Fun Friday: The Boy Goes To Congress

Third Friday of the month: Field Trip / Tour

What are the three branches of government? Who is your representative? Who presides over the House of Representatives?  
These are just a few of the questions from the boy's current social studies lesson for the first quarter. We're learning about types of government around the world, and also about the Philippine government. Parang nag-aaral din ulit ako coz I really didn't have any interest about this topic ever since I was a student. A field trip is always a good thing. It creates excitement for a rather unappealing topic or lesson. Here, we were able to visit congress and gain a better understanding of what we're trying to study, and also for me to teach the subject better.

We are on our second year of homeschooling, and the boy is now a sixth grader. I'm not saying it's easier but it's better now. What I do like about our study time is he prefers to read textbooks, do experiments, and answer orally. He avoids writing a report though. He also looks forward to exposure trips where he can go different places, try new things, meet people, and see the "real world" based on what he has read from books.

Late June, I asked for field trip suggestions on my Instagram post here. Our homeschool year has just started and I wanted some ideas on where to bring the boy so I can incorporate it in our lessons. At least one field trip per quarter. The trips have to be relevant to our topics for practical application of the subject matter, and best to be in a group. I was so thrilled that one of my readers responded and offered a tour of House of Representatives (HOR) in Quezon City! Of course I accepted!

The tour was set after the SONA since congress will be very busy during the weeks leading to that event. So, after sending possible dates and a letter to the Secretary General, our tour was set for August 11.

Sorry, I just realized na-crop yung flag in this photo -- is this a crime? I was in the car when I took this snapshot of the building and didn't notice naputol.

It was a Tuesday. After his drums class, we went straight to Batasan. We had late lunch in the car na, then met up with our friends, another homeschooling family who I invited to join the tour, para mas masaya naman. =) We arrived before 2pm as planned.

Our official host, Ms. Yeye Vivas, made this tour possible for us. She's the Political Affairs Officer III of the Office of Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez. She arranged the tour and showed us around the offices located in two separate buildings. The congressmen/congresswomen have the liberty to design their own office. It's interesting to see their personalities reflected on how they fixed they offices.

Who's excited? Eto na ang makulit na bata...

This is the very bright, homey and inviting office of Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez. Several mementos displayed, as well as colorful artwork and inspiring quotes on the wall.

There were a number of interesting pieces of furniture here and the boy was quite fixated with the ghost chairs. At some point, he was also pretending to be a chair!

We also learned that the representatives usually spend half the work week in the office, and half the time in their respective districts. Sayang, we were not able to meet any representatives that day, but at least we were able to take a look inside their office. 

It's worth mentioning that during our visit, the office staff were working on the reports and thank-you kits from Rep. Lucy which will be sent to all the sponsors who donated a fishing boat for the victims of typhoon Yolanda. It's her ongoing project that I personally think is one of the best ways to continue helping the people of Leyte.

Here in the South Wing Annex, which is the newer building, we also passed by our own city representative,  Hon. Ronaldo Zamora. Across the office of Rep. Lucy is her neighbor, Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao.

Naturally, we were all curious to see the inside and thankfully, we were also accommodated. Yep, that's Manny!

It was very simple, manly with dark leather chair and wooden shelves, and another small meeting table on the side.

The boy attempted to sit in this chair pa! He saw my dagger looks at him and settled on the armrest instead. What's with his interest in chairs that day!?

We then proceeded to the other building that housed the session hall and also leading to the Legislative Archives. 

There was a group of Korean exchange students that was also there for the tour so we all went to the archives and session hall with them. Each student was given this kit which has all the basic information about the HOR.

Here's a gallery of the Speakers of the House. Our current Speaker is Hon. Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, who's also the representative of the 4th District of Quezon City.

The archives is like a mini museum of the Philippine Congress.

This is the seal of the HOR. The stars surrounding the it represents the provinces. At present, we have 81 provinces. Below is the replica of the first MACE and a folder where plenary minutes from the old Batasang Pambansa were filed.

Last stop is the famous Plenary Hall, or Session Hall, where committee hearings and special sessions are held, as well as the SONA. Before we left, preparations were already being made for a session that afternoon. 

The tour guide explained what usually happens at the Plenary Hall and shared the strict rules and protocols. Example:
  • Only the representatives are allowed in the cordoned area and no one can sit in their chairs, even if they are absent. 
  • During sessions and hearings, no one is allowed to walk around except for the Sergeant-at-Arms who maintain order and security. 
  • There are assigned seating areas for legislators as well as specific groups of the people, including the stenographers, guests, and media.
  • Streamers and banners, food and drinks are not allowed
  • Guests should observe silence at all times; only children 7y.o. and above are allowed inside.

The Plenary Hall is not as huge as how we see it on TV. It has a very high ceiling and the theater layout looks like CCP.  The table for each legislator is actually small, pang single lang talaga. Still , the well-maintained hall looks impressive to me.  

I adjusted our first quarter lessons so this trip will coincide with the topic on Philippine government. Sana talaga may natutunan siya after this! One final group shot, here with Yeye, at the Plenary Hall. 

Our tour of the House of Representatives is not the usual field trip we're used to, but it was a unique learning opportunity to see where our lawmakers go to work, what they do, how laws are passed, what happens during sessions, and just experience being in an environment where the laws of land are made.

If you want to have an educational tour for your group or school, just call HOR and arrange for a tour: (632) 931-5001 local 7661; 931-6581; 932-6138.

HOR Complex, Constitution Hills
Quezon City, Philippines

(Take-home activity: The boy answered the questions and exercises inside the Student Guide.)

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