Her spirit is willing, and her flesh is not weak. At age 67, dancer Michaela “Pinky” Puno is unstoppable.
This year, she competed in the Blackpool Dance Festival, dubbed the Olympics of ballroom dance competitions in England.
“No other competition lasts for eight days, boasting as many as 3,000 couples from 60 countries,” says Puno.
She joined the senior category for dancers over 35 in the Amateur Latin division.
“Competing against people who were 30 years or so younger than me sounded crazy. But I knew my body was racing against time,” she says.
Initially, she and her Filipino partner, Ryan Jago, rehearsed daily at her Avant Garde Ballroom studio in Virginia.
Last April, she flew to the Philippines to be coached by 10-time national champion Belinda Adora.
At Blackpool, Puno donned a pink dress to stand out among the sea of red and gold. Being called back to the dance floor for another round of the competition was an achievement.
“Ryan practically pulled me on to the floor. It was a pretty rough first dance, the chacha, because I was still reeling from the surprise,” says Puno.
Although they didn’t bring home the honors, Puno was pleased with their first Blackpool competition.
The Filipino pair ranked 38th among 100 couples. For her, it was an accomplishment, considering she was up against dancers younger than her children.
Still, she realized that it takes a year of preparation to compete with the world’s best ballroom dancers.
“I can’t say it was my best performance. I wish I could have performed as well as I practiced. They always say, you have to put in 110 percent effort during practice. With the many pressures during the actual competition, only 70 percent of what you practice comes out. For an amateur like me, that was ever so true!” she says.
Hip, knee replacements
“This was the first time our coach, Belinda, saw me competing with Ryan,” she adds. “After Blackpool, she knew what my strengths and weaknesses were. We have since adjusted some of our choreography, not necessarily performing complicated routines, but honing my technique and elevating the musicality of the dance.”
She admits that her hip and knee replacements have hampered her technique. Moreover, a mature body takes a longer time to warm up.
Nonetheless, her partners, Slava Sergiev and Jago, acknowledge her capacity, and challenge her to get out of her comfort zone.
“‘No, I don’t want to do that’ is not an option for them. Determination, the drive to excel, and more practice help me dance well despite my hip and knee replacements,” says Puno.
Then again, ballroom dancing requires a successful partnership. Like teammates in a sport, a good partner will assist, support and take risks.
Puno explains that her ideal partner must be compatible with her height and appearance to facilitate seamless interaction.
“He needs to exude masculinity and confidence, without being narcissistic,” she says.
“A good partner does not worry about how he alone looks, but considers how we look together. Good technique and a willingness to keep learning is important. He needs to know how to express the emotion of the dance, and have the charisma to interact with the audience.”
A good partner must be a gentleman,” she notes.
“He must be even-tempered, and treat me like a lady at all times—on and off the dance floor. Some men act great on the dance floor, but treat their partners terribly when they are out of it. Hindi puwedeng wala siyang pakialam sa akin the minute he leaves the dance floor.”
She continues: “Even when he is not dancing, he needs to maintain a dancer’s image of class. He needs to be trustworthy and a man of good character.”
In the Pro/Am (a professional dancing with his amateur student) events, Puno dances with Sergiev, while Jago is her partner in the Senior Amateur division.
“My partners make me look good because they are not competing with me on the dance floor,” she says. “We dance as a true partnership. They provide the power and energy so I can generate it back in return. When I make a mistake, they never show disapproval. They keep dancing and try to make me recover so disaster is averted.”
On and off the dance floor, Puno is the epitome of ladylike demeanor. She credits her inner grace to her mother, Aurora Mendoza, and her education in Maryknoll (Miriam) College.
“Good manners and kindness were requirements in my home and my alma mater. I never learned to drink or smoke, and cussing is unthinkable,” she says.
Her sense of propriety is also applied in ballroom dancing. “I have never indulged in anything to make me high, and I don’t drink,” she says.
“This is why it is easy for me to be conscious of propriety. I maintain boundaries in my friendship with my partners or any dancer I am in contact with. I demand to be treated like a lady at all times because I act like a lady at all times. This avoids misunderstandings and being taken advantage of.”
Her enthusiasm and litheness make her look younger on the dance floor.
