visas, repertoires and class ‘performances’

Got my US visa today. With the 9 other people that comprise the APO Experience performing entourage, we practically breezed through the interview at the US embassy. What a relief! Every time I find myself lining up for any visa prior to a travel, I am reminded of the wisdom of John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’, especially the line which goes, ‘Imagine there’s no countries…’ Far out! Kung pwede lang sana!

I don’t understand why people have to get visas. (Well, to be honest I actually I do). I envy certain nationals —Aussies, Brits, Japanese, French, Americans, etc.. who can enter most countries without any visas at all. By the strength of their nations’ standing in the world are they accorded certain priveleges. We Filipinos, on the other hand must suffer the humiliation of applying for visas while being suspected, scrutinized, questioned upon entry by immigration officials everywhere. Perhaps it is because we are poor and the rich countries are afraid we may stay and steal jobs from locals. And it doesn’t help that many of our kababayans have done exactly that!! And I guess we all have to pay for the deeds some of our desperate countrymen had committed.

I read in a book somewhere that with globalization, national passports will become passe and multi-national ones will take their place. In other words, one will stop carrying Filipino or American passports but will soon be holders of Microsoft, Sony, Apple, etc. travel papers. Multinationals, after all are bigger and have more clout than some countries. Hmmm.. come to think of it, I would rather suffer with the old system than be in this more sinister one.

With the paper work all done, we can now concentrate on the tour which kicks off in Vegas this October 15. We are getting good feedback about the number of people planning to watch in the different venues. I am hoping for success in every place. But to make sure we deliver the right goodies, I would like to ask you readers, especially if you are watching, what songs you would like us to do. Your answers would really mean a lot. We have some planned already, but we would really like to hear from you to confirm whether we are off-the-mark or bulls’ eye in our choices of songs.

My class will be over by Tuesday, October 4. I always end the semester early to give my students the chance to review and concentrate on their harder subjects. After all, my class called Special Topics in Performance and Practice is an elective, and frankly, all I aim for is to excite my students, to wake them up to the fascinating topics that I bring to the classroom. It is a discussion class. I give very few reading materials but I make them write a lot of papers. I value their opinions and I grade them not according to whether they can repeat what I said, but how well they can explain their understanding of the subject matter in their own words.

This Thursday is make-up day. I am giving them an opportunity to change their lowest grade by asking for a performance. Some will do interpretative poetry reading. Some will, through visuals and a lecture, explain to the class what they are passionate about. It could be their hobbies, interest, whatever. Some will sing and /or dance. The only thing I ask is that they strive to give a performance that will take the rest of the class to a place ‘where it has never been’. After all, that’s what a pitch is all about. Thus, no performances executed without full commitment will be tolerated. Show up with heart and full dedication. If you can’t be excellent, at least strive with all you’ve got.

This works out for them and for me since we both get a reprieve from writing and reading papers. In place, they get to go ‘out of their heads’ and into the practical experience of everything we talked about. The next class after this session is final exam day! I am preparing great essay questions that will bring out the best understanding they have of the various topics..

Students come in different shapes and sizes. I see them in various stages of being closed or open. Some are a challenge since it seems they come in with closed minds and fixed opinions and fear walking the edge of what they know. Some are lazy, hilo. Very few new knowledge is allowed in. They are the ones who have a hard time believing that a net will appear when they make a leap. But there are others that are such a joy—those who listen and participate, those who write so well that I look forward to reading their papers. I put theirs under the stack so that I end the tediousness of checking papers with excitement and anticipation!

But it is for the closed ones that I feel I was meant to teach. They challenge my patience and skill and help me get better. Sometimes, I feel that their appreciation of the class will happen years later, if at all when they grow up a little and realize that not only was there more to the class than what they allowed in, but more importantly, more to them than they could appreciate.

The open ones make real the saying which goes; ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’ They are not only ready but are so hungry to learn, to absorb and process the new topics that are being introduced. They keep teachers committed to the profession by their disposition and gratitude. Bless them. Without them, there would even be fewer teachers now.

I can’t believe another semester will soon be over.

22 thoughts on “visas, repertoires and class ‘performances’”

  1. how time flies. another semester is about to end. it’s the ber months. christmas is just around the bend.

    good luck, sir, on your US tour.

  2. stealing jobs? i doubt if illegal immigrants are exactly going for corporate jobs. those ones that im aware of are stooping their back somewhere where americans wouldnt dare touch. imagine.

  3. hataw na naman sa tour! pero mukhang wala pa ring Seattle. buti pa si Gary V may gig dito. but what i’m waiting for is APO 🙂

    as for the APO songs, i still like the classic ones.
    – When I Met You
    – Blue Jeans
    – American Junk (can you sing this in the US? :))
    – Panalangin
    – Ewan
    – Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba
    – and siyempre, Yakap sa Dilim

    and it would be cool if you can cover some Eraseheads songs 🙂

    godspeed sa APO.

