I was still familiar with from my basic education and college years and took note of the topics that I know I am not good at and usually have a hard time studying them.  One of them is Math.  That said, I searched the net for sites that simplified Math topics and lectures.  I answered quizzes and read the rationalizations.  One website which was very helpful to me was Khan Academy.  I logged in on Khan and watched several Math videos and solved problems with the help of their “clues” and prompts.  I took the long road because I knew it was an Achilles’ heel of mine.

2.  POSITION YOURSELF — Look for a place that is conducive to studying for you.  If you’re a learner that can absorb knowledge well in a silent place, look for a public library or a study cafe.  Since I’m a mix of a learner, I came up with places that I knew worked for me.  If on that day, I wanted to study with the buzz of the crowd, wanting the crowd’s energy and company to motivate me, I’d go to a Starbucks (I liked their Escario, Colon and SM branches) and study there.  The Cebu City Rizal Public library is also a good place to study and it’s free.

If on a certain day, I wanted to study in a place that was quieter along with other students who craved the silence, my go-to place was Omou Think Cafe at Raintree Mall. They also have a branch in Ramos where Dessert Factory is located. It’s right across Velez Hospital.  For P15.00 per hour, I would study there for 3-4 hours depending on my attention span.  After 3 days of studying there, I learned that paying them good for a week was more pocket-friendly and saved a few pesos and came with a locker too.

3.  DOWNLOAD — Download productivity and timer apps as well as LET Review apps.  I have a very short attention span.  The first time I really sat down to study, I only lasted for 30 minutes.  I could not study for 3 hours straight. After reading a few blog posts for tips, I noticed that some of them mentioned some productivity and timer apps like Pomodoro and there was this one app (the name I forgot) that recorded your work sessions and gave you stars when you clocked in a certain number of minutes.  Seeing the number of work sessions and hours I was clocking in spurred me on.  These apps helped me study for 3-4 hours straight with 5-10 minute breaks on the net, on Facebook or Twitter.

4.  SHOW UP — Attend review classes, take notes and list tips.  This one worked for me during the summer time (May 2016) when I wasn’t too overwhelmed with the paperwork and requirements of being a teacher.  I took notes from my classes especially in the afternoons so I’d stay awake.  Almost after review session, reviewers would give some of their tips and I’d list them all and see what worked for me.

5.  PREPARE — When I say prepare, this is not only about studying.  Most of my reviewers told us to prepare for the board exam emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.  If you had test anxiety like me, you’d have to make a firm resolve to let go, give your anxiety to God and trust in Him.  It was a conscious decision on my part especially after the pre-board and mock exams since I got failing marks in my Gen. Education and Prof. Education tests and got only a passing mark in my major which is Social Studies.

It was after I took these mock exams that I decided that I’d have to let go or else the fear would eat me up.  I started to change tack after this.  I concentrated on answering test questions with a timer, READ (I followed the reviewers’ tip) and read a lot and, most of all, I relaxed.  I found out that I absorbed the lessons more when I wasn’t that pressured that much.

6.  ANSWER TESTS AND TIME YOURSELF — This one I did a month and a half before the LET.  I realized that I was still a long way from finishing all my topics in the TOS so I did what I could with the limited time I had.  I answered questions with a timer.  I did this especially for my Waterloo:  Math.  I timed myself to answer 20 questions in 10 minutes and recorded my scores.  I told myself that in the next test I’ll take, both the time it took me to answer and the score I had should have improved.  It was discouraging at first but if you keep on doing this, you’d see results and see your scores improve.  If there wasn’t any improvement in the series of tests that day, I’d study the rationalizations again and answer another group of questions on another day.  I’d switch to another subject to help avoid “subject boredom”.

7.  TAKE NOTES — I’m old-fashioned so that means I like taking notes not electronically but writing notes on notebooks and index cards.  The latter I would usually bring during commuting from Liloan to the city because it helped one forget the heat and the traffic while sitting in a multicab or in a jeep.  I chose index cards because it was easier and lighter to bring and easier to flip and organize by subject.  I usually used this for the Professional Education topics like the NCBTS and the RAs (Republic Acts).

