When there's nothing left, don't give up: A story of a Filipino teacher in the Kingdom of Thailand

I just recently met the author of this site and we exchanged pleasantries on facebook. It started when I’ve read in SWD Kapamilya’s Facebook wall that he was asking people if someone happens to know the first Filipino guy who was featured in ajarn.com’s "Help and Guides/Cost of Living" page. So I hit him with a message and introduced myself as the Pinoy in that article. Lo and behold, we just discovered that we were working in the same province. We did meet a couple of times before as far as I remember when I recognized  his pictures on Facebook with his family. We’ve met at church but never said any word to each other.

To make the story short, I was asked if I could do a bit of a blog about my life in Thailand as it may inspire other Filipinos who are losing hopes and having troubles finding work. There is really nothing special about me. I am just an ordinary Pinoy working hard for my family just like everyone else. But anyhow, here it goes.

I did have a good job back home, having a salary higher than what I am getting here. I do have a son whom I love so much, but things just changed and personal problems just made my life miserable. So I embarked on a flight on the 2nd of June 2013, a few days after my son’s 2nd birthday. I needed to escape from my situation back home.

I arrived in Bangkok in the middle of the night and a friend of mine who was already working here picked me up at the airport. I stayed with him while I was looking for a job. It never crossed my mind to work in a province as I would like to have one in the capital city of Thailand. But it seemed not a good time to look for work as the semester had already started and all the schools were filled up. Three months passed and still got nothing. I did some extra classes though, but it was not enough for me and I was running out of money. I only had 200 dollars left so I decided to have it exchanged. However, it was nowhere to be found. I was frantically losing my mind as it was the remaining money I have. It was stolen from my bag which I always leave inside our apartment. Everything crumbled. I was down to a measly 1,000 baht on my 3rd month. 

I was about to give up, but I can’t even purchase a ticket to go back home. So, even against my will and having no other choice, I accepted a job from an agency to work at Ubon Ratchathani. Coming from not wanting to work in a province was an exact opposite of what happened to me. I worked in a far flung province just near the border of Laos. It was so far that I have to take the sleeper bus from Mochit bus station.

I was offered a contract with a salary of 17,000 baht and 3,000 baht accommodation. And because I didn’t have enough money left, I asked the agency if I could have an advance of 2,000 baht, and they obliged. I was then working in a government school teaching English to Mathayom level. After a week of teaching, the agency called me up and told me that they will relocate me to another province in Isaan the following week as the school where I was at wanted a Native Englsh speaker for a teacher. Having been so stressed with my situation and the visa exits every 15 days to Cambodia( I never went to Laos for a visa run as I was saving my money and tightening my belt), I thought of give up again, but I still accepted the next job offer.

On the next weekend, I traveled to Chaiyaphum where I stayed for the next two months. I had never imagined that I would be working in such a remote place. There were no 7/11 stores, the school was in the middle of miles and miles of rice fields, and I was the only foreigner in town. I was about to give up for the nth time but I gave it another shot and reassured myself that I would just be doing this for 2 months, and that my agency will move me to another place. I had my first birthday alone in Chaiyaphum. It was one of those days that you want nothing but to sleep early to fast forward the day and forget it was a special day. Days have passed and I’ve learned to love the community. The locals were so nice and I felt that they really needed me there to teach their kids. 

As I am nearing my second month, I was searching for jobs in ajarn.com and I found an International school looking for a Science teacher (I do have a Science degree and a masters). I applied for it and after finishing the contract with my recent school, I landed a job as a Science teacher in Phitsanulok. It was a turn of event for me. My salary was more than I expected, twice of what I had before. The school also issued me a Macbook pro. On top of that, I was just teaching 12 hours a week to a maximum of 7 students in a class. What else could I ask for?

As I was about to finish my second year and was ready to sign a new contract, the owner of the school decided not to have me renewed as well as one farang teacher. We were just given a month’s notice to pack our things. We then left and bid goodbye. We were not given any reason on why we were shipped out. I was again losing hope and was planning to just go back home and end my stint as an OFW. But still, I gave it another shot and applied for other jobs. Many schools contacted me but they were only offering between 25,000- 30,000. I didn’t accept any as I know my worth; confident that I deserve a better pay. I already purchased a flight ticket back home for July 27th in case no better offers will come my way. A week before my flight though, a company run by a farang called me up for an interview, and guess what, I was offered more than what I was expecting. More than what I had from my previous school. What a luck! Everytime I feel giving up, something good comes up.