“I strive for excellence,” she says. “My passion for dance and meeting challenges drives me. The benefits of ballroom dancing keep me going. I am not in denial of my age, but I know there are competitions out there for senior women.
“I want to keep improving. There is still so much to learn. There is an expression: The more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.”
SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer > lifestyle.inquirer.net/240129/pinky-puno-conquers-blackpool-at-age-67
ANOTHER milestone took place at the historic College of the Holy Spirit Manila (CHSM) as Dr. Jesusa M. Marco was sworn in as the school's 9th president.
Dr. Marco's presidency also marks the transition of CHSM, making her the 1st Lay President under the school's new management by the Holy Spirit Alumni Management Corp (HSAMC). The rites will be held at the Paraclete Auditorium, College of the Holy Spirit Manila.
In September 2015, the Congregational Leadership Team in Rome gave the approval for the collaboration of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (S.Sp.S) and the CHSM Alumnae through a Management Contract for the continuance of CHSM mission.
On Jan. 21,2016, the Management Agreement was finally approved and signed between the College of the Holy Spirit of Manila and the Holy Spirit Alumni Management Corp (HSAMC).
CHSM remains to be owned by S.Sp.S, however, it is now managed by the HSAMC effective May 1,2016.
Dr. Marco finished AB Sociology in formerly Maryknoll (now Miriam College). She also holds Master of Arts in Social Sciences major in Sociology at De La Salle
University. She earned her Doctorate Degree in Sociology at Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Presently, she is also a Research Fellow of the De La Salle University.
PUBLISHED IN: Business World, September 21, 2016 | Bulletin Sections | Page 7 of Section 2
Miriam College marked the opening of its 90th anniversary with the launch of the Miriam College-Henry Sy, Sr. Innovation Center (MC-HSSIC), the Philippines’ first integrated makerspace last Sept. 7, 2016.
Donated by the Henry Sy Foundation through SM Hotels and Convention Corporation president and Maryknoll/Miriam College Alumni (College batch ’74) Elizabeth Sy and designed by renowned architect Ed Calma, the MC-HSSIC gives students and faculty the opportunity and space to immerse themselves in 21st century disciplines the school calls DREAM or Design, Robotics, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts and Mathematics.
Present at the launch were Elizabeth Sy, SM Prime Vice President Hans Sy, Sr., Arch. Ed Calma, Miriam College Board of Trustees Chair Josefina Tan, administrators of Miriam College led by its president Dr. Rosario O. Lapus, Maryknoll Sister Marisa Lichauco and Helen Graham, and executives representing the school’s partners who equipped the laboratories with the latest tools in innovation and contributed to the development of its programs. They are Power Mac Center, Emerson Electric (ASIA) Ltd.-ROHQ., FELTA Multi-Media Inc., C&E Publishing, Inc., Center for Culinary Arts Manila, British Council, Bato Balani Foundation, Inc., and Bangkok University.
“It is here at the Miriam College- Henry Sy, Sr. Innovation Center where we will follow a new model of teaching and learning, one that brings change and improvement to current school and classroom practices—much like what our pioneering and progressive Maryknoll nuns did when they established their first mission school in Malabon in 1926,” said Dr. Lapus. Miriam College is celebrating its 90th Anniversary with the theme, “Mighty@90!”
The makerspace features eight connected and creative learning spaces: Fabrication Laboratory, Instrumentation Laboratory, Engineering and Electronics Laboratory, Multi-Media Laboratory, Performance Laboratory, Kitchen and Café, Playloft, and Innovatrium.
It is supported by an integrated program that will engage its students, especially girls, in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) to DREAM to prepare them for fields of the future. It provides state-of-the-art tools so students and faculty can connect, collaborate, discover, design and create, transforming their ideas into tangible and viable products and services, and allowing them to find solutions to various problems. The STEAM program has been implemented across all units of the campus as early as 2011 under the leadership of Dr. Lapus.
The launch of the MC-HSSIC further strengthens the innovation thrust of the school as it continues to build on its mission of “forming leaders in service” and bringing its brand of education to different growth areas, starting with its fast-growing branch in the south, MC NUVALI, and soon in Porac, Pampanga.
