Wednesday, May 30

Featured in The Star - 30 May 2012

Note: click on the picture to read the article
I just arrived in KK from the Philippines when I received a text from a good friend of mine exclaiming, "You are a star!" Bewildered, I replied with a "What?!".

About a week ago, I answered an email interview from a journalist at The Star, Mdm Tan EeLoo. This is her article about me. I DID NOT WRITE THIS ARTICLE.
The adjectives & descriptions are her own opinions of me & my work.

When I got home to Kuching, I flipped open my dad's copy of the newspaper. Lo & behold, there I was in colour! I look so good... Photoshop really does wonders.
You can also read it online here.

In the larger photo is my colleague, Royston Sihas, who is a work machine completing tasks & assignments like a robot on steroids giving 100 & 10 percent all the time!
I have grown to appreciate & welcome his presence in our struggle for literacy amongst the students. We are like-minded when it comes to our profession.

I am very proud of my work but I do not seek publicity for it. I do not think that I am any more creative than the average teacher. I am just doing my best in the worst situation.
Anyway, I'm too tired to think too much or write too much about this.
Just can't wait to read what EeLoo has to say this Sunday!

Tuesday, May 15

Happy Teacher's Day To Me! I Got APC!

taken from
It's funny.
When I had a lot of work to do, very few wanted to help me. Now that I've got APC & $1000, SO MANY want to help me.
Nope. They still don't want to help me work. They actually want to help me do the hardest thing of all... BELANJA THEM!
Reminds me of the story of the Little Red Hen.

Anugerah Perkhidmatan Cermerlang might be a meaningless, overrated & turn-based award other laureates don't have to break a sweat over. But for me, it is the recognition of my trading in the best 4 years of my life for overexertion doing who-cares-what in the middle of nobody-knows-where.
I worked very hard & I earned every bit of it from the years of tears, blood & sweat.

Anyway, I'm only going to belanja those who've suffered with me along the way. The haters & lazers won't even get the crumbs.
Those who have supported me & suffered with me throughout the years: Clement Chieng, Florin Peter, ChaiYee, Brown Jantom, ZinnFei, Gomez Das, Royston Sihas, Tang Pilip, Orben John, Wesley Luke, Victor, Katheen, Dangkan, Marcus & Joe.

In retrospect, this award means nothing.
I am still a nobody. A slave. A worker. A white-collar salary earner.
Therefore, I dedicate this award to those of you in SMK Katibas who have wholeheartedly served the students with me.
We work for the students. Not for recognition.

To those of you out there who are still working hard without recognition, I salute you.
Knowing myself & my frustrations, I'd have gone crazy if someone who contributed lesser than me got the award before me.
As you can see, I still have much to learn about true humility, sacrifice & service.

Even though I got this award, I still don't feel satisfied.
Lollipop Logic ain't gonna work on me, no sir.
I'd trade this award any day to make conditions at my school better for the teachers who are actually doing work.
What frustrates teachers the most is not large amounts of work but meaningless work & unnecessary administrative obstacles in their way.

Happy Teacher's Day!!
Instead of another feel good slogan nobody understands, the theme for next year should be: hardworking teachers deserve better.
taken from

Sunday, May 13

Hostel Olympics 2012: Games @ SMK Katibas

I've never shared this event on my blog before & since it's a big event organised by the smallest but most hardworking board of the school, I thought I should pay tribute to the effort put in by a few key individuals with big hearts.
Not enough is being done by the system to recognise small people who actually do things that make a big difference. They usually endorse big events with big budgets that bear little fruit. Doesn't make sense? Well, think of it as a big shiny rug where all the **** gets swept under.

I could go on & on but that's not important.
Life goes on & somebody has got to be the mule.
Some people have the yoke forced on them.
Very few choose to grab the yoke & put it on themselves.
Are they fools for doing so? Ask the students.

Background Information
Our school has never had Sports Day & since every student is a hostel student, the incumbent Chief Warden took the initiative to organise a sports event for the students in 2010. It was a huge success.
When I became Chief Warden in 2011, I decided to continue the tradition.

