Through Culture and Arts Office (CAO) organizations and events, De La Salle University gives every student a glimpse of the unique Filipino culture we ought to take pride in. Beyond the classroom yet still within the walls of our campus, we have every opportunity to appreciate our culture if we only know where to look.
For members of the Culture and Arts Office of DLSU – that is, DLS Innersoul, DLSU Chorale, the Green Media Group, Harlequin Theatre Guild, La Salle Dance Company Street, Contemporary and Folk, Lasallian Youth Orchestra, and the Student Artist Managers – there is no better place than the stage. Dedicated to spreading the diversity and wonder of Filipino art, every performer knows the artists, the stage, and the performance itself are just materials to make a masterpiece out of – hopefully, one that will spark nationalism in the hearts of our audience.
The life of a student artist is not all glitz and glamor, though. While standing beneath the lights and feeling accomplished seems like the ultimate dream, the struggles it took to get there cannot be ignored. Here’s a glimpse of the challenges that come as the price of passion, as told by our very own Culture and Arts Office groups.
The endless juggling act
“Hassle, because hindi mo talaga maiiwasan ‘yung conflict nito with your schedule,” says a student from the Lasallian Youth Orchestra. For other CAO members, they couldn’t agree more. The day doesn’t begin with class – occasionally it starts with manning the booth for an upcoming event or waking up early for call time. It doesn’t end with class, either – because at 6 p.m. there are rehearsals. Balancing academics, rehearsal time, and org work is no joke, as expressed by a member of the Green Media Group, “…having to juggle different activities (from GMG, different orgs, and dealing with majors) and the need to stay up late as much as possible.”
It’s an endless juggling act of priorities and dodging schedule conflicts, and more than anything, it’s stressful. Being a Dean’s Lister is hard. Commuting home is tiring. Studying for exams is downright sleepless. However, none of these are impossible with the right time management and control.
Late night with student artists
“Forget watching PBB … eating dinner with your parents … or even sleeping early for that big test tomorrow – good thing you studied for it earlier today.” Nearly all student artists have thought along these lines at one point, especially those in CAO groups that rehearse or prepare late into the night, working until 9 pm or later. According to a member of the DLSU Harlequin Theatre Guild, “We work overnight inside the campus just to finish our sets and props for our upcoming productions.”
Recently, DLSU CAO groups opened their doors to artists from STC and we were fortunate to get a response from a member of LSDC-Street. “We commute going back to Laguna after training then [we have] classes again at Laguna. It was really tiring because we arrive home at 11 pm.” This is the case with many other CAO members who live far from the school. As a member of DLS-Innersoul shares, “You have to rehearse until 8 or 9 pm and you still have homework to do.”
However, it hasn’t only been a hassle. Learning to manage time along with being patient and hardworking has produced more than just eye bags – it’s produced good grades without sacrificing good performances.
Behind the scenes
Above all else, there is one thing the Culture and Arts Office groups exist for: performance.
From singing, dancing, playing an instrument, or acting to managing the backstage and taking care of other artists, CAO groups have to handle it all. What most people don’t know, however, is that the event is only the end result – and the road toward it is a long, obstacle-filled journey that starts months before. The everyday life of a student artist takes a backseat to conceptualizing themes, making props, looking for sponsors, manning booths, and endless practicing.
As told by a member of LSDC-Folk, “When it’s your concert season, you spend most of your time rehearsing that you only have little time left to study.” In addition to that, managing the show is only secondary to rehearsing their craft for the actual performance – a feat that usually involves a lot of crying, disappointment, and insecurity. Whoever said performing for an audience was easy?
Passion over fame
Art is not made for the artist to be acknowledged, but for the passion to be shared. This being said, a CAO member’s ultimate goal is to share more than his or her talent – it’s to share his or her pride in being a Lasallian and a Filipino. As artists, it is tough and somewhat disappointing to realize that some, if not most, students are reluctant to watch performances. A student artist’s greatest struggle is the strain to be acknowledged and for their craft to be appreciated, not for themselves, but for Filipino art itself.
While the incentive system has garnered audiences, it remains a wish for all CAO groups that concerts and events are not seen as tickets to free points but as windows to the world of Filipino culture. After all, every CAO group puts its best effort into creating a great, even world-class show. On the part of the students, it would be a shame to miss out on this opportunity to experience the unique talents the Philippine culture has to offer. A member of the Student Artist Managers sums it up, saying, “It’s a struggle to get more publicity … there is so much more to this org.”
This is why
Every CAO member, at one point, has been asked this one question: Why do you stay? What is it you do that makes all those struggles worth it?
Actually, there are a lot of things. Art does life-changing things to both the audience and the performer, and for Culture and Arts groups, art gives them a second family that shares their passions. To quote a member of the DLSU Chorale, “I’m glad I have friends and family to support me.” Art has led them to the people who understand that a student’s life goes beyond the reality of classrooms and work, far into the imagination. It has taken them places and allowed them to see the world. It gives them inspiration, and for student artists, an avenue to inspire others.
Additionally, these adversities have taught them many things. As a member of LSDC-Contemporary shares, “We just learn to work around what’s available to us over time.” More than time management and the importance of hard work, it has taught them the value of teamwork, professionalism, resilience, and humility; that every member is an indispensable part of the performance; that it is possible to walk the line between work and play and that hard work gets rewarded.
For student artists, every struggle they have faced became a learning experience in the end. Working in a CAO group will never be easy, but it will always be rewarding – and what better reward is there than what can be expressed through art?