Ph.D. Calling Sunday, March 23, 2014

          So now, you are a Ph.D. You begin to see the light that the rise in the academic ranks has offered you. Optimistic now, you feel the change. You are deemed wiser by others and have also felt it to be true. Though you may not know it, new stern hurdles may beset the road of your one-way journey. You still flounder both mentally and emotionally and realize becoming a full-fledged Ph.D. is not easy after all.
           Life after getting that degree is comparable to that of a runner. That is, paces are more tracked, longer and exacting. Spectators would seem to be seeking for more. They need the equivalent of the price they earlier paid. These spectators whom you thought were your cohorts, your mentors and adherents in the field can be the very people who would rob you off the prize. Taken by surprise, they jump on you and push you aside, thinking that you are now, an able-competitor. But then you had held on to the idea that it has never been a march towards beating others. For you, there never was a competition to be wary of. You continue your solo race.
           By the time you felt the urge for a good start, you feel different. There you are still gasping for air as you look for that pleasant niche in the faculty room, proving you are not marginal, socially insecure and unconditioned to a full-torn academic life. Your personal timidity would sometimes find you still incomplete, still an outsider from the collective culture- not knowing you need to go lower and slower in their midst.
        You thought you could gain control of the momentum of tasks and responsibilities after finishing. You dreamed that it is going to be a long-yearned hiatus after marching. But then you are wrong. Here you are called upon to mentor hopefuls and wannabes not realizing your reputation could be at stake. Criticisms are more frequent now as they judge you of your attitude rather than your hankering to help. Yours was a frustration but are remedied by the grateful ones who believed and heeded your suggestions. With them you find refuge and sense of well-being.
            PhD spells an impoverished belief and inadequate conception of academic power. That is what you have become conscious of. It has no power over people’s minds who still brush you off as just a “wannabe”. You have tried substantiating that you are more than just the title no matter how many times they put their feet on your neck. You still manage to run. Sizing has just been a culture; one newbie needs to embrace the practice of being appraised like polished metals put in the acid test.
              Being a Ph.D., you start welcoming the idea of doing more researches and publications. A thrust from the society permits you to do studies from improving pedagogies to alleviating poverty (if you may). Frankly, the demands of you passing through the course were not from the time when you were a student. It all was a PLAN. Putting those letters after your name spells deceit and for some, skepticism. You are what you have paid for but the big service awaits.
              There has been an amassing of Ph.D graduates in the last 10 years or so. The diaspora of the crawl continued to change academic ecology and the ideology of it to mean only the “certificate” and the raise in monetary compensation. It seems easier now to don the toga. Professors, whom you thought were best to use the “sieve”, have slacked off to include the coarser ones. Any one could pass. So seek to become your own PhD and believe in the adage that “Life is what you make it ”. Considering that to be true, Ph.D. will be a life-long responsibility. You are owing something to the community.
              I ask now not how does one become a PhD but what is to become ONE? There’s that big difference that is spelled with idiosyncracy…

ALPHABET POEM Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The ‘Spirit’ Behind 231

Acting indefatigable is what we see, it’s true
Behaving as if everyday starts life anew
Constructing strategies and
Digesting lessons after we chew
Explaining why George Bush is head over heels in love with you
Figuring out that there is more
Grab your materials now let us explore
Hovering us up to
Imagine things that there is life in reading
Juggling words in our minds we made poems in writing
Knitting sequences and realizing that we can chart
Letting you notice that this is all from the heart
Making us plain browsers to real readers
Numbering our learnings with our fingers for
Opening possibilities we owe
Passing the course… hoping not a "NO"
Questioning and
Sends chills in the 231’s
Telling us that there really is a big chance of
Unnerving the topics by
Visualizing what’s into stories and
Weeding out details for priced glories. So what you’re
EXpecting this petite teacher can do ?
Yielding us into pro’s and
Zoning us the luckiest, too.

An acrostic ALPHABET  poem in a couplet rhyming dedicated to one person of monumental importance!! Prof. Concesa P. Lagare, you surely made me become what I am now... 

Blue Sunday, September 23, 2012

The shades just wanly passed my way
Of once colorful splashes of hue
Skies turned silver
The yellows gone
You smashed the red and changed my greens too
You left me paley white
At this golden instance
Now all I can remember
Are hazy shades of YOU . . .

