Pablo Honey!


I had a music room in my former school, ICA*.  It took me a few months before I started feeling like it was MY own room.  I brought a couple of personal things for the room which the students immediately noticed.  I realized then that I could make the music room an extension of myself, a way for my students to know a little more about me.

After the Christmas break, Cherry, one of my co-teachers, brought some toys her daughter had outgrown to donate to the school’s social action club.  Among them was a green rubber cactus in a cowboy get-up: big red hat, shades, and purple bandanna.  It was one of those toys that you can slip into an antenna or bar-b-que stick, having no spine to keep itself upright.  Its strange soft rubber texture amused me so much that Cherry gave it to me, and I returned the favor by using it to play pranks on our co-teachers, making her laugh the whole day.  A spineless rubber cactus + teachers caught unaware = a recipe for a roaring good time.

Well, not really.  Maybe just a fun break between the mundane routine inside the faculty room.

When the novelty of the rubber cactus wore off in the faculty room, I relocated it to the music room where the CD player antenna became its permanent backbone, and forgot all about it — until my first class for the day arrived.  They noticed the cactus right away and seemed fascinated with it.  When they asked me why it was there, I told them it was an observer and will make sure they participate in the activity.  Here he is:


During recess, I thought I’d give the toy a name.  I thought of Pablo but wrote Pablo Honey on its name plate without thinking.  I decided not to change it, thinking the girls would easily make the connection to Radiohead’s first album.  pablohoney.jpg  They didn’t.  Many of them teased me, saying Pablo must be my ‘honey’.  Others had their own theories, like a reference to Pablo Neruda or to other famous people named Pablo.  I saw the futility of insisting its Radiohead origins and decided to remain mysterious.  What surprised me was the girls’ immediate acceptance of its name.  Not one of them suggested a different name or wondered why a toy would have a name in the first place.  From then on, the rubber cactus ceased being called ‘it’.  He became my sidekick and the music room’s official mascot.


Pablo Honey helped me reach out to my students.  His presence caused a change in my and the girls’ attitude.  Maybe it was because he really did seem to watch over them from its high antenna spine, maybe it was because they saw a different side of me, one that was more playful or cool enough to bring a toy to class; whatever it was, the girls became more relaxed and happy to be in the music room because of him.  They liked shaking his jiggly arms and patting his head.  They took his picture (in fact, the one I’ve been using was taken by a student and Emailed to me) and doodled him during and outside of my class.  One of my seniors, Meggy, even drew his portrait:


It hangs above my clavinova at home.  Another senior, Christine, gave me a little cactus on the last day of school.  The tag on the pot said: “Pablo’s Honey”, which really warmed my heart.  As much as he gave my students the chance to see a different side of me, he gave me the opportunity to see a different side of my students, one that I never would have seen had I remained distant and non-human in their eyes.

My last day at ICA was bittersweet.  Pablo Honey watched as I packed up all my stuff, making me feel less alone inside the quiet music room.  In my new school, SPUQC**, I don’t have a music room or my own CD player.  Even if I did, I couldn’t bring Pablo Honey over there: he will always belong to my girls at ICA.  In the meantime, my new students seem quite fascinated by this timer I bring to class to keep me on schedule.  It’s shaped like a carrot and everytime I take it out of my bag, they giggle. 


Maybe it’s time to think of a name. 

*Immaculate Conception Academy
**St. Paul University Quezon City

8 thoughts on “Pablo Honey!

  1. repairman says:

    That is one cool story. I wondered about Pablo, who he was, and where he came from.

    “What an interesting and artistic header for a blog!” I thought.

    I imagined it was someone’s art, and it turns out I’m correct…your intuition that he would be a significant addition to your classroom decor, and your openness to the reactions of your students. That’s artful, I would say.

    Very cool story.

    I am touched by your words. I’m happy that you thought the whole thing was artful. Sometimes, I feel so alone because, being the music teacher, other teachers think I’m different. I’ve been called weird in both a positive and negative way. When Pablo first turned up, a few teachers didn’t get it, but the students did, and that’s what mattered more to me. 🙂 Thank you, repairman. I truly appreciate your comment.

  2. repairman says:

    You’re very welcome, Lizzie. It’s from the heart.

  3. ET says:

    I’m soooo glad you’re back Lizzie. I’m sorry you went through those moments of malaise and such without a comment from me. Not being a teacher, it’s sometimes hard for me to express my sympathy adequately.

