Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This is interesting!

Ian McEwan, author of several books including ATONEMENT and ON CHESIL BEACH, has written the libretto for an opera.

He focuses on two elements: sexual obsession and "overweening artistic self-regard... It's the notion that the creative artist lives by different rules, which I think is a disastrous notion, and a foolish one, because it suggests a lack of connection to other people."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Teaching

Just thinking about June and the upcoming months is enough to make even the most lionhearted person quiver in fear... and I'm definitely no Aslan.

It seems I shall be teaching in all levels. Yup... preschool (aka CASA, since I work in a Montessori school), gradeschool (I'll be handling the Music classes of Grades 1-3), high school (my bosses say I'm handling English classes, I'm not sure which particular levels as of the moment), and college (I'll be teaching part time in CMu as well)!

I'll know my final teaching load this coming week. Thank goodness that I'll be under the guidence of the CASA Directress, so the workload for kindergarten isn't that bad since she'll be doing the bulk of the lesson planning. But I've heard talk around the work place that I'll be asked to handle 2 clubs... they're forming a Choir and need a conductor (and since I'm the only music graduate, I'm the most suited to take on the job *gulp*)... and they want me to take on a sports-related club as well. So it's either arnis or taekwondo. *double gulp*

Talk about getting out of your comfort zone. :) I pray that I'll be given the strength and wisdom to discharge all my teaching duties well.

~ ~ ~ WHY TEACH? ~ ~ ~

"Yes, there are places when a man no longer feels the need of conquest but of purification and innocence, where he longs for simplicity and peace. In that innocent peace man seeks for a renewal of his life, for a kind of resurrection from the burdens of the world.

Yes, there must be in man great aspirations that are far removed from those of ordinary life. They represent a divine voice that nothing can still, calling men together to stand about the child...

... Countless experiences have brought to light a truth that is of great importance for education and society. It is clear that if men had a nature different from the one we know, they would have a different form of social organization. But if such a normalization of adult society is to be brought about, it must be done through education. A social change of this type cannot come from the ideas or energies of individual reformers but from a slow and steady emergence of a new world in the midst of the old, the gradual appearance of the world of the child of the adoloscent... The energy that can help mankind is that which lies within the child..

... Within the child lies the fate of the future."

--- from Maria Montessori's "The Secret of Childhood"

~ ~ ~

My uncle gave the best grad gift ever... two tickets to Lea Salonga's show, My Life Onstage!!!

Tata and I saw it last night, and were blown away by Ms. Salonga's stellar performance. 'Twas our first time to see her live, and what a treat it was! She was marvelous, incredible... I could list all the superlatives and still it wouldn't be enough to fully convey how awesome it was to hear favorites like Sun and Moon, I'd Give My Life For You, Kailan, A Whole New World, Reflection and the highlight of the show (for me) as well as the subject of a previous post, Two Words performed L-I-V-E.

*sighs in remembered bliss*

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Talking about performing... I'm very lucky that my day job allows me to accept harangs aka gigs (though I'm not sure if this will still be the case, come June). Last week I sang at a dinner in the Executive House, and just this Thursday we had a show in Baclaran (read all about it in my twinnie's blog).

I had an epiphany that night. You see, half of the 20 songs we did were Filipino kundimans and folk songs like Sarung Banggui, Nasaan Ka Irog, Matud Nila, Pakiusap, Madaling Araw, Bituing Marikit, etc. And it was so overwhelming, how a lot of the audience members were septa/octogenarians, and how they shed tears and were deeply moved when they heard these pieces performed.

And I realized it doesn't really matter that not very many people listen to the kind of music we perform, if these few truly appreciate it. And if we want to expand our audience, we have to start from the grassroots level... with the kind of music education our people are getting.

Also, I realized more fully the importance of music graduates in the preservation of our heritage. When our grandfathers/grandmothers pass on, who will be left to study and perform the wealth of beautiful Filipino music of past generations?

It is a sweet burden to bear.

~ ~ ~

I have to prepare for two lectures I'm giving this week... one on Dalcroze and one on Kodaly. I'll be sharing what I learned in the summer workshops I took to my fellow teachers. Wish me luck!!!


Idealist + Lawyer = fellow Ex Libris member TJ :)

Drawing Lines

From Theater 130 days under Sir Behn Cervantes to bonding sessions over books and coffee ... ah, Nicole dear, I look forward to future adventures with you! :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mother's Day / My New Job / Before A Harang

Did you know that there are 41 steps to (properly) washing one's hands?

That's just one of the many things I've learned in the past two weeks. I've been undergoing intensive training in the Montessori method, and oh-me-oh-my, what a pleasant challenge it is turning out to be. I'm getting the equivalent of finishing school education combined with child psychology / early childhood education. :)

No wonder they say that undergoing Montessori training is life-changing. It is a deeply spiritual experience! Aside from learning the minutiae of each and every action, broken down into its most basic parts for the benefit of the 3-year-old, and aside from learning how to manipulate the hundreds of materials in a Montessori classroom, I'm also learning valuable life lessons.