8.  READ — One of the reviewers told us that during the LET, it was imperative that one be able to read as fast as she can and answer.  Read with comprehension and answer quickly because of the time given.  She told us to read not just our reviewers and readings but mostly books and to read them with comprehension and critical thinking. This was one of my favorite tips.  I faithfully followed this using it as an excuse to read novels like James Patterson books and other novels from the school library. 🙂  If in the past I read for leisure, in this period, I made sure to read at a shorter time than my usual reading time.

I also read the textbooks I was using for my Grade 7 & 11 classes in Asian Studies and Understanding Culture and Society.  I read the lessons and also scanned test questions that came out in my Grade 11s’ Filipino, Personal Development and Statistics subjects just so that I’d get an idea how questions in these subjects would be formulated.

9.  PRAY — I cannot overemphasize this enough.  As I wrote in the first part, preparing for the LET made me a more prayerful person and I could say humbler from that experience because you know it was something you could not control.  There were a lot of factors involved.  Once I learned to humble myself, ask God for guidance even in studying (for grace to have a longer attention span), I was not as afraid as I was during the first few months of the review.

10.  TEAM — Like anything in life, you need a “life team” in your LET journey.  By team I mean people who pray for you, encourage you and give you tips.  Those that have gone before you.  I was blessed to have a very supportive family.  I mean really supportive — emotionally, through prayers, sometimes even financially and sometimes through gentle rebukes and reminders to study.

I had teacher friends and friends from work and church who lent reviewers (like teacher Jane and miss Bea), cheered me on and prayed for me before, during and even while waiting for the results.  Even my boss, Dr. Po, prayed for me one day as she called me aside and asked if the results had come out.  I told her I was still waiting and told her I might not make it.  She prayed for me and she prayed for mercy and peace.

*Notes for a review session for LET September 2017 and written for the batch of examinees this coming September


Passing the B.L.E.P.T.

PASSING THE Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (B.L.E.P.T.)
(Thoughts during this review season for the Sep 2017 exam)
Part 1

It’s LET review season this summer. Education graduates fresh out of school will be flocking in droves to different review centers nationwide to study, prepare and review for the upcoming September 2017 exam. I’ve been asked by some to share some tips for passing and topping the board and I’ll be sharing this in one review center next week. At first, I would easily tell you that I probably took the LET at the right time and at the right circumstances. But now as I ponder and think about the choices I made on the road to taking the LET, I realize that it was not so much about chance and serendipity but more about making the right choices, having a strategy and PRAYING – and I mean, lots of praying.

You see I’ve always been scared of failure. I avoid getting low scores and failing marks whether it’s in a quiz, a major exam or even in life. But I realized that preparing for an exam also means looking at the two possible outcomes when you take that test. As my dad told me after I had shared with him my fears, “’nak, you’ll never pass an exam you DIDN’T TAKE. You first have to take that exam. So what if you fail. It does not make you less of a person.” Those words reassured me and allowed me to let go. And by letting go, I started to relax and rely more on God than on what I thought I knew or know.

First thing I did was to PRAY. I prayed for wisdom, strength and most of all, courage and peace because I was so scared. Petrified is more like it. There were times that my mind would blank out for seconds in a review session because I was so scared of failing. You could say that the LET season and the review sessions made me a more prayerful person. 🙂 I would – almost every week – write a prayer request for my LET exam at Victory but would not put my real name just a part of my name or my nickname.

I had the distinct disadvantage of graduating four years before I took the LET. That wasn’t so reassuring if you come to think of it because I knew I needed to take a refresher course. Thankfully, I wasn’t required to but I enrolled in a review course nonetheless. To make it more challenging, most of – if not all – my classmates were fresh graduates so they remembered most of the lessons while I, on the other hand, had to go look for my DPE notes, books and readings and try to remember my instructors’ lectures. Good thing I took notes in my classes and kept them along with my DPE stuff. I prayed hard because I had the disadvantage of age and time.

To add to my test anxiety was the fact that I got barely a passing mark in the pre-board exam and in the mock exam. For example, if 120 was the passing mark, I only got 115. So I changed tack after I took my first mock exam in Gen. Ed. I realize that if I wanted to PASS (I had already changed my prayer and my wish from topping to passing), I would have to score higher than the passing mark. If the board required 75% for me to pass, I should get at least an 80%. Our reviewers kept hammering on us that the September board exam was very competitive. Most of the March graduates take the September board exam. You had to have a very high score to be able to match the others’ scores.

{To be continued}