Canada vs Philippines High School Education (upgrading)

When I moved to Canada, I already anticipated some difference in the school systems between the two countries. Before moving on to formal post-secondary education here, I had to upgrade some core high school subjects: Math, English, Biology and Chemistry. READ MORE

I was one of the last few graduates who did not get to experience the new K-12 that the Philippine government had recently implemented. This meant that I only had 10 years of basic education from grade 1 to fourth year in high school. I did not experience senior high nor junior high, only four years in high school.

When I moved to Canada, I already anticipated some difference in the school systems between the two countries. Before moving on to formal post-secondary education here, I had to upgrade some core high school subjects: Math, English, Biology and Chemistry. Academic upgrading is when you take up some high school courses in a local high school/college/university. Some of the reasons could include:

  • the student needs higher grade than what s/he currently has.
  • higher GPA is needed to get into a program.
  • It’s been years since the student has graduated from high school and s/he needs to take it again for his/her desired program
  • an immigrant where his/her high school qualifications aren’t at par with the Canadian system.
  • Blew up the diploma exam and now has to get better grades (because there’s no diploma exam in upgrading!)

These are some of the reasons of a lot of my classmates in upgrading. I have classmates who just graduated in high school and some who are over 30 years old just figured out what they really wanna do or finally have the time to do what they want.

Back to the topic, what’s the difference between my high school education in the Philippines compared to my high school upgrading courses in Canada? To make things clearer, I’m doing my upgrading in a college (tip: college and unviersity are different things in Canada). I’ll try to compare it using only the courses that I’ve taken namely  Biology (0120&0130/Gr 11&12), Chemistry (0120&0130/Gr 11&12) and English (0130/Gr 12). I took Math (30-1/Gr 12) but I won’t include it since I had four Maths in high school: Elementary and Secondary Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry. I feel like it’s sort of unfair to compare just one Math upgrading course to four different Math disciplines. 


Biology was very interesting. I’ve done Bio in second year of high school. I remember memorizing different bacteria, families and parts of a plant. I remember genetics (it was in the 2nd grading and my fave topic until now) and planting corns without fertilizer (we produced tiny corns). One of the highlights of our Bio class was dissecting an earthworm. We were quite disappointed that we didn’t dissect a frog like some schools probably do. Our teacher told us that it wasn’t allowed anymore and we have to just settle with the earthworm (we had a fat, long one). Needless to say, we found soil in the earthworm. 

In Grade 11 Bio, some of our lessons consisted of respiratory and circulatory system. It’s not surprising to me considering that I already did my Anatomy and Physiology course in college before but it’s the fact that we took this in detail. I don’t remember much doing this in high school. We might have but not in enough detail that we have to memorize the parts and functions of the respiratory system or which chamber does oxygenated blood goes. I DID THAT IN COLLEGE!

When I moved on to Grade 12 Bio, we did much more complicated stuff. We did the nervous and endocrine systems. Aside from all these hormones that I have to get familiarize again, we also had to memorize it and know which affects which. Our second experiment is by far the most exciting experiment I’ve done for all of Bio. WE DISSECTED A FETAL PIG. YES! We didn’t do a frog, we had a pig. Apparently, even some high schools do it. They buy off a pig (killed/died humanely) and have us cut it open and look at the different body systems. We were able to identify which one is a pancreas or how squishy it actually is. We also have genetics as one of our topics and thank goodness I still remember Punnet square. But I don’t remember doing a dihybrid cross nor doing a sex-linked trait (might/might not have done it in high school). 


I did English pretty much since I started going to school. Therefore, I didn’t have much problem in my English upgrading. For this course, we barely did anything orally in front of the class. We had 2 or 3 reportings then the rest of our oral grades is just from our seat. Since our class is more focused in writing, we did a lot of essay assignments and made our own poems. We had classes held at a computer lab where our teacher blocked any web browsers to avoid Googling (but thank goodness I have a phone). It was actually my English teacher who caught a lot of my writing mistakes such as tenses and punctuation, something that no one has done yet even after reading some of my essays. 