(It is no coincidence that Maria Montessori herself was a devout Catholic/Christian. Her spirituality permeates her entire method!).

Just a few of the life lessons I'm learning:

1. HOW TO GUARD AGAINST PRIDE. The very first thing a Montessori teacher needs to do is take away her preconceived notions of the child as an annoying little brat that can't do anything for itself and is therefore a nuisance and a threat to the peace of the adults around her. We adults tend to look down on children, thinking them inferior beings. We impose our will on children... always forbidding them to do things on their own, or doing things FOR them when we get too impatient at their slow rate of putting on their own clothes. Montessori has proven that children are innately "good," that when they have adjusted psychically to a prepared environment where they can feel at home, where there are child-sized implements and furniture, where there are materials with which to work with that hone their skills... even the most bratty and "disturbed" child will become calm, behaved, obedient and independent. The cause of this transformation is work. Somehow, repeatedly working with the materials not only allows for self-learning, but also allows the child to get in touch with this inner goodness common in ALL children... one that derives deep satisfaction in working, in orderliness and quietness. And when we see the beautiful nature of the child surface, it gives us adults such hope for the incalculable potential for goodness in humankind. Indeed, we learn from children more than they could ever learn from us. They humble us by their generosity, their trusting natures, their natural love for their environment and their unquestioning and unconditional love for us flawed adults.

2. WORK PRODUCES VIRTUE. I think I already explained this in no.1 :) haha. Got carried away up there.

3. PATIENCE. Only a few months ago, I was a stressed-out college student, trying to get things done as quickly as possible. Never mind that this paper is substandard work, the important thing is it gets passed on time! I was always "on-the-go," such that people actually told me that they always seem to see me running.

But here, in the Montessori classroom, in this sacred place where every movement must be perfect, every motion graceful and fluid, every action economical and precise... I am learning patience. Here, it is not the end result that matters, but the process involved. I must confess, the first couple of days I nearly went mad from the hundreds of times I had to return my chair to its proper place after sitting on it (and yup, there's specific "choreography" involved as well, to ensure that we do it flawlessly and without a sound). I kept thinking, "It's just a chair!!! Why do I have to treat it like it's gold?"

I was put in my place when it was explained later that leaving chairs around could prove to be the cause of accidents in the classroom, and that the children themselves got bothered when a chair was not in its place... such is magnitude of the child's sensitivity to order!!

I have so many splendid opportunities to lift each and every action up to Him, to look at "drudgery" as spiritual offerings and do everything to the best of my ability.


We adults have gotten so used to living, we take everything for granted. And so we tend to treat our environment (and even each other, a lot of times) carelessly.

But to a 3-year-old, each day is a new adventure, and it is a heartwarming experience to witness the little ones so rapt in attention with simple practical things like learning to wash one's hands, and it does my jaded heart good to see their radiant faces glowing with deep joy upon completion of a challenging work. :)

Aside from these, I'm also learning more practical things like how to dress/ undress children. I've never had the opportunity to do this before, and it was a very scary experience for me the first time I did it!! Haha. It was after a swimming party, to celebrate their last day in summer class. I was only supposed to observe, but since the other teachers had their hands full I decided to help out. There's a SCIENCE to it, I tell you! And it's so funny and sweet, how these innocent ones are so unashamed of baring their bodies in public. The first kid I helped out was a little boy, and although I did my best to take off his swimsuit while keeping him covered with a towel wrapped around his waist, since I only had two hands the towel slipped and he was exposed for a coule of seconds. The little darling just smiled at me sheepishly and put his tiny hands on my shoulders as I helped him put on his underwear.

I don't know why but this tender scene touched me deeply. And I've had several 'touching' moments in the past two weeks alone.

(Yes, I'm preparing to be a mommy! haha)

And yes, I'm loving my job. :) Despite the stress of adjusting to a new environment, and additional workload because I'm "new," I can say that I'm very happy to be where I am now.

More Montessori stories to follow! Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

On Lea Salonga

I was idly channel-surfing this morning, looking for a good program to watch which would justify killing an hour since I had that amount of time before our family would leave the house (yes I am in run-on mode), when I came across the Jescom show, LIGHT TALK featuring Fr. Chito Tagle, and he was interviewing the pride of Filipinos everywhere, Lea Salonga.

Now, I've been an admirer of Lea's since I was a little girl (which Filipino isn't? If her historical Broadway accomplishments weren't enough, there's the fact that she did the singing voice for not one, but TWO Disney Princesses! Hehe, my Disney-babe side is showing. I might argue that being a Disney princess voice is worth winning a dozen Tony's.), but now I am a certified GROUPIE!! Where do I sign up for her official fan club?

You see, this was the first time I heard her speak in an interview, and I had no idea how remarkably bright, witty and funny she is... how gracious, humble and deeply religious this amazing woman is. Dressed very simply in a button-down polo and her hair in a no-fuss ponytail, she completely won me over with her warmth and laughter, her incredible sense of humor and down-to-earth manner.