I made this poem way back my Masteral days in 2006. We were tasked by Prof. Concesa Lagare to create poems using COLORS. I chose blue (being my favorite) not realizing emotion surfaced.Reading this now,I could still feel its intensity and nostalgic whip...I guess, my twist of a Limerick one gave the stance and attitude to make it as it was...enjoy!

ON VALUES Learned Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MAN, in the course of his LIFE, learns… Learning is actualized and proven that there is such when something in him CHANGES – his attitudes, outlook of things around him.
I have assessed myself this past few years and have approximated all the VALUES I learned in time – the value of PATIENCE and SELFLESSNESS.
When I started teaching in College, my expectations toward my students were big. I sometimes lose my temper in the middle of the class and assert my being the Master of the room. Later on, I realized that I couldn’t put my way of thinking with that of my students. I slowly embraced the idea of individuality that each has his own capacity,his LIMITATIONS. Now, I can laugh with my students, play on to their incompetent response to questions at times and making their FAILURES as nothing to be worried about. I realized that I need to be of good example to them by showing them and not by telling them what they ought to DO and what they need to value.
Another thing is being SELFLESS. It is not only being considerate of others but also working for others. My being a parent has taught me to satisfy the needs of my children first before my very own. I never thought of these things when I was still young. Is this the essence of WISDOM? That things learned come in MATURITY? No wonder why people equate it with age…

Point,point,line... Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My first day with Ms. Myra Beltran proved to be a real opener to the world of Contemporary dance. More than I have expected it to be, dance composition has taken a higher plane than just the dynamics one needs to learn. The technique class was an agonizing starter that made me love the floor and realize that the dancer needs to embrace his basic space- the floor or the ground. Finding one’s center and making it the source of all movements make everything easy. Yes, this was easier said than done. I have learned this in our Modern Dance class but there’s a time to rekindle and relish every bit of the feeling again.

Laban cube taught me the basic of going from one point to another and finishing it into a LINE without compromising the process. Every choreographer, I believe, should go back to these essentials. True to what Ms. Beltran has said, a lot of movement and meaning can be drawn if a choreographer views the space from the outside. As complex as it is, breaking down a movement into simpler basic unit helped me understand the origin of many movements. A choreographer must now learn to either break it or add an entirely different one to suit his theme or story.

Another lesson that squeezed my grey matter was complementing both the movement of the upper part of the body with that of the lower one and vice versa. It taught me that every part of the body must help to bring out the story. My first attempt of presenting what I painstakingly thought of giving a story with my lower faculties was, I presumed, ineffective but completing it later with the upper body gave me the relief that my message went through.

My first day was promising with hopes of bringing me from point to point and finally into coherent LINES that dance composition encompass. I expect that more is to come and I am thankful for having learned this from such a brilliant dance teacher, Myra Beltran. What a great Day 1 it was….

Points to line to others

Rather than just carving the space from point to a line and going crosswise in Laban, Day 2 allowed us to go further, freer... Now we can please ourselves to move our hips, shoulders and even elbows to form arches and curves. Ms. Beltran calls this “O-ing” and “U-ing” and as the name implies, points can go in the shapes of these two letters. We now learned to use that residual movement, for which Ms. Beltran repeatedly emphasizes, to make a more sensible, organic one. The migration to another point creates smooth strokes now, like a painter brushing on a bigger canvas of space.

From exhausting all possibilities of movement, we were taught to transfer it now to another body- the Partnering. This duo in composition gave substance to how bodies receive and react to another. I have never thought partnering in contemporary dance creates such natural moves. I now learn how it greatly differs from a classical duet. Nothing is put on, nothing artificial.

The two-day learning blew everyone down physically. The minds were still willing but the bodies and faces cannot deny the trace of exhaustion. Yet Ms. Beltran has proven to be a real sensible teacher. Through the words that came out from her, I still managed to jot down some lines worthy of contemplation. Our last activity for the day though bargained to be continued on the following day still dripped some pulpier juices to savor. Ideas like “any movement created or thought of by a choreographer is his own discourse or point of view” was well understood. Nothing is right or wrong but there is such thing as logical or illogical movements. What makes a movement ugly or wrong lies in the INTENTION of the choreographer.

Another day closes, points coming out to be stronger for a curious lookout to Day 3.

