TIPON Reflections

With Tipon Silliman 2015 just concluded, those who attended have been invited to submit reflections about their experiences. What they write will be much-appreciated information for the event's organizers, for those who were unable to attend and for those who are planning for the next Tipon, which will be held in Hawaii in 2017.



by Ruby Leah Agnir (nee Ordinario)
Founder and Director, SUACONA Tipon Chorale

As I write, it’s been a total of 18 hours of no-eating and sleeping for me. We got home at 1:00 p.m. Monday (June 22) morning, tired but happy over what we regard as one of the best alumni conventions we have been to, if not the best.
I heartily commend the Tipon 2015 committee, co-chaired by Dr. Celan Alo and Faith Duran, for a job tremendously well done. The success of this Tipon is a result of the committee’s efficient planning, organization, understanding, compassion, consideration and respect for those involved. For example, knowing that a piano is important to many Tipon activities, not only the Chorale but also the devotions and services, obtaining a piano was aimed for even two years before this Tipon so I was told.
One of the two reasons that I always look forward to attending a Tipon is meeting and reuniting with former students, especially those that have become proficient in their fields and yet manage to be humble enough to come up to me and say, “Ma’am, I was your student several years ago.” What pride can be equal to my being introduced as his/her favorite teacher? Dr. Celan Alo is one of my former students who have made me so proud that I had to rethink my value as a teacher. Other former students include SU VP Betsy Joy Tan, Dr. Nino Locsin, Dr.Tony Amor, the ex-president of a Negros Oriental university whose name, I am ashamed to say. I forget, and the late OSA awardee Junix Inocian. My classroom was since replaced by my private studio for music lessons, the community theater in Franklin County, Massachusetts where I trained young actors, and churches where I worked as Director of Music, Choir Director, or Organist.
When I work with any choral group – church or community – the teacher in me feels obliged to relay to the members secrets of the “singing” trade that I had learned from my voice and choir directing teachers. I never forget that I am where I am because there were people who saw it right to share their knowledge with me. I owe it, therefore, to share my knowledge with those who come after. Actually, the Bible enjoins us to hand down to those who come after us all the good things that we learn, especially from the teachings of our Lord. So, the saying is true: “Once a teacher always a teacher.”
My second reason for looking forward to Tipon is – you guessed it! – The Chorale. It is my baby, but others have helped me baby-sit it, and be directly involved with its physical and psychological development, like Zeny Duran Bennett, BOT Chair Liling Briones (a Chorale charter member), and President Malayang. (BOT Chair Briones could not join us this time because of being under the weather) We have reached the 10th anniversary of its founding, through 5 Tipons. Having received very positive and complimentary feedbacks, I feel that the Chorale is growing strong and getting better and better. If it were not so, new members wouldn’t have joined and the former members would not have returned. At this Tipon, great additions have blessed the Chorale – proficient musicians with ample choral experience and great singing voices.
As always, the Holy Spirit led me in choosing the songs to be sung. Beautiful anthems composed by Christian musicians were my final choice. Because of the very limited time to learn and master each song as always, I prayed that the Holy Spirit be with the singers and touch their musical brains and voice mechanisms. As a result, and to my gratitude, the Chorale sang those songs beautifully, as though they had been singing them for years. This has always been the inspiration for me – that great performances survive the reality of very little time to learn, unlike church choirs whose directors could plan and work on an anthem weeks ahead. I do hope that Chorale members feel pride in themselves for their ability to accomplish this very challenging undertaking. I say this again that no matter how good a director is, if the singers are not good, nothing will come of the performance. Vice versa, no matter how good the singers are, if the director doesn’t have the skill, perhaps a mediocre performance is the most that could be expected. This is my firm belief.
When I am doing things like this, directing the Chorale or a play or designing a service or program, I don’t ever think of obtaining recognition or awards. Whenever these come, it is because they are merited, not because I expect them. It’s enough for me to know I did my best. My mother used to say, “Never mind if you don’t get recognized. Anyway, the Lord knows the truth.”
Pleasant surprises are gourmet food for the soul. It will be a never-to-be forgotten personal joy that, in addition to verbal compliments, I received gifts and certificates of recognition at this Tipon. I do thank the Tipon Committee and members of ACTS who decided to accord me this very pleasant surprise. It makes all the hard work worthwhile and underscores my love, not only for SUACONA, but for all the Chorale members and the pianist, my “younger sister,” Miriam Tan Cole (as well as those who played for the Chorale in between, including the late Ruth Imperial Pfeiffer and, in the Philippines, Agape Manigsaca). I refer to Miriam as such because she was part of a SU School of Music “triumvirate” that included my baby sister, Elizabeth – an operatic soprano from the University of Michigan and a charter member of Tipon Chorale – and Rhodora Corton. Beth sang and Miriam and Rhodora played the piano.
I am still on Cloud 9. Gone is the thought I was recently toying with – to retire as Chorale director after this Tipon, for which I received a resounding “NO!” when I mentioned it. I was then inspired to say, “OK, I will continue to do it as long as the Lord wants me to,” hypomnesia, rheumatoid arthritis, blurred vision, loss of hearing notwithstanding.
Thank you to SUACONA, ACTS, and my beloved Tipon Chorale. Soli Deo Gloria.