Neil Armstrong died two days ago. All over the web, people asked, “Who was he?”
Has it been that long ago? Here’s a list of things that happened during one of my favorite years — 1986. I can see you all asking, “Who are these people?” Or, “Wasn’t that just this year?”
The US bombed Libya
Gorbachev introduced glasnost and perestroika
A nuclear reactor melted down
Israel revealed to have nuclear weapons
IBM unveiled the PC Convertible, the first laptop
TOPGUN catapulted Tom Cruise into stardom
Whitney Houston topped the charts with “The Greatest Love of All”
Voyager circled the earth, non-stop
A housewife became President of our country
Hill Street Blues, A-Team, Dynasty, Falcon Crest ruled the airwaves
Halley’s comet zipped by the earth to presage a birth
Carlo was born
Yes. Twenty-six years ago today. Look at him now. Pilot, English teacher, and still full of wonder about the world. Happy Birthday, Carlo!
A month ago, I found myself giving an interesting lesson plan to my Introduction to Ateneo Culture and Traditions (InTACT) class. I was supposed to discuss the phenomenally dry topic of the rights and responsibilities of a student.
With a new Spider-man movie rampaging through theaters, the old quote about power and responsibility came up. Every right comes with its own responsibility, says my lesson plan. But what happens when you decide to take on responsibility just for the heck of it?
A few months ago, my Development of Drama professor, an affable genius of a man with nine Palanca awards under his belt, invited me to be a member of a panel that would judge the final project of his class that year. Flattered, I played the Simon Cowell of the committee and was rewarded with both pizza and a chance to see how creative some of our students can be – including, incidentally, a lovely young woman who had been my student at Saint Paul College Pasig during my first year as a teacher. My professor later invited me to act as a commentator for the graduation project of one of our theater arts majors. My input was well received, I ended up writing a review for another play, one thing led to another, and now, less than a year later, I found myself at the PHILSTAGE Gawad Buhay awards.
PHILSTAGE is an alliance of the country’s leading theater companies, and the awards are basically the Philippine equivalent of the Tony awards. I’m now on next year’s jury, a position I had never dreamed I would qualify for.
The story has a curious parallel with my involvement with the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. I started out as a gofer for my Dad, the Air Boss. I kept accepting additional responsibilities until one day, I found myself directing aircraft movement myself, working alongside generals, air traffic controllers, aviators from around the world, and the cream of our armed forces.
To this day, I remain rather bewildered at how I ended up with that kind of responsibility and that caliber of colleague. All I remember is habitually saying ‘Yes’ when someone needed me.
That’s what I told my students. Keep saying yes. Keep volunteering. Keep accepting responsibility. Because, to reverse the old Spider-Man quote, with great responsibility, comes great power.
The Gawad Buhay awards were a joy to watch – the thespians involved insisted on turning an otherwise mundane awards ceremony into a theatrical extravaganza, with play excerpts, sophisticated dance numbers, and touching tributes to mentors and friends.
Periodically, the music would swell ad mutate into the classic theme from The Phantom of the Opera, and a garishly caped masked figure would be spotted on the balconies, trolling the performers. It made me think of my first experience with musical theater, when Dad took me and my younger brother to see Phantom live onstage for the first time during a trip to San Francisco. I am fairly sure that that was where my affinity for theater started. If not for that, I would likely not be teaching a poetry and drama class every year, let alone be on the PHILSTAGE panel. I’m glad Dad took on the responsibility of sharing the awesomeness of theater with me.
It’s an honor to do the same for my students.
Posted from Manila, August 28, 2012