Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a Small World

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fears.
There’s so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
it's a small world after all

                                    It’s a small world after all
                                    It’s a small world after all
                                    It’s a small world after all
                                  It’s a small, small world.

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small, small world

     My introduction to the song "It's A Small World" was not through a visit to Disneyland or Disney World.  I first saw the song published in the Instructor magazine, notes, lyrics and piano accompaniment.  I played it and liked it.  I taught it to my class of 3-6 year olds.  To my surprise, they already knew the song from watching "The Wonderful World of Disney." From that point on I just followed the child sense in me.
     When I visited Disneyland, I was so happy to see a long-play record.  The music shows how the same melody can be made into variations to reflect different lands, countries or cultures.  From that point on I was hooked on the theme of multicultural education.  
     I wrote a proposal for a summer camp for preschoolers with cultural enrichment as its main activity.  It was approved and 20 children enrolled.  Parents usually send their children to other camps to give them other types of experiences during the summer before starting school again in the fall. The interest for this topic was obviously high to choose this over outdoor activities. The summer camp was for six weeks.
     In the classroom I set up corners of the room to reflect a cultural setting mostly suggested by pictures and zig-saw puzzles. For Japan, a poster showing cherry blossoms decorates the wall.  I collected names of boys and girls from friends so children can pin them on as their identity for the day. I placed some bamboo poles with leaves on one corner. A mat to represent tatami covers the area and a low tea table sits on top of the tatami.  On the table sits a vase with a twig with cherry blossom we made.  Activities in the corner include wearing a kimono, bowing to one's partner before drinking "tea."  After the tea ceremony, the pair bow to each other, hung the kimonos and leave the area so others may have their turn.  
     Several individual activities can be pursued in the main classroom:  origami, flower arrangement, making tissue cherry blossoms on a twig, fit together a 30-piece zig-saw puzzle, coloring a Japanese flag, coloring the map of Japan, color a Japanese scene, looking at story books, playing "Sakura" with the bells, dressing up a cardboard doll with fabric and/or tissue paper.  During group activity time, we walk on the line to the music of "Sakura," take turns at twirling the umbrella in different positions while the music plays, listen to a story and dramatize it where possible.  At the end of the week we cook tempura and eat. 
     The same formula was followed for the other countries chosen. Whatever has been introduced stays for the remaining time of the camp. Children are free to revisit each area and repeat activities learned the week before.  Parents brought artifacts to share - dolls, costumes, fan.  At the end of the camp, everyone came in international costume and we all had a feast with the parents who brought in ethnic food.
     Several years later, I suggested to the Board of Directors as a fund-raising project, to sponsor a Children's International Festival. We would invite past students as well as current ones.  The response was overwhelming.  Tickets were sold to the guests. The auditorium was decked up with flags hung from the ceiling, food brought in by parents was served.  Each class performed one folk dance of a country of their choice and guest entertainers danced or sang. It was so successful that it became a school annual event.  Once I left the school and founded my own, I started the tradition of celebrating Children's International Festival. The Festival was an avenue to bring the community together, to showcase each class, to learn more about another country and just to have fun as a school.
     Going beyond the song and dance routine, the festival conveys a deeper meaning to me.  Let's go back to the song, let's read the first verse:

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fear.
There’s so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
it's a small world after all

     Turn to your neighbor and ask: 
     What makes you happy? Sad? Afraid? Hopeful?

    Let's compare notes.  We are happy about the same things, sad about the same things, concerned, fearful about the same things and hopeful about the same things.  People all over the world are just like us. We have the same basic needs:
     Physical needs - food, clothing, shelter, warmth, health,
            light, safety
     Emotional/Social needs - to be accepted, to feel kinship or      
            sense of belonging, to see beauty
     Mental Needs - need to know, understand, communicate, 
            to be challenged
     Spiritual needs - to believe in something greater than                                 
            oneself, self realization, to lead a significant life.

