Wednesday, June 17, 2009

INSHALLAH (March 02, 2009)

While the Department of Education is preoccupied with spending P3.1 billion to construct 1,908 new classrooms, build 6,322 new toilets, repair 2,513 existing classrooms and 194 toilets -- Batch Lopez-Jaena-Guerrero 05-09 – is happily up the neck with their graduation from the Philippine High School for the Arts.

Our advisee, Inshallah P. Montero, a Creative Writing Major, has been tied up since last year with her thesis – a collection of her own poems about her own life with other children from where she grew up: “I was born in the island of Puerto Galera, a beautiful place where the sunset blurs all that is real. I grew up in a home for street children called the Stairway Foundation, an organization that used art as therapy, where my mother worked there as a coordinator and my father as a music director for a play that was being produced during that time. Street children who came all the way from Cubao or Tondo were my companions when I grew up. They were either left by their families or victims of street syndicates. The older ones took care of me; they were my first yayas and yayos. I was greatly influenced by them that one time when I was angry at my parents, I packed all my toys in a bag and I told them, “Uuwi na ako sa Cubao!” This was the usual line that the street children say when they wanted to run away. Even though I was only five I remember it very well because my parents had a great laugh out of it. The little ones who had ages close to mine were my playmates. And since our house was on top of a hill which was next to a mountain, we knew a Mangyan tribe that our family became close friends with and me, especially with their children. I shared my Barbies with them, cooked guava leaves from my mini clay pot set, swam together like excited dolphins and climbed duhat trees where we ate its fruits right away. Bonfires that blazed in the night sand were events that we enjoyed as well, dancing like monkeys around a fire that crackled and laughed together with the people under its spell. We also learned how to write and read together. Classes were either by the beach or on top of a mountain under a Kalumpang tree that became close to us. Its branches served as a swing that offered a full view of the White Beach shore line down below, a view that we often ran away to. Life was very simple then. I remember it so well that I still dream of it.”

More or less, her concept of home can be traced in Chapter Two, or in particular, her sestina Distant:

“Mother, I have listened to your words,
But the world is not filled with my scars
Nor yours, for I have went through
Pleading and helpless streets
That has once led me to you.
And those roads will try to find me tonight.

However, after worrying about such literary concerns as figures of speech or social relevance that would transport her or us to another world, rather she has been grounded by the mundaneness of budgetary constraints!

Her mom, Maricel Montero, during Christmas break wrote us, with teacher, Yanna Acosta, about their concern: “According to my daughter it would cost around P50,000- P70,000 to print 200 books (this number was the required number of books to be printed).”

What makes them so anxious was that history might repeat itself – when another Creative Writing major, Kat Elona, graduated last year but was not able to launch her book.

Fernando “Tata Nanding” Josef, the “returning” PHSA director stepped into the picture and the next thing we knew from Facebook was that Mrs. Montero was inviting us to the launch of her daughter's book Under The Concrete Sun on March 14, 6 p.m., at the Penguin Cafe and Gallery!
Today, coincidentally, the 2009 Annual Nationwide Search for Young Arts Scholars team, headed by Rey Wong, is conducting live auditions in Cagayan de Oro Central School for graduating Grade VI and VII pupils from both private and public schools who are talented in Dance (Ballet and Folk), Music (Voice and Instrument), Theater Arts, Creative Writing, and Visual Arts.

Then, they will proceed to Bukidnon National High School (March 4), Tagum City National High School (March 6), Surigao del Norte National High School (March 9), Dadiangas West Elementary School (March 12), PHSA (March 18), and Cultural Center of the Philippines (March 23).

Qualified applicants will undergo the second round of tests and auditions which will be held at the PHSA in Mt Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna on 18-22 May (Batch 1) and 25-29 May (Batch 2) This is the much-awaited Tayo na sa Makiling where around 300 young PHSA scholarship aspirants stay for a week-long teaching-learning activities in the Arts and Basic Education curriculum programs handled by the faculty members and their guest experts in different fields like psychoeducational assessment and testing, time management, study and library skills, dormitory living, educational tour, and recreation activities.

The cream of the crop is expected be the School Year 2009-2010 success stories from among the 100 hopefuls. Audition Masters, among others, whose decision is final and unappealable, determine the fate of these future serious artists who shall enjoy free tuition, free dormitory accommodation, free meals, free classes with Master Teachers, free Master Classes with local and foreign artists, a monthly stipend, and educational exchanges with local and foreign partner institutions - valued at approximately P300,000.00!

So if you want your son or daughter to follow Shallah's footsteps, please visit PHSA's website at or email us at

In God's will!

Talking about kids, you still have until March 6 to submit your abstract for the Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Panitikang Pambata slated on July 16-18. The theme will be“Ang Panitikang Pambata sa Edukasyon” with the following subtopics: (1) kultura ng pagkabata at kabataang Filipino; (2) ang batang Filipino sa panitikan, panitikang pambata, at panitikang likha ng bata; (3) ang batang Filipino at ang mga panlipunang usapin; (4) ang batang Filipino sa industriya ng kultura; (5) ang sitwasyon ng panitikang pambata sa Pilipinas. For details, please email Dr. Rosario Torres-Yu, Dr.. Eugene Evasco, and Prof. Will Ortiz at

RICH KID: Sometimes, if you work hard enough, you can get what you want. But most times, what you want and what you get are two different things. Sometimes, God breaks our spirit to save our soul. Sometimes He breaks our heart to make us whole. Although we cannot have everything we want, we can want everything we have.
POOR KID: Ang damot mo. Pahiram lang naman ng PSP. Dami mo pang sinasabi.

The leaves of trees just keep falling.
You cannot keep someone to yourself forever.
Sometimes you have to let go.
Yet you have to remain standing like trees do.

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