As of this writing, I am now working in Surat thani. I just moved a couple of weeks ago, and I think this is the place for me which I can call home for now. But of course, I still don’t know what the future holds. My employer now is a foreigner who treats us well and knows what we Filipinos are capable of. My flight from Bangkok going here was paid by the company and my visa was also covered by them. Now, I think I am on the right track. I feel at ease and happier.

With all the times of wanting to give up, I just prayed and ask our Lord God for guidance and strength to overcome the problems and thanking him for all the good things he had given me. He always answer our prayers. He might not give it at the time we want it but it is always at his time and at the right time. All I can say is, everything happens for a reason and good things will come to those who wait as long as you believe in yourself that you are worth more than what others think of you.

Filipino guy featured on ajarn.com last year was actually the guy I've seen many times

Perhaps you are wondering as to who the Filipino ajarn.com featured on its "Help and Guides/Cost of Living" page last year. Even myself wondered too but not until I personally have the chance to exchange pleasantries with him last night. But before that, let me share some more information about our guy.

He was the first and I think the only Filipino to be given a spotlight on the website. It may be just nothing for some, but I personally consider that as something. Why is that? because his story was a breath of fresh air.

According to the article, this Filipino teacher named Richard puts "plenty of farang teachers to shame" because of the salary he receives. If you haven't seen the article yet, I suggest you click the link below. You'll see his entire conversation with Phil, the ajarn.com's owner.

I thought he will remain just a "Filipino guy featured on ajarn.com" and his identity will stay hidden. But when I posted the article on SWD Facebook group asking for any information that could lead me in unearthing the truth about him, guess what, our guy in question personally sent a message and introduced himself to me on Facebook.

Unbeknown to me, I've already seen Richard many times in Phitsanulok. He attended church services sitting on the opposite side of the row. When I first saw him, I initially thought he was Thai. We haven't had a conversation. In fact, I haven't heard his voice as he seemed to be reclusive. One minute he was there, the other he was gone. So, when I saw his profile pic, I immediately recognized him. 

We talked about his experience as well as my own in the kingdom. And in fact, he allowed me to share on this blog his down moments and the battles he won. I was moved by his story as it was similar to mine. I'm sure a lot of Filipinos can get strength and inspiration from his experiences to not give up on the battle and continue fighting. But perhaps the thing that I will most remember about him, Sir Richard isn't so reclusive after all. 

PS: His story, written personally by him, will be posted here soon. 

Elephant kills keeper, runs away to the jungle with Chinese tourists on its back

Chiang Mai, Thailand - Elephant riding as a tourist attraction is in hot water once again after an elephant attacked and later killed its keeper in Chiang Mai. 

According to the police, the elephant went berserk on Wednesday during a group ride. It then attacked and killed the elephant keeper before running away with a Chinese family (father, mother and their young child) still on its back in the jungle.

Tourists enjoying the elephant ride in Phuket

The incident took place at 9:30 am local time. He (referring to the mahout) wasn't familiar with the elephant, the police added.

The terrified Chinese tourists were soon rescued when the other mahouts arrived. 

PNoy Orders Bureau of Customs' Physical Inspection Of Balikbayan Boxes To A Halt

The voices of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), the modern day heroes of the Philippines screaming to the government particularly to the Bureau of Customs to stop their inspection of each "balikbayan" boxes, was heard with bang. Perhaps the sound made by OFW's was so loud there's nothing for the government to do but yield. 

In a report made by GMA NewsPresident Benigno Aquino III has given instructions for the Bureau of Customs to stop the physical inspections of balikbayan boxe unless X-ray and K-9 examinations give rise to suspicions that they contain prohibited items.


President Benigno Aquino lll together with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and the Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, met on Monday afternoon and decided for the agency in question to stop their physical inspection of the modern day "love letter" of an OFW to his/her family in the Philippines.

Balikbayan boxes should undergo mandatory X-ray and K-9 examination for free to the OFW, said in a statement by Department of Finance. 

However, a physical inspection will be made if there are derogatory findings from the X-ray or K-9 examination, it added.

It can be recalled that the Bureau of Customs received a never-ending bash from netizens but more so from OFWs, telling them that the BOC is preying and milking our modern day heroes because of greed and their love for corruption. They likened the agency to a crocodile who seem to have an insatiable appetite from things our OFWs worked hard for. 

Filipino Lecturers in Phitsanulok Receive Invites To Facilitate CEFR Workshops For English Teachers

Thailand started to align their English language teaching this school year with the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR), an international standard for describing language ability. CEFR was put together by the Council of Europe as the main part of the project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" between 1989 and 1996. 

