Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Round 2 of a plug: Soprano Katrina Saporsantos in Homecoming Recital

Katrina Saporsantos in Concert

(courtesy of Ate Rina from her blog)

The Foundation for the Musical Filipino (FMF), in cooperation with the MCO Foundation and BDO, takes pride in presenting soprano Katrina Saporsantos, who recently returned from her studies abroad, in a concert at the Francisco Santiago Hall, BDO South Tower (formerly PCIB), Makati City on Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 6 p.m.

In May of this year, Ms. Saporsantos received her master of music degree in classical voice performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York under the tutelage of soprano Ashley Putnam. While at MSM, she sang for masterclasses conducted by soprano Lauren Flanigan and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. She won 1st prize in the 2008 Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition and was invited by the South African Consul General to sing the South African National Anthem at their Freedom Day celebration. At the personal invitation of Ambassador Hilario Davide, Permanent Ambassador of the Philippines to the UN, she sang at the Philippine Independence Day Dinner held at the United Nations in New York.
Prior to her studies in New York, Ms. Saporsantos received her bachelor of music degree in voice at the University of the Philippines College of Music studying under tenor Ramon Acoymo. She was a prizewinner at the 2002 Solo Voice Category of the National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA). She was a featured singer for three consecutive years at the Bamboo Organ Festival from 2004 to 2006; at the 7th San Agustin International Music Festival; and at performances of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, most notably for Orff’s Carmina Burana and the Philippine Premiere of Mahler’s 8th Symphony. In 2003, she performed the role of Bizen no Kata at the world premiere of Manuel Maramba’s Ukon Takayama in Japan.

For her homecoming recital, Ms. Saporsantos will perform music by Amy Beach, Augusto Espino, Richard Wagner, Alfredo Catalani, Giacomo Puccini, Jules Massenet, and the world premiere of a piece by John August Pamintuan. Accompanying her will be pianist Benjie Dia.
Ms. Saporsantos will be shortly returning to New York to pursue a Professional Studies Certificate under a scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music. She will also be performing Wagner’s Wesendock Lieder with the Manhattan Philharmonia under the baton of Maestro Klauspeter Seibel on March 27, 2009.

Soprano Katrina Saporsantos in Recital, Francisco Santiago Hall, BDO South Tower, Makati Ave., corner HV de la Costa, Makati City, August 3, 2008; 6 pm. Tickets, priced at P200 for students and P500 for the general public will be available at the hall entrance on the day of the concert. For reservations, please contact Mayenne at 9366781/09178997579 or For sponsorships please contact Conrad at 3874392/8924769 or

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reflections on Herrera's article: 'The Value of the UP Experience'

The value of the UP Experience

First published 6 June 2008
The Manila Standard Today
by Maya Baltazar Herrera

There are no children here

This week, I went to a meeting at the UP School of Economics and I came away with renewed belief in the value of the UP experience.

If you speak to anyone from UP – student, professor, alumnus - you will get no Latin slogans or apologies about how the school teaches values in spite of its outward materialism. This is not a student population that thinks about basketball games or memorizes school songs. This is not a school that chooses one statement to drill into the minds of its students.

This is not, of course, to say that UP does not care about values. It is that UP, in its own inimitable way, believes that values cannot be force-fed. The statue of the naked man that guards the entrance to the campus in Diliman best represents UP's approach to all education and the respect for students that is the center of its educational philosophy. All who come to this university, regardless of origin, bring themselves naked, carrying nothing but their thirst; like the proverbial empty teacup, making an offering of self, waiting to be filled.


For many students from private schools, the first lesson that is learned here is that this is a school for adult education. There are no children here, and that is why no parents are allowed either at freshman orientation or during enlistment.

The spirit of the oblation lies not in a mother or a father offering up hischild to the world, it is that of the newly adult, freely offering of his self.

I remember quite vividly that moment that drove home how different the UP education continues to be. It was my daughter's first semester in university and she had invited a group of her high school friends to our house. One of them asked a classmate whether she had gotten her parents permission form approved for that weekend's outreach activity. From the UP population around the table came the mock horrified responses of: "Permission? " and "Outreach?"

I thought about it and realized that all of these students were, in fact, legally adults. I thought it interesting that only the UP students appeared to appreciate this fact.

Even more interesting was the "outreach" comment. I think back to my own university years and the last three years that my daughter has been in UP and am certain there is no lack of civic activity. There are medical missions, house building projects, tree planting, community work and barrio work and so on. I realize now that the reaction was not to the activity as much as it was to the use of the word.

One of the most important differences of the UP campus from all the other campuses my children considered going to is that this campus has no walls. Many parents fear this. They are afraid their precious children will not be protected from the ills of society in a campus that is so open to the rest of the world.