Capping the day’s event was a special concert by the Miriam College High School Glee Club’s current and former members. With their conductor Nancy Roman, the choir serenaded the MC community with their winning songs performed in competitions they have joined abroad. The concert dubbed “Ngalan” marks the search for the choir’s new name through a contest.
Anjeline De Dios, an alumna of Miriam College High School 1999 and Miriam College Grade School 1995, recently graduated valedictorian at the National University of Singapore where she finished her PhD in Human Geography.
Earning her PhD is just one of several academic achievements of Anjeline. In 2009 she earned her Erasmus Mundus Master in Applied Ethics at Linköping University, Sweden and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
In 2008 she took her Masters in Philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila and before that was a student of the Graduate Exchange Program Institut d’Études Politiques (Sciences-Po), Paris.
In 2003, she graduated cum laude at the Ateneo de Manila with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and English Literature. In that same year she also bagged the Joseph Mulry Award for Excellence in Creative Writing.
Anjeline is the daughter of Miriam College’s former Gender and Institute Executive Director, Prof. Aurora De Dios.
To watch her valedictory speech on YouTube, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FPXsRrZYAI
WITH technology becoming a bigger part of peoples’ lives, it is no surprise it is also becoming an integral part of education. In that light, Miriam College seeks to be in the forefront of integrating technology with education.
This was highlighted when the institution offered a master in education degree majoring in e-learning. The degree focuses on teachers becoming equipped in teaching with the use of various technologies.
The degree is augmented by offering certification programs, such as SITE (Summer Institute on Technology Education), iTEACH (Technology Education to Advance Change) and EXCEL (Executive Course on E-Learning
Miriam High School Principal and the College Director for Innovation Development Dr. Edizon Fermin said these various certification programs earn the participants graduate credits, which are then recognized for the completion of the degree.
SITE, in partnership with Diwa Learning Systems Inc., was first offered on 2013 and gave certification courses on various topics. These courses are Teaching and Learning with Digital and Mobile Technology, which is designed to increase awareness of teachers in utilizing technology and integrating it with available resources; Developing and Adapting Digital and Mobile Application (apps development); E-learning Design and Supervision; and Cyber Ethics and Digital Law, in which, Fermin said, the cybercrime law played a major role in its conceptualization and is actually handled by lawyers.
iTEACH was first offered in May this year in partnership with CME Publication. Its focus is on facilitating technology integration in education.
EXCEL, set to be offered this September, will target school leaders and will help them prepare for e-learning. This was idealized since it would be hard for teachers to implement their e-learning plans if the school officials do not grasp its concept, Fermin said.
SITE and iTEACH run for five consecutive days, while EXCEL will run for three days. Fermin added that this was to reduce the attrition of participants.
He said they may expand SITE in its future iterations.
He added that the program runs around 40 to 60 hours and is enough for students to earn a graduate unit. He said the program is facilitated boarding-school style and hosted by their partners for the duration of the program.
Fermin said the above programs started as an idea. “Why don’t we train other people who like to transition to e-learning by providing them an opportunity?”
For the programs, part of their goal was that the participants get to maximize the available technology and use it to advance learning.
“Even with the situation in the Philippines, we can be leaders in e-learning because we are already good with the pedagogy,” he said, adding that, with e-learning, he envisions education to be more transparent and more accessible.
He said the goal is the make sure the technologies augment how he interacts with society and how things are done.
These programs are part of the bigger technological and 21st-century push by Miriam College under the leadership of Fermin.
“If we want Miriam College to be a bastion of 21st- century learning, it must be driven by learners, supported by teachers, empowered by the college and sustained by the innovators.”
Fermin said it was their aim of greater institutional thrust toward incorporating or enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their curriculum that lead the mentioned developments.
The thrust first took form with the development of their e-learning system in partnership with Diwa Learning Systems Inc.
“At Miriam College, the reason for incorporating the tablet was not to lessen the weight of the backpack. We want it to enrich learning through real-time inputs and processes. That was the main affordance of an e-learning environment.” Fermin said regarding the implementation of their e-learning system.
After their experience in developing the e-learning system and training people on how it was done, he added, they felt that they are ready to share their best practices with the world.