Before, I respected her artistry, but now my admiration has increased a hundredfold. She is worthy of emulation in every way, and we are lucky to have her as our ambassador of good will abroad! :)

(Incidentally, she keeps a blog. Unlike a lot of celebrity blogs out there, hers is full of wonderful insights and is actually worth reading.) :D

The interview featured a video of her wedding, and I was incredibly moved and couldn't help it, I was crying when she sang her "I do's" to her husband (who in turn was also moved to tears! Awwww....) Here's the video... trust me, you'll need tissue!

She sang this wonderful song entitled "Two Words," composed by Louie Ocampo and lyrics by Freddie Santos.

In a while, in a word,
Every moment now returns.
For a while, seen or heard,
How each memory softly burns.
Facing you who brings me new tomorrows,
I thank God for yesterdays,
How they led me to this very hour,
How they led me to this place...

Every touch, every smile,
You have given me in care.
Keep in heart, always I'll,
Now be treasuring everywhere.
And if life should come to just one question,
Do I hold this moment true?
No trace of sadness,
Always with gladness...
'I DO...'

Now a song that speaks of now and ever,
Beckons me to someone new,
Unexpected, unexplored, unseen,
Filled with promise coming through.
In a while, in a word,
You and I forever change,
Love so clear, never blurred,
Has me feeling wondrous, strange,
And if life should come to just one question,
Do I face each moment true?
No trace of sadness, always with gladness,
'I DO...'

Never with sadness...
Always with gladness...

The thing with graduating from college is, one starts thinking about things in the future... things one might have never thought of before due to lack of time or inspiration. And I must confess, before this morning, I haven't really thought of marriage.

But seeing LIGHT TALK, and that lovely video of Lea serenading her beloved at their wedding, really HAD me thinking!!

And it's settled. I am singing "Two Words" in my wedding, as well as the George Canseco song, "Ikaw." :)

Hmmm. Now all that remains is for my husband to be revealed to me. :) In God's time.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

When A Poet Writes Prose

... the result is magical.

Some years back I've had the opportunity to read a couple of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and was an instant fan. A few days ago I chanced upon a volume containing most of his poems and examples of his prose, edited by W.H. Gardner, and thanks to several "waiting periods" was able to finish the book today.

I am not trained in literary criticism, all I know is that I am touched deeply by certain poems... and I wanna share!! :) Below are some examples of his work:

"I have found my music in a common word,

Trying each pleasurable throat that sings

And every praised sequence of sweet strings,

And know infallibly which I preferred.


The authentic cadence was discovered late

Which ends those only strains that I approve,

And other science all gone out of date

And minor sweetness scarce made mention of:

I have found the dominant of my range and state –

Love, O my God, to call Thee Love and Love."




"But ah, bright forelock, cluster that you are

Of favored make and mind and health and youth,

Where lies your landmark, seamark, or soul’s star?

There’s none but truth can stead you. Christ is truth...


Enough: corruption was the world’s first woe.

What need I strain my heart beyond my ken?

O but I need bear my burning witness though

Against the wild and wanton work of men."


And of course there are his more famous poems: God's Grandeur, As kingfishers catch fire, Pied Beauty, etc., the texts of which can be found in several pages online.


Reading his prose proved most inspiring as well!


If I were the one writing, I'd say: "This morning I submitted the last of the test papers... if it hadn't been for that responsibility, I would have been able to practice piano like I wanted to."


Genius Gerard (hehe, feeling close, first name basis kami!) said it thus:


"This morning I gave in what I believe is the last batch of examination-work this autum (and if all were seen, fallen leaves of my poor life between all the leaves of it), and but for that want I might prance on ivory this very afternoon."




Again, another example... I would say: "I started composing music in the style of Gregorian chant in A minor for a certain poem because it struck me deeply."


Genius Gerard said: "I began some music, Gregorian, in the natural scale of A, to Collin's Ode to Evening. Quickened by the heavenly beauty of that poem I groped in my soul's very viscera for the tune and thrummed the sweetest and most secret catgut of the mind."




(Why, oh why, can't we mortals sound THIS good? Hehe)


Last na.


I'd say: "How beautiful the bluebell is!"


Gerard said: "I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have been looking at. I know the beauty of our Lord by it."


Last na last na. This is his description of the Aurora Borealis:


"First saw the Northern Lights. My eye was caught by beams of light and dark very like the crown of horny rays the sun makes behind a cloud. ... They rose slightly radiating thrown out from the earthline. Then I saw soft pulses of light one after another rise and pass upwards arched in shape but waveringly and with the arch broken. They seemed to float, not following the warp of the sphere as falling stars look to do but free though concentrical with it. This busy working of nature wholly independent of the earth and seeming to go on in a strain of time not reckoned by our reckoning of days and years but simpler and as if correcting the preoccupation of the world by being preoccupied with and appealing to and dated to the day of judgement was like a new witness to God and filled me with delightful fear."


Forgive the incoherent fan-girl rave style of this post. Contact me if you want to join the Philippine chapter of his fan club ;)

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