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Right Minus Wrong: Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes (Play)

Last weekend, I had the chance to watch “Right Minus Wrong”, a twin bill production of Dulaang Laksambayanan, Inc. presenting two plays Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes and Joe Cool: Aplikante.

The first play titled Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes, written by Tim Dacanay, is a story of a resigning teacher delivering her last lecture for the school year. Instead of saying personal farewells and thank yous to her students, Mrs. Reyes (Lotlot Bustamante) dared to discuss a sensitive topic you cannot expect a Music teacher would discuss: sex and sexuality.

While Mrs. Reyes often amuses the crowd with her quick wit and contagious laughter, her final lesson was filled with stories of her life. She saw how students nowadays become victims of social ridicule and deprived of education because they became pregnant or they have engaged in homosexual acts. Mrs. Reyes opened the discussion that it is okay to discuss human sexuality in class by relating it with the musical concept of “dissonance.” She felt the urgency of questioning the system and the society in making better life decisions, and she does so with a group of people that became closest to her hearts–her students.

Certainly, Mrs. Reyes’ last lecture would not have been appropriate for a Music teacher’s lesson plan. The sister-principal disapproved her well-researched coverage of topics many months in advance before her last day in school. The principal even questioned her capability to teach such lesson, and even demeaning Mrs. Reyes’ passion for yoga. But Mrs. Reyes is not the ordinary teacher; she is also an idealist who believes she can help reduce the rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases with proper education of the youth.

In between her lessons, she injects in snapshots of her life’s issues on relationship troubles with her husband, her son’s addiction to computer games, and her misunderstanding with her sister, and her sister’s gay son. Despite her not-so-perfect past and present, she sets an example that you can still do responsible actions for a brighter future. She wished that her students will not give up their hopes and pursue with their education, because life will always have its struggles but these should not stop us from becoming better persons.

The style of Mrs. Reyes’ lecture is reminds me of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. She felt that her last day will also be her last chance to teach them. Her students may not remember a year’s worth of Music lessons, but she hopes that they will remember her as a teacher of life and of hope.

If we were Mrs. Reyes and today is your last lecture day, what wisdom would you impart on your students?

A Rumpelstiltskin By Name

 [Disclaimer: This is a revised essay for my online class. The essays are part of the assessment and the basic requirement is the length to be between 270-320 words. I assume you have already have a background of the story, and I am simply trying to enrich the discussion. :)]

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The tale of Rumpelstiltskin gives us views on gender discrimination, greed, and deception. The characters are classic: a show-off father, a greedy king, and a wise goblin (Rumpelstiltskin)—all exploiting the daughter. The father jeopardizes his daughter’s future and she became helpless because of her inability to spin straw into gold. Thus, the king wanted her for the probability of multiplying his riches. The woman is seen as an object: a gold-producing machine. Otherwise, for what other reason would the king marry a miller’s daughter? It seemed a profitable deal with the king.

Rumpelstiltskin used his magic intelligently; for he knows that taking the firstborn child would be useful by either in gaining more power or as a ransom in the future. But why was his identity a secret? Mystical creatures opt not to reveal themselves fully to mankind—especially to women, as they are perceived to be unworthy of trust. He also challenged the queen that she cannot guess his name, a further insult to a woman’s intelligence regardless of her position in the society. When she got his name right, Rumpelstiltskin can no longer claim her child and the woman triumphs over someone who is not human. The story ends with a defeated and outwitted Rumpelstiltskin tearing himself into two out of anger.

Grimms’ Tales are not like Aesop’s Fables in directly telling the moral of the story, but it challenges the readers to learn it by unlayering the characters. The father wanted power by lying on his daughter’s reputation while the king wanted to get richer. The protagonist daughter is not perfect, yet she becomes victorious over trials. Rumpelstiltskin can even be seen as a compassionate antagonist by giving the daughter a chance to redeem her child. He thought creatures like him cannot be outwitted, but he was proven wrong. Don’t we, at some point in our lives, identify ourselves as the daughter, the miller, the king, and Rumpelstiltskin?