|FR. TITO CALUAG FROM TATA NANDING JOSEF_PRESENT AND PAST PHSA DIRECTORS|
Laguna, not the Renault's latest hatchback but our very own Renaissance Man Jose Rizal's home province, became the center of arts and culture five months ago.
Last 16 April, Emilio Jacinto's 112th death anniversary was remembered inMajayjay where “The Brain of the Katipunan” died of malaria. A multi-sectoral pilgrimage was organized by the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo. LIRA adopted Jacinto as a model of virtue and heroism since it celebrated its 25thanniversary last year. Aside from flower offering, National Artist Virgilio Almario, LIRA's founder, launched his book Jacintina, a critical retrospect on Jacinto. Like the main man behind Kartilya, LIRA keeps on inspiring our youth through the arts. Fortunately, LIRA just had its karmic harvest. At the Malacaňang Palace last 27 October, LIRA president Phillip Kimpo, received its trophy as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) in the Philippines presented by the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and organized by the National Youth Commission.
Speaking of the young, on the other side of Laguna, in Los Baňos, we were able to witness last April the graduation of 32 young artists majoring in Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Theater, and Visual Arts. Well, we are talking about Batch Obra at the Philippine High for the Arts led by Renee Fajardo, Anne de Guzman, Eden Magalona, and Henrielle Pagkaliwangan who finished with high honors!
It was during the height of Rebecca Black's hit song Friday's popularity among kids and the might of Jan-jan Suan’s macho dance notoriety that offended not just the United Nation Children’s Fund, the Council for the Welfare of Children, and the Philippine Association of National Advertisers but the entire cybercitizenry!
Amidst the tyranny of mediocrity, we took the opportunity to look into the post-Edsa state of the Marcos-created PHSA made relevant by its alumni -- like Leeroy New who did Lady Gaga's outfit for the cover of her single Marry the Night or like Candice Adea who won the coveted Maris Liepa Prize for Outstanding Artistry at the 2011 Boston International Ballet Competition and, as the prize recipient, will be invited to perform in Paris in 2012.
We got invited to join the PHSA team in looking for new Leeroys or Candices through its Annual Nationwide Search for Young Art Scholars (ANSYAS) since last month in the such cities as Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Dipolog, Munoz, and Taguig. While all roads are leading to the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the Big Day – for the final audition and the written exam -- on 28 and 29 November, we deem it necessary to ask our Big Brother, or rather Father -- in PHSA's new Director IV -- Fr. Carmelo A. Caluag II S.J. He took over last year as if relieving his predecessor, veteran actor Fernando Josef, who had been playing the role of a prisoner, among others, in telenovelas in the Kapamilya network where Fr. Tito, its chaplain for life perhaps, served as an independent Director and Chairman of Audit Committee for ABS-CBN Corporation.
The transition from Tata to Tatay seemed to be custom-made in heaven.
Fr. Tito, who just turned 53 last 4 November, stood out among the applicants we interviewed not because he is our tokayo being a Carmelo too. But because he was grim and determined during the deliberation, with other of the Advisory Council headed by the CCP president, Dr. Raul Sunico, with us (Creative Writing); Denisa Reyes (Dance); Dr. Mauricia Borromeo (Music)l Rody Vera (Theater); and Dr. Charito Bitanga Peralta (Visual Arts). On one hand, we unanimously voted for him but, on the other, we were worried about his hectic sked that might prevent him from being the shepherd for our young artists!
After a year, how's PHSA under him? Or, was it, how's he under PHSA?
Vim Nadera: Fr. Tito, what made you apply as the Executive Director of the Philippine High School for the Arts?
Fr. Carmelo Caluag: I was actually asked to send my resume to PHSA around September 2009. From the start I was reluctant because I knew I had very little time. Despite my “objection” I was just asked to submit. No harm in submitting I told myself. Para lang huwag magtampo ang mga nag-nominate sa akin.
VN: How do you manage you time being with Alay sa Bansa, which is now Magna Animus Education System, Inc. (MAESI), for its teacher formation and youth leadership formation programs and, at the same time, completing his doctoral degree and serving as ABS-CBN as chaplain, coordinator for public service integration, and Managing Director of 71 Dreams Foundation, to name a few?
CC:Not without difficulty or stress. I do suffer. First just the time to devote to the work, we have only so much time in a day and with all the demands – plus travelling time – it is difficult. Second is the quality of work – with the limited time needing to be spread out to some many cincersn what suffers is the time to sit down and do the other important work – paper work, reading, studying, writing, thinking. Even praying suffers – at times I pray in the car and when schedules are busy this becomes more regular, praying in the car. Always I work in the car, computer, etc. I am luck I developed the ability to do this. (When I was in graduate studies for my Masters in 1993-1994, I learned to read in the train and bus.) When you don’t have time to do your “homework,” you do not come out with quality work. Third is knowing you are not meeting the standards of excellence you know should be the measure of your work. How do I deal with these? I delegate, I work with a team. Then I also set goals and expectations within the team. You might call it collegiality. Then time management is key – but often there are “surprise” meetings that changes all your plans and schedules. It still is important to plan and schedule so that you know how and what to adjust – and also when to say “no,” very important, when to say “no.” The challenge here is that at times the systems you work with are not used to planning, scheduling, etc. as “obsessively” as you’d like to and also we are a culture that tends to be “leader dependent” and not too much team or community oriented. But I think what allows me to work on various projects are the following: (1) I have teams in each that believe in our work and are committed to the vision and mission we have set – this is my greatest help here; (2) as such, these teams pinch-hit for me all the time and understand my schedule and the demands of my other jobs and they are learning to work independent of me, but always in tandem or coordination with me; and (3) my bosses have been kind enough to allow me flexi-time. Let me emphasize, though, that all these – except my work for public school principals and teachers’ formation – are temporary, i.e., I have a clear task to accomplish and when done I go. Plus I also am setting timetables, e.g. ABS-CBN is 5 years, I am on my second year; PHSA is 2 years – end of 2011-2012; the doctorate – done before 58, since I am just in the dissertation stage.