Friday, May 14, 2010

ROOT (May 03, 2010)

Wika, our second child, wondered why those big and bold acacias fell after the storm Milenyo struck University of the Philippines campus in Diliman in 2006, four months before his younger brother Awit passed away.
Astonished, we tried to explain that probably those trees were not deeply rooted.
“Rootedness” was the word he recalled when he accompanied us to the 6th Romblon Discussion List-CLEAR (Cultural, Livelihood, Education Assistance for Romblon) Writing Workshop in Sibale, Romblon last summer – and we learned that Ishmael Fabicon and Nikon Fameronag had been helping kids in reading and writing in their languages we were unaware of -- Asi, Unhan, and Ini.
After a month of toying with the idea of roots, he, together with his Ina and his sisters -- Psalma and Sulat -- took part in the 2nd Cordillera Creative Writing Workshop at St. Mary’s School in Sagada, Mountain Province upon the invitation of the former University of the Philippines Baguio’s College of Arts and Communications Dean Elizabeth Calinawagan who had been promoting literature written in Kalinga, Ifugao, Bontoc in the Mountain Province, Tinggian in Abra, Adasen in Apayao, and Pangasinan with other languages in Region II such as Ibanag, Itawis, Gaddang, Yogad in Isabela, Ilongot in Nueva Vizcaya, and Ivatan in Batanes.
Last May, our family missed how rooted was Uswag Kaakiang Basudeňo in claiming literarily their language in Basud, Camarines Norte as well as Buklurang Sining ng Lalawigan ng Quezon (BUSILAQ) in re-claiming Tagalog, far different from the Filipino others thought of, which urban dwellers were familiar with, say, in Ateneo de Manila University High School where we had a talk on Filipino Character or in La Salle Green Hills we tackled Paggamit ng Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Pagtuturo ng Kasaysayan.
Our summer this year was rooted on what we did last summer!
This April's heat saw us in Miriam College Grade School's Filipino Department chair Elizelle Hapatinga tasked us, through our thesis advisees Rose Antolin and Angelica Flores, to give a refresher course in Filipino for their teachers in preparation for the National Achievement Test last March.
And then, last week, we had been in two hot Certificate Programs in Cultural Education (CPCE).
First, we taught Poetry in Filipino last April 26 among public elementary and high school teachers from El Niňo-hit Region 3.
Under the Art Appreciation 2 with three-unit credits, it was offered by the Bulacan Arts Culture and History Institute (BACH) in consortium with the University of Regina Carmeli in Malolos funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Its administrator, Joseph Cristobal, also a Cultural Center of the Philippines' Senior Culture and Arts Officer, reminded us time and again that this certificate program will serve as an enrichment program not only for basic education teachers who teach MAKABAYAN but also for arts and heritage advocates in Higher Education Institutions and the like.
As a teacher, we were expected to imbue them with a strong sense of cultural and historical awareness, at least, in one whole day of their five-week intensive training designed to integrate understanding of our arts and culture as well as our national and regional identities while developing a deeper sensitivity to diverse cultures.
After two days, Rica Palis brought us to Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Calamba, where we brought The Literary Arts and its Practices in the Philippines to the nth root.
She, and Dr. Ruel Manuel -- the Graduate School and Professional Services dean who was literally overseeing everything when we were there perspiring while proving a point in an air-conditioned room -- reiterated that this scholarship is open not only to teachers but also to all cultural workers.
Unfortunately, not even a municipal or a provincial tourism officer from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (CALABARZON) area availed of this free 12-unit post-baccalaureate CPCE.
Rica, also the SJLC Department of Culture and Arts director, was also saddened by the fact that her co-faculty members did not even bother to apply.
To think, it would be a cure-all for teachers who could not even integrate, root and branch, all the functional understanding of the local and national history, culture, heritage and the arts into the five subject areas – Social Sciences, Languages, Science, Math and Music Art Physical Education Health (MAPEH).
The content and structure of the program is patterned after Malikhaing Guro and Tagputihan format developed by Arts Research and Training Institute in Southern Tagalog, Inc. (ARTIST, Inc.).
Before going to the said CPCE of 216-hour intensive training, we attended a four-hour consultation meeting at the Higher Education Development Center Building auditorium.
Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chair, Dr. Emmanuel Angeles, discussed the root cause of his supposed legacy: the establishment of a Philippine prototype of a pre-university educational system!
As the lone member of the Technical Panel for Literature, we felt at home with Dr. Manuel Dy Jr., Dr. Zosimo Lee, and Dr. Jesus Rodrigo Torres (Philosophy); Bro. Rey Vargas (Catholic Religious Studies); Dr. Anacleto Carag (Christian Formation); Dr. Mashur bin Ghalib Jundam (Islamic Studies); and Dr. Marilu Madrunio, Dr. Ma. Milagros Laurel, Dr. Corazon Santos, Dr. Sheilee Vega, and Prof. Patrocinio Villafuerte (Language).
In less than an hour, we were able to produce certain “curricular reforms.”
A pre-university student, meaning after graduating from high school, must have taken in his or her two years the following: 9 to 12 units of History; 9 to 12 units of Art Appreciation; 12 units of Math (Algebra, Statistics, Trigonometry, and Calculus); and Science (Earth and Space Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics).
We proposed that if give 18 to 24 units to English, we ought to be fair with Filipino by sharing the same number of units.
Plus, the first two semesters should be devoted to reading -- from regional to national to Asian to World Literature, for instance -- while the remaining two should be focused on honing the student's writing skills – both in English and Filipino.
Our dear chair came back and began hopping from one table to another.
Until he reached ours.
Like a wellwisher eager to kiss the debutante, we did it formally by raising our hand.
But he appeared to be always looking the other way.
Perhaps, he could read our mind loaded with questions like: Whatever happened to the study Philippine Main Education Highway conducted by the former Technical Panel for General Education chair, Dr. Isagani Cruz, and his research team including Dr. Queena Lee Chua, Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno, and Dr. Cristina Padolina?
Or, maybe he could see the indio in us, rooting for whatever Filipino, when he answered right away what we were supposed to ask: “I’m a product of English instruction from Grade 1 until I finished graduate school. I don’t have to study Filipino, I can speak it.”
On our way home, Agua de Mayo fell freely, preempting the Labor Day.
So hard that the heavens seemed to be in grief.
As if crying for the Nueva Vizcaya State University's rooted, or uprooted, lady president, Dr. Marilou Gilo-Abon, who succumbed to cancer on her 55th birthday last April 23.
Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.
It is amazing to realize that living in simplicity gives true contentment. We go as we come to this world. In the end, nothing is ours to keep. So share what we have: smiles, knowledge, hugs, good words, time, love... Love more. Hate less. Ignore critics. Love life.

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