Learning to be resilient, adapting to the challenges brought about by the pandemic and not giving up on one’s dreams are how three scholars from Ang Misyon Inc. live their lives today, still planting seeds of hope through their music.
From the files of Ang Misyon scholar stories, Lance Pacifico, Lara Pacifico and Rhonnel Ibañez share their ways of coping with today’s uncertainties. Credit for these stories go to the Ang Misyon team—Jenn, Aussie and Marjon.
The Pacifico siblings— Lance, 19, and Lara, 11—do their best to manage schoolwork, music lessons and practice time at home. It was not easy at first, says their mother, with her husband being away for work. She had to create a schedule for Lara to follow, including time limit on cellphone use and a strict bedtime, while Lance keeps his own schedule and helps with housework.
From Rizal to Rockwell
Before the pandemic, Lance and Lara would travel from Rizal to Rockwell Business Center in Ortigas every Saturday for their lessons and rehearsals. With lockdown restrictions, activities with the Ang Misyon orchestras had to be done remotely.
Lance is a scholar at the University of the Philippines Diliman, majoring in cello performance. Apart from being with the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth (OFY), he is also a member of the Angono National Symphonic Band as a tuba player. Lara is an oboist who wants to perform in different places in the future.
Lance shares: “COVID-19 has affected my schoolwork and practices because I’m not used to (studying and practicing) at home. I really prefer doing stuff at school or at our dorm away from our house because it’s cramped and really distracting and I can’t focus.” Lara, for her part, says: “Schoolwork was affected by COVID-19 because school was cut early and I missed the most exciting event I waited for the whole school year, Recognition Day. And opening of classes was moved… It is a big challenge for me. My music practice (was) affected because I can’t attend our sectional, orchestra rehearsal and music theory class.”
Lance’s biggest challenge during this period is studying—he says he can’t find the will to practice and study at home because he is not yet used to it, but is doing his best to do so “because I don’t have any choice.” Lara admits it is challenging to study music pieces by herself especially as she is learning a solo piece in preparation for auditioning at an arts school for high school. Lance, however, is now able to help Lara with her music practice.
Both siblings are learning to appreciate things such as freedom of movement, which is restricted due to the quarantine.
“I tend to give not much attention during some performances, but now I really miss them, every single performance is important to me,” reflects Lance. For Lara, she has learned that she needs to do some things without the help of others and to value her talent.
As a scholar, Lance states that “playing music has changed my view of my life, it taught me more self-discipline and appreciation of different skills of others; also, it changed my view of music. Before I started to learn how to play, I only prefer pop songs; I (thought) pieces with no lyrics are boring, but I was wrong.”
His sister says that she wishes to impart her talent to children who want to learn music someday and that she will remain grateful for being one of Ang Misyon’s many scholars.
For Ang Misyon’s programs to be successful, the involvement and partnership with the parents is necessary. Naomi Pacifico is always present at her children’s events and performances as her way of fully supporting them and the community. Through the three years that her children have been with Ang Misyon, she has noticed how both have continued to excel in their studies and gained valuable qualities such as patience, punctuality, respect and collaboration with others. She hopes that they can continue to do what they love doing while staying humble and thankful for their blessings.
As a senior member of the OFY, Lance offers this advice: “Become more patient and hardworking when studying music, and… never lose hope in this time of need and never give up on your dreams. We will survive these hardships as long as we work together just like what we do in an orchestra.”
Share with the Youth
For Rhonnel, who plays percussion and is a mentor at Ang Misyon, his advice is to always be respectful to one’s elders, to be humble and generous. His father tells him that “you will not be able to appreciate whatever you have when you are already dead, so you must always share with the youth who want to learn and help them achieve their dreams.”
Rhonnel finished Bachelor of Music in Music Education, major in percussion, at Centro Escolar University in Manila. He received numerous awards as a student and musical achiever.
Rhonnel is grateful to OFY as he was able to travel to different places; the impact of being a percussionist made him realize how fortunate he is to be part of the orchestra. He also emphasizes the need to be a good team player aside from being a good musician.
As he temporarily lost his job as a percussion mentor due to the pandemic, he relies on his savings and drastically cuts back on expenses. He still dreams of becoming a professional musician and, for him, the lockdown is not a reason to stop practicing. He does not forget to pray every day so that things will get better for him and for everyone else.