Fading AwayBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
Whew, am I tired. Just took the MCAT, also known as the Medical College Admission Test. Composed of four different tests ranging from genetics to phase-matter equilibriums compressed into eight hours of strategic mayhem, the MCAT attempts to wrangle one’s mind in every conceivable way possible.
The science problems were numerous, and we were given a small amount time to answer them. The essays in the reading comprehension section were as boring as they were long. The writing topics involved were vague and the dealings included issues such as whether great leaders are necessary for positive social reforms to how the massive amounts of information on the Internet could reduce its benefits.
When it came to these tests having rhythm is essential. When you lose that rhythm or get distracted, all hell breaks lose. Even I was thrown off on my Physical Science section. The proctor accidentally called out 45 minutes remaining when there were actually still more time. My rhythm soon went awry; my head worrying why my watch was absurdly slow.
It’s funny. After preparing for five to six months for a one-day examination, only the end result of the test (which should be admission to medical school) is of sole importance. Whatever details were discussed in the passages or whatever value the readings had is trivial if not completely meaningless to the test-taker. In fact, prep courses such as Kaplan, deemphasized the enjoyment of reading and learning these passages altogether, emphasizing only the bare skeleton on the passage to get the A-B-C-Ds correct.
Now, not all tactics require weak and non-substantial means to a decisive end.
Last April, the decision by San Francisco State to cut a class of Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines was met with stiff resistance. Some students gathered sympathizers to the cause, writing up petitions, inquiring with various teachers of influence for advice, submitting proposals to media outlets and literally got word out throughout the university and the community about the upcoming decision.
With pressures from various sectors accumulating within a matter of weeks, the current dean abdicated, caving in to the simple demands of the students: the reinstatement of Master Kalanduyan and his class. It seemed very much like an example of where hard work and unrelenting determination could surpass what many phrased in the beginning of our campaign as, “a done deal.”
Unfortunately for us, a minor glitch in our overall strategy may have left the class in peril this coming week. Since the reinstatement was processed at the end of last semester, the class was left off the bulletin, leaving students unable to know of its existence. Nor did we demand, as Professor Gonzales suggested, that ETHS 545 be part of a regular music program in which students could use it for upper division credits, which would have in all likelihood prolonged the class’s life (definitely longer than simply next semester). These unfortunate events have left the class vulnerable to cancellation with only two students (as of Thursday, 8/25) signed up for the class.
Over the summer, Master Kalanduyan expressed that this may be his last semester at SFSU. During our jams, we joked that maybe there would be more teacher assistants than students this semester. And upon looking at the current roster, that prediction remains with the class regrettably headed for elimination even before December rears its ugly head.
So in the spirit of our final campaign to save this last for one last time, I encourage you to come and see what this music is all about. If you have seen Master Kalanduyan or his derivatives playing at some Filipino events, this is your chance to see how this “music of resistance” is played out. If you have never seen or hear of a kulintang before (and I ran into many who have), this is perhaps the best opportunity to see one in action.
The class starts everyday on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Creative Arts building.
Indeed, we’ve gone through hell and back to save this class from the grasp of the budget-reaper.
But unlike the MCAT, our valiant efforts may have not been enough to fight off an inevitable fate for a class ready to fade into SFSU history. - PDM
See this article,"Fading Away" in Philippine News. Click here