Compared to my English upgrading, we did a lot of oral practice in my high school English. It was in fourth year high school that I finally started to have less fear on going up front and talk to the crowd because of the various speaking exercises that we did. Even though we’ve been doing declamations and orations since first year high school, it was my fourth year high school teacher who really pushed us to think fast and talk flawlessly (I’m still working on the “flawlessly” part). 

In both English courses though, we had to make a final written output. For my high school English, I had to a term paper and successfully defend it to graduate (my topic was about conformity). For my English upgrading, we had to make an essay about a foundation or philanthropist “who makes the world a better place” (my essay was about Gawad Kalinga). 


I did Chemistry in 3rd year high school. I remember answering “Dihydrogen monoxide” for H20 and our teacher said it was wrong because it’s just supposed to be water. I asked this question in my Grade 12 chem teacher and she said it’s “sort of” acceptable but not much actually uses it. 

The one experiment that I can remember from my high school chemistry was titration. We had this burette and flasks and fancy chemicals that we’ve barely used. We were so excited to titrate and was disappointed one titration after another as we kept on overshooting our solution. Actually, this is the only experiment I remember. Probably because some aren’t as memorable as this one. A lot of my high school Chem lessons came back to me as I do my upgrading. But maybe because we only had one Chem course in high school that almost half of the lessons that I learned in Chem upgrading is new. 

In Grade 11 Chem, we learned how to name compounds, something that I also learned in high school Chem. The first few lessons were a breeze, actually… Grade 11 Chem was fine. A lot of the lessons were not new to me except for some like identifying the nonpolar/polar compounds and stoichiometry problems. I was able to get good marks in this course because I feel like a lot of these were review. In addition, we also did cool experiments which included titration! This time, I was able to get the perfect peach colour that we want. There were also a lot of boiling and dangerous chemicals that were able to handle. I felt like a mini scientist!

Grade 12 Chem is different though. Lesson started off easy, enthalpy change then moved on to more stoichiometry questions then voltaic/electrolytic cells then organic chem stuff (of course there are some more lessons in between). The experiments includes some corrosive materials and lots of boiling. At one point, I BROKE A MERCURY THERMOMETER! I was so scared and nervous because I thought my teacher would scold me. But she didn’t! And I asked her if I have to pay for it and she told me not to worry because it was an accident. They only charge those who were obviously playing. Phew! I remember breaking a cover slip in high school Bio and I had to replace it.

The coolest thing that we did though was making Nylon 6,6. I felt like a little kid while mixing the chemicals and trying to pull out some strands. A few days ago, I was browsing through our lab manual for Grade 11 Chem when the last page included making soap. MAKING SOAP! I’ve made soap before, IN COLLEGE! And here it’s in the Grade 11 course. 

The biggest thing that’s very different in my Philippine high school experience compared to my Canadian upgrading is of course the language. However, being taught in English isn’t really new to me. My high school see to it that our subjects are more or less taught in English. This is one of the reasons why I was able to adjust fairly well in the new educational environment. 

It may be overwhelming at first because this is an entirely different environment. However, you’ll find that many of the teachers are actually very approachable and you can always visit their offices if you need extra help.

originally posted at underscoreamerl.

Spotify: May 2020 Top 5

I always love watching my stats on many things that I do. I had recently looked at my Netflix history and didn’t realize that I had watched that many movies and series since quarantine had started. I got curious if there is a way of knowing what my top 5 songs are on Spotify since I use this app every day and listen to many playlists and songs. And guess what, Spotify made a website where my curiosity is quenched: .

1. Ticky Tocky – Super Junior

I’ve been a ELF for over ten years now and always support Super Junior on their many releases and projects (even paid for the virtual concert). Although 2Yaoyao is a bop, Ticky Tocky just hit differently. I love listening to this song every time I have to prepare for work.

