“CAN you still remember your Grade I teacher? ” This was once the by-line of an advertisement of one financial institution. This is also the base concept of the play “Ang Guro” staged by Stairs Production and Imagination Beyond Events Philippines at West Negros University Gym last Saturday, January 21. The musical play was written by occupational therapist Paul Ballano. This is his form of loving tribute to his Grade I school teacher, Mrs. Cecilia Resontoc, who was instrumental in making him pursue, work and reach his goals, despite all odds.
As Paul fondly recalled after the curtain call, Mrs. Resontoc made him believe in what he can do, what he can achieve, and what he can become. The soft–spoken yet talented singer Karel Marquez performed the lead role perfectly. Comely, gentle yet versatile, Karel took in the part of Ms. Amelia Resontoc, a young high school teacher who has the knack of understanding and motivating her students. With her strong convictions, she encouraged her students to keep on going by singing “The Climb”, as she accepted each of their individual differences in “True Colors. ”
Izzy Trazona, one of the Sex Bomb Dancers, showed off her acting and dancing prowess as one of the talented yet late bloomer students of Ms. Resontoc. Sheila Asuncion, who plays the mother of Karel, not only played her role well but also belted out one powerful, heart–rending rendition of “The Prayer” together with the lead singer. Together with Charina Ramirez, Kath Jarabelo, Zac Celadania, Yab Aragones, Jake Duquiatan, Vida Masakayan, Jess Ibasco, Juddie Fe Suarez, Ahmee Galguerra, Owen Siy, Sweet Reyes, Jen Galope, Kiana Rodriguez, Armand Go, and playwright Paul, they composed the powerhouse of a cast which made the play a natural success.
Moreover, the play’s universal theme on the crucial role that teachers play in the molding of the country’s young minds and the nobility of the teaching profession are great ideas which need to be brought to light. No wonder why the Department of Education and the West Negros University supported the staging of the musicale. The stage set and backdrop were to the minimum. Same with the costumes. But the plot thickens with almost real-life dialogues and scenes which every teacher and student or school administrator in the audience could easily identify with.
The different personalities of teacher and students, and the varied circumstances which caught each web of each other lives provided the audience with hearty laughs, and flowing tears. The end of the play may have been tragic, but all good works do not go in vain. Especially that of the noble teacher Ms. Amelia Resontoc. Directed by Sweet Grace Ballano, “Ang Guro” may still have to undergo some minor refinements in stage blocking, but it has carved a better niche for itself in the world of stage plays.
The cameo roles which some WNU dancers and students did in the play are also worth mentioning. But because the play is conceptualized and brought to different schools all over the country with no thought of a bigger profit, except to fulfill the writer’s dream and to bring forth the messages of acceptance, honor, love and understanding. It’s just quite sad to note that not everybody in the teaching profession or those who are enrolled in education courses have watched the play.
But still, like a good book, or a worthy movie, the musicale “Ang Guro” has touched hearts and minds. And if all the student-members in the audience took leave of their seats to go thank their teachers in the audience and give each a warm hug, such is indicative that the musicale has brought its message across its audience’s hearts. Thus, warm kudos to the members of production and the cast of “Ang Guro” and to the wonderful people and sponsors in Bacolod who brought the musicale here. Well, what or who then is the “guro”?
Probably they could be as specific as Socrates, Anne Sullivan, Marva Collins, Mary McCloud Bethune, Bel Kaufman or, from the namesake of the lead player in the musicale, Mrs. Cecilia Resontoc – all of them having one thing in common: they were all teachers in their own time. Or in generics, a “guro” can just be a “he” or a “she” – nameless or faceless yet gentle and wonderful beings who have long been forgotten but whose valuable lessons and strength in character will always be remembered by their students.
So, at this point, can you now recall your Grade 1 teacher? Or even your other teachers? I hope you can. I would like to end with a part of a speech of John Schlatter of Cypress, California which I adapted. “Throughout the course of the day I have been called upon to be an actor, friend, nurse and doctor, coach, finder of the lost article, money lender, psychologist, substitute parent, and a keeper of faith…
I am allowed to see that life is reborn each day with new questions, burst of ideas and young friendships… I know that if I build with love and trust, what I build will last forever… I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance, and apathy. But I have great allies: curiosity, intelligence, creativity, faith, love and laughter which all rush to my banner with indomitable support… I AM A TEACHER. ” Dear teachers, our hats off you. GOD BLESS.