    Let's read the second verse:  
                             There is just one moon and one golden sun
                            And a smile means friendship to everyone.
    Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all.

     It is quite meaningful to realize that the moon I see while I'm in Miami is the same moon I saw while I was in Fatima.  We belong to the same solar system, see the same sun and the same moon.  Although we are one planet, the geography is such that we are separated by mountains and rivers and oceans.  These natural barriers isolated us from one another so that we developed our own language and unique ways of living, our culture. From unity we have diversity. We may differ in the way we look, the color of our skin, the way we eat, dress, worship, - we bear in mind that not one color is superior to the other,  not one religion is truer than the other. We are all one, it's a small world after all. 

     Let's go over the fundamental needs of people and how we meet them:
     Food - book, "Bread, Bread, Bread"  by Ann Morris.
     Clothes - book, "Hat, Hat, Hat," by Ann Morris.
     Spiritual need - book, "The Kids Book of World Religions,"
            by Jennifer Glossop
     Art - book, "International Folk Crafts," by Ginger Scribner

     The social unit whether it is the family, community or culture seeks ways to form a cohesive group.  It is for this reason that festivals are celebrated to remind us of important events in our culture - Independence Day, Passover, fiestas. Songs, stories, proverbs, poems, dances, jokes -  shared by the community strengthen group identity and succinctly state the culture's values.
     The path of an individual in one's culture is in stages: In the first stage, one is a learner, an apprentice.  During the second stage, one is an active participant, a contributor to the welfare of the community.  During the third stage, one is a teacher whose duty is to pass on values, attitudes and skills to the next generation.
       Though the mountains divide and our oceans are wide, we have bridged across these barriers.  We now have a greater opportunity to be aware of other people's culture. Our awareness of the Native American Culture awakens in us the feeling that the earth is our mother, what happens to the earth, affects us all. From our American culture, we understand that indeed this is the land of opportunity but we need to work hard to benefit.  Our value of industry and work ethic are our core values.  Thriftiness is quite obvious with the Chinese culture.  Respect for elders is found in most Asian cultures.  The sacredness of things is practiced in India. Show of affection, love of family, beauty of form, cleanliness, politeness - all these are emphasized in one culture or another.  It's not that we do not practice these values but these values are more clearly seen in some cultures.  
     What values and skills are we passing on?  How do we accomplish this task?  Is it difficult to do?  Why or why not?
     What values should we stop passing on?  Please write two values you are passing on and two you are not passing down the next generation on the card provided.
     What does the phrase "It's a small world after all" mean to you?  
     As the world gets smaller, yes, we need more food, water, clean air, space, but what the world needs more than anything is love.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Remembering the Songs of the Fabulous 50's

          While listening to WPBT’s “Songs of the 50’s”  program, I was transported back in time to the 50's while I was taking the course on technical drawing at Mapua Institute of Technology.

      It was my freshman year at the Doroteo Jose campus in 1956. While still struggling with the rudiments of using the T-square, drafting triangles and a whole set of drawing tools, I was now faced with the challenge of drawing perspectives of a house – top view, side view, front view.

            A lecture and demonstration was given by the instructor but the subject matter was too new to me that at the end of the lecture, I had no clue how to proceed.  Then from the jukebox blasting from across the street, I heard “My Prayer” by The Platters,  an apt song to remind me that all I know at this point was how to pray.  I went ahead and looked at the small-size blueprint and tried to make sense of where to begin. The song “ Great Pretender” came through the pipe and that reminded me that I was just really pretending to understand blueprint when in fact I didn’t. 