But UP is open to the world in more ways than just not having the physical walls.


Being in UP means much more than being a student. This campus is enmeshed in a community. This community is made up not only of the transient population of students who go home each night. It includes the many, many students who lay their heads on dorm pillows each night, enduring time away from families in the firm belief that this campus will bring them closer to their dreams. This community includes the families of faculty and employees who live on campus. It also includes the many people who work not for the University, but nevertheless work on campus. This community includes the lady who remembers the brand of cigarette you smoke and automatically hands it to you in the morning. It includes the gentleman who remembers you like pepper on your egg sandwich or the one who knows you will dip your fish balls into two of his sauces, who patiently waits for you to eat your three sticks before being paid. It includes the woman who saw all her children through college by selling peanuts every day on campus.

To a UP student, the daily heartbeat of the school is never far away from the realities of the country. The word outreach suggests that civic activity is something outside of the normal, something you do once in a while. It must be immensely difficult to think of community as a thing apart when your campus experience brings you face to face with all of the world's realities every day.


All of this probably explains that unmistakable sense of self that you will find from students who come from this campus.

Here is a campus where all have the same opportunities to learn. But also, here is a campus that will give all the same opportunities to fail. There are no guidance counsellors who will chase after you because you have been skipping classes. The attitude this university takes is that you must take the initiative – for learning, for seeking help, for realizing you need help.

That is not to say that no help exists. But it is help that is not forced upon you.

This is a university rich in both introspection and conversation. On this campus, the student is constantly exposed to people – faculty, administrators, community members, other students – who care deeply and passionately about the world. The conversations are almost never purely cerebral. A single graph can provoke comments about government policy and its effects on people.

As a result, UP is home to a student population that looks at the world and cares. It is easy to see pictures of protesting students and dismiss it as radicalism. But there are few campuses in this country where students go beyond a passing curiosity about what is happening in the world beyond their own lives. There are even fewer universities where students not only care but also actually believe they have a responsibility to make a difference – not in some hazy future – today.

And that, I believe, is what truly forges character. Character is not molded by speeches or long classes in ethics or theology. Character grows from within. It begins by being handed the keys to your own self and being told you are in charge; you now have power over yourself and your own actions – and with that power, you take on responsibilities.

Each student in this university goes through his own unique voyage of discovery. On his voyage, as he decides what he cares about, what he will fight for and what he will sacrifice, he crafts his own personal values. That is what education is truly about.

~ ~ ~ ~

But is the educational system doing its job? I know I sound old-fashioned and overly conservative, but I really fear for the innocent freshman who steps inside UP with his values and morals not yet formed. It is a very dangerous place for someone who has a very weak moral grounding. One can too easily lose one's way.

I am a product of the UP, and while a part of me takes pride in what the author mentioned, the teacher in me wishes that there was more guidance available for UP students. I think the fault lies not in UP, but in our country's educational system as a whole. There is too much focus on nurturing the intellect, and not enough focus on imparting values.

Too often have I come across this kind of student whom C.S. Lewis describes in detail in his The Abolition of Man... those who proudly call themselves "intellectuals":

..."It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so."

I agree with C.S. Lewis when he said that "for every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments..."

   I think that what is lacking in our educational system as a whole is what Lewis calls the doctrine of objective value, "the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false.."

   I expressed my thoughts on this in an earlier post. Now that I am a teacher, I believe in this all the more. The most important thing we teachers can pass on to our students are the values and morals upon which the basis of humanity are founded upon.

   C.S. Lewis contrasted the Old and New styles of teaching. "Where the old initiated, the new merely 'conditions.'" He meant that where the old style of teaching involved the teacher passing on to his students the values and sentiments that he, the teacher himself, holds dear, the new style of teaching involves training the intellect, and teaching the student that anything pertaining to sentiment and emotions are unreasonable and contemptible. That kind of training can have dangerous and far reaching consequences.

   From what I have personally experienced during my stay in U.P., most of the professors belong to the new school of teaching. They would have us do away with traditional values altogether, and build up a set of our own.

   May there never come the day that Values Ed. will be eradicated from the school curriculum.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Quick Post

"There are two reasons why people start shouting at their opponents: one is that they think the opponent is so strong that every weapon must be used against him; the other is that they think their own case so weak that it has to be fortified by noise."

- - Roger Scruton

I couldn't help but think of certain recent events when I read this passage. Although he was talking about the context of atheists dancing on the coffin of religion in our postmodern, "god-less" society, Scruton's words are relevant to word wars, rallies, and a whole lot of other things.

