My theater experience by Annika

beauty-and-the-beast_belle_madame-de-la-grande-bouche_3-2April 11th was a remarkable day at the RCBC Plaza—the school production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. was performed to a fully packed auditorium. It was not just an ordinary school play because cast members had multiple roles, and the success of the play also depended on singing talent. Wanting to give a stellar performance, the Drama Club worked diligently by practicing and memorizing their lines for hours on end.

During the announcing of the cast, I was surprised to have been chosen as Madame de la Grande Bouche—a former opera singer, the castle’s lady-in-waiting, and fashion authority. She had been transformed into a cumbersome wardrobe closet, her sheer size as enveloping as her warmth. She was kind and consoling to Belle, yet fierce and bold when she defended the castle from enemy attacks. At the same time, I was chosen to be a villager and a narrator. Playing three roles was not that easy, but I was willing to give it a go.

Every Wednesday was rehearsal time. I, along with my fellow club members would practice our lines, dramatize our roles, learn new dance steps, and belt out new songs. Because I worked diligently to master my role, I successfully portrayed my role the way it was performed in the Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

The rehearsals at RCBC, with the sets, lighting, and costumes took place on the week of April 11. When I first looked at the sets and props, I marveled at how detailed and ornate the sets and props were. I was also in awe of the costumes when they were finally delivered to RCBC. When the cast donned on their costumes, their characters magically came to life.

The night of the show arrived. The cast tried to overcome their fears of being onstage; suddenly, the music started and the curtain went up. My heart was pounding. I felt overwrought, but the other narrators helped soothe my nerves.

 

As a narrator

It was now our turn. The four narrators stepped proudly on the stage. My heart was beating faster, but I managed to get it under control. We told the story of the Prince’s transformation using dramatic and suspenseful tones. The assistant student director told us the best way to express ourselves was to follow the mood of the music and the oral expressions of the vocal guide.

As a villager

The village scene was set up when the castle scene was pulled out. All the villagers got ready for their song. When the song began, everyone was merry and cheerful. Then they started making fun of an intelligent girl named Belle because she liked to read … which the villagers think is odd. I completely forgot that reading is my pastime as I acted like the villagers who disdained it.

As Madame de la Grande Bouche

After a few scenes (which went without a hitch) it was now my turn as Madame de la Grande Bouche. This time, when I performed, it was better than the rehearsals in school, particularly because I danced more fluidly (despite my heavy attire) and enunciated my lines more clearly! I felt proud of the way I played my role.

Aftermath 

I relished playing my three roles and enjoyed being part of a supportive cast and inspiring director. I hope to return to the drama club and participate in the school’s next production, which I will be talking about on my next post!

 

 

Subic Survivors by Jose

Our trip to Subic was an enthralling experience for all who came. We all became best of friends during the three-day camp, where we hiked, swam, and horsed around.

We started off with the usual skeptical queries: What are the rooms like? What are the activities to accomplish? Could this be a fun trip? When we arrived at Subic, we ate lunch then went straight to do our activities and were separated into three groups. My group played with dolphins in the Dolphin Beach Encounter. The point of the experience was to make us interact with these sea mammals and learn a little more about them. Afterwards, we learned about sharks, jackfish, and turtles in a lecture. We were briefed on the WIN (Wildlife in Need) Center and what to expect when we visited them the following day. After all the lectures, we checked in, settled down and at 8:30 pm, it was lights out.

On the second day, we rose at 6:00 am. We ate a hearty breakfast and began our activities for the day. We started off at Mangrove Hike; towards the middle of our hike, we shot a few arrows. Many missed and only one person hit the bull’s eye. Rather than hitting the target, I hit a tree behind the target and the arrow got stuck in its trunk. On my second try, I also missed but I hit the wooden frame of the target and it again got stuck. People mysteriously cheered me on…

Afterwards, we went to the WIN Center. There, we met four special animals:  a snake, an owl, a bat, and if I remember correctly, an eagle. We took a tour of the place and happened to pass by some monkeys. As a challenge, we had to stuff food in a bottle to prevent the monkeys from opening it by wrapping the bottle in banana leaves to conceal it. We underestimated the ingenuity of the monkeys who easily saw through our ruse.

As evening fell, we had a Hawaiian luau party. We danced in groups to showcase our talents. The winner was Matthew’s group, “The Original Swaggerers.” We went on to witness a few students twerking. At exactly 10:00 pm, we heard a pop and everything went dark and silent. Only a small emergency light kept us company. Some groups reported hearing some doors banging and chain jangling sounds. My roommates and I went to sleep right after the power was restored.

It was our last day. We ate breakfast at 7:00 am and then went kayaking. For some odd reason, our kayaks were constantly capsizing. Time flew fast in Subic and before we knew it, it was time to go.