Aside from the programs, they also aim to have a dedicated facility for research and development. This gave birth to their Innovation Center, which will be used in developing ideas in the field of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
The building will have a performing arts laboratory and theater, science laboratories, and facilities for the multimedia and culinary arts. “It is where our students translate whatever innovative ideas they have in mind.”
Construction of the facility started last year, in part due to Betty Sy, a Miriam College alumna and the daughter of SM Malls owner Henry Sy. SM Foundation donated for the construction of the building.
Fermin said since its groundbreaking in August of last year, most of the construction is finished, except for the fixtures and other things pending installation.
For their efforts in integrating education and technology, Miriam College bagged awards during the fourth Excellence in Educational Transformation Awards held on June 21. This was organized by Bayan Academy, a sociocivic organization after the aforementioned plans and programs.
For now, these are the concrete moves by Miriam College in their push for the 21st-century education. As for the future, Fermin has one word for what’s to expect: Exciting.
Business Mirror > www.businessmirror.com.ph/miriam-college-and-its-push-toward-21st-century-learning
Miriam College and the Maryknoll High School Class of 1958, through the Office of the President, gave a special tribute to Alice Reyes who was named National Artist for Dance in 2014 and was conferred the title in 2016 by Malacanang. Reyes’s former classmates, led by Miriam College President Rosario O. Lapus, presented the National Artist with a framed picture of her taken at an event and a Maryknoll/Miriam College doll.
“This award [National Artists for Dance] may have been more than what I have done except that this is such a glamorous and rare award,” Reyes said during an impromptu speech. “Maryknoll and Miriam is such a formidable school. It has produced such amazing number of graduates and I’m just one of them,” she added.
For her part, Dr. Lapus thanks Reyes for her contributions to Philippine art. “We are so proud of you for bringing dance in the Philippines to a higher level. Everything you received abroad you brought back here to make sure that dance, art and culture in the Philippines moves up” she said.
A dancer, choreographer, teacher and director, Reyes has made an impact on the development and promotion of contemporary dance in the country. “Perhaps the biggest contribution of Alice Reyes to Philippine dance is the development of a distinctly Filipino modern dance idiom. Utilizing inherently Filipino materials and subject matters expressed through a combination of movements and styles from Philippine indigenous dance, modern dance and classical ballet she has successfully created a contemporary dance language that is uniquely Filipino,” read a text posted on the website of the National Commission for Culture and Arts.
Present during the gathering were some of Maryknoll/Miriam College’s luminaries, among them Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Teresita Bermudez Choa, Corazon Alma, and Sylvia Santos Veloso. Also present were Belen Damian, Cely Anderson, Victorina DL Garcia, Mercedes Rivera da Silva, Sr. Florence Bautista, Mila Villavicencio-Reyes, Presy Ramos, Lourdes Ledonio, Felicitas Silayan, Meny Relova, Evelyn Eugenio, and Rose Castro.
Maryknoll/Miriam College alumna Alicia Garcia Reyes (HS Batch ’58, College ‘64) was conferred the National Artist Award for Dance in ceremonies held in Malacañang on April 14, 2016. Reyes is among six awardees who were proclaimed National Artist by President Benigno S. Aquino Jr. as early as 2014 but was not conferred yet.
At the formal induction in Malacañang, Reyes joins other esteemed names in art and culture among them Francisco Feliciano (music, posthumous), Cirilo Bautista (literature), Francisco Coching (visual arts, posthumous), Frederico Aguilar Alcuaz (visual arts, posthumous), and Manuel Conde (Cinema, posthumous).
Reyes is the founder of Ballet Philippines, one of the country’s premier company in ballet and contemporary dance. She is known for initiating the professionalization of the art in the country.
Talent, values and feistiness do run in the family, as these extraordinary women prove in these special Mother’s Day profiles
MARGIE Moran-Floirendo with Monica and Cosima Ugarte and matriarch Rosario Moran
Education and keeping an open mind motivate Margie Moran-Floirendo and her daughter Monica Floirendo-Ugarte to explore possibilities to be happy in life.
A born achiever, Margie credits her mother Rosario Roxas Moran, a teacher at the University of the East, for emphasizing the importance of education. “She was a diligent scholar. She encouraged us to pursue our interests, yet work hard,” recalls Margie.