2. Stay Tonight – Chung Ha

This lady does not know how to produce bad songs. I’ve loved her ever since she did her impromptu dance on Produce 101. I remember watching the music video for Stay Tonight and was just in awe the whole time and literally screamed when I realized that she had incorporated voguing for this release. I have watched way too much dance practice, choreography and any videos related to this song. And this is just a pre-release and I cannot wait to see what she have for her official release.

3. Stay With Me – Super Junior

I’ve always loved Super Junior’s B-side songs. They always promise easy listening and I feel like I’m walking on the sidewalk with just my headphones and the sound of traffic behind me. Also, SuJu had produced a dance video for this for their Beyond Live concert and that completed the whole concert for me as this is my favorite song in the whole album.

4. No Drama – Super Junior

Another one from the new album of Super Junior. I love listening to this song close to my bedtime or when I’m prepping for dinner. It such a fun song to listen to.

5. Baga Ka’g Face – Malaya Macaraeg

Yes! This is a Bisaya song that I love so much. It’s an upbeat song that I can’t help but sing to. Every time I hear thing song, I feel like my boyfriend cheated on me and I’m singing this song to him (I don’t even have a boyfriend). It’s a song where the girl knows what she wants and she refuse to be with a guy who is two-timing her.

Hospital Playlist: My Ships that Sailed

Contains finale episode spoilers.
Hospital Playlist is by far one of my favorite Korean dramas so far. It’s nice to see a drama with power struggle or amnesia or kidnapping going on. It’s a feel good story that you feel can happen in real life. It did not give us the ending we wanted (just snipped of it) and I guess that’s life too. Not all love lines has to end up together and some loose ends doesn’t have to be tied up. I guess it helps that the season 2 is already confirmed for next year so whatever loose ends we have here may be addressed by next season. READ MORE

Contains finale episode spoilers.

Hospital Playlist just wrapped up its first season which means I have to wait until next year for the next season. I’m glad that the second season is actually confirmed and not just hearsay (I’m still waiting for Signal Season 2). Anyway, the ending left a lot of cliffhangers, especially when it came to the many love lines that this drama had started (and ended?).

Ik Jun x Song Hwa x Ahn Chi Hong (a very calm love triangle)

Ik Jun just told Song Hwa how he felt and we got no response from Song Hwa (she just looked shocked). I’m a big Song Hwa x Chi Hong fan but it started being obvious that Song Hwa did not like Chi Hong like that during the truth or dare (drink) during their get together dinner. Sun Bin asked Ik Jun if at some point he liked Song Hwa and he just tried his best to avoid to answer that while Song Hwa looked really curious and Chi Hong just jealous.

Jun Wan x Ik Sun

Kim Joon Wan had a great run with Ik Sun. They managed to hide their relationship from Ik Jun and looks like they have a healthy relationship. However, I really think Ik Jun had started to take a hint after Jun Wan went to Ik Jun’s house when Ik Sun came to visit. I had high hopes for this pair but Ik Sun had to leave to pursue her doctorate outside the country. She’s not the marrying type and dislikes gifts like ring but Jun Wan really wanted to give her one but he thought she wouldn’t like it. So he asked Jae Hak for some advice and he literally just said, “Just ask her”. That he did and it seems like Ik Sun was as excited as he was about the ring, even asking him to check and check again the address on the package so it won’t get lost. I was really happy about this since I can already hear some wedding bells when suddenly we get a punch to the gut since the package did get returned for some reason. Ouch.

The next three pairs are the ones that I actually looked forward for this whole time. I wasn’t even sure if any of these pairs were gonna end up with each other but I still rooted for them until the end.

Yong Seuk-Min x Heo Sun Bin

I don’t remember when I first started to ship them. It could be when they had that lunch Dr. Chae and Dr. Ahn Chi Hong. Nevertheless, it made me sad that they did not have a lot of scenes together. It so obvious that Dr. Yong likes Dr. Heo but does she? I waited until the very end to know whether or not Sun Bin took him up for that offer but OMG they had to end this loveline on a cliffhanger.

