About Me

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I am a special educator who has recently relocated to Manila. One of my goals for this year is learn more about early childhood education and special education in the Philippines. I have been visiting schools and therapy centers (among others) and providing info here about them. I do not aim to endorse these different centers/schools, but my intention is to provide information in case some people are interested in learning more about them.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A day at DepEd and Virlanie Foundation

            I went to see Mirla Olores, the head of the Special Education division of the Department of Education, yesterday.  She was kind enough to share what they have been busy with and to give me a general idea what they are planning to do in the coming year.  Basically they are working on curriculum, training for teachers, and advocacy or informing the community/families about children with special needs so that they can support them and get the necessary services.

             Also learned that the Special Education division has been around for more than a hundred years.  Wow.  

              This is a link to the DepEd SPED site - it hasn't been updated but you can get a general idea of the vision, philosophy, goals and objectives and functions of the SPED division.

          Right after that visit I went straight to the offices of the Virlanie Foundation, Inc. in Makati.  I wanted to take pictures when we went to their different houses (and they said it was okay) but somehow felt uncomfortable about doing so. Instead, I am relying on pics and a video from their multiply and Facebook accounts and posting them here.  Thanks Lyn Garcia (from HR) for taking the time to take me around.

Virlanie has various homes depending on the child's age and needs.  There are also homes for unwed mothers and their babies, for juvenile delinquents and a home for abused children. Click on the links below to find out more.

The man in the pictures, if I am not mistaken, is Dominique Le May (?) who started it all 18 years ago.  It is amazing how much he has accomplished in such short a time.  I was also very touched, very impressed by the foreign volunteers they had there who were speaking in Tagalog, no less.

In awe of the people who work there and their dedication.  Heartbreaking to see the children, especially the young ones.  

2010 Virlanie Video

2010 Virlanie Video

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


   I have never been, (and still am not), a long-term planning person.  Most people get into their careers by planning ahead for it, by getting into the right course in college and applying for a job in a good company.  I kind of, stumbled, into my career and was fortunate enough to find that it was something I really wanted to do.  
             In 1993 I was almost done with college and had to do a practicum course which I ended up doing it at special education school close to where I live.  I did not have any background in special education or special needs children, all I had was a desire to work with children. Little did I know how much that experience would change my life. 
             After that practicum experience, I stayed on with that school for about 6 yearsand eventually left to go to graduate school in the US.  I  worked for the public school system where I taught a preschool class (3 - 5 years old) for children with autism for nearly 8 years.  
         Most people are amazed when I tell them what I do and the reaction is always the same “You must be so patient!” or “ The kids must be so lucky to have you as their teacher.”  The reactions always made me a little bit uncomfortable and I thought it was kind of funny - primarily because I have always felt so fortunate to be able to do something that gives me so much.
             Working with kids with autism is not an easy thing to do, and there have been times I have been (nearly) brought to tears because of the frustration of dealing with different situations and issues.  But there is so much more to working with these kids and their families and I struggle with trying to put it all down in writing.  
             For one, I can truly say that I have never, EVER had a boring day at work.  Each day is filled with stories of each child’s efforts to communicate and play, their little behavioral quirks and there is just so much to do (in a five hour class) that I hardly have time to stop and get bored.  Being there when a child starts to communicate, whether with sign language, pictures or speech - never gets old :).  Being there when a child starts communicating spontaneously - even better.  Seeing the pleasure on a child’s face when he /she sees me in the morning or when he/she says my name can still take my breath away (mushy I know, but true).  When a child starts showing interest in playing with other kids, I am as proud as can be, and I don’t stop being proud of them - even when they are grown and in elementary school.
                 I have also been blessed to have been able to work with some of the most dedicated and caring and determined parents I have ever known in my life.  These parents may not have all these letters after their names, may not have all these degrees, but they are certainly some of the most passionate, knowledgeable, educated and understanding people I have known.  Without a doubt they are the experts in their children and on autism and always want what is best for them. It is difficult not to get emotionally involved when you see how much is at stake for them and for their families.  In working with them I found that, I didn’t always have to have all the answers (nobody does) - ultimately they just needed me to do the best I could and sincerely be there for their child and their family.  
           I have also been fortunate to have experienced working with some of the most dedicated professionals in my field.  We may not have had literature published or may not be well known in the bigger world of special education, but we were the rock stars of special education in our school district (whether they acknowledge it or not). We may have, on occasion, been called troublemakers :) - but it was always for the benefit of the children that we served.  A lot of hard work and a LOT of heart goes into giving the children what they need to grow and learn. 
             I may have given a lot of time, effort and love in teaching my students (or “my kids” as I would call them) and in supporting their families. But I am also only able to do this because it has contributed so much to my growth as a person, as a human being, that it is only right that I do so.  
          The fact that I am passionate about working with kids with autism and thoroughly enjoy what I do - no matter how much it drives me crazy at times -  is just an added blessing.  

 Bambi Rodriguez
 Early Childhood Special Education teacher
 February 9, 2011

“Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
 Harvey Mackay (this quote is also attributed to Confucius and Jim Fox)

Dateline article

This is worth reading.  Sadly enough, Jay is one of many, many more that have yet to be identified.


Bahay Kubo

Today I met up with Patricia Centeno, an early childhood intervention specialist who studied and worked in Melbourne, Australia.  I enjoy talking to people who are in the same field and who speak the same "language" (early childhood special ed) as I do :).

