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Tribal Council: School is where the art is

KISS ASS - Ana G. Kalaw () - July 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Home schooling and young showbiz upstarts are usually a package deal. You see these prettified teens doing their thing onstage, wooing the klieg lights and pandering to peer audiences, while at the same time, insisting that they’re also trying to lead normal lives. And in the Philippines, nothing is more normally important for a 17-year old than an education.

College coinciding with a career in entertainment is more manageable: you get to cut back on units while trying to log in minutes on lunchtime shows. In a strict private high school system, however, rehearsals, recording schedules and shoots just won’t work, and will even raise some eyebrows. So there’s the home schooling option: an age-old alternative that is still vague to us and, to many, a cop-out in exchange for fame, fortune and the race against time.

Substitute it may be, but home schooling is certainly not the easier way out — or in, if you’re trying for a slice of the showbiz spotlight. Ask Krissy and Ericka Villongco, the teen singing sister duo, who up until a couple of years ago were regular, yet extremely talented, high school students at St. Paul College in Pasig.

Musically inclined since they were in grade school, Krissy, 16, and big sister Ericka, 17, had the chance to record a single with crooner Richard Poon. Called Up, Up, Down, Down, the song hit the radio airwaves and got them some serious appearances on the MYX charts for eight consecutive weeks.

Glimpsing a possible career in recording, the two sisters opted for a home-schooling program a couple of years ago to be able to give more time to their work. Their first year in home schooling was a rather sloppy undertaking, having to deal with a none-too-polished program. Last year, their former school, St. Paul’s Pasig, came up with a home school program that was more systematic; Krissy and Ericka effectively “re-enrolled.”

Giving up regular schooling may have been quite a change but it did allow the duo to release an eponymous album, produced and distributed by MCA Records. The album, “Krissy and Ericka,” officially launched on ASAP XV, contains a new single Runaway as well as covers of pop anthems. (Their rendition of Tik Tok feels like a chill downer’s trip during an after party.) Home schooling has also allowed them to invade modern music’s most influential portal: YouTube. Their account name “Krissysings” features their home music videos, video blogs and live performances on shows such as US Girls, The Sweet Life, Umagang Kay Ganda and MYX. Their online efforts have generated more than four million hits. Krissy and Ericka also opened for Owl City’s recent concert here in Manila. Their biggest accomplishment, however, was international release of their album: a version was recently released in Thailand, and another is set to come out in Indonesia.

Another musical rookie taking advantage of home schooling is 19-year-old James Torres, drummer of the band, 3AM AM, an acoustic boy group he is part of along with 20-year-old Mica Cabildo and 21-year-old Kyle Amor.

Home-schooled for a few years, James is a believer, especially since it’s allowed him appearances on Music Uplate with Yeng Constantino along with his co-band members.

Mica and Kyle, however, never went through the domiciled educational system. Mica is working UP’s lenient college system, while Kyle has taken a hiatus from studies in the States. All for the chance of making something out of their boy group. With a strong following on YouTube and fan clubs and a fan’s day, no less, within a month of their appearance on ASAP, each of their alternative learning choices are paying off. James, Mica and Kyle are also set to play a supporting role on a primetime TV show and will soon launch their album through Star Records.

Here, Krissy, Ericka and James merit the advantages of studying at home, while Kyle and Mica stand by the public school system.

Home And Beyond

YOUNG STAR: What’s the biggest misconception about home schooling? Is it easier or harder than regular school?

ERICKA VILLONGCO: The biggest misconception is that you go through it in an “easy breeze.” You have more time on your hands but, just the same, dedicating (yourself) and doing the work is also the hard part. Self-discipline is crucial because no teacher is there to bark at you, check on you and reprimand you.

JAMES TORRES: For me, it’s harder. In home school, you study only when you have time and that time is usually when I’m free, which is the time I’m tired or in a hurry for recording, rehearsals or for workshops. Unlike in a regular school, you have an allotted time for studying.

What do you miss most about being in a regular school?

