In the conclusion of the 3rd batch of the Film Academy’s Computer Education Program, one of the participants had insisted for a subtle press release of her own.
“Because it’s very, very useful and beneficial especially for the older ones,” says Lani Tolentino who is a member of SGP (Screenwriters Guild of the Philippines). “Specialized kasi ang sistema ng pagtuturo and according to our instructor, the method used is the so-called Learning Tools for Executive. Sa Tagalog, pang-matanda.”
Lani is a veteran of many workshops, from scriptwriting up to digital filmmaking. “Age is no reason to stop learning. As long as your mind is functioning, you should never stop studying so your brain will be exercised.” Aside from the learning she gets from the workshops, she also enjoys the camaraderie and newfound friendship. “Enjoy – that’s the word, lalo pa kung libre ang workshop tapos free rin pati food,” she finally releases her pent-up giggles.
In the FAP Computer Education Program, Lani availed of the Basic Computer Workshop held last April. “Yes, I belong to the first batch and I am proud of it. Para bang pioneer. Akala ko nga it ends there kaya natuwa ako when I got a message last week that there’s an advanced course. And lucky me because semestral break ngayon kaya nagpa-register agad ako.”
The compliment is not a mere compliment especially because Lani is not a mere guild member. With an M.A. in English, Lani teaches the subject in, not one but two colleges — Perpetual Help System in Las Piñas and also in Feati University. Naturally vibrant, Lani is a person who is so generous with her smiles and giggles, a direct contrast of the Miss Tapia type of a professor. “Eh kasi naman pag sineryoso mo ang buhay ay malulungkot ka lang. Paano kung mawalan ako ng appetite? Naku, baka pumayat ako,” she now laughs at her own joke. Like any other perennial heavyweight, Lani just gets on with her life and doesn’t mind if she’s fat or even obese. In the spirit of fairness, she has a pleasantly-looking chubby face.
“That’s why I enjoy workshops particularly yung mga workshops dito (Film Academy). Bukod sa libre, nakakatuwa pa ang mga classmates,” Lani looks around before finishing her statement then points to Fely Reyes, her seatmate and batchmate in the first workshop. Fely comes from the Filmworkers Cooperative, Inc. “I feel like an elementary student here. Aside from the studies, very friendly ang mga participants and it’s very interesting to hear their stories.” Interesting indeed were the anecdotes related by the legman, by the sound technician and stories by participants from the PDGP (Production Designers Guild of the Philippines).
Lani Tolentio, the college professor, call center agent and aspriring scriptwriter all rolled into one. At the background is Fely Reyes of the Filmworkers Cooperative.
The FAP Computer Workshop is designed to teach the basic concepts of technology so as to equip the movie industry people with the necessary knowledge in the pursuance of their careers. Starting with the sound technician, audio editing has been using the computers for quite a time already. Film editing has also gone that way and a new term – video editing – has been born about 5 years ago. There may be no need to mention that the first beneficiary of technology are the scriptwriters since the word processing software was the first to gain headway in terms of public acceptance. And now, with the MS Word, writing a script is made so easy and convenient especially with the versioning and archiving techniques that almost makes it impossible to lose files due to inadvertent deletions.
William Mayo, the president of PMPDA (Philippine Motion Pictures Directors Association) and a member of the FAP Board of Governors, is suggesting to make the computer workshop a regular activity. “Ilang daan (hundreds) ang mga guild members? Eh sampu-sampu lang ang kaya ng workshop natin, sabi mo, kaya dapat siguro every month merong workshop o kahit twice a month.”
Direk Mayo wants to accommodate everyone in the movie industry who is interested to learn computers. “Yan na nga kasi ang kalakaran. And besides, mahina ang trabaho ngayon kaya samantalahin na nila ang umattend sa mga ganitong workshops. Mukhang tanga ka pag di ka marunong ng computer,” he smiles before continuing that he, at his age and at his stature, chats online once in a while and he maintains a friendster account.
“Tama si Direk,” is Lani’s rejoinder to Mr. Mayo’s statement. “Perhaps priority should be given to the film editors and sound editors. Ano, teka,pati pala scripwriters kasi mahaba ang mga script kaya dapat computer na talaga.” Unfortunately, no member of the UFEG (United Film Editors Group) had enrolled yet in any of the computer workshops. “Baka mayayaman na kaya hindi na kailangang magtrabaho,” quips Lani with reference to the senior citizens of the guilds. So far, the most senior who had participated in the computer workshop is Pablo Gomez, the current president of the SGP who claims to be 77 years old.
“Sa totoo lang, ang dami kong natutuhan sa basic. Take note, basic pa lang yun kaya pagkatapos ko nitong advanced… baka expert na ko,” Lani seriously declares although she fails to suppress a giggle. She also confessed that the knowledge she had learned in the Basic part had earned her a slot in a call center. “Maraming gastos, malakas akong kumain kaya dapat marami akong trabaho,” she quips. Aside from being a full time college professor, her sideline work as call center agent takes away most of her leisure time. “Medyo inactive nga ako sa guild ngayon,” Lani explains of her non-appearance in guild meetings. She was actually a protégé of the late Meek Roxas in scriptwriting. But Lani’s over-preoccupation is her shield from focusing on her problems. In other words, work makes her happy even for a while because she finds fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment especially during the night when she retires to bed. Perhaps that dictum applies to everyone – the toils of the day become the soft pillow at night.
Lani has chosen Technical Housekeeping for her major study in the Advanced Computer Workshop. “Wala talaga akong backgound sa computer dati, walang formal studies man lang. And as I said, after the basic ay nakakuha ako ng part time job sa call center. Lakasan lang ng loob yan eh. O, itanong mo kung anong line ko sa call center,” she dares before pronouncing that she is a technical support. “O, ha? Nagsu-support ako sa mga technical problems ng mga computer users. Heavy ba?” she quips again then jokingly smirks while glancing at her belly. Lani is so glad that the Film Academy’s Advanced Computer Workshop had offered a deeper study of the technical aspects. Although she doesn’t dream to be a technician, she’s confident that her new learnings can greatly help her with her call center work and also with her college teaching.
“Sa mga students ko nga… nito lang end of first sem, nagpa-submit ako ng docu video sa cd, yung parang experimental docu nila. Eh ayaw namang tumakbo sa computer namin sa bahay. Tapos sa computer sa school ayaw din. Yun pala may format-format pa yan,” Lani beams with the realization that she now knows how to burn (reproduce) an audio CD, a video CD and even DVDs. And her hidden fear of computers seemed to have vanished now. “Oo nga, nagkaroon ako ng confidence, hindi lang sa paggamit ng computers, kahit sa ibang line din. Example na lang pag may kausap ka, laging sisingit ang technology syempre. Hindi na ko ignorante ngayon.”
And for this coming Christmas, Lani plans to upgrade her home computer by purchasing additional memory, a larger hard disk and a printer plus a multi-media kit so she can have a taste of online chatting with camera and speakers. What’s more? “Ako na lang ang magkakabit kasi sa dami ng error ko sa workshop sa pag-assemble at pag-install ng devices, siguro naman na-master ko na ang mga mga devices this time,” she says with her final giggle. But even if her Christmas wish will not come true, Lani is sure of her status as a call center agent. That she would be promoted somehow because of her wider knowledge on technical trouble-shooting. “Thanks talaga sa Film Academy,” is her last statement, without a giggle this time.
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