Points to Viewpoint

Day 3 has offered a more fulfilling journey, for I have fathomed not only what contemporary dance really is all about but what Myra Beltran’s philosophy stand for. The lectures she gave from Day 1 slid into a tangible hold to deepen our understanding. Quite a turn of event, a new dimension of her persona surfaced. Her philosophy lingered and stood by what she preached since Day 1. Everything is almost boxed now ready for a surprise to anyone who dares open it. “I love CHAOS in Dance” leaked out from her mouth. She said this in a tone like somebody admitting guilt but her eyes pictured a different thing. She responded and defended herself when I personally asked her how. Myra Beltran has indeed proven herself to win the battle- a bit Duncanic, I believe. She avered that dance should be a complete narration of the entire being, a world of its OWN.-complete. It should NOT be in the beauty and perfection of the form that one should look into but the sheer intention of the choreographer/dancer where the true essence lies.

Day 3 activity of interpreting everyday gestures was not that easy to grasp. I had my brains figured it out long before I realized what I chose as an everyday thing was difficult to explore. One great about Ms. Beltran is that she trusts every one of us that we could figure it out to the very last fibers of our ability. We all have memories in our bodies that are just waiting again to be used. Encouragingly puts in her idea was more likely a better alternative, I registered. I became visual in taking in the lectures. From her correcting each piece of work, I deemed my own as “I-could-have-done-better”.

Viewing other works has presented a fresh option for learning. Ms. Myra gave us the taste of setting our minds “en contemporaine”. Truly sharpening our eyes to details, indeed, is not an easy task for choreographers.

Our day ended late. Ms Beltran gave us an assignment of working on our A-phrase. “I want you to use up and explore everything with just a single grain of rice” was her instructions. I wondered whether I can carry on the tasks but the light on the other end is brighter now. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Flipping points to different plane

Day 4 of exploration was done bigger now. Using all other tools ranging from Laban cube to points, curves and circles and throwing it on another plane, we advanced. I thought the end of exploration was there but I was mistaken. One can go back and pick up those “thrown” movements by avoiding the same line or point. Composition indeed has no boundaries only limitations that choreographers put into.

We made dizzying floor combinations. Yes, circles were today’s theme movement in our technique class. From doing combos in floors, Myra brought it up without losing the circles, either inside the body or out in space. I have noticed my own body churning something out of Ms. Beltran’s fresh vocabularies in the afternoon. They were still raw and not as relaxed and founded as Ms. Beltran execute it.

The A phrase is now given a new dimension either by putting in a faceless, non-mimetic, emotion or tracing back what has been thrown and start a new one. Infusing emotions and letting body parts speak it was a difficult task. It is so surprising that phrases can bud from the basic A phrase.

Choreographers do need to “sing out” their phrase. Phrases are like musical fugue, according to Ms. Beltran. One just needs to listen. The rhythm will now help in developing a similar phrase. Our dynamic teacher helped each one of us figure out this brain bursting chore by putting in her comments and one-of-a-kind suggestions.

Our day ended with us thronging around Ms. Myra. Though she had the lesson completed, we sought her comments to further our tasks of improving. I don’t know whether I was doing this to please her or myself but I was sure of discontentment. The following day according to her would be synthesizing everything. I hope and pray that I may do it satisfactorily.

The Point of Bursting

Day 5 came with less enthusiasm. The hope of having ALL of these come to a head with the purpose is much stronger now. My lower back complained tremendously that I need to hush it for a while. Unmindful of what the teacher would say, I slumped on the sidestage wishing she would realize that its 12 o’clock already and we need to break. Ms. Myra must have forgotten the science of overusing specific muscle groups. I was quite furious already of us needing to repeat combinations over and over again. Not when Ms. Beltran admittingly said she crammed us that I admired her and understood. That, I believe, was the process really of making a dance, draining out all possible explorations.

Reviewing everything from Day 1 was a torture. Ms.Beltran has planned that we are going to perform it in the final night. Not only that, I have learned that those mini-exercises we did have to be regurgitated on that same night. I could not remember what I did. Was this the “picking up again of the exploded points we’ve thrown” that she’s telling us ? only now on a bigger scale? I wonder.

My solo came out with ease. Ms. Beltran was satisfied with what I presented at first only that I need to add 16 counts which I thought of was the reverse of my pattern. Not until I had performed twice have I learned that an ending was necessary. It was that time that I really wished I was younger. Only if my body were that of a twenty year-old could I have given more. But I guess, the idea was there and I know I have done the task.