The SMK Katibas Hostel Olympics has been held annually for the past 3 years. The main objective is to find & develop athletes to represent the school. Secondary objectives include: team building, promoting active lifestyles, JERIS & exposing students to different sports. It has been conducted in 2 phases:

  1. Games - May
  2. Track & Field - October
This year, the students were equally divided into 4 Houses of different colours by yours truly.
I made sure that each house had an equal amount of school athletes & students of each Form. (Not lopsided as it was under the incumbent who was bent on winning everything & anything by hook or by crook! hahaha~~)

This year, the students participated in 4 games.
Boys: Futsal, Volleyball & Sepak Takraw.
Girls: Futsal, Volleyball & Netball.
Previously, we also had Handball for both genders & 12-a-side Football for the boys instead of Futsal.

Each team accumulates points for their house according to their position in the individual competitions.
The houses will be ranked via their total points from the Games tournament as well as the Track & Field tournament.
During the Hostel Dinner at end of the year, the overall winners are announced with a big hamper for every house.

Hostel Olympics 2012: Games
Launched by the Principal on a Friday afternoon, the games continued until Sunday afternoon.
Yes, no weekend for us mules.
Boys' Futsal
The boys were really good at futsal & it was very enjoyable to watch.
Boys' Volleyball
Volleyball was of a very high quality as well.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see a few trouble-maker students who had never played volleyball before put down their ego to play in the team, embarrass themselves & encourage each other to stay focused. Sports really does build character.
Sepak Takraw
Not as many aerial stunts as would be expected but one student could do it particularly well & it was a joy to watch him defy gravity. Made me want to do it too!
Girls' Futsal
I've always found it amusing to watch girls play futsal.
I just LOLed through most of it. Lots & lots of fundamental fumbles.
Girls' Volleyball
Volleyball was a lot better. Some of the girls could dig very well.
However, you still get the blur case who constantly misses the ball completely or daydreams. In the end, she'll get really afraid of the ball & a team-mate has to rush in to rescue her. LOL.
Probably the most aggressive game in the tournament. The girls were really muscling each other & giving it their all.
In the end, the team with the tallest girls won. Unfortunately, I happened to put them all in the same house. Not mine though so don't blame me for being unfair. It was their luck. Plus, the kids here are short.
The Mules
From left: Me (Chief Warden), Gomez (PKKK), ZinnFei (Organising Chairperson), Flo (Prefects), Tim (Cameraman), Suan (Referee) & Orben (Referee)
For the Games tournament, my house was on top of the table.
Obviously, I invested so much into them. We started training way before any other house did. I set a target with them before the tournament. I told them early on what mindset they should bring into the games. I cheered them on all the way. I rewarded them for their hardwork even before the results were announced. I could see a difference in my students.
We deserved to win.
And now, to conquer the Track & Field tournament in October!

Saturday, May 5

Earth Hour 2012 @ SMK Katibas

Most of my readers will remember the Earth Hour event I conducted personally last year.
Following its success, I decided to have another this year. This time, I delegated it to one of my wardens.
He did a good job where the students enjoyed themselves but he could have done more to raise awareness on environmental issues.
Well, that's just knit-picking. I should be glad when anything gets done outside office hours at my school!

Anyway, I'll let the pictures do more of the sharing!

Earth Hour Concert
All the students were gathered into a hall to sing songs & listen to our Katibas Idol winners belt out of a few ballads.

Night & Day
After I became Chief Warden, I'd usually drop my DSLR into the hands of a student & tell him/her to knock him/herself out.
The results were usually... horrible... esp the framing. No creativity at all!
Also, there would be an excess of vanity shots (portraits of other students) instead of event shots. Kids... typical.
I took the low-light shots personally. They turned out magnificent!

Students loved the candles & enjoyed themselves tremendously.
At 8pm, the school generators were switched off for an hour.
The students were given a candle each & divided into 4 groups.
Their task was to arrange themselves into a large icon for 1Malaysia.
And I thought this was an Earth Hour event? hahaha~~~

I noticed that the group with the academically weakest students were able to listen to their leader & they finished way before the others.
The group with the academically better students had difficulty following instructions & some showed unhappiness that their ideas were not accepted. Ego.
That's why teachers enjoy teaching weaker students. They are willingly malleable.
Smarter students think that they know everything. You have to twist their arms to teach them. Not mutually enjoyable.

The 4 Groups
This was the result. Pretty impressive, eh?
The important thing was that the students had a blast & every student had a chance to participate!
Kudos to the organising teacher, Asraf.

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