  4. good luck sa THE APO EXPERIENCE TOUR!

    sana ang susunod dito naman sa cebu! sir jim, how do i write you about the signed CD?

    kamusta na pala si ma’m lydia?

  5. Great to hear that you’re doing another tour in the US. Have fun 😉

    When will you be back in Toronto? And even though the tour is in the US …just wanted to let you know my ultimate fav song of APO is When I Met You.


  6. ‘ngapala, ako rin, hiling kong mapakinggan ang “blue jeans” tsaka gaya ng sabi ni coolmel, kung pwede ring eheads cover. kahit na ano, basta jeproks!

  7. very insightful web… learned about ths through my good friend yvette who is in africa right now… i’ve been reading it for the past few months and can’t help but comment on your latest post. I loved being a student! (nung 80’s pa yun!) and yes, it is only when you are in the midst of navigating in your adult life that you often remember the words your teachers have imparted and how true they all are…waiting to watch APO experience… still fav on WHEN I MET YOU (for my hubby), YAKAP SA DILIM ..and hey, not bad to sing Eraserheads “Smile” ! Carpe diem! Ciao!

  8. Teaching is really the noblest of all professions.

    It is indeed taxing to teach those who are “closed” and “unprepared to absorb new ideas”. But, as you say, yes it’s a challenging task. Difficult, but the rewards are bountiful if you have the patience.
    But I think you can handle this one well, Jim.

    Also, I recently heard over from the radio while riding an FX one of the old songs of APO. It was “Ewan”. I really dig that song since my childhood days in the early 80’s, especially the chorus line: “Mahal kita, mahal kita, hindi ito bola…”. Always makes me smile.

  9. if all teachers were like you… having the patience and the desire to help those who have a hard time learning, the world will be a better place!

    good luck on your tour! i hope that you guys make raves in Vegas.

    thx for allowing me to post the lyrics.

    – mario

  10. Congratulations on your US Tour

    Apo song suggestions:

    Awit Ng Barkada
    Kabilugan Ng Buwan
    Blue Jeans!

    I’ll be watching you in Las Vegas! We were hoping to see you in our small community of Salt Lake City, Utah. Hopefully someday it will be possible. We had our fingers crossed, but I guess we weren’t enough.

  11. it would be so nice kung wala nang visas! just like you sir, i envy those nationals who are priviledged to enter countries without having to apply for a visa.

    ‘luck on your US tour!

    are you a strict teacher sir jim?

  12. coolmel and ibalik–, once again di natuloy ang seattle. It was almost there but… next time. Yes, we plan to do eheads stuff. If you guys don’t know, we actually have an album called Bandarito where we pay tribute to the 90s bands–eheads, parokya, yano, orient pearl, joey ayala, etc.. It’s a lot of fun.

    benjie–cebu will be next year yata

    anonymous–canada is February 2006. dunno if toronto included pa.

    jeng and jio, anonymous and jed–teaching is really noble. In a perfect world teachers should be paid more than pop stars and athletes since we do work that never ends. What one generation ends is passed on to eternity. I feel it’s important work.

    anonymous in untah–see you in vegas! really excited about thyat.

    n-ha ha. Strict in some aspects but very open at the same time. I believe students should show up for class and submit work on time. In that sense I am strict. But in discussions, I allow a lot of leeway and creativity.

  13. good luck po sa US tour, sir jim! i’m sure you’ll have a great time, as always.:)

    yeah, sometimes, i’d wish i were japanese na lang sana so that i wouldn’t need to get visas when travelling. hay, being a filipino sometimes… pero okay lang. all’s good.:)

    i’m really thankful i got to sit in your class. that was fun. really. i wanted to do it again, but my schedule just never allowed me. it’d be fun to see the students’ presentations/performances.:)

  14. hi jim! i remember the last APO concert i saw, you guys did this medley of classic filipino songs mixed with popular songs (the whole pamulinawen-every breath you take bit still gets me :)). i thought that was genius.

    i’ll be watching with my non-pinoy husband and our 15-yr old son – and that demographic may just represent a nice chunk of your audience, so in addition to the APO gems that we all love, it’d be nice to have a few numbers thrown in that non-pinoys can relate to while still enjoying the whole APO experience.

    by the way, at that same concert, when you did your three versions of “‘di na natuto,” after danny did his classical bit, my then-fiance said that it was a pity pinoys don’t get enough recognition for their talent because he thought josh groban had nothing on danny. 🙂

    go APO!

  15. “and the rich countries are afraid we may stay and steal jobs from locals. And it doesn’t help that many of our kababayans have done exactly that”

    You, sir, seems to have interesting insights–except for the line above. I am sorry, but I find your statement that largely naive and ignorant of the real issues, and quite offensive, in fact.

  16. to anonymous who posted the comment on nov 2nd 2005:

    judging from how illegal immigration is such a hot issue now in the U.S. in 2010, i would say jim paredes wasn’t exactly naive and un-insightful. that is exactly what a lot of americans think today.

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