The students listening attentively to their guide in the forest
The students listening attentively to their guide explaining to them the mysteries that lie inside the forest
The students and teachers hamming it up for the camera at the WIN center
The students and teachers hamming it up for the camera at the WIN center
The students concentrating on stuffing as much vegetables as they can inside the plastic bottles
The students concentrating on stuffing as much vegetables as they can inside the plastic bottles
The students snorkeling and exploring the mysteries that lie beneath the sea
The students snorkeling and exploring the mysteries that lie beneath the sea
The Middle schoolers having a blast by the beach!
The Middle schoolers having a blast by the beach!


Planting the seeds for a better future by Romeo

It was a hot and a humid day, the perfect temperature for our tree planting activity held last March 22 at C-6, Taguig City. I arrived at school just in time to see my fellow GANG members brimming with excitement. On the way to the site, I chatted with my peers and wondered how the tree planting activity would turn out.

After an hour of passing through narrow roads and bustling, crowded barangays, we finally reached our site. While we went to the side of the road (where the tree plating site was), I was curious as to how we would plant the trees. All my questions were answered when a forester from the Philippine Wood Producers Association explained and demonstrated how to properly plant the seedlings:  compress the soil, tear the black plastic surrounding it, put it on the hole, and cover it with soil.

After the brief introduction, all participants were given caps (to shield our faces from the sun) and shovels (to help us properly cover the seedlings with soil). At first, I had a difficulty planting my first tree, as it was my first time working in such blistering conditions. Soon after, I got the hang of it and continued toiling, until I, along with the other members, finished planting all the seedlings.

At the end of the activity, each participant received a certificate. I washed my hands filled with pride that I just helped Mother Nature. We went back to school; a smile on my face and a good feeling pervaded my body. This new experience thrilled me—but most importantly, it was fulfilling.

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The participants: (L-R) Marcus, Max, Kun, Isara, Matthew, Romeo, Serena, Megan, Jonathan, and Rienzi

 

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The participants listening to the forester’s speech

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Everyone busily planting seedlings

 

A Word from the “Wise”: College Edition by Gabby

Hello again! Just a quick introduction before I begin: now that college applications and the results are rolling in, I thought I’d share my top 10 tips to survive college application season. There’s definitely more to it than just filling in profiles and writing essays – but as with most things in life, take a deep breath and take it one day at a time. You should be fine.

1. Talk about the finances with your parents

Scholarships and financial aid aside, it’s more than likely that your parents will be funding at least part of your tertiary education. You should, at the very least, have a conversation with them regarding the financial aspects of getting to university. If anything, it might help narrow down your choices depending on what you can and cannot afford.

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2. Do your research

College talks are amazing – I found one of my dream schools through a college talk – but there are hundreds of thousands of other universities that don’t come to our school. Where you go for university is even more important than that research paper you’ve been working on, so it makes sense that you should be doing as much research (maybe even more) on what’s out there.

Start thinking about the colleges you want to apply to! It is never too early to start!

3. Talk to yourself

…but not in that way. Think about what you really want from your college experience: the class size, study abroad opportunities, the amount of clubs, the list goes on. There are so many other factors aside from location and the “brand name” of a school, and you should know what you want before you start looking.

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4. Get in touch with your college counselor

As with my last article, I cannot stress how important it is to talk to your college counselor. I’ve gotten so much help with every single aspect of the application process; I honestly don’t know how some students can manage by themselves.

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5. Set a schedule for yourself.

College application season usually rolls around in November – December, which is also when midterms are. It’s easy to lose track of what you’re supposed to be doing, but make sure that you’re constantly aware of your college deadlines. Cramming an essay four hours before the application deadline may actually hinder your chances more than help them, so it might be best to set your own internal deadline as well.

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6. Interviews happen.

And you don’t need to freak out! Being nervous increases your chance of stuttering, speaking too fast, and just messing up in general. There’s no real way to know the questions beforehand, so just focus on the basics, such as an introduction about yourself and why you want to study what you want to study. Be confident in yourself, smile a lot, be polite, and it’ll be over before you know it.

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7. Be sensitive.

College application season is a sensitive time for everyone, especially in occasions where people will be applying to the same institution. You’ll be having enough work to do on your own, so just focus on yourself and do whatever it takes to get your applications in. Don’t be offended if someone starts giving you the cold shoulder out of nowhere, but on the flip side, don’t be offensive either. Avoid scenarios like “that school? It’s my safety” and “I might retake my SAT, I’m not happy with my 2390,” because college applications will be different for every individual.

It is never to early to start studying for the SAT!

8. Be realistic.

Not just in terms of where you can go based on your test scores, but also with your perception of university in general. Prestigious universities are nice, but realistically speaking, there are so many other schools out there that offer an amazing education. Don’t feel pressured in applying to any “famous” universities if you don’t want to – what’s important is finding the school that’s best for YOU. Okay, mom moment over.

