When Gigo called me to sit-in for him as jury in another thesis presentation of college kids, I was quizzical at first. Until he told me that it will be at my old alma mater - the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, I immediately harped "sure". I thought it won't be a bad idea to visit my college after I left it since graduation and see the things that have or haven't changed - from the kids roaming its corridors, the old teachers, Mang Danny and Mang Boy (two administration guys who are the most sought after when the school year begins) and those huge tables at the studio arts building where everyone seemed to have carved his name, a drawing or nailed additional appendages. (I was disappointed a bit for that table wasn't there anymore)
When I arrived that morning, I immediately took a picture of the building...
... and I got lost. Apparently, since the last time I've been there, they've closed the front lobby doors and the road in front of it led to the Animal Clinic in the back! Shoots, I had to retrace my steps and find the college "entrance" at the back.
The minute I walked into the college building a flood of memories swamped my mind. I remember when one of my female classmates ran from our classroom screaming and banged into me head-on. She was mortified by the site of a lamb (yes, there was a flock of sheep in U.P. back then) peering into the window. There was also the time we laughed our heads off when we saw Gold being followed by Gretchen who kept on sniffing the former's shoulder as she walked. Gretchen's not human, she's a horse from the animal clinic that would sometimes roam the grounds of the the college, the same horse that would gallop along the hallway interrupting every class that's unfortunately being held that day. Or those days when they have nude sketching sessions in the main auditorium for anatomy classes. If the subject is a naked female model, the whole room will be filled with wide-eyed, eager college kids holding their sketchpads. And if you through scan the crowd, there would be some faces there that aren't even from the college.
Ahh, old college memories...
I met Totet de Jesus who ushered me to the room where the thesis presentations were to be done....
... and I met the three other people in the jury - Augie, Beth Parrocha and Ms. de Jesus. It was an interesting bunch; an excellent illustrator, an award-winning writer of children's stories, an editor-at-large and a cute book designer (me, hehehehe...)
There were more than a dozen students who presented their thesis projects for PUBLICATIONS FOR CHILDREN, and I'm showing some of them here.
Velissa Cardenas was the last one to show us her works. A story book series about heroes from Filipino epics and myths. We all agreed that her work was professionally put together.
Her illustrations were at par with the works of some of the best book illustrators I've seen and she laid out her pages quite neatly.
There are some small technical adjustments with her layout but otherwise, with a little bit more training, I might see much better things from this girl soon.
Oh, and what amazes me, like in every thesis presentation during that day, is the amount of research these guys and girls have put into finding the right problem to solve. There's a dearth of good children's books about our own myths and legends, and Velissa just made an excellent series about it.Ray Sunga's MAD LABS tickled me pink. He created a crazy, wacky and mad reading supplement for science subjects with a funny bungling scientist as its main character.
It looked like a mish-mash from a Discovery channel program (The other guys in the jury said so... me, I am not sure), Lane Smith and some European illustrator's style... but otherwise, it was a brave book that shows science can be fun... and crazy.I wish I had this when I was a kid.
Ma. Christina Sismundo's project was quite simple and elegant. It's one of those things when you'd say "Now, how come I didn't think of that?" She made a simple and small book of traditional folk songs she aptly titled SABAY-SABAY TAYO (Let's do it together). It's small, cheaply-made and can be widely distributed in public elementary schools...... the verses and stanzas are written on each page accompanied by cute illustrations. The second half of the book, the lyric sheets are written and nicely designed.
And it has a companion CD. She meant her project to be developed as a series of music books of the different cultures and languages in this country. Elegant. Simply elegant solution.
Clio Tantoco's book had us in stitches. She wrote and designed a book tracing the etymology of names of different places in the city and in the country.It adds a humorous way of instructing how certain places got its name. She accompanied it with journal-like illustration that makes every turn of a page an adventure. Brilliant.Romir Sucaldito's highly-targeted publication of a comic-book format English instructional for Koreans called SPEAK SMART was quite applauded. With the Philippines experiencing a deluge of Korean students learning English from our schools, the instructional material he designed is an excellent study supplement for English both for teachers and students. We all loved it, plus the fact that the kid looks like the spitting image of a popular local comic TV celebrity - Bitoy.I also like how Regina Salazar made a superb improvement on the lowly Math book. I do agree that math for every school age kid is interesting. The child's interest level lowers if the math materials presented are in a dull and monotonous manner. Her proposition, use CREATIVE TYPOGRAPHY IN MATH, which is laudable and exciting. I just hope a project like this is fully developed in the school system.If I were an 11-year old today and I get a hold of Jemimah Basilio's book IBA SI KUYA (Big brother is Different) I would say it's a cool kid's book about being Emo. I could fully relate to this 21st century revision of the Punk movement since I grew up in the 80's. But then again, I am not a kid and I am looking at her work as an adult... and I'd say it's pretty cool and funky. Plus the fact that this girl created magnificent illustrations for her book. Augie Rivera has an interest in her work. I figure he sees her potential for one of his stories.
It was a pretty tiring day of judging the works of all of these students, but it was worth it. The majority of them were very jittery during their individual presentations. One even cried when she heard the applause from all of us and some of the people in the "audience" for her excellent work. She even admitted that she thought she'd be penalized for being late in setting up her presentation (We didn't know she was late. We were busy smoking cigarettes outside in the hallway in between presentations when she went huffing and puffing into the room.) Another student sang a ditty before she began hers. Doing so, she made the point of her presentation more clear. I figured it also relaxed her.
But in toto, it was an exciting day. You can sense it in the air but as Beth Parrocha said,"It's exciting doing these thesis presentations. I (we) remember mine when I was still a student here. But I don't think it's something I'd like to go back to."
Hmmm, neither do I.
Note: Turns out all of us in the jury are alumni of U.P. When all the invited jury panelists from the other judging rooms were ushered for lunch in the faculty hall, it was like a mini-reunion of alumni from different batches. I felt old. Hahahaha...