Storytelling and Wishful Thinking

Our human mind may have some limit in  mathematics, science, logic but when it comes to imagination,the brain knows no boundaries. That’s the beauty of wishful thinking. It eliminates obstacles. I  realize that you should never estimate ‘wishful thinking’ because as what they said, “Thoughts becomes things. ” Hold on to  your wish list and be careful what you wish for.

One of  the things included in my wish list  is to perform storytelling in a big venue. I even wrote this down last year  on my blog post. I said, “I don’t just want to read a book in front of the kids. I want performance level. (hehe) I want to wear a costume and do some little effects.”

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Like a prophecy fulfilled,  I joined a new storytelling group, Storyhouse. It was founded by Jay Menes.  He  is the first Filipino member of International Storytelling Network Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos.

st5nI support the cause of this group, no matter how small and how informal this group is. For one thing, this is a breath of fresh air. We often see storytellers hold a book but with Storyhouse, storytellers don’t read aloud. The storyteller’s body is his main medium.

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Also, it’s one way of going back to our literary roots. Oral interpretation was one of earliest forms of entertainment. The kings and laymen hired minstrels.  Shakespeare’s long lines on stage were palatable. Poets were heard everywhere, not only in an English Literature class. Popular epics  across the world such as Iliad and Biag ni Lam-ang were passed by mouth not through a movie screen. Our Muslim brothers have rich literature in oral tradition. Today, these are replaced by movies, TV shows, and video games. We want something that’s easy on the senses.   Listening like reading requires additional neurons of our brain to paint a picture. I guess that’s how oral tradition stopped becoming a tradition. And with the aid of printing press, the presence of a storyteller is no longer significant.  This is the challenge of a storyteller: How to steal three to five minutes from modern human beings who have short attention span in listening.

I only wished to perform in a book store but never did I think of storytelling in a museum. We did our storytelling in Museo Pambata. That is the ideal place to perform if your target audience are kids. It was not my best storytelling act but that was a good start.

st6I told the story of the first banana plant

Speech 121

One of the advantages studying in Diliman is the freedom to choose your subjects, schedule, and teachers.

As a shiftee, I did not grab the chance to avail such student’s “benefit” of choosing teachers. I just wanted to enroll all the prerequisite subjects I could get so that I could catch up with my batch mates.

One of the basic subjects of a Speechcomm student is Speech 121, Oral Interpretation. Ma’am Villy’s Speech 121 class was the only one that had slots and complemented well with my schedule. If my first impression was solely based on her name, she sounded like a flower. Water Lily? I gathered opinions from other students and found out that she was no flower at all. There were nice comments about her but the negative comments were more elaborate. She was one of the “terror” teachers. Some even described her as ”bitchy.” They said she gave low grades to students. For someone who had stage fright and who was often intimidated, like me, it was already a courageous act to be in her class.

Courageous Act 1 

She was known for being frank to her students. When I heard stories about her, I felt I was going to lose my self-esteem in her class. By her looks, you would judge her as someone snobbish. For a better word, she looked “regal” Sometimes, I had this illusion that she was always raising her eyebrows. Did she or was I imagining? She did not smile a lot. As what I believed, “It’s either you hate her or you love her.”

On our first day of class, when I told her I was living in KNL, she said, “So you’re living in the squatter area of UP?” Of course, it was a joke. But she delivered it well like a villain. She reprimanded me for using Wikipedia in my report (which I am very shameful to say up to this very day.) She did not let me finish a sentence with an unheard word ( words I mumbled due to poor vocabulary).

Courageous Act 2

Our first oral interpretation assignment was to deliver a poem. And of all the pieces in the world, I chose a Shakespeare sonnet. “Your piece is too short. You should have memorized it. The way you did in your introduction. You introduction was very good. ” I did not memorize my introduction. I prepared the introduction five minutes before the class whereas as I spent a day practicing 14 Shakespearean lines. Earlier in class, she said to underline the words in our pieces that needed stress. After my performance, she told me I used stress in almost all the words in the poem.

Courageous Act 3

What would you if I told you I wanted to kill myself?”

As usual I had one of the best introductions but had one of the worst performances in class, (as usual). I delivered a part of a play about a daughter who wanted to kill herself and her mother wanted to stop her. She then gave her comments. “You were OA (overacting)”

Courageous Act 4

For our final performance, we made an interpretation of a play for children. I was one of the minor fairies in the play. I was Courage who had about five to eight lines in the play. My greatest line: “Good day Prince, I am Courage.” On our final rehearsal, she dropped Courage (me) as one who had the strongest voices. At last, she said something nice about my performance!

Courageous Act 5

After our performance ended, she noticed my voice. I don’t know if my memory is right. She said I had one of the outstanding voices referring to my volume and intensity? She noticed I wore a camouflage jumper to symbolize courage while the rest were wearing Sunday dresses. Then she continued: “Except your costume was off.” And for the very last, she said something negative about my performance.

By the end of our class, she ordered ice cream for us. We had our class photo. She smiled with me in the camera. She was not the woman I thought of when I was filling up my enrollment form. In contrary to what others believed, she was not a ‘ terror’ teacher. When I got to know more of her personality in class, I was not as scared to listen to her remarks as to listen to my classmates’ remarks. Her honesty was just right. She would tell you what you deserved to know. She would not throw praises to you for free. And she would not throw insults to you out of nowhere. Having said that, I was brave enough to take another subject with her but by fate and by computer system of enrollment, I never had the chance to take another subject, and I never will…

I may be one of her easy-to-forget students but I will never forget her. After all, Speech 121 is one of my favorite subjects. I discovered that I actually like to perform. If it weren’t my favorite, I would not have written all of this. One of my college professors said that a teacher finds fulfillment when a student can still remember a single lesson or a single thought from her class… Not a single lesson..Not a single thought …..but if it has to be a single thought, it is Courage.

Rest in peace, Prof. Villy Buenaventura. You are one of the best Speech teachers I’ve ever had.