Chae Song Hwa for sure had a hand in Seuk Min gathering up his courage to confess to her and ask her out. Remember that time when he had that talk with Chae Song Hwa and when he came out, he told Ik Jun she knows a lot especially about love. And the fact that Chae Song Hwa had specifically left Seuk Min and Sun Bin out of the dinner plans she will have with Yoon Bok and Chi Hong, That girl is cupid.

And the fact that we are all Yoon Bok during this scene.

Ahn Jung-Won x Jang Gyeo-Wool

The only ship that had officially sailed. I was so happy and so relieved that these two finally got together. It was so frustrating seeing Gyeo Wool have a one-sided crush towards Jung Won. She even had to pretend that she had a boyfriend (with Ik Jun’s help) in order to gauge if Jung Won would actually care (he did) or get jealous. Throughout the season, Jung Won was so adamant about becoming a priest and his mom was like, “Nah, all of you’re siblings are either priest or nun so you’re the one that’s giving me a grandchild”.

Midway through the series, we started seeing glimpse of Ahn Jung-Won stealing some glances or showing concern towards Dr. Jang. But both of them are really stubborn or unconcerned, or both. We started to see the obvious hint that he likes her after they had that conversation after Gyeo Wool’s first lead surgery. The moment she left, Jung Won still had a bright smile as she looked at her leaving. Jung Won’s mom saw this and she really doesn’t want his son to be a priest asked Dr. Jang to try and ask him one last time to give up his plans to be a priest. She was obviously very nervous when she came to talk to him and Jung Won was just silent the whole time. Then he did the kiss. THE KISS.

I was screaming the whole time this scene was on. Finally, they got together. And the fact that Jung Won already decided to not be a priest before all of this confession thing made it so much more special. We get that cut scene where he talked to Song Hwa and hinted that he decided not to pursue to become a priest. And the fact that the first person he wanted to tell (aside from Song Hwa) is not even his closest friends or his mom but it Gyeo Wool. Dude’s a romantic.

Yang Seok Hyung x Chu Min Ha

Min Ha started out as a resident that just disliked Seok Hyung. He was quiet and very passive towards other people that were not his closest friends. He preferred eating alone and not with other doctors (unless it’s his best friends… even then he eats at the office). But then she started seeing his other side which was compassionate and empathetic. He showed great concern towards his patients and supported them well. Min Ha started being curious about him and maybe getting a little crush.

Seok Hyung is kind-hearted but he carries a lot of weight around. He looks very recluse and seems to only open up to his best friends. He showed his caring side to Min Ha when she had to shoulder another resident’s job (that resident ran away). She was stressed out and over worked. Seok Hyung asked the head nurse to give the food to Min Ha (food that he ordered to go when he had dinner with the group) as he can see how hard she worked even though it was so obvious that she looked tired already. Min Ha eventually learned who gave the food to her and talked to Seok Hyung about it. Seok Hyung knew what was going on the whole time but can’t step in since residents have their own rules. I bet you this was when Min Ha really started liking him… hard.

I really wanted them to get together but it was obvious that Seok Hyung is not ready. He is a divorcee and for him, it’s a big deal. It also doesn’t help that his dad had left him some problems to sort out before he died and that’s enough on his plate.

And did you catch that part where his ex-wife called him?

Hospital Playlist is by far one of my favorite Korean dramas so far. It’s nice to see a drama with power struggle or amnesia or kidnapping going on. It’s a feel good story that you feel can happen in real life. It did not give us the ending we wanted (just snipped of it) and I guess that’s life too. Not all love lines has to end up together and some loose ends doesn’t have to be tied up. I guess it helps that the season 2 is already confirmed for next year so whatever loose ends we have here may be addressed by next season.