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About ritchiebasilio



Writing an autobiography is somewhat foreign to me. First of all, I am a late bloomer in writing. I just learned to write because of my interest in writing travel blogs for the website World Nomads. In addition, I also took a short tutorial class in essay writing. I dream of being a documentary writer someday. The movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” further inspired me to be a writer.

I started my schooling in 1979 when I was enrolled in the now-defunct CWL Kindergarten School in Barangay Tetuan Church, Zamboanga City. I am not really a consistent honor student. I find graduating from kindergarten school a very exciting experience since that’s when I received my first diploma. The reason why I did well throughout my student life is because of my perseverance. I endured difficulties because of my parents’ unstable jobs.

I do my homework and I study to the fore of time during examinations. Aside to that, I am also a well-liked student in school because of my ability in singing. I sing not only in school programs but in classrooms, too. From here, my interpersonal skills had developed. I nurtured friendships in and out of school. I am a very ambitious kid. Above all, I wanted to be a singer. I am so obsessed with singing that a day never passed without me singing at home or in school. This passion began because my mother loved to sing Barry Manilow’s “Memories” when I was young. From there, I learned to sing.

Though my parents are still able to work, I still sought ways to earn on my own. I did practically throughout my life. Knowing the meager pay my parents get from their work, I financed my school projects. I scrubbed the floor of my grandmother’s house to have some money. I helped my teacher sell popsicles to earn some commissions. I also sold homemade pastilles, banana cues, and suman to my classmates and neighbors. This widened my entrepreneurial skills at a young age. Instead of feeling ashamed, I got motivated by the prospect of earning profits. Doing all these developed my leadership skills. In fact, I graduated from elementary with a service award.

After graduation, I entered a sectarian school, the Immaculate Conception High School (later renamed the Immaculate Archdiocesan School). The monthly school fees were very expensive and oftentimes, I paid them several months late. I sympathized with my mother because most of the time, she had to borrow money or engage in sidelines such as selling appliances and cosmetics products aside from her clerical work in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). She had to do it to support her six children. My father, who works as a family driver, walks home from work and vice versa, rain or shine, just to save money for our day-to-day needs.

Despite all these challenges, I still managed to remain in the top five of my class throughout high school. Additionally, I became a finalist in the in-campus declamation contest when I was in my junior year. I became popular on campus due to my active involvement in different organizations like the school choir. I was also a student organization board member and reserve naval force company commander. Of course, my singing ability continues to put me in the limelight!

However, I had to also deal with the alcoholism of my father. It’s really tough to study at night every time my father goes home intoxicated. It really disturbs us, especially when my father and mother fight. It is not only irritating to hear; it is embarrassing for us children since our neighbors always hear them. I remember walking home with my head down for us not to see our friends and neighbors’ intriguing looks. I and my siblings used this as a motivation to be more serious in our quest for education. Luckily, my brothers and sisters have neither turned into drugs nor tried to smoke and drink.

My dream served to fuel my desire to steer my life to a better direction and go out of this adversity. I tried my best to be more understanding of my parents’ weaknesses. After all, there is no perfect family, just as there is no perfect person. As the end of high school approached, I thought more about what course to take and to which school to enroll. I dreamed of studying abroad, and in fact, I practiced in my room in our restroom introducing myself as a graduate of this and that foreign school!

I was admitted to United Kingdom’s University of Hull. I would have enrolled in the said school’s College of Education, but I was not able to pursue the said opportunity because of financial constraints. Instead, I enrolled in Zamboanga City-based Western Mindanao State University. I topped the university’s admission test and was therefore able to get a scholarship. I took up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. I passed the mathematics aptitude test in my sophomore year. This means I can major in Math areas. I was also assigned to be a mobile teacher. We were sent to far-flung areas (places where there are no schools) to teach farmers’ children.

I taught them reading, writing, and arithmetic. We have to walk several kilometers every weekend so we can go to forests to gather these kids in a makeshift classroom made of coconut leaves. This experience developed in me creativity in teaching, which means knowing how to utilize the available resources within a given area. On a more personal note, I also realized that teaching is not merely a way to earn a living. Teachers can turn seemingly unfortunate individuals into productive citizens of the country.

Just after graduation, I prepared for the Philippine Licensure Examination for Teachers, which I eventually passed. I remember how my deceased grandmother walked from their home to our house carrying a copy of the Manila Bulletin to let me know that I was in the board passers’ list. After being unemployed for nine months, I was finally able to land a job in the government. When I applied in the division office of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS), the place was very congested because other applicants flocked there as well. My only goal that time is to work in a public school, even if the school is in a remote area, because I desperately need a job to support my parents and five siblings.