9. You might need financial aid forms.

Some schools reward merit-based scholarships upon application, which is great, but you may still need additional amounts of aid. If that’s the case, be sure to get a checklist of what forms you’ll need to fill in, and the deadlines of these. As someone who’s gone through the process, I can assure you that this is definitely not something you want to leave until the last minute. Also, if you have any help regarding the forms, your college counselor is there to help sort you out.

10. Check your e-mail!

This has an exclamation mark because it really is that important. Even after you’ve sent in your applications, some universities may contact you via email to arrange for an interview or to ask for additional documentation. After having gone through all the stress and work of applying, it’d be silly (read: embarrassing, careless, completely avoidable) to get rejected simply because you forgot to submit a copy of your passport. That’s not something that happened to me, just in case you were wondering.

And that’s it! I could wax poetic about college season and how it has shaped my identity as an individual, and so on and so forth, but these are a few tips to help you get started…whenever that may be. Good luck!

The Clash of the Titans by Spencer

Will Red remain supreme or will Blue cool them down?

Last January 23, the Red, Blue, and Yellow houses each united once more to compete in various sports, such as badminton and handball. Excitement and team spirit filled the air as students gave their all to bring glory to their respective teams.

One of the most intense matches was the high school hand ball game, particularly because the scores were so close. Yellow proved to be the strongest team in handball as they beat both Blue and Red. Blue beat Red by several points, securing the second place. On the other hand, Blue won the most number of games, followed by Yellow and Red team in high school badminton.

In a surprising turn of events, the Red team took home the gold with their lower and middle school teams scoring the most points in their respective games, followed by the Blue team and the Yellow team.

Although the Red team took the lead by 10 points followed by Blue and Yellow, there was no real winner or loser at the end; the results did not matter to students, as they gave their best shot and realized how important synergy was. It was a fun and memorable day for both students and faculty who were busy cheering and hollering for their teams.

Now, the burning question remains: will Blue manage to cool down the Red team’s flames or will the Yellow team swoop in and snatch the Gold?

Find out in the next blog post!

 

The Yellow team members racing to the finish line!
The Yellow team members racing to the finish line!
The Red team Upper school members in an intense badminton match!
Red team brother-sister duo, Karen and Bryan, in an intense badminton match
The Blue team members participating in a fierce match!
The Blue team members participating in a fierce match!

A Kota-unaware experience by Megan

Have you ever slept in a hammock in the middle of the jungle? Have you ever gone three days straight without taking a shower? Can you imagine spending a day without your laptop or without wi-fi? These were some of the conditions that we had to endure in Camp Borneo, an experience that tested my tenacity.

Upon arriving in Kota Kinabalu, we rode a by bus to a nearby step-in lodge. As the bus jerked to a stop, I looked around to see a desolate area; all I saw was a couple of closed-down shops and a small, narrow stairwell in between two stores. All I was thinking at the time was “Are we lost?” and “Where are we?” I was surprised to see our tour guide, Andrea, alighting from the bus and pulling out suitcase after suitcase. She gestured towards the narrow stairway; I walked up the stairs with trepidation. When I reached the top, I saw a relatively small living room, as well as a hallway leading to several rooms. I soon figured out that all the girls were going to be sharing a room and when I entered, I was confused as to how we were all going to fit in: It was much smaller than our classroom at CISM! I lay my suitcase on the floor and immediately started looking for a bathroom, which turned out to be for common use.

Most of us didn’t really get any rest time. We just ended up talking and roaming around the lodge. At one point, there was also a lot of instant-noodle-and-seaweed-eating. That morning, we returned to the bus and took a six-hour bus ride to our campsite. Upon arrival at the dock where we were to ride to the campsite in boats, I got the most shocking news of the entire trip: We were going to sleep in hammocks!  Andrea informed us that we were to only bring backpacks to the campsite, in the event of rain. I started to panic. I had a big suitcase filled with everything I could possibly need to stay safe in the jungle, but how was I to limit it to one small backpack? I hurriedly stuffed all the essentials in and somehow, it all fit!

When we got to the campsite, we watched Brown, another tour guide, demonstrate how to tie up a hammock. The girls walked over to their part of the jungle and I heard a shrill shriek. Something squirmy had attached itself to Serena’s arm! All of us cringed in terror and hugged each other. We were told it was a leech (something commonly found in the jungle). Despite the reassurance it wasn’t harmful, I dared not go near it. It was a little, black insect resembling a worm that latches on to one’s skin and sucks one’s blood. Sure, that doesn’t sound dangerous at all! Our phobia of leeches only escalated as we went for a night walk. I’m sure each of us got leeched at least once. The only person who didn’t seem scared was Stella; she pulled the leeches off everyone and everyone wanted her as his bodyguard.