Thank you to all those people who posted encouraging words in my last post. A part of me regrets the white-hot emotions that prompted me to rant online, because it ressurected a long-past issue that has been blown way out of proportion. May these be the last words on the subject. My family and I are very grateful for your support. :) *GROUP HUG!!!!*

~ ~ ~ ~

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT is one of the best, most profound movies I've ever seen. *insert fan-girl shriek here*

It's a classic, grabe, with Shakespearean super villains and a complex hero with an all-too-human vulnerability... dark and macabre, with the scariest bad guy in all movie history. The Joker was Evil incarnate (Heath Ledger deserves a posthumous Oscar for this role!!!), I swear, I was shivering in my seat every time he was onscreen.

What a great movie to watch at the end of a hectic week.

~ ~ ~ ~

A big thank you to Ate Rina, who gave a talk on her experiences while taking her M.A. at the Manhattan School of Music to the MuPC 101 (Diction 1) class.

Ate Rina recently won 1st prize at the Manhattan School Voice Concerto Competition. Voice students from all levels (B.M. to Ph.D.) competed, and there was only one winner selected, no 2nd/3rd prize. She was it. :)

She will be singing at the Francisco Santiago Hall (Equitable PCI Bank, Makati Ave.) on August 3, Sunday, 6 p.m. Do come and support her!

~ ~ ~ ~

Click here to view the UP Cinemalaya 2008 schedule.

I want to watch the following:

BOSES (VOICES) by Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil is the story of a musician, who regains back his humanity by giving violin lessons to a child of the slums. In turn, the child, through the instrument, is able to get back his voice from a muted, abused and desensitized existence. This is a story of a friendship founded on the sublime beauty of music.

CONCERTO by Paul Alexander Morales is about how, in the last part of World War II, a special piano concert is held in the forests of Davao. In these boondocks, a displaced Filipino family becomes acquainted with a group of Japanese officers, similarly camped nearby. Based on true stories from the director's family, Concerto celebrates a family whose reverence for life, expressed through their love of music and friendship, can survive even war, and shows how beauty and compassion can grow in even the harshest of situations.


Tara! Nood tayo! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Insult me all you want... but DO NOT insult my family

This is too much. I can no longer keep silent.

They can insult me all they want... but now they've gone too far. This is far beyond the bounds of decency. Have they no shame?!?!

"kilala ko si Gabi.Elitista yan. Ang tatay Hitler. Ang nanay Praning.Sosyalera pero kung makaasta kunyari makamasa. Stuff it olreydi Gabi! Hindi bagay sa mga katulad mong ang vocab ay puro "ewww.." "you know,like,..." And for your info, yungmga nagpopost diyan na anti-nessa, bro at sis nya.Yung iba,tatay nya yun. Bum kase yun pero in fairness, yamanin."

This was the latest comment on the infamous blog post concerning a CAL student's poem written about my speech (not exactly in honor of it, either).

Lies upon lies upon lies. My father is, unfortunately, computer-illiterate, but he is the farthest thing from a bum. And my sister and brother have far better things to do with their time than post dozens upon dozens of times.

When will it stop? Will they ever end? Will they stop at nothing?

Lies. Lies. I'm sick of it.

* whew... I feel much better after getting this off my chest... blogging really IS therapeutic*

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Surviving one month

   I did it! I've survived one month of juggling two teaching jobs and M.A. classes! :) Though definitely I could not have done it without His help.

   There are quite a number of things I've had to give up as a result of taking on so much. Probably the thing I miss the most is training with Sangkil Karasak, because the new training schedule conflicts with my teaching schedule in UP. I hope I can get a more workable schedule next semester.

   One month of teaching has changed me. I bumped into an old friend yesterday just before my M.A. class in Ateneo, and he remarked on how much my demeanor has changed. He said I still look young, but somehow I seemed more mature. I definitely do not look like an undergrad.

   I've learned so much in the past month, probably more than my five years in college put together. My optimistic childish heart is unchanged, but I've grown wiser and more patient. I think I'm finally growing up.

   A freshman student of mine stayed behind after class and asked me this question: "Ma'am, ito lang ba ang gusto niyong gawin? Magturo?"

   I was struck by how she added "lang," but took no offense because I saw that she didn't mean to give any.

   I also realized that I am at peace and quite joyful to be where I am, under the circumstances that He has engineered for me. I feel quite fulfilled, and while I may not be doing dramatic acts that will change the course of history or ensure the posterity of my name throughout the ages, I am content. :)

   I realize how lucky I am to be in a profession that is emotionally and spiritually fulfilling, though definitely not in the financial sense, hehe. I am very blessed to be able to live out my life according to the ideals and values I hold dear, and not have to compromise them the way some college graduates are forced to, upon entering the dog-eat-dog corporate world.

   This is all for now, I have to type up LP's and make quizzes now.

~ Congratulations to the Madama Butterfly cast and crew for a splendid job! I hope it gets restaged... on a weekend sana. :) ~

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