Sunday, July 15, 2007

Paegant Worship

Paegant worship (and other things I understand but still can't fully appreciate about local culture)

What people love more than a barungay piesta which many people take off time from work and stay up late and rise at 3 or 4 am sometimes to do all the cooking necessary in preparation for the event is paegants. Maybe its the lack of glamor and the accessibility of fame and wealth? Filipinos love three things food, entertainment and hospitality. They are the most important things ever. And everyone is always concerned as well that they always put their best foot forward. You never know which students go without food sometimes and live in utter poverty because every student comes into school freshly scrubbed in a clean ironed uniform.

One of my co-workers explained it well when I was pondering out loud over the Filipino's obsession with paegants. It has nothing to do with academics yet there is a paegant during every town piesta and high school science and math camp, school based, divisional and regional. Why? She said, “What else do the students have to look forward to?”

People hear don't have money, many are separated from their husband or wife in order that they can earn enough abroad that they might have a little nest egg, but most people know that life will always be a struggle so why not at least appreciate the ways things are, celebrate youth, beauty and talent. And Filipinos never miss an opportunity to do just that. The United Nations is another such event which with eyes rolling into the back of my head I stand after the first 3 hours wondering when the two segments of introductions by the 50 country representatives will end. There are, as usual, a few intermission acts involving a duet between a male and female student singing “A Whole New World” which was actually done in perfect pitch. Quite impressive and a hip hop dance number by the SNHS Dance Troop. They are always too adorable.

But I can't help but stand there thinking, the editor is up there doing a dance number and the school newspaper is in danger of not making the deadline to compete in the annual newspaper contest. In the states, this would never happen. The students would have been up until all hours at school even on Sunday and would have skipped the performance to do their work....Instead, the advisor is going ballistic trying to complete the editing and getting her husband to create the layout (he's a graphic designer). This is totally insane.
She's just supposed to be helping them not doing their work for them....

It's a shame because the students are becoming too relient on their teachers and it shows. The students always end up turning in their assignments late. And it is pretty common for me to hear a teacher complain that she had to repremand her class for not doing their assignment! I've heard of one or two students forgetting to do an assignment, but how is it possible that an entire class could more than once forget to do an assignment? That is just too bizarre! Maybe in two years some of my ideas will be accepted along with the multiple paegents as non-academic projects/events allowed by the school.

The Visitation of the Gods, a short story by Gilda Cordero-Fernando has been totally comforting to me in trying to understand bureaucracy in the Filipines as well as made me question how things work within certain domestic affairs departments within the U.S. government. Hopefully, my dear friends who work or have worked for government before you can enlighten me about all the juicy and horrific details because I’m feeling a little shell-shocked at times coming from a purely non-for-profit businesses. This is my first job working for the government so I have a feeling I’m still too wet behind the ears to get it at times.


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