The CEFR structure is used to evaluate communicative language ability of learners in four different skills; reading, writing, speaking and listening. It is divided into 3 levels; basic users (Level A), independent users (Level B) and proficient users (Level C). See table below.

Earlier this year, the Minsitry of Education has set the following English language proficiency targets for students in Thailand.
  • By the end of Prathom 6 (Grade 6) students should have reached A1 proficiency
  • By the end of Mathayom 3 (Grade 9) students should have reached A2 proficiency
  • By the end of Mathayom 6 (Grade 12) students should have reached B1 proficiency

According to a report from Asian Correspondent, these targets are achievable. However, the Grade 12 target of B1 proficiency is ambitious. It will take time and effort before large numbers of Mathayom 6 graduates are able to reach this level.

But there is a general understanding and unity among educators that CEFR is vital in making the language goals achievable, and in raising the English language standards of Thai students regardless as to how long before the goals are realized. After all before the adaption of CEFR, school to school often have different interpretations of the already ambiguous language curriculum set by the MoE.

So, with the CEFR's growing popularity in Europe and across the globe, I believe Thailand's move to have it implemented here shows a positive step towards raising the standards of English. This framework can certainly be successful provided that the government will have it maintained and improved if need be. Otherwise, it will suffer the same fate just like the other well-intentioned educational innovations that were now out of the picture because of poor management.

Anyhow, I've seen quite a few Filipino lecturers in Phitsanulok posting information on Facebook about their CEFR workshops in provinces nearby. It makes me happy that we are being invited and considered in such big events. For two weekends I was one of the facilitators in CERF workshop for primary school teachers under the Phitsanulok Educational Service Office Area 1 at Pibulsongkram Rajabaht University. And next weekend until the 5th of September, I will train high school English teachers under Phitsanulok Educational Service Office Area 39 for the same purpose at Nanjao Hotel.

I hope they improve and be more confident under our tutelage. 

Why Do Flight Attendants Pester Passengers In Having Their Seats In The Upright Position?

You probably wonder whenever you fly as to why flight attendants pester passengers to keep the seats in the upright position. Apart from it being one of the aviation's rules, there is actually a basic science behind it.

The two main reasons why passengers are requested to keep the seats up: First, to keep injuries to a minimum during crash. Second, a quick exit is possible since you don't have the seat in front of you blocking the way out.

"When the seat is up, it is locked. When the seat is back, it's not locked. In the event of an emergency, an unlocked seat has more force during the impact, and the thrusting forward of that seat can cause passenger injury," said Brian Manning, a flight attendant for Mesa Airlines.

"Since most accidents occur during takeoff and landing, it is for the safety of everyone onboard the aircraft to have all the seats in their upright and locked position, added Mesa.

True. People sitting behind the seat that is reclined or unlocked will not be able to brace properly as well.

Even when the airline is being at rest you should always put your seats in their upright position. Why? Because anything can happen. Take for instance this Delta Airlines. The Greek god Zeus commanded the lightning to strike it.

Fortunately, everyone onboard was fine. But regardless, that's a reminder worthy to keep.

Note: The video was taken by Jack Perkins while at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to update his wife about the weather. But what he captured was breathtaking!

List of 23 countries that issue Thailand travel advisories

The list of 23 countries that issued advisories for their citizens to take caution when travelling to Thailand was released Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry.

Photo: newshimalaya.com
Level 1 Advisory: Citizens should be aware of the situation around them.

1. Netherlands

Level 2 Advisory: Urge citizens to take extra care during trips to the Kingdom.

1. Austria
2. Belgium
3. Denmark
4. France
5. Japan
6. Malaysia
7. Singapore
8. South Korea
9. Sweden
10. Switzerland
11. Taiwan
12. United States.

Level 3: Higher degree of caution or warnings

1. Australia
2. Canada
3. China
4. Germany
5. Italy
6. Ireland
7. New Zealand
8. Russia
9. United Kingdom

Level 4: "The red alert"

1. Hong Kong

No countries prohibit their citizens from visiting Thailand.

Source: Bangkok Post

Look: Rajaprasong intersection the day after the explosion

Utility workers arrived at Rajaprasong intersection in downtown Bangkok on Monday to remove the debris and clean the damaged area where the bomb exploded on August 17, 2015 (Monday) that left at least 20 people dead.

Onlookers looking at Erawan Shrine.

Onlookers and reporters were trying to get a closer look of the damage.

The BTS Skytrain was running but the skywalk near the shrine was still blocked off. 

Photos: Alexander Hotz

Video: Bangkok Coconuts