i took my students in our "Dynamics of Popular Culture" class to a day tour of our province today, to further immerse them in our local culture and history before we discuss media influence on popular culture by midterms in january.
i arrived in the nick of time. everybody were already on the bus, but four more students who just paid were waiting for me to ask the tour guide to take them in as "chance" passengers. with my natural charm and friendliness : ), it was a breeze. i knew i had him when the tour guide blurted out,"so you're their teacher? you look sooo young!"
we had a fun tour today, not only because of the places we visited but because of our 70ish old tour guide who was a cultural artifact all by himself. he peppered the trip with so many anecdotes and jokes and trivia, everyone instantly felt at ease with each other. after lunch, during the sleepy siesta hours, he made us sing christmas carols with him and we had a ball!
the tour also made me prouder of my self as a Negrense and as a Filipina, to realize how so creative and ingenious our people are, even with very little resources. we visited a chapel with a mural and religious icons made entirely of dived-for and hand-picked seashells (the chandelier alone took 14000 shells to make!), as well as viewed a collection of artworks by Filipino masters and one unknown painter who died in poverty, unrecognized. his melancholy yet hauntingly beautiful paintings touched me most, particularly upon knowing that he was virtually unschooled in formal painting but largely self-taught.
we visited monuments to our Cinco de Noviembre, that famed Nov. 5, 1896 day when my own provincemates declared the first Philippine Republic of Negros, even before our Tagalog compatriots declared Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898. what made it strikingly funny and spirited was that the Negrenses seized their independence through a bluff-- they tied bolos to cane stalks to make these look like bayonets and painted rolled up sawali mats black and placed these on wooden carriages to make them look like small canyons from afar. this frightened the Spanish authorities so that the Spaniards capitulated and signed the Negrenses' prepared surrender documents without too much resistance.
i observed the students having fun too, interacting with the other tourists on the bus, as well as cracking jokes among themselves, even while they learned about our local culture and history. their faces were so animated and they were so participative, even our tour guide said he fell in love with all of us.
days like these, i am proud to be who i am and exactly where i am.