The superintendent Mr. Manuel Muyargas at that time came out of his office to ask who among the applicants would like to teach in Manilipa Island. Of all the applicants, I was the only one who raised a hand. The superintendent asked me to come to his office. Inside the room were the three panelists for the interview: the human resources personnel, a supervisor, and him. They also gave me a briefing as to the working conditions in Manilipa Island.

Members of Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group with links to Al Qaeda, thrive on the islands. They are infamous for extorting money and other commodities from local residents. They can kidnap or even kill those that turn them down. Panelists also warned that when the weather is bad, sailing may be dangerous since boats can capsize. All of these may be true, but I still said yes to the job offer. I don’t care about the condition of the place because to me, working for a public school is better. Finally, they asked me to visit the island first and observe for one week. After which, they will give me the post.

I went back home feeling very excited about the opportunity. Surprisingly, my mother Mrs Edna Basilio disagreed with my decision. Nevertheless, I remained steadfast. The three of us talked, and the principal revealed that they need an elementary teacher – not a high school teacher. She sent me back to the division office to talk again to the Superintendent. When the superintendent and the human resource learned of it, they assigned me instead to be a substitute teacher for one month at the Zamboanga National High School West, which is just beside the division office. I temporarily took the place of a computer teacher who is on medical leave. This is actually better since I am very knowledgeable in computers.  

From working for just a month as a substitute teacher, I was tenured in the same school. Working for a national high school is a very challenging job. Soon, my assignment did not only include teaching but also payroll work. After just three years in service, I was allowed to take up Master of Arts in Mathematics Education at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. I went to Manila a week after my one-week honeymoon with my wife Ma. Rosalyn M. Basilio, a co-teacher in Zamboanga National High School West.

Studying in UP is one of the toughest decision I made. I expected to finish my masters after a year and a half, but it took me for more than two years to complete it. I never did my thesis due to time constraints because I was granted another scholarship to attend the teachers’ training in Madrid, Spain for three months. I am the sole representative of the Philippines. Participants came from 32 nations. After the training, I went back to the Philippines and I became involved more on teacher training for those handling mathematics and computer studies in Region IX, which includes the Zamboanga provinces. There were jealousies and gossips, things I considered as pure waste of time. I focused instead on my daily professional life. As long as I know that I did the job honestly and I never hurt any of my co-teachers for the sake of “achievement,” rumors don’t matter at all.

The most significant contribution while teaching is the project “Animated Math Learning.” Here, I asked my pilot students to interpret the mathematical concept that were assigned to them in real life using PowerPoint application software to animate the object for a clearer explanation of the concept. Then, I told them to conduct a “Student Forum” were they will invite participants from lower year levels. Students from different school in the region were asked to participate and it was successfully done. In the long run, my project was selected in the national level and I was invited to be a forum presenter during the National Forum on Teaching with ICT: Building a Community of Advocates which held at the SEAMEO INNOTECH Philippines (in UP Diliman) last November 2003.

I began working for the Nusa Laila Puteri School, a private primary school in Brunei Darussalam, in January 2004. Besides the big offer, the chance to be acquainted with a foreign environment and an international educational curriculum was just too tempting to turn down. I resigned from the Zamboanga National High School West on December 2003 after eight years of service. Working in a foreign country helped me learn different cultures. I had a hard time dealing with my students (since I am a high school teacher), my employer, and fellow employees (who are of different races) at first. Always the positive type, I eventually had many friends here. In fact, sometimes I feel like I was born here.

I stayed in the school for seven years until I resigned last December 2010 to accept a teaching job for the Brunei International School, the top school in the country. My world expanded far beyond teaching. I enjoyed being a videographer, while I developed my skills in writing. I took part in marathons and did voluntary services to special children during the Special Olympics held in Brunei.

I have some pieces of advice for students: focus on your dreams; lead your life into a journey of prayers; and stay positive whatever hardship you may encounter. Challenges are a part of human life, and as we grow older, these problems will make us stronger emotionally and spiritually. Remember always there is no shortcut in achieving something. You don’t need to be intelligent to be successful in life. Be honest in all your work, and never hurt your co-employees. Always serve with purpose, and keep in mind those that will benefit from your labor. You have to remember that life should not only cater to your personal needs. Be aware of the needs of others, and for these good act, you will notice that luck and peacefulness will be there throughout your life.







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