            My classmates  were seriously working on their drawing plates  while I waited for this agony to end listening to  "Twilight Time." I had to attend make-up classes since I could not finish the project during class hours and I could only work on those plates in class.  After several weeks of sharing my frustration with whoever might listen,  I found some help. A student of my father, a sophomore at that time, lent me her finished plates.  I studied  and tried to reproduce them  at  home so I could work faster on my plate in real time at school. I earned a grade of “3” equivalent to “C” in the first semester and improved in the second semester with a grade of “2.5” perhaps equivalent to "B" minus.  With technical drawing behind me, I could rejoice with the Crew Cuts with their song “Sh Boom”  and fly with exhilaration  with Dean Martin's  “Volare” so I have nothing but sweet dreams when I go to sleep with The Chordette's  “Mr. Sandman.”

             I may not have learned about perspectives that semester but I certainly learned how to use the drafting tools and have engraved the songs of the 50’s in my mind and in my heart.  I write this note with the McGuire Sisters,  “Sincerely.”

       Golden Hits             Sh-Boom: Where Swing Met Doo-Wop and Rock N Roll            Volare: Greatest Hits           Volare (Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu) (1998 Digital Remaster)         Mr. Sandman (1954 #1 Billboard chart hit)          Sincerely
                   1                                   2                                  3                                   4                               5                               6

          1)  Golden Hits  The Platters (Audio CD - Dec 2, 2003)
          2)  Sh-Boom: Where Swing Met Doo-Wop and Rock N Roll  The Crew Cuts (Audio CD - Mar 28, 2006)
          3)  Volare: Greatest Hits  Domenico Modugno (Audio CD - Aug 29, 2005)
          4)  Volare (Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu) (1998 Digital Remaster)  Dean Martin (MP3 Download)
          5)  Mr. Sandman (1954 #1 Billboard chart hit)   The Chordettes (MP3 Download)
          6)  Sincerely The McGuire Sisters (MP3 Download)

Happy Birthday, Manang Nany

     Happy birthday, Manang, wherever you are.  You are missed, specially remembered today on your birthday as I think of you fondly every day.

     My heart goes out in prayer for you as you continue your journey in the heavenly world. You have been a wonderful sister, mentor, guide and friend to me.

     I remember how thoughtful you were.  You saw me cutting out cardboard squares making my own Scrabble game. On my birthday, you gave me a Scrabble set to my heart's delight. You supported me through my up's and down's.  When I participated with my fellow chemistry students in a choral contest at the radio program, Student Canteen, you obtained for me a lovely Christmas medley (Planting Rice, Silent Night, Joy to the World) arranged by Regino Dano. When two helpers who promised to build me a lantern for the MIT lantern contest abandoned the project, you came to the rescue and completed a beautiful model of the carbon atom.

     I can't thank you enough for everything you have done for me and with me.  It was your idea for me to start wearing a pony tail and you showed me how.  That was indeed the hairstyle of choice for the ladies of my class and I fitted right in with my pony tail.  Years later when I was concerned on making a professional impression as I started working for Abbott Laboratories, you styled my hair into a French twist.  You would even wake up early to comb my hair so I can get ready for the walk to the train station in plenty of time.

     Once I started teaching children, you took me to observe a teacher teach in her class and later on teach at a mall to a group of children with their parents. These experiences provided concrete models for me in conducting formal classes and music labs. From then on, you gave me books, overhead transparencies,  records, articles all related to music - which really came in handy as I taught at the university.

     I enjoyed our get-togethers where you sang or led in the community singing.  I enjoyed most our piano duets.  During my last visit with you, I really wanted to ask you to play piano duet with me but my better sense told me not to.  I wished I could have played piano duet with you one last time. Today, I play and sing and enjoy music as though you are here to listen.  Thanks for the music.  I love you.  Happy birthday!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Journey

      I don't know where I'm going but I know where I have been.  In my life's journey, I collected a few things and put them in this bag.  Let's take a look at them.

     This is where it began (show a flag of the Philippines), the Philippines, the country of my birth.  From the sidelines of my early childhood, I watched my father claim victory as the congressman of the first district of Bohol and saw the enthusiasm of the crowd as they proclaimed him their leader.