The next day was unarguably the day with the most work. We trimmed leaves using machetes. Early in the morning, we took a 20-minute walk to a part of the jungle where we planted trees. We had around three baskets full of small plants and we were instructed to plant them. We were able to plant some 120 trees, which I believe is quite a feat for 14 people to actually do – each planted an average of 8 trees. After that, we walked back to eat lunch and we were able to relax for a bit before walking to a different area to cut grass next. As we started cutting, we chatted with our tour guides. One of them was a Filipino that grew up in Malaysia! He could speak basic Tagalog with phrases like Salamat po and Walang anuman. Many of them also watched Filipino television programs such as Please be careful with my heart.  So Jewel and Serena definitely had a good time talking to them about their favorite TV shows!

As this was all happening, I saw a small crowd form around Justin and I went over to see what had happened. I found out that a leech had apparently crawled into Justin’s shirt and bit him. So, his shirt was bloodied and there were two insect bites on his stomach. When we returned, I breathed a sigh of relief. That day was really hard on us: We were sweaty, we were tired, and all I wanted to do was take a shower!

For the next two days, we visited tourist attractions. The Gomantong bat caves, famous for harvesting edible birds’ nests, was the first site we visited. Despite the natural beauty of the caves, I was not able to enjoy as much because I was constantly watching where I had to step. The caves are home to many cockroaches, probably more than I’ve ever seen in my entire life! I even saw tiny, baby cockroaches and was not sure whether to think that they were cute or gross.

Afterwards, we went to see the sun bears. We were able to see them dig holes and climb trees. Nearby, we saw orangutans. I saw a couple endlessly swinging from branch to branch. I saw a mother breastfeeding her infant. It was definitely awe-inspiring! We then took a bus ride back to the hotel. I was just relieved to be able to get under the cool water from the shower!

Conveniently, there was a mall right across the hotel. Even if there weren’t many shops to go to, I was still happy to be in a mall again. The next morning, we visited the Poring Hot Springs. We went through a canopy bridge that allowed us to see treetop views. I think that went pretty well; I don’t think anyone had an irrational fear of heights.  We waited to go to lunch and visited another mall for some last minute shopping before departing for the airport.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip very much. Despite the fact it was not what we originally signed up for, I think we all made the most out of this experience. My favorite activity was cutting grass using a machete — I found that activity memorable, particularly because it was my first time wielding a big weapon! Now, I can strike that off my bucket list.

The Upper schoolers looking excited and ready to depart to Borneo!
The Upper schoolers looking excited and ready to depart to Borneo!
Exploring the market in Borneo
Exploring the market in Borneo
Visiting Mount. Kinabalu
Visiting Mount. Kinabalu
Planting trees at Borneo's forest
Planting trees at Borneo’s forest
Stella hamming up for the camera with her machetes!
Stella hamming up for the camera with her machetes!
At the "oh-so scary" Canopy bridge
At the “oh-so scary” Canopy bridge
Enjoying our time at the Sepilok conservatory
Enjoying our time at the Sepilok conservatory


A New Direction by Serena

 

My favorite author, Paulo Coelho, once wrote “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

Change is inevitable; it can strike us when we least expect it and can test our tenacity as human beings. When I was in 9th grade, I went through a “life-changing experience” both as a student and a member of the Dragon Chronicles: I was elected editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper. Having been a member of the team for only a year, I was not expecting to be given such a responsibility so soon after joining. In fact, I was in a quandary over accepting the job, mindful that juggling schoolwork with editorial duties could be daunting. But with guidance from my advisers, encouragement from my peers and parents, I forged ahead and waded through the various tasks of planning the issue, assigning and following up on article deadlines, editing submissions and designing the publication’s layout. I feel that embracing the challenge at 9th grade has blessed me tremendously. Not only have I grown as a student, but I also have evolved as a writer.

Dragon Chronicles is currently undergoing a makeover. For the past six years, the newsletter has inspired students to submit literary and artistic work that reflects on their individuality and growth as writers. Although the staff and I have noticed that more people are willing to share their pieces, we feel that we can still attract a greater number of students, teachers, and even parents to contribute to the school newspaper.

We also hope to attract a wider audience while being consistent with our motto of producing an informative yet entertaining newsletter. Hence, we have decided to turn the newspaper into a blog.  By doing so, students and parents alike will be updated with the latest happenings in the CISM community and hopefully, be encouraged to contribute work of their own.

The blog is a work in progress.  We at Dragon Chronicles ask that you all continue supporting the school publication as it embarks on a new chapter! We would love to hear from you and appreciate your literary and artistic submissions.

Thank you.

Serena