Monday, January 12, 2009

A TALE OF TWO CONFABS (August 04, 2008)

Exactly a month ago, our Fourth of July was celebrated by the headline inflation surging in June to a 14-year high of 11.4 percent, from the revised 9.5-percent hike in the previous month.
The National Statistics Office added that except for the fuel, light, and water index, all the commodity groups recorded higher annual inflation rates during the month.
While the Development and Budget Coordination Committee was targeting to control the price hike at 3 percent to 5 percent and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, on the other hand, was seeking to curb inflation at 7 percent to 9 percent – the Psychiatric Association of the Philippines (PPA) was trying to do its share in solving the problem of keeping our country not only safe but sane!

During its joint 24th Post Graduate Course and 19th Mid-Year Convention -- its theme was quite a welcome surprise since PPA is beginning to open its doors to us, non-psychiatrists, with advocacy in mind by strengthening partnership!

More than a decade ago, when we got used to getting cold shoulder treatment by merely proposing to collaborate with medical doctors about the healing powers of poetry.

Back in 1995, when we would plan to make a poet out of every Person With Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (PWA), we experienced similar discrimination PWAs would suffer from – until a clinical psychologist by the name of Dr. Isabel Echanis Melgar whom we met at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine introduced us to the late Dr. Bernardino Agustin who let us into its mutual support group for cancer survivors known as Patients Forum at the St. Luke's Medical Center!
Now that almost everybody appears to be claiming or proclaiming they are Expressive Arts Therapists – interests in complementary therapeutic approaches are growing too.
While, on the last day, PPA began the morning session with the promotion of mental health by reviewing the law and by reporting about the Healthy Mind Summit, we started the afternoon with Psychodrama, Dance For Health, A Glimpse of Zen and other alternative modes with Mae Medina, Dr. Ma. Stephanie Fay Cagayan, Dr. Henrietta Cabado-Espanola and Dr. Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio respectively as speakers.
Poetry Therapy never ceased to stun us the way a shy child psychiatrist like Dr. Spes Reyes shocked us by revealing her artistic self purrpectly:

cautiously, tentatively,
a step at a time
hesitating then stepping once more
the kitten climbed up my side
its nails sharp through the fabric
as I lay quietly one lazy afternoon
then with four paws on my belly
it sank itself, curling up cautiously,
tentatively as it snuggled to sleep

Later, before bedtime at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel, our partner in rhyme, Ellay, the incumbent Multimedia Center director at the University of the Philippines Open University was proclaimed by the PPA as the Best Psychiatrist in Research for 2008 – with Dr. Alma Lucindo Jimenez as the Best Teacher in Psychiatry and Dr. Lourdes Vera Lapuz as the Most Distinguished Psychiatrist!

Recently Dr. Lapuz's classic work A Study of Psychopathology (1973) was one of the more than 100 books published by the UP Press selected by its editorial board as UP Centennial titles for their relevance, quality of content and style, peer and other reviews, uniqueness in the field, and timelessness.

Last week, poetry's power to do the same was once again proven during Biennial Convention of Asosasyon sa Pilipinas ng mga Colehiyo ng Agham at Sining (APCAS) at the Far Eastern University's University Conference Center focusing on Transformative Learning as its educational commitment for the 21st Century.

Its president, dean Benilda N. Villenas of Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation admitted that their goals -- to acquire a new paradigm of learning through transformative education, to create an innovative and educational environment that will support and encourage dialogue and action, and to infuse transformative learning in the curriculum across disciplines – were met and more.
We too were more than willing to share Performance Poetry as Transformative Learning just as other guests dealt with it, say, across the Math-Sciences curricula in the case of Dr. Queena Lee-Chua of Ateneo de Manila University or with the use of Art and Culture in the case of Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nestor O. Jardin or for the marginalized or at-risk students in the case of former dean Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho of the UP College of Education or for Social Change in the case of former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director Edicio de la Torre (who opened his art exhibit last August 1 at the G.S.I.S. Museum).
Asian Social Institute president Dr. Mina Ramirez seemed to sum up a tale of two confabs with her keynote speech: “How come that with the proliferation of institutions and organizations, no one major secondary institution – politics, economics, education, religion, communication supported by a rapidly changing technology – has responded sufficiently and adequately to people’s basic needs? While all institutions have basically been education providers, the school and especially the field of liberal arts and the sciences are there to see to it that our students are educated in the art of living grounded in philosophy, the metaphysical sciences and spirituality, equipped with the competencies derived from the natural, human and social sciences. In this sense the college of liberal arts and the sciences are by their very nature supposed to be transformative. However, the most important variable in education is the person of the educator who himself/herself is supposed to be grounded on the reality of the lives of persons, families and communities.”
Indeed, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
MALE ATTORNEY: Where in the Bible does it say that man should have only two wives?
If you learned something and it changes you, you have made progress.
But if you learned something and it changes others, you are changing the world.

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