Description: For this assignment we were asked to provide a deeper insight on who we are as an individual. This assignment reveals background information about my personal life and the journey that i have taken to get me where I am today. After reading this, you will have a better understanding of my passions, skills and my reasons for becoming a Liber Studies major.

Taking the Journey

My name is Maurus Dumalaog and I was born on January 15, 1988 in the beautiful islands of the Philippines. I moved to America when I was only eleven months old and grew up in the dangerous streets of Los Angeles. It was there that I started to question my role as a Filipino in America and also where I sparked some of my wildest dreams.

Since my childhood, I always found myself performing- not yet consciously aware that it was something that runs in my family or something I would consider to be my passion. My very first performance took place when I was casted as the "Little Drummer Boy," in my pre-kindergarten play of the "The Three Kings." On Sundays I would sing in the Saint Columban Knights of the Altar Choir and occasionally participate in skits whenever we would perform the Gospel (The Word of God) or when we had Barrio Fiestas (an annual festival held in my parish). When I was not performing at church, I would find something to take part in at school- whether it be choir, dance, or drama. I wanted to learn how to do it all, but for what purpose I was not yet certain. As I continually tried to develop my skills in all these genres, many questions arose as to what my purpose was in life. I had many self- esteem issues that forced me to seek for one-on-one professional training to help me sort out some of my thoughts and emotions. I came across an advertisement in a Filipino newspaper that offered voice lessons for an affordable price. At sixteen, I worked countless hours at P.F. Chang's China Bistro in Beverly Hills to pay for my singing lessons. It was there that I met who I like to call, " My Guardian Angel here on Earth." Her name was Karen Lew and she was my voice instructor and my life coach. Every week I met with her an hour at a time and we sang songs, talked about life, and sang some more! She was the very first person that told me that I had the potential to do anything I wanted to with my talent and from there, my life slowly started to unfold. Then in my senior year of high school, I took a drama class that would change my life forever. This was not the typical drama course where the students would take Shakespeare or a piece of literature and perform it on stage. Rather, this class was all about the students and our experiences. Based on our lives, our interests, obstacles and accomplishments, we wrote our own script and produced our own show. Mrs. Jill Diamond- our drama teacher was merely there to help us execute it in the most effective way possible. Our show was entitled, "Dreams and Dillusions- A dream deferred," and it was all about our aspirations and the challenges we go through on our pursuit. It was only after I looked into the audience giving us a standing ovation and the compliments I received about how much they loved the show because it was something they could actually relate to that made me realize the power that performance can have. At that same moment, I then realized that this is what I wanted to do with my life.

I entered my freshman year of college at San Francisco State in Fall 2006 as a Drama major. Prioritizing my General Education (GE's) requirements, I decided to wait until my GE's were completed before I would take on my major. With no real logic behind my decision, I thought it would be best to take my drama classes at the very end so I could put all of my attention to that once it came time, but little did I know that waiting would allow me to discover new passions. Before I knew it, I became apart of a campus organization called the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) and it was there that I was first introduced to the Third World Liberation Front and our college of Ethnic Studies. Upon learning that the Ethnic Studies courses fulfill many of the general education requirements, I made sure to take advantage of the opportunity. From these classes I learned about my history, self- identity, and self- worth. Through these classes I was able to discover that I come from a linage of educators- both my Grandmother and Great Grandfather taught at the elementary level back home in the Philippines. I also learned that my Grandfather was a exceptional saxophonist and my Grandmother was a phenomenal singer. This astonished me because now everything started to make so much sense, knowing that these traits are in my blood. Throughout these Ethnic Studies courses I was able to experience first hand how art, culture and performance can be incorporated into a classroom setting and then it clicked to me that I wanted to become a teacher.

Utilizing the content I learned in my Ethnic Studies courses, I joined a teaching pilot program called Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP) to serve low-income students at Balboa High School in the Excelsior district. According to the PEP Sourcebook our mission statement states,

"Pin@ay Educational Partnerships (PEP) mission is develop a space where education, art, and service can be fused together to achieve social justice for Filipina/o Americans and similarly marginalized communities. PEP is an educational pipeline that aims to serve the low- income youth and students of San Francisco by providing them opportunities to connect the worlds of hisotry, art and culture with direct community engagement and action"  (11).

The way I see it is that the information I have learned serves no purpose if I am not sharing it with others. Also, I think about how much more motivated I would have been in high school if I had a program like this for me.

After doing some research I looked up what it takes to become a high school drama teacher and having met with a credentials advisor, I learned that I would have to take my credentials exam in English, being that there is no single subject examination in Drama. So in my sophomore year I made the official switch to the English major. Interestingly enough, I found myself uncomfortable with the idea that I was English major, so I desperately searched for another route. To my surprise, I learned about the Liberal Studies major from my friend Mathew Dulay and he highly recommended it to me because of its interdisciplinary aspect. While studying the many different emphasis patterns, I realized that the English emphasis would allow me take both English courses and Drama courses to achieve the degree, so I consulted Eva Chuck in the Liberal Studies office and we came to the conclusion that this was best choice for me. Taking the English courses would allow me to sharpen my reading and writing skills, thus prepare me for the credentials exam, while the Drama courses would allow to continue what I love to do.

Now in my fourth year at San Francisco State, I am constantly defining what it is I want to do as a high school drama teacher and everyday my vision is becoming more and more clear. I plan on fusing together Ethnic Studies, English, and Drama to create a curriculum that allows my students to explore their cultural identity and history through the art of performance. I want to create a space where my students can utilize performance pedagogy as tool for challenging, expressing, solving, discovering, recreating any social injustices that deal with race, gender and class. This past summer, I read a book entitled "Theater of the Oppressed," by Augusto Boal and one thing that continually resonates with me is the following quote: "Theater is a weapon. An efficient weapon. For this reason one must fight for it. For this reason the ruling class strive to take permanent hold of theater and utilize it as a tool for domination. In so doing, they change the very concept of what "theater" is. But the theater can also be a weapon for liberation"(viii).  The way I interpret this quote is that because theater has been used to control and oppress groups of people, it is our responsibility take back the essence of this art form so that we can once again use it to- as Augusto Boal would say, " …educate, inform, organize, influence, incite to action," our people (xiv). I am a firm believer that theater is not only supposed to entertain, but most importantly inspire, motivate and cultivate positive change. Ultimately, I want to design a curriculum that helps my students find their self-worth so that they can step out into the world and know who they are without having fear of anything hegemonic society might throw at them.

Lastly, I want to state that I am very fortunate to have taken the courses I have taken and also have been blessed to be apart of all the organizations I have been apart of here in the bay area, but back home where I grew up in Los Angeles, these kinds of courses and organizations are not so readily available which is what drives me to want to excel in my studies everyday. Especially in what is now slowly starting to be known as a "Barbie doll culture," or "fake culture," the youth of Los Angeles are getting sucked into this glamorous lifestyle. While all of that might seem appealing, we all know that for many of us, that is not our reality.

 

Citations:

1.)            Boal, A (1985). Theater of the Oppressed. New York: Theater Communication Group.

2.)            Tintiangco-Cubales, A (Ed.). (2007). Pin@y Educational Partnerships: A Filipina/o American Studies Sourcebook Series. Manila, PI: Phoenix Publishing House International.