Her mother would drive Margie and sister Lulette to Hyatt for their noontime modeling stints and take them back to St. Theresa’s high school. Despite Margie’s involvement in the Karilagan cultural group and Broadway musicals, she managed to maintain good grades.
She was a freshman at Maryknoll College (now Miriam College) when she won Miss Universe in 1973. After her reign, she returned to school and completed her business administration course, graduating cum laude.
Margie was involved in projects that advocated peace and women’s rights in Muslim Mindanao. Her community work with Habitat for Humanity spurred her to pursue graduate studies in rural development at the University of London.
Her daughters Gabby and Monica, who grew up in Davao, took up ballet and piano lessons.
“Mom taught us to be independent and to live our own lives,” says Monica, who majored in political science at the University of Bristol in New York, then studied cooking at the French Culinary Institute. Gabby studied at Brandeis University in Boston and now works at Rustan’s Supermarket.
Monica looks up to her mother as a role model who has a sense of purpose. She always saw Margie keeping busy—from managing Pearl Farm in the ’90s to sustaining the 47-year-old Ballet Philippines, of which Margie is president.
“My mother is hardworking. It’s a trait that defines her. I would like to pass that on to my daughter,” says Monica.
Maritoni Rufino-Tordesillas, daughter Tessa and mother Mita Rufino
Love for the arts and being focused on one’s goal are the threads that bind Mita Rufino, daughter Maritoni Tordesillas, and tweener Natalia Teresa.
“My mother, Remedios Palanca Bantug, was a business person, but she was artistic,” says Mita Rufino. “She loved Filipino music and dances. Before I was sent to Australia as Rotary exchange student, she made me study folk dances so that I could show them our culture,”
Today, Mita is president of the Filipino Heritage Festival.
Among her four children, Maritoni is the artist. In New York, she took voice and ballet. The Neubert Ballet School saw her potential and gave her a half scholarship.
When Maritoni decided to be a ballerina, Mita set her up in a nice apartment in New York, put her through high school and trusted her to fend for herself at age 16.
When she was principal dancer of Philippine Ballet Theater (PBT), Maritoni would still fly to New York to get coached by stars of the American Ballet Theater.
In 1994, Maritoni was one of the ballerinas cast as Odette and Odile in PBT’s “Swan Lake” with American guest artist Charles Askegard. Her mother booked a Russian coach and American icon Cynthia Gregory to polish her act which, in turn, produced exciting results.
“I find myself doing the same with my daughter Tessa,” says Maritoni, who has retired and now runs a dance school.
Tessa or Natalia Teresa—named after the ballerina Natalia Makarova—has been studying with her mother since she was three years old. Pushing 12, this wunderkind has won first place in classical and contemporary categories of local dance competitions. Last year, she got to the semifinals in the classical division of the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong.
“I instill in her the same values of perseverance and hard work that I learned from my mom,” says Maritoni.
Tessa rejoins that her mother taught her to go all out in her efforts to achieve her goals. “If you want to win, you’ve got to work for it,” she says.
Mutya Laxa-Buensuceso with daughter Mayumi and mother Alice Crisostomo
ALICE Crisostomo, Mutya ng Pilipinas ’70, is naturally friendly. “I could easily connect with people,” says this former beauty queen, who now lives in Malolos, Bulacan.
Granddaughter Mayumi Buensuceso, 5, comes up to strangers and befriends them.
“I see myself in Mayumi,” says Mutya Buensuceso, country manager for the multinational beauty company Luxasia. “She’s got better PR than me. My mom is like that.”
As daughter of Alice and former movie actor Tony Ferrer, Mutya was 14 when she joined the variety show “That’s Entertainment.” At 17, she won Mutya ng Pilipinas ’92.
Alice guided Mutya throughout her showbiz career. Mutya got along easily with farmers as well as foreign diplomats. “My mother exposed me to all kinds of people and showed me how to relate to them. That’s a valuable gift. I want to teach Mayumi the same value.”
