Written by Jonathan Mongcal
CMS Coordinator Jonathan Mongcal with student-artist Marissa Cabanlas from Lapasan National High School and mentor/licensed artist Romel I. Sabidor.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — In our visit to Lapasan National High School (LNHS), we noticed an art room. It was, of course, filled with artworks. Many of them were covered with dusts and cobwebs, unattended in the corners. After a minute of appreciation, we went on with our tasks as CheckMySchool monitors. It was 2016.
Two years after, when we made another visit in Camaman-an National High School (CNHS) to validate a resolved issue, I found artworks again, which were hanging in the principal’s office. The principal toured me around to proudly show those art pieces. According to her, some of them were exhibited in the Palarong Pambansa 2017 in Naga City, Camarines Sur.
There were more artworks displayed outside. I couldn’t help but appreciate them all. This school only has art clubs. It has no formal program for the arts, but the students were able to come up with beautiful “masterpieces”.
I have learned that our city has only two secondary public schools with Special Program in the Arts (SPA): the LNHS and Cagayan de Oro City High School (CDOHS).
The visual arts students of Cagayan de Oro City High School.
It’s amazing how opportunities presented themselves to us. The CheckMySchool visits were meant to uncover issues for school improvements, but I was instead led to see the youth’s talents in art. I was challenged to think of ways to get more people to see and appreciate them.
It so happened that in April and May 2017, we did our first photo exhibit. We raised public awareness and engaged the leadership in government to address the concerns of the education sector. This caused mixed reactions from school authorities in our city. (Read: Citizen monitoring of schools: threat or eye-opener?)
On June 29, 2018, we decided to make the photo exhibit more interesting and fun by integrating the students’ artworks in it. We dubbed the event as CheckMySchool Story of Change and Visual Art Exhibit with the theme, “Ang mga Hulagway sa Kabag-ohan sa Pampublikong Eskwelahan”.
Nepthali Aia Lomongo (center), the founder of Northern Mindanao Visual Art Enthusiasts with Bugo National High School student-exhibitors.
Its objectives were cast in a positive light, namely to showcase the school improvements due to CMS engagement, promote SaGIFT Aral project, and provide a venue for artwork appreciation among the public and promote the students’ talents and skills in art.
I considered the suggestion of Jimboy C. Eugenio, Education Program Specialist II of the City Schools Division, to hold it at the El Pueblo Monumento (Bonifacio Park) in Divisoria. This gave the public easy access to the event.
Four public secondary schools participated: two with SPAs, namely LNHS and CDOHS, and two schools with art clubs namely, Bugo National High School (BNHS) and CNHS. According to E. A. Cabajera, art mentor of BNHS, they were very excited because it was their first time to attend an exhibit outside the school campus.
The art students also received a sketching and learning session from Nepthali Aia Lomongo, founder of the Northern Mindanao Visual Art Enthusiast. The rest of his members conducted a demonstration of their art works to the students.
The partners in the row from the City Government and City School Division, DepEd.
The event fostered a stronger bond among the stakeholders and partners in the education sector of the city. To note, it was the first time for Councilor Suzette Daba, Chairperson of the Committee on Education, to grace such an event. She represented City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno and was escorted by Executive Director Ma. Dulce T. Potenciano of the Local School Board.
PSDS Cynthia V. Yanez, who represented SDS Jonathan S. Dela Pena, also remarked, “At first, the principals and teachers reacted negatively. But they eventually realized that CMS helps.”
This event challenged me even more. Prior to the event, I told myself that it will be the last considering the laborious preparations. But looking at the artworks of the students and their excitement during the exhibit, I changed my decision. This kind of talent should be nurtured and to do that, their works must be showcased and recognized.
I saw the happy faces of the students after the compliments and appreciation they received. They laughed, smiled and were overwhelmed. The event made them confident and affirmed that they are “magaling” (good). We have to nurture them. Who knows, the next famous artists will come from them and have exhibits of their own in world-class galleries.
Artworks of CDO City High School students.
Interesting to note, too, that the event provided the mentors a chance to meet for the first time and share developments in their schools.
The CMS team didn’t expect the superbly positive outcomes of the event. It has stirred much interest that we are now exploring with the art mentors and partners the possibility of a bigger event this year, which will involve even more schools.
Our CheckMySchool visits were truly an eye-opener. They allowed us to see a different form of school improvement. We found it in students’ artworks, which led us to a unique and creative way to help improve the condition of our schools and our students.
If there’s any issue, problem or anything that you think needs improvement in your school, let us know if CMS can help. Go to http://www.checkmyschool.org/cms-can-help/.