“I can’t believe I qualified. I couldn’t believe even more that I will really be sent to represent the school for the camp blog! I’m so excited!”  says Ms. May Flor Datangel.

She is a high school MAPEH teacher at Impasugong National High School, Bukidnon who never thought that she will be given an opportunity to attend training like the camp blog.  She thought that only their ICT Coordinator and their English teacher are qualified to take the exam.  For some reasons, they weren’t able to do so thus she came into the picture.

Not everybody can join camp blog.  Only teachers and students of beneficiary schools who passed the online English assessment examination are qualified to join.  Some didn’t make it, some were overqualified and some were just right for the training.

Ms. Vinyl Bordios was a different case.  On the last minute, she decided not to attend the training.  The things she has to do at home, her work in school and the upcoming enrollment made her want to stay.  But at the back of her mind, she really wanted to go.

Non-Refundable and Non-Transferable were the words in her plane ticket that made her go just the same.  The first class hotel accommodation, the lessons and the experience made her say, “I’m happy I came. It is worth it.” “I learned a lot of things especially in blogging.  I was a non-blogger when I came, now I am already writing online” she continues. “I’m happy I made the right decision.”

Out of the fifty four who passed, there are twenty seven teachers and twenty seven students.  They came from different parts of the country.

Ms. Rapunzel Jamero of Lawigan-Bura National High School from Camiguin had to take a 30-minute boat ride, four and a half hours bus ride and one and half hour plane ride to reach the venue. Not to mention the tricycle rides in between. On the other hand, it only took Mr. Eduardo Yabut and Marcelo Lacap III of Tarik Soliman High School in Pampanga two and half hour road trip to reach the same venue.

Camp Blog is a ten-day affair that runs from May 18-28, 2009 at Pampanga Agricultural College, Magalang, Pampanga.  This is organized by the iSchools Project of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology.  Its aim is to equip a new generation of students and teachers with an appreciation of the benefits of digital learning.

“Anong gusto niyong kantahin ko?” Ms. Leny Cris Alab of Dr. Arcadio Santos National High School,Parañaque City asked before she rendered a Regine Velasquez song during the Getting to Know Activity.  From then on, she bagged the title the singer of the group. She teaches English at her school.

Ms. Queenie Lara Leoncio and Mr. Noe John Joseph are the youngest among the participants.  They are students from Puerto Princesa City National Science High School, Palawan and Jordan National High School, Guimaras, respectively.  They may be considered the “baby” of the group but they are capable of doing the same things the others do.

Everybody knows Mamita. Being the oldest in the group is not the only reason why she gained popularity but because of her sense of humor and her perspective in life.  Everybody listens when she talks, waiting for her amusing and entertaining commentaries.  She’s fifty seven but she never lets age gets in the way of technology advancement and learning. Ms. Belen A. Bahia, her real name, is a Math teacher from Kapitolyo High School in Pasig.

Sure, these participants were chosen to attend the Camp Blog for their communication skills.  But it is quite apparent that they come here also bringing with them many other talents, skills, stories and histories that make for an interesting and varied group. This makes Camp Blog fun.

Day Off in Camp Blog

It was the first interesting sight of the tour when the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) participants saw a guy in a cowboy outfit complete with a buri cowboy hat.  They named him Cowboy Cobra. Naming him cowboy was obvious but why they called him Cobra, well, that’s another story. Cowboy Cobra became the official mascot of the tour.

The tour was organized by the staff of the iSchools Project of the CICT to give participants a much needed reprieve from the week-long intensive workshops and training. On May 24, Sunday,forty-four participants were ready by eight in the morning for the tour.  Geared  in their summer T-shirts, shorts, and  walking shoes, with drinking water and cameras in their bags, they were all set to go.

Paradise Ranch was the first stop of the tour. Neil Supan a.k.a. Cowboy Cobra, the Marketing Representative of the Ranch, welcomed the group.    Paradise Ranch, located in Clark, Pampanga, is project of Philippines Children Fund of America that helps and supports Amerasian (half America, half Filipino) children through its programs and services.

The participants were treated to a traditional dance number with a modern twist by the Aetas (minority group in Pampanga) who worked at the ranch. Participants who jammed and danced with them were given buri hats as prizes.  The participants did not need any more prodding, they all danced ng dahil sa sombrero!

Participants then explored one hectare of the total fifty hectares of Paradise Ranch.  The once bare land is now home to wild monkeys, mating peacocks, hungry ostrich and the biggest butterfly garden in the Philippines.

After the fat-burning trek at the ranch,  the participants were very disappointed to find that Clark Museum, the next stop, was already closed. Or were they really?  You could hear a participants shouting in the shuttle bus of two letters in the alphabet- S – and- M.

But before participants were brought to the place where they could unload the week’s long stress in some retail therapy, they had to make a stop at Nayong Pilipino. Picture-taking with the heritage houses, Barasoain Church and Kalesa in the background was the highlight of that stop. Nayong Pilipino sa Clark Expo was created to visualize the diversity and beauty of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Finally, at half past twelve noon, the tour officially ended when participants were dropped off at the mall.  The air-conditioned haven for shoppers was a perfect end to the hot Sunday summer morning tour.

Color Expression

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Bryan Leonard Lumaya, a student from Impasugong National High School, Impasugong, Bukidonon shares his  work to other participants of Camp Blog in Montevista Villas, Angeles City, Pampanga on May 17-28, 2009.

“Book, earphones and mp5 are the best way to describe myself as I like to listen to music while reading a book “, says Bryan.

Expressing themselves with colors is the “Getting To Know You” activity of the Camp Blog. Their art painted in canvass serves as their training bag as well.

Camp Blog is a training for students and teachers of the 2006 recipient’s schools nationwide.  This is one of the training programs given by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) for the iSchools Project.  Building educational resources for all is the aim of the training.

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