    Rest assured, my thoughts were with you and I’m glad you are back. I enjoy your blog. It’s fresh and uplifting (previous post aside!).

    Ah, I feel bad. You welcomed me back but I had to take a couple of weeks off from blogging to catch up with paperwork at school. Long story. Thank you for your warm comment, ET. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  4. knitparty says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! You sound a lot like the teachers at my new school; it’s nice to see teachers that really care.

    My former band director had this stuffed bear in a British Grenadier uniform named Coates that I would always hold whenever I visited him in his office. Maybe everyone needs a mascot.

    Whoa! It’s good to know I’m not alone in this classroom mascot thing. 😀 Thanks for your encouraging comment, knitparty. 🙂 I’ll be seeing you around.

  5. Chris says:

    You a Radiohead fan?

    I’m reminded of when I first heard “Creep.” Thought it was brilliant and that they were on their way to legendary status.

    Guess I was right. 🙂 I love gloomy music. Don’t know why.

    BTW, I will have to come back and read some more words of wisdom… if that’s okay by you. 🙂

    I’m a quasi-fan, LOL. I say this because I’ve been planning to seriously listen to their music for the longest time but have been busy. I am a bit strange about music because I don’t like listening to them passively. I used to tell my students that I really make time to sit and listen to music as I would when watching TV. I’d listen until I know the music inside and out, and once I do, I start allowing myself to listen passively.

    I think of listening to new music much like getting to know a new person. You give the connection time to strengthen, and once it does, you can allow yourself to relax because of your knowledge of the other’s quirks and unique qualities.

    I’m weird that way. 😀

    The minor key must really resonate in you. 🙂 Gloomy music is for the strong who brave loneliness and face hardships. I don’t know why but those words just spilled out. I guess I always thought that people who listen to those inane fast ditties are the ones who usually run away from problems. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    Please keep dropping by. Like I said, I don’t know about the ‘words of wisdom’ you speak of, but you are and will always be welcome, Chris.

  6. Chris says:

    Lizzie, I’ve never known anybody that’s so like me. It’s almost creepy! 🙂

    I can’t listen to music when I’m doing anything at all. Not even when writing blogs. 🙂 Not even when taking a shower, in fact! Certainly not when I’m at work. I will never be able to accomplish anything if I did.

    The reason is, I listen to music much like I look at a painting. Not at a distance, but up close. To see the brush strokes and to feel the paint is the only way for me to connect.

    I am lucky to have some friends who shared the same passion. I remember one of them. The way we hung out is that I would go to his house, we would put on anything from rock to opera, like the Montserrat Caballe/Freddie Mercury duet. We would then turn off the lights, lay on the floor and close our eyes. For at least four hours! We didn’t speak to each other at all. It was the way we spent time together and it was so amazing.

    I still do it today. Only now, I slip on the headphones and do it alone. 😦

    I like what you said about how you connect with painting. I bet that’s how you get to know people, too. Not the literal staring and touching part, but the need to connect deeply. Maybe, like me, you get along with people well but have a small close circle of friends.

    The test of true friendship is the connection you both share in rich silence. You’re lucky to have had it, and I’m certain you will have it again someday and won’t always have to be alone.

    I get to meet lots of bloggers with whom I share similarities, some more than the others. We do think a lot alike, and I find it fascinating. Our paths could have crossed here 20 years ago (since I assume we’re nearly the same age) or when you came to visit, but the chances of us finding out about our similarities would have been slim. I think our writing makes us more honest in revealing our selves, and on my part, less shy or guarded. 🙂

  7. Chris says:

    There are more ways than one to get to know people. But you don’t always connect. Connecting is like icing on the cake. An added bonus.

    But knowing me… definitely, gotta have the icing! Always! 🙂

    I agree about the icing. In order to truly appreciate the icing, though, the cake has to be good; in order to sincerely connect with others, one must be in touch with oneself and love oneself. 🙂

  8. Chris says:

    I’ve always thought it’s a given that the cake is always good. Seriously. Was I really that naive?

    Though I can attest that I, at least, have always done my part and have shared yummy cakes to anyone willing to have a taste. 🙂

    I don’t know about your being naive, but I have tasted crappy cakes before that was all about the icing — literally and figuratively. 😀

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