Gemma Cruz-Araneta with daughter Fatimah and mother Carmen Guerrero Napkil
AS A young widow after World War II (her husband was killed by Japanese soldiers), Carmen “Chitang” Guerrero Nakpil had to fend for herself and her children for many years until she remarried.
Her daughter Gemma Cruz-Araneta and granddaughter Fatimah would also become single parents, and they’ve managed to maintain stable family lives following Chitang’s advice.
“I fled to Mexico in 1975 because of martial law, bringing with me Fatimah and Leon,” Gemma says. “Mommy gave me very ‘motherly’ advice: The very least you can do is give your children three meals a day, at the same time. That will give your lives a semblance of order,” says Gemma, author and president of the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS).
Fatimah Araneta—who works for Gaspart Studio, a school for woodworking and ceramics in the south of Mexico City—singles out her mother’s culinary skills. Growing up in Mexico, Fatimah and Leon learned how to make Filipino dishes such as adobo and pancit.
An architect, Fatimah saw her mother as an example of a woman who could balance career and family life.
“She organized our lives efficiently so we could always be together. We always ate fresh fruits and vegetables. We’d go to a park every Sunday to run. She also showed us how to weather life’s storms with courage and equanimity—no crying, sulking frowning, please, you’ll ruin your character and get wrinkles,” says Fatimah.
Just as the elegant Chitang would remind her children to look polished at all times, Fatimah says Gemma taught them to be well-groomed, and that beauty came from within.
Fatimah finds herself imparting the same lessons to her own children Tekwani and Aurora Morales: “I hear my own mother speaking!”
Just as Chitang developed in Gemma the reading habit and exposure to the arts, Gemma’s grandchildren are voracious readers and dabble in the arts.
Gemma cites other values from her mother such as love of country, honesty, integrity, discipline, punctuality and love for the Almighty—all of which had sustained her while being a single parent in a foreign country.
Now pushing 73, Gemma enjoys reading and writing columns and books. “I still strive for excellence, though, which I learned from my mother, and continue asking myself what else I can do for our beloved country.”
Monique Siguion-Reyna Villonco with daughter Cris Villonco-Valderrama and mother Armida Siguion-Reyna
ARMIDA Siguion-Reyna, proponent of Original Pilipino Music and culture, singer-actress, producer and advocate of artistic freedom and artists’ rights, pushed her children and grandchildren to raise the bar of their craft.
Daughter Monique, a former magazine editor, is also a photographer. Among her granddaughters, Dara designs jewelry, while Tere is into film production.
Monique’s daughter Cris, who recently married her fiancé Paolo Valderrama, grew up in the limelight as a singer-actress.
Monique gives importance to Armida’s sense of discipline—completing a task after starting it, balancing financial prudence with investing in something worthwhile, good grooming and being courageous.
“The things I learned from my mother: Know yourself. Continue to discover new strengths and weaknesses. This way, you will never have to sell yourself short,” says Monique.
In turn, Cris credits Monique for teaching them to be polite. Even then, she also learned the art of quiet assertion from her mother, which obviously is Armida’s trait. “Although I’m a fighter, I run it by my mom before I say or post anything,” says Cris.
Cris recalls how Armida, being the perfectionist, would nitpick her performances. It came to a point that Cris didn’t want to have anything to do with Filipino music and culture. Today, though, she is proud to imbibe her grandmother’s nationalistic spirit.
SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer
Last February 15, 2016, Miriam/Maryknoll College alumna and Managing Editor of Philippine Tatler Chit Lijauco gave an inspiring career talk to Third Year students from the Department of Communication. This is in preparation for the internship of the students in summer 2016.
Lijauco talked about her experiences as a Communication Arts graduate and how she started in the TV industry and found herself loving the publishing world. She gave the students tips and pieces of advice about the broadcasting industry, advertising, marketing, and sales. She also stressed how the students should be able to have their respective plans and goals in five to ten years’ time.
At the end of her talk, the students asked questions about the professional world outside of Miriam College and Lijauco was able to give them a glimpse of the real world, preparing them better for their application in the exciting field of Communication.
ASPIRING journalists have many things to learn from the experiences and words of wisdom of Gemma Cruz-Araneta, not only as a writer but as a public servant, and a beauty queen as well.
