Health And Family

Art for Rizal's sake

iTEACH - Jose Claro -

As I write this reaction paper, my mind keeps going back to that moment when we were able to watch a very special performance suited only for the rich and highly-educated,” writes Cyril in Filipino, one of our students at ERDA Tech after watching Tanghalang Pilipino’s

Noli Me Tangere: The Musical

at the Cultural Center of the Philippines a few weeks ago. Her concluding line is quite telling, and would have made Rizal turn over in his grave at the thought that only a privileged few could have the opportunity of appreciating his masterpiece intended to enlighten not just the


Tiago of Philippine society but most of all, the Crispin and Basilio of his ailing nation. 

Thankfully, there are more than enough Ibarras out there willing to share the opportunities they currently have to educate the poor into loving their nation. And I didn’t have to look very far. With no prodding from me (as I already ask too much from her), my generous mom decided to sponsor the tickets for the said play, amounting to P1,000 each for the whole junior batch. Fortunately, my mother received help from the equally magnanimous members of the CCP board, who in turn was able to persuade Tanghalang Pilipino (TP) to lower the ticket prices in order to accommodate a poor school like ERDA Tech. True to their reputation, TP was more than willing to give us a fair price for their production show. 

Needless to say, this generosity produced much fruit as most of my students deeply appreciated the drama version of the novel, thanks to the performance of the cast of TP and the singing prowess of lead actors Mark Bautista and Cris Villonco, among others. I remember a few years back when we brought a batch of third year students from Xavier School to watch the play in an afternoon show and I saw many of my students sleeping halfway through the show. I couldn’t really blame them back then, as I understood how rich students would find it hard to appreciate a musical written in deep Filipino sung operatically by the ensemble. What was heartwarming this time was how I saw my ERDA students had eyes wide-awake in an evening performance, fully appreciative of a story they have not yet even read. During the 15-minute intermission, I even saw a handful of students who passed on the chance of exploring the exteriors of the theater to ask questions from their Filipino teachers about the meaning of each scene. Trained since grade school not to ask questions as sign of understanding, it was a first to see my ERDA students take the initiative to learn more about the piece of literature they are discussing.

   The greatest objective for the educational trip though was captured by Jackie, who wrote many lines about how she was tickled pink by the scenes of Maria Clara and Crisostomo but chose to end her essay by writing, “kahit hindi pa namin pormal na binasa at pinag-aralan ang bungang-diwa ng pambansang bayani, naiwan na sa aming isipan ang buong katotohanan ng kalagayang panlipunang nagaganap noon.” I personally think Rizal would have been thrilled to read how a 14-year-old student was able to look beyond the romantic scenes of Ibarra and Maria Clara and realize how even the most pure and innocent relationship can be thwarted by the overpowering social cancer of Philippine society. How this was achieved, Jackie attributes it to one word -- sining.

   Famous Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky says it well, “When people begin to understand art, lives are changed.”

   In the four years of teaching poor students at ERDA Tech, never before have I seen my students so authentically engaged, motivated, and enthralled in literature. The CCP board and Tanghalang Pilipino must be given credit; once again for bringing Rizal’s novel to life the way he intended it to be. For once, his novel was not just forced on students who were required to study it with much rigor but instead was humanly appreciated, thanks to the excellent presentation of the actors and staff of the theater company.  Such is the most fitting tribute we could give to Rizal, one of the few national heroes in the world who is not just eloquent and patriotic, but most admirable of all, a literary genius.











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