      I admired my grandmother who was a vision of strength, independence and self-sufficiency as she ran a store serving home-cooked dishes and other small-town necessities.  My younger brother and I romped around under the coconut trees warmed by the tropical sun while my sister captured the town's admiration with her singing and acting.  My mother's long-wearing patience, creativity and warmth glued the family together.

     The town was alive with music as families gathered in the evenings to sing together with guitar accompaniment. I looked forward to participating in the various fiestas and festivities that dot the calendar year.  Early on, I learned how to be a part of a group and have fun.

     The church bells reminded everyone to pray the 'Angelus' with a spirit of thanks for the day that has just ended.  It was my job to light the kerosene lamps for the house and candles for the prayer table.  This daily task made me see the beauty of the flame and taught me to keep the light of faith burning no matter what happens. (Show candle from the bag).

     I felt responsible in doing an important job, that of shedding light unto the darkness.  I dreamt of someday becoming a useful, contributing member of the community.  What would that be?  I did not know.  I first tried getting into chemistry and biochemistry. (Show molecular model).  

        I had dreams of inventing the miracle drug that would wipe out tuberculosis in 
the Philippines.  However, I did not stay long in that field to realize that dream.

        Shortly after working in biochemical research at Abbott Laboratories, I synthesized a biochemical phenomenon of my own, I became pregnant.  I was first married before this event.  Awaiting the birth of my first born son, I turned my whole interest in preparing for the most important job in the world, that of nurturing  and educating a child. (Show rolled-up blanket to represent child).

     I began to study the works of Dr. Maria Montessori, the first Italian woman physician, whose observations led her to start a unique method of child rearing and education now known as the Montessori Method. (1,2,3,4)  When my son was three months old, I took the training to become a certified teacher at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Chicago.

         My experience with the Montessori system made me aware that children are far more capable  than we normally think they are.  I was   amazed  at  how they can be totally absorbed in doing various tasks in the Montessori environment (show pink tower) and show with their faces 
the joy of learning.  The shouts of  "I did it by myself"  to announce  a  newly-acquired  skill  was  exciting.   I felt at 
home with the philosophy and the method.  I was convinced that what happens to  children during  their  formative years 
is far more important than whatever happens later on.  Early experiences serve as a foundation for a lifetime of learning and living.

    Storms come into one's life.  Child caregivers are among the lowest paid professionals.  Dogcatchers, parking attendants and used car salesmen even rank higher according to the Department of Labor Occupational Classification.  The public in general does not consider this to be a highly-skilled job and is not prepared to spend money towards early education.  The frustrations are many and appreciations are few.

      What shall I do?  Shall I quarrel with God like Job and ask how long will this go on?  Shall I echo the words of the song, "I'm tired of living but afraid of dying?"

          Shall I try another song? "One of these mornings, you will wake up singing.  And you spread your wings and you take to the sky."(5)

     The words from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran comes to my mind.  "When love beacons you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep." (6)

        Once again I look inside my bag and find the candle of my dreams still burning.  I  remember the many little candles that I have lit without diminishing my own flame.  Perhaps  I  can try to carry this candle  a little  longer and continue to shed light upon someone's path and in the process find my own.

     I'll walk with a song because.....
                                    Without a song, a day would never end.
                                    Without a song, the road would never bend.
                                    When things go wrong, a man ain't got a friend
                                    Without a song. (7)

                                                       Without a Song,  music by  Vincent Youmans, 
                                                                                              lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu.
            So I walk and sing a new refrain.....
                                 "Old man river I'll just keep rolling along." (8)

           1)   Montessori, M.:  Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook
           2)   Montessori, M.:  The Montessori Method
           3)   Montessori, M.:   Secret of Childhood
           4)   Montessori, M.:   Discovery of the Child
           5)   Music by  George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward "Summertime" 
                          from Porgy and Bess Without a Song"
           6)   Gibran, K.:          The Prophet
           7)   Music by  Vincent Youmans, Lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu. " Without a Song"
           8)   Kern & Hammerstein:  "Ole Man River"  from Showboat
L to R Ijya,  Papa, Mama, Vril, Nany (back row)         Ijya graduates. chem, Mapua

     L to R Ijya, Nany, Vril, Mama, Papa                 Ijya, chemist at Wesley Mem. Hosp

                                           Tulloss family: Carlos, Ijya, Jim, Mark

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Friend

     I gave the following as a speech at a Toastmaster Humorous Speech Contest.