Cruz-Araneta, who chairs the non-profit Heritage Conservation Society, regaled students of mass communications, journalism, and English from various universities with stories of the challenges she faced in covering the Vietnam War in the late ‘60s.
Although she is not a graduate of a journalism course, it was fitting to have her as a third lecturer in The Manila Times College Lecture Series on Journalism last Friday, given her fascinating experiences as a writer. Writing and the arts run in her blood, being a daughter of respected writer and historian Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil.
She used to write stories for The Sunday Times, the weekend edition of The Manila Times. She now writes a column for The Manila Bulletin.
“Journalists have to read, read and read. Know grammar rules. Be a master of one language. Know your history. Read classic literature.” She kept repeating these messages to her audience, drawing from her experiences that honed her journalistic skills and discipline.
A great grandniece of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, Cruz-Araneta chronicled her account of the Vietnam War as a 25-year old in 1968, in a book entitled Hanoi Diary. The 148-page book was digitized in 2008. On the 67th national day of Vietnam in 2012, Hanoi Diary’s second edition was printed for young Vietnamese to learn about what their parents went through during the war.
The 1964 Miss International, who still looks stunning and far younger than her 72, encouraged students to “know your history, know your current events.” Her penchant for reading history books and current events won her that beauty title in Long Beach, California, she said.
She recalled that she did not really like to join a beauty contest, but two of her friends submitted her name to the organizers and it was too late to back out when she found out about it. Her family had no choice but to support her. She was barely out of her teens when she became the first Filipina and first Asian to capture the international pageant crown.
Bringing home the crown was far from her expectations until she made her mark in the Question and Answer portion. “That year, there was this Vietnam War [which hogged the headlines until the early 1970s]. I told them that I had feared I wouldn’t be able to make it to the pageant. ‘Why?’ they asked. I told them there was this war in Vietnam. And they all nodded.” Reading current events and history served her well even at a beauty pageant, she told the students.
“How can you write about your country if you don’t know its history?” she pointed out. “Don’t read too much fiction. You need background materials. History is more exciting than fiction.”
“Don’t just read things like how to lose weight, or what to do when you lose your boyfriend. Read literature, classic literature,” she added.
Cruz-Araneta holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Service from Maryknoll College (now Miriam College). She worked as information writer and chief docent at the National Museum, later becoming its director.
To get the students to participate in the discussion, Cruz-Araneta turned the tables and asked her audience about their opinion on the much-criticized interview of Karen Davila with Alma Moreno. One of the students said Davila only did her job of asking questions, which were not even difficult to answer, but Moreno came unprepared for the interview.
“Why are you taking up journalism?” she asked. When nobody stood up to reply, she told them: “Journalists couldn’t be shy…dapat curious ka, matanong. Dapat alam mo ang grammar. Paano ka magsusulat kung hindi mo alam ang tamang grammar? [You should be curious, inquisitive. You should have a good grasp of the English grammar. How would you turn in good reports if your grammar is lousy?”]
She urged the students to make reading the news a habit. “You should be aware of what’s happening around you. You have to read, read and read. And you have to know how to write well.”
She, likewise, stressed the importance of fact-checking and verifying information to make sure that what they pass on to the readers is accurate.
Asked about her take on the statement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that the tanim-bala issue was being sensationalized, Cruz-Araneta said that, in general, she noticed a tendency of the local media to sensationalize news to attract readers’ attention.
“There’s a degree of sensationalism and repetition,” she said. “I think President Aquino should be careful [in making such sweeping statements] because the media is sensitive. [But] maybe he was just being candid.”
She shared with her audience her observation that toward the end of a President’s term, there always seems to be a new intrigue or scandal that emerges involving the outgoing leader. “Bakit at the end of a presidential term kailangan may gulo? [Why should there be trouble abrewing round him?”]
Having been tourism secretary under the Estrada presidency, Cruz-Araneta lamented that political tirades have become “very rude, very impolite.”
When martial law was imposed in 1972, she went to Mexico where she lived for 18 years. While there, she took up Masters in International Relations at the Mexican State University, worked for a presidential think tank – the Third World Studies Center – and the United Nations Development Program.
SOURCE: Manila Times > http://www.manilatimes.net/learning-from-gemma/231877/