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A Boholana teacher's tale: Once upon a classroom, there was music |

Travel and Tourism

A Boholana teacher's tale: Once upon a classroom, there was music

Alixandra Caole Vila -

MANILA, Philippines - For most people, teaching music is just a route to extra cash but for Zosima Acuram, a native of Bohol, it is a mission to change the lives of other people.

On June 14,, together with other members of the press visited the municipality of Dimiao in Bohol. 

The group was welcomed in a classroom where warm smiles and handshakes from the natives and the Dimiao Children's Rondalla, who are all set to show us the traditional Boholano dance "Kuradang," are waiting.

Kuradang is a Visayan courtship dance usually performed in big social gatherings like festivals, weddings and baptisms. It has been known as the unofficial national dance of Bohol because of its popularity in the area.

Unlike other folk dances which use big props and grand costumes, Kuradang, according to Gov. Edgardo Chatto, highlights the dance steps with a lot of hand and feet movements - brisk, fluid and romantic. Kuradang involves intricate movements that only few can master.

Lolo Miguel Igam and Lola Imelia dance the traditional Kuradang.

As the natives settle on the stage and children scrambled to get their instruments ready, a woman sitting at the other side of the room started to struck the strings of the guitar she was holding. Softly, she plucked melody from each strings. For the next few minutes, she continued to play with the chords until the group was finally ready to present us the Kuradang.

Zosima Acuram sits at the corner while waiting to perform.

That was when we learned that the woman is Zosima Acuram, a devoted teacher of the Dimiao Children's Rondalla.

A young dreamer

Zosima, who hails from the Bakilid, Dimiao told us that she has been teaching music since the 1980s.

"Mayro'n akong relative noon na lahat ng string alam niya kaya gustong-gusto ko siya. Ang galing-galing niya. Tapos ayun bigla na lang nahilig na rin ako sa musika," shared Zosima as we sat with her in an interview.

It takes years to master and plenty of time to get good grasp of any instrument. But Zosima had it in her. At five years old, she began playing the guitar.

Zosima Acuram plays folk music using her guitar.

As a young girl, Zosima would anticipate school events, hoping that she could finally be called to perform in front of the crowd. But it did not happen.

"Nung bata pa ako, kasi taga-barrio ako tapos mahirap lang kami. Sa paaralan, ang kasali sa mga program yung mga mayayaman lang tapos anak ng mga guro at mga bigatin," shared Zosima.

"Gustong-gusto ko talaga sumali dati sa mga musika sa programs kaya nung lumaki ako, determination ko talaga na magiging guro ako at magtuturo ako ng mga bata,” she added.

Learning how to play an instrument and deciding to share what you have learned are two different things. What she experienced as a kid inspired her to turn her spark into fireworks that lead to a beautiful show that the universe has planned for her.

Indeed, for a girl who grew up in a small barrio, Zosima had big dreams.

Reviving Filipino heritage

Having lived in a family with a little money to spare, Zosima knew that getting herself a formal music education would cost her more than what they have. So when she heard about a scholarship offer from the Philippines Public School Teachers Association, she openly welcomed the opportunity.

For two summers, she studied music at the Philippine Normal University and honed her skills with string instruments even more. After graduating under the short music program, she came back to Bohol and started to slowly turn her dreams into reality. She started teaching small groups of children, age two to 10 then above. 

“Kapag may nakikita akong bata na nanunuod tinatawag ko talaga. Sasabihin ko halika turuan kita magbanduria,” she shared.

Since then, she has devoted herself to sharing her talents to children and keeping the children connected to music and the Filipino culture.

Zosima Acuram  teaches Dimiao Children's Rondalla.

Zosima does not just teach Dimiao Children's Rondalla to play pop and art music but as well as folk. The Rondalla has become an institution in Philippine music since it was brought in the country in 1800s by the Spaniards.

“Importante na matutunan ng mga bata 'yung musika lalo na yung mga instumento na ginagamit dati pa ng mga ninuno – mga banduria, laud, octavina, bajo - Kung wala yang ganyang musika, wala din 'yung anong meron tayo ngayon,” explained Zosima.

Guitar was her first love, and it remained her first and last. Zosima does not have a partner, but she was blessed with children she can call her own.

Children's Dimiao Rondalla listening to the instructions of Zosima Acuram.

Keep going

Three times a week, Zosima and the children gather in a small classroom near the Dimiao church. The windows are gaping holes for the wind to come in and out and the ceilings are laced with cobwebs. The door is creaky and the floors appear untrodden. But for Zosima, it does not matter. 

“Tuwing nakikita ko yung mga bata na natututo, nage-enjoy, Masaya ako.”

Zosima Acuram joins her students to perform pop ballad.

Some people are afraid to pursue their dreams, but Zosima believes that you can’t be afraid to go after what you want. You have to put yourself out there and take all the chances that you can get. 

Just like Zosima, your inspiration is what you need to turn that spark into flame and into a vibrant firework show. Hold onto them and keep going.

Dimiao Children's Rondalla with their teacher... by philstarnews

Editor's note: The tour to Bohol was hosted by AirAsia to promote tourism in the area. At no stage does the host organization have a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by following editorial guidelines.

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