ERICKA: We miss so many things about being in school but it’s mostly our friends that we miss. Socializing and horsing around in the classroom is something what you will not get in a home schooling setup. I also miss the canteen in school and all the junk food you can get! 

JAMES: I miss my friends and the excitement of dismissal time.

What’s the biggest challenge of being home-schooled?

ERICKA: Maybe it’s the self-discipline part: finding the structure to do things specifically in a certain time, homework submissions. In a regular school, you attend flag ceremony at a specific time, attend several classes on the dot and all that. Though it’s fun to have all the time on your hands, you also have to be honest in being able to do the school workload.

JAMES: You have to find time to really focus on school and keep up good grades. 

How has home schooling helped your career?

ERICKA: It has definitely helped us accommodate our schedule and work obligations. The education we get has been tailor-fitted around our career (for now) and that helps us a great deal in being able to put our best foot forward when it comes to music and work. And I guess the schoolwork does not suffer because we are able to attend to our subject matters when we are most energetic.

What’s the best thing about being home schooled?

ERICKA: Not waking up too early! (Laughs) There are also so many cool course modules on the web that support our lesson academic plans. My favorite is being able to take courses on iTunes University. Stanford has good programs there and the Berklee College of Music as well.

JAMES: You get to do more things outside school. 

What are your plans for college?

ERICKA: Plans for college, as of now, are to be able to enter one of the top three universities: UP, Ateneo, La Salle. Both of us are taking career orientations so we can narrow down our course choices. I’m very inclined to pursuing a career in fashion so I’m considering clothing technology or a BS in fashion design and marketing.

KRISSY: I’m geared towards music or the sciences. I want to land scholarships in the next few years. Maybe at Berklee or Julliard.

JAMES: Be a chef.

Favorite subject?

ERICKA: Math is something I’d like to be good at but I don’t think it likes me.

KRISSY: I love the sciences a lot. Biology, mostly.

JAMES: English.

Least favorite subject?

KRISSY: One time, my sister and I dissected a frog with our tutor. Ericka was screaming her lungs out so that explains why she’s not much into the sciences.

JAMES: Social studies.

Campus Calling

How do you balance your time between work and school?

MICA CALDITO: The good thing about being in college is that you can choose your own schedule. So what I do is I enroll in subjects that don’t conflict with my work schedule.

KYLE AMOR: I attended high school and college in California. Here in the Philippines, all my focus is on work at the moment.

What course are you taking?

MICA: Philippine studies, but I major in English studies. Don’t ask — it requires a long explanation.

KYLE: Back in the States, I was studying advertising art. I even had two jobs in Los Angeles that related to the subject.

Did you have to compromise anything with regards to studies just o pursue music?

MICA: I did take a semester off school. Other than that, I haven’t compromised anything else.

KYLE: Yes, I moved from the States with a handful of classes left to finish. I chose to pursue music in the Philippines because it was an opportunity I could not refuse (especially at my age). I’m only young once. Art studies will always be there for me and I do plan on finishing in the future.

Did you ever consider home schooling?

MICA: Nope, I like the experience of going to school. It kind of keeps me in touch with reality.

KYLE: Never. I like to be in classes with a bunch of students learning the same material I’m learning. It’s a different experience in a regular school. I love being inspired by other students and hearing their different opinions on subjects. I can’t see myself sitting at home learning everything on my own.

Favorite subject?

MICA: Literature.

KYLE: My favorite subject is art, definitely. 

Least favorite subject?

MICA: History.

KYLE: Math. We just don’t understand each other.  

Where do you hang out in school?

MICA: At the UP Sunken Garden. It’s a chill place.

KYLE: Back in the day, I would just hung out in the library. It’s a good place to catch up or get ahead on work or projects. It’s also a great place to fall asleep.

* * *

For more information on Krissy and Ericka and 3AM, log on to www.cornerstonetalents.com.

ERICKA HOME JAMES KRISSY KRISSY AND ERICKA KYLE MICA SCHOOL SCHOOLING TIME
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