Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Dream Renewed: Experiences during the Inauguration of UP Manila’s Community Health and Development Program in San Juan, Batangas

Shortly after the culmination of the inaugural ceremonies of Dean Cynthia V. Isaac, and just as I was recuperating from the stresses brought about by the preparations, I was tasked to help in the preparations of the inauguration of UP Manila's Community Health and Development Program (CHDP) in San Juan, Batangas. As head of CAMP's CBR Program, I am automatically a member of this group, along with the program heads and point persons of the other colleges in UP Manila. The CHDP was envisioned to be a venue where every unit of UP Manila converge on a common community site, addressing the needs of the community through an interdisciplinary approach (IDA). If you are familiar with the history of CAMP's CBR Program which started in Bay, Laguna in the form of the Comprehensive Community Health Program (CCHP), you will feel that the thrust of CHDP rings a bell. Imagine all the interns, students and supervisors of all colleges and units of UP Manila in one community, interacting for a common goal of community development. This is IDA to the max! Now, the Chancellory has tasked us to prepare for the inauguration of this worthy program.

As they always say, if you do well in one thing, chances are you will be tapped to do the same thing in the future. Sabi nga nila, 'wag masyado magpakitang gilas! Apparently, a lot of people appreciated the efforts I put into the inaugural ceremonies in CAMP, and they wanted to emulate that for the inaugural ceremonies in San Juan, Batangas. My talents were indeed stretched nearly to the limits in this event! Here were my assignments: (1) Program/Invitation, (2) Banner/Decoratives, (3) Responsorial Psalm (to be sung!), and (4) Audio-Visual Presentation and Logo… all to be accomplished in 2 weeks.

Program/Invitations. Since I have already the source files for the program used in the inauguration in CAMP, all I needed to do in this instance is to modify it to fit the theme of the event. Whereas, for Dean Jake, I used blue, silver and gold being her favorite colors, I have to be more traditional in the selection of colors in the case for the CHDP program/invitation. Since it will be distributed not only to the UPM constituency, but also among stakeholders in the San Juan, Batangas community, it had to embody the spirit UP Manila, as well as the community. For anchor colors, I selected UP's "luntian at pula" (green and red/maroon) colors and ochre/earth for general background. Using my own stock photography, I attempted to subtly blend in a basketweave pattern into the background, suggesting a native/rural feel. Of course, colors had to be subdued to save on printing expenses, so the challenge was to not make this look deliberate. Here are the designs:

CHDP Program Front-Back

CHDP Program Inside

This had to go through 8 revisions, but these were limited only to textual content. So I guess the Chancellory was satisfied with the aesthetics of the design.

Banner/Decoratives. For the banner and the decorations, it was very important for me to do an ocular inspection of the actual place where they will be used. This way, I will be able to create a design that will not clash with the surrounding environment, something that will be seamless with the existing environment. The venue for the event will be the church of San Juan de Nepomuceno (a church to be venue for such activities is highly unusual since the church as much as possible maintains the sanctity of the place of worship, it should not be a venue for political activities). After requesting permission from Archbishop Arguelles of Batangas to use the church as venue with provisions that the eucharist be removed, thus de-churching the place. The Archbishop was a happy fellow (though he seemed strict and difficult to approach at first impressions). I cannot forget how hilarious he was when we noticed that he had attractive dimples on his cheeks. He said that he actually had 5 dimples, 2 we can see, 3 we cannot, 1 of which smells awful (dalawa nakikita, tatlo nakatago, yung isa mabaho!). We ended up chatting for a long time with the "holiness".

After getting permission from the archbishop, we went to the venue itself. The church was beautiful so I wanted a design that will not take away the beauty of the church, something that will look like it was part of the church itself. I thought of using long banners that will span the length of the two columns on each side of the altar, one symbolizing UP Manila (red/maroon and green), the other representing San Juan, Batangas (red and blue). As you can see, the design was drawn from the concept used in the program. A banner will be placed at the façade of the church. I also had to take approximate measurements of how the banner/decorative should be sized, and with this, I have the budget that I have to work with. Here is the preliminary sketch:

And the final designs:

CHDP Tarps

CHDP Banner

The banner was basically patterned from the program materials, but integrating the colors of the tarpaulin. Also, I created templates for the slide presentations bearing the responses during the mass celebration:

CHDP Background

Responsorial Psalm. I was also tasked to compose the melody for the responsorial psalm for the mass celebration. This was no ordinary mass, since this will be concelebrated by an archbishop and two parish priests, and most of the liturgy will be sung. Looking at the song line-up for this mass, I knew I had to create something that was traditional (and not modern/contemporary, as the Our Father I composed before). Also, it had to be simple so that the community will be able to follow it, and easy to learn since I will be teaching this piece to the choir a few minutes before the start of the mass. Most importantly, it should fall comfortably within my vocal range. I came up with this:

CHDP Mass Salmo

The choir was good! They were easy to teach and they were very eager to learn the tune of the psalm. It had been a long time since I taught a choir (oh the CAMP Choir days, where I was known as the "master beater"), but it came out almost naturally as I found myself leading this choir which I only met and interacted with for a few minutes. I think I sang the psalm well, since people from the UP Manila community who didn't know I could sing was surprised to see me up there "singing like an angel". Dr. Sia always amused me. Not only did he not embarrass me before in an event in CAMP by calling me "isang artista!" (which is a direct translation of "artist" which is what he truly meant), he commented again, "ang dami ko raw talino" (which I think he meant "talents"). Oh, if the UP Manila Community only knew that years and years before during a flag ceremony attended by the very same people, I sang the national anthem in which I forgot the lyrics! It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. Imagine the guard who had to stop raising the flag up the pole since I had to repeat the song all over again (not just twice but thrice)! I wanted to be shot right there and then ala-Jose Rizal. I guess, I regained my dignity after singing the responsorial psalm successfully!

CHDP Inaugural in San Juan, Batangas 020

Audio-Visual Presentation/Logo. I did the audio-visual presentation highlighting the history of CHDP the night before the event. It's a good thing that we were already there in San Juan, Batangas as part of the advance preparation party. Again, the available stock photography was limited, so it was very difficult to create a presentation to stretch within the allotted 3 minutes. In order to fill in the remaining time, I decided to create a logo for CHDP, which as you will see is an evolution from the original CCHP Logo. My rationale for this was that the CHDP is actually a renewal of a dream that was extinguished which was CCHP. The original logo featured a triangle and an oblation. I retained the oblation symbol, refining it, using actual photos of the oblation statue, but instead of the triangle, I utilized a star burst, a blossoming shape symbolizing the renewed vigor in the community service endeavor. The 3 points of the triangle is now a many-pointed shape representing the numerous units supporting this endeavor, and the multi-faceted aspect of community development.


Here is the short AVP I prepared for the event:

Summary. Again, you could imagine how stressed I was. But this was something I enjoy doing, and something I know I am good at, so even though I was exhausted and stretched thinly in the end, I knew I was able to contribute to making this event an unforgettable experience. Though I relished in the attention I got for the efforts I put into this, I have to make it clear that this was not my main motivation. Through this event, I was able to work with individuals from other colleges, and seeing firsthand the same effort and talents that they have shared, it further motivated me. The CHDP is an exciting program to look forward to, and with like-minded people from other colleges and units, it reminds me just how privileged one can be to be part of UP Manila.

Photos from the event can be seen at my Flickr Albums.

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