     Mr. Toastmaster, Ladies and Gentlemen.

       I am delighted that you have honored my invitation with your presence to join me on this special occasion.  We are gathered here to honor my friend.  I take this opportunity to publicly express my deep sense of gratitude for all that he has done for me and for all that he has meant to me.  Let me bring my friend to this place of honor while I sing praises about him. (Bring in a cup of coffee).

       Everything I have achieved I owe to my friend.  When I am tired and sleepy he keeps me company so I could finish my homework. (Sip from the coffee cup).  When I feel weak, he picks me up, (gesture picking up) because my friend is strong.  When I am feeling low, he comforts me like a warm blanket, because my friend is warm, in fact, my friend is hot.  (Pour a steaming hot coffee from a thermos).  With my friend's support through these years, I completed  my three academic degrees.   While I owe financial institutions a good sum in student loans, my friend says, "I owe him nothing." He gives, and gives and gives endlessly and expects nothing in return. (Sip).

        Some friends may not be around when you need them.  My friend can always be found in that special corner of the earth where he stations himself ready for our rendezvous whenever I want him.

      My friend is accommodating.  When time is of the essence, he delivers in an instant. (Show instant coffee).


       My friend listens.  He allows me to talk to my heart's content.  He never interrupts.  He never judges, he never criticizes.  He never gives an unsolicited advice.  He simply allows me to take as much as I want, as slow or as fast as I need of his wisdom, courage, and strength as we commune together in silence. (Sip)

       At daybreak, he wakes me up with his sweet, melodious voice, the sound of bubbling brook, perking, humming, singing that he is getting ready for the pleasure of my company.  Then he waves his magic wand to fill the air with heavenly aroma (sniff) which beckons me to meet him in our corner of the earth for our morning embrace. (Sip a drink).

         He packs himself (show thermos) so he can be with me wherever I go.  I can take him to the zoo.  I can take him to the show.  I can take him to the store or even to the shore.

        At noon, he keeps me company.  He allows me to see through him as in a clear glass (show clear glass mug) so I may know him inside out.

        We spend quiet moments together when day is done.  He veils himself in black like the night (show black mug) to heighten the mystery of our intimacy. 

           My friend says he comes from Colombia where they dance the cumbia.  He also says he comes from Brazil, where they dance the samba.  Whether he comes from Argentina where they dance the tango or from Cuba where they dance the mambo, my friend knows no international barriers.  He blends in perfectly.  He blends with Mr. Cappuccino and claims he is Italiano while he sings O Solo Mio. (show Cappuccino blend).  He blends well with the people from gay Paris.  He sings Ooh la la la Ces't Magnifique. (show French blend).  He can spin in a waltz with Miss Vienna and 'Vienna will never let you know.'  (Show Viennese blend).           My friend and I have known each other for so long that our bond of friendship is very strong.  You can't take my friend away from me.  You can take my car, I don't care, but taking my friend away from me, you won't dare.

         Life without my friend is hazy, lazy and crazy.  With my friend, I am awake, alive and I feel great.  I can think, I can sing, and I can dance.  Without my friend, I am boring, uninteresting, and tired.  With my friend, I am exciting, interesting, stimulating, captivating, entrancing, enticing, and even enchanting.  You can add a few more words which end in ing.  Without my friend, I don't know where I am or where I am going.  With my friend, I am on top of the world reaching for the stars.

        Ladies and gentlemen, join me in a toast to my friend, the best friend I ever had, the one faithful friend I will ever have.

     Mr. Toastmaster.