Her center is not fully operational yet, but she provides intervention on a case to case basis.

The pictures on the gate were drawn by Pat's brother.

Music/circle area with boardmaker pictures on the wall for communication. 


Open !  So kids can request for materials / toys instead of having easy access to everything.

Table and chairs for dramatic play and table top activities 

Thanks to Mobsy Carino for introducing me to Pat!  I am really looking forward to collaborating more with her :).

Early Intervention Specialist: Patricia Centeno
Address: 13 K-2nd street, Kamuning, QC
Phone: (02) 9263801
mobile: (63) 9064333145
Email: ourbahaykubo@gmail.com
Website: www.ourbahaykubo.com

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kids First Early Childhood Intervention

Got to go on another school visit last Friday.  There was more focus on early intervention and I was really excited to meet up with Jet Manalo, their Early Childhood Intervention coordinator.  
Thanks to TinTan and RJ Quiroz for setting up last Friday's visit!

The door to Kids First.

One of the classrooms. The windows look out into the streets of Madrigal Business Center.

Another pic with the flash this time.

This is the next door classroom.

If I am not mistaken this is the Toddler classroom.

Room for OT activities.  Loved the climbing wall.

Romp room for music and movement activities.

Kids first provides programs for toddlers and preschoolers and also has an early intervention program for kids with special needs.  They also have therapists on site (OT and Speech) which allows for easier team collaboration.There was lots of space to move around and play.  They also had smaller rooms for speech therapy and assessment.  Thanks Jet for letting me visit and take pictures as well.  Sorry again for being so incredibly late for the meeting (most people will tell you I am hardly ever late for anything).  All I can say is, the south really isn't my stomping ground :).

For more information on Kids First and their program offerings, please see below:

Contact persons: Jennifer Teves Manalo (Early childhood intervention coordinator) 
Vanessa Morales-Balquiedra (Educational administrator)

Address: G/f Venture Bldg., Market cor. Prime streets
Madrigal Business Park, Muntinlupa city
emails: kidsfirstdiscoveryspace@yahoo.com

Telephone numbers:7033545/5563887

Here is a link to an article on the Manila Bulletin about Kids first:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CREATE and Learning Paths School

Got to visit yet another school today.  I was able to go to CREATE and Learning Paths School in Merville and got to observe a class being run by their school head/directress Teacher Tin Canon.
Thanks to Randy and Ting Bello who set up this visit for me :). 

In front of the school.

Sandbox with lots of sand toys.

Cubbies with boxes with their belongings.

I have never seen a mat like this before.  It rolls out and the kids can crawl or walk on it.  Sounds fun for sensory integration activities.

Garage converted into an outdoor play area.

The objective is to match a little figure/toy to the corresponding label and learning to walk on the balance beam at the same time.

From a better angle.

In the classroom.

Circle area and materials on the side.

Pictures on the bathroom door.

Indoor play area 

Water tables

Outdoor easels behind the school

A mixture of flour, water and paint = fun! What I've learned as a preschool teacher is that some of the best activities are the simplest and ones involving the cheapest materials around :).

classroom rules

Hallway murals

CREATE has classes for Toddlers (1.6 - 2.5) up to Prep (5.6 to 6.1), as well as Tutorial, intervention and  homeschool programs for preschool up to high school students.  

Director: Kristin V. Canon
Address: 29 Calcutta Street, Merville Park, Paranaque City
Telefax: 828-83-80
website: www.clpschools.com
email: create@clpschools.com

St. Uriel's therapy Clinic

I just liked the Jack o'Lantern mobile and the spider web art :).

They provide PT, OT and sped tutorials.  They share the place with Read-ability, a center that focuses on reading programs.

I observed the OT, Teacher Julie, play a game ala "Pinoy Henyo" (is that how you spell it?) with a kid.  It was fun watching him learn social skills, learning about categories and having fun at the same time :). Also realized there is something to be learned from Pinoy game shows and pop culture.  I guess I have to start watching TV ;).

St. Uriel's Therapy clinic
Address: Door no. 4, Dr. Teresita Santos Apartments, Kalayaan Village,
San Fernando, Pampanga
email: St.urielstherapyclinic@gmail.com

Golden Harvest Institute of Learning

The second visit was at Golden Harvest Institute of Learning in San Fernando, Pampanga. The school has toddler to Grade 6 classes.

They have a separate classroom for the special ed kids in the elementary school level.

They were working on their Filipino language skills while we were there.

Pangnagdaan and pangkasalukuyan.

Materials in the Toddler classroom.

More toys

They were doing attendance (while drawing the kids) and the kids asked their teacher to draw their baby  bottles in too.

The 3's room.

We got to talk to Teacher Bonet (not sure about the spelling of that) but I was impressed about how they work together with other professionals in the field - not necessarily in the same school - Neurodevelopmental pediatrician, OT, PT and speech , to address kids needs.  They are not a sped school but when they observe that a child may have concerns, they make the proper referrals and work as a team. 

Address: 150 Don Francisco Street, St. Francis Village, San Fernando, Pampanga
Telephone numbers: (045) 961-4912 / 961-7758 
Fax number: (045) 961-3319
Email: goldenharvestcsfp@yahoo.com