Programming the culmination for Sunday was another scare. I really could not make sense of her ideas. But Ms. Beltran is herself. My trust in her is more than my trust in my body to perform. I cleared away from the rest of the group during dinner break, wondering as I set off for home. I leave that for tomorrow for I have had enough for the day.

Recollecting Points

So it was decided. Myra Beltran’s vista of looking at all our pieces made her opt on presenting it as a RECIPE. It was simmering and promising- ready for all to savor. No secret style or ingredients kept. Every bit of learning from Day 1 was ruled on to be exposed. My apprehension on my performing the entire program was stronger than the boredom it would set the audience. My concern lies on doing the technique class. Will I be able to recall them and perform them as well? The whole day was set for rehearsals. We had a more composed, relaxed floor and barre exercises. Ms. Myra must have sensed our enervated bodies. Our review of the chunks and pieces of learning’s that we had from Day 1 was a real challenge. All combinations looked similar now. Not until Ms. Beltran rationalized each of the five technical combos she chose to be presented were we guided. Minds were busy deciphering each, wishing we could still relive that same feeling when we first captured them.

The run was a disaster as expected. The chef must now have her first try of the recipe. We were like atoms uncontainable in one quantum level of energy. I cannot remember my “Point, point, line” combination. Maybe the exercise had not sunk deep in me. The technical run in the evening was better with hopes of going further tomorrow. I’m still looking forward on giving my best with the support for Ms. Beltran’s goal of putting and cooking EVERYTHING in one pot.

Final point

Just when the chicken was ready for the oven, my exploratory urge fortified. I managed to come up with fresher movements on the very performance. I was amazed and happy about myself. Not thinking about it and just letting my body go created a different flavor to the recipe. The optional olives and the extra cheese in Myra Beltran’s Chicken Galantina must have done it.

In the morning of the Day 7, we toiled still in perfecting the Techique class presentation, which needed everybody’s synchronicity. Ms. Myra urged us to "place" our body first in any movement. That was the only time I realized the need to do that. In this workshop, I learned that the choreographer needs to experience the movement first before giving it out to the dancer. Only the choreographer could learn more about his movement from his very own exploration. I knew now of Ms. Beltran’s reason of letting us do our very own compositions. The 7 days have given me sustained sore muscles, wounds, bruises on feet, knees, elbows, shoulders and not to mention my hips when I slumped doing my solo but my heart was full of endearing moments of learning.

Ms. Myra Beltran has changed me and my entire outlook in DANCE. No amount of words of gratitude, I know, could equate the amount of love, patience, and perseverance she has put into her chicken recipe. Now it’s being served, anyone can have a bite.

Arnel Francis V. Morales

MULIHOK Dancemakers Laboratory

Workshop #2 w/ Myra Beltran

October 25-31, 2010

The Big Night Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A big night of big REFLECTION

The MKD Big Night is a conglomerated school activity with the intention of joining the P.E. and Humanities Nights into one purposeful event. In believing that LEARNING transgresses the four walls of a classroom and a measure of innumerable angles of intelligences, it has metamorphosed into more than what is EXPECTED- the students stepping into the mold of MATURITY in such a short period of time.

Basic performing arts discipline are enmeshed with the textbook knowledge that students have drawn through the course of study, exhaustingly realizing the value of believing in oneself- that there is something everyone can SHARE. Leadership skills are fine-tuned, abilities in script-writing and delivery are augmented. Added to that, raw gifts for stage designing, managing, costume making and even to the higher end of directing are tapped, developed into serious considerations.

In support, the faculty has proven to be sure-fire of the entertainment vitamin. Their willingness to bond with students makes this experience unique and something the students would treasure. Finally, the thing that ices everything into one sensible and palatable presentation is the THEME – the big, sturdy thread that sews together ALL the performances into one coherent whole.

Now, it has been my fourth attempt of handling such one-of-a-kind, self-humbling responsibility. My promise to keep this legacy burning till it simmers into a tradition is a dream. The world outside the student may step into after school is the REAL labyrinth of life. My wish is for them to realize the importance of each DAY of learning, each bit of EXPERIENCE that may happen only once but can be valued for a lifetime.

Prof. Arnel Francis V. Morales

Humanities Teacher/MKD Big Night Director

( MKD stands for Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku, a Japanese language majoring college in Davao City)