Erlou Raymundo, Jr., a 17-year-old student of Antique National School always wanted to share his talent but never had the chance until a theater group opened in their town in San Jose de Buenavista in Antique.
“I wake up at 3:00 am to cook, and will spend the entire morning selling the food so that I can have my 20 pesos baon (money) for my class in the evening,” he shared. “I’ve always loved performing but I did not have the means to share and enhance my talents then.”
Thanks to Teatro Tubigon, a theater group established through the partnership of the Philippine Educational Theater Association and the local government unit of San Jose, Raymundo has found his voice and gained his confidence despite his personal challenges.
Deo Dame Saligumba and Demie Paza, also students of Antique National School, are both known singers prior to joining Teatro Tubigon. Now they are recognized as versatile theater actors and future leaders of their organization after joining a series of PETA's theater workshops.
According to Saligumba, the theater association is responsible for igniting her interest and love of theater and appreciation of her heritage. “PETA’s workshop is not just about acting, more importantly, it teaches us young people to understand and take pride in our own heritage and culture.”
Saligumba added, “Aside from acting, I am now able to teach and facilitate activities for our group. I feel good that I am able to impart and share what I have learned from PETA with my peers. The workshop made me realize that I am a leader too.”
Paza, meanwhile, said “PETA has taught me to be more versatile. It has given me confidence and has allowed me to collaborate with my peers.”
Through the years, PETA has developed hundreds of young artists and cultural leaders, and founded numerous youth drama groups across the archipelago.
Now on its 51st year, the association continues to invest in the youth through its program on creativity and innovation, Arts Education Matters, which aims to use the power of theater to engage young people in vital social concerns, helping them become more informed, responsible, and pro-active citizens. The project directly targets students to become cultural creatives and helps basic education teachers to be innovators in classroom education.
As part of this project, PETA focuses its resources in Central Luzon, Western and Central Visayas, and Central Mindanao. It reaches out to far flung areas that are seedbeds of rich cultural heritage and tradition but are currently lacking in platforms for theater to flourish in universities and colleges.
One of PETA’s recent partners in the Panay region is the municipality of San Jose de Buenavista, the capital of the province of Antique.
“Antique National School has a population of 7,000 students, but in the past years, only three to five students will enroll in the arts track under the K-12 program. There was very little interest in the arts,” shared Arvin Pereyra, teacher of Special Program in the Arts.
He continued, “In fact, the SPA has existed in the last 10 years, but the school did not have a theater group until now. That is why we are very thankful to PETA that we are given the support we need to build Teatro Tubigon.”
Currently, Teatro Tubigon is planning to expand to other universities and communities in Antique to develop a network of young artists in the municipality.
Through the Arts Ed Program, PETA hopes to continue enlivening and strengthening the arts in the regions and provide opportunities for people to express themselves and act in ways that can contribute meaningfully to the betterment of their community.
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