Friday, August 27

Liga Remaja Kreatif: Jalur Lebar = Senyum Lebar (SMK Katibas)

The video has been mailed today & it will hopefully arrive safely in Cyberjaya tomorrow.
I have high expectations for the video. I expect at least a consolation prize.
Check it out at the bottom of this post, leave a comment & share it with your friends.
If you have some extra time, do read the story of the production.
This experience was quite an adventure for me & it really stretched my limits. I feel that I have improved personally & professionally after this ordeal.

Last Thursday, an application form was anonymously left on my table. It was an application form for a Liga Remaja Kreatif video competition organised by the Ministry of Information, Communication & Culture.
I was very interested but, after realising that the closing date was exactly 7 days later, I decided to put it into my thick folder of contest applications received way too late to do anything feasible (like on the day of the closing date or long after).

This is the unfortunate fate of many rural school children. They are rarely given the opportunity to shine because the paperwork is passed on at a snail-like pace. The contest started 2 months ago on 1 June. Shouldn't I have received the letter at least 1 month ago?
Also, with the letter, I was supposed to receive a DVD with tips & tools for my students to use in the production of the video. The DVD never arrived. Are the ppl in JPN/PPG/PPD taking their jobs seriously? Or are they doing it half-heartedly because they do not believe that an ulu school like mine is capable of something great? Well, let me burn with the flames of vindication & pray to God that this video my students have produced will cause the scales to fall from their eyes.

Anyway, back to Thursday. I tried not to think about the contest because I was busy marking exercises & the following week, I'll be receiving exam papers that will need to be marked before 1st of September (which is 4 days from today). However, the contest seemed to relentlessly hang onto my heart. Throughout the rest of the day, I kept thinking about it & dreaming up scenes. I didn't sleep well that night.

The next day, I went straight to the principal's office & asked him if he was willing to support me & allow me to distract some of the students from preparing for the exams. This included Form 5 & Form 3 students who would be attending a motivation camp that weekend. I had to be photographer for the camp too.
After reminding me again & again of the various challenges that I will face, he hesitantly consented & approved the use of school resources for the production.

I called the best 4 students from my English Language Society for a meeting that night. I put the application form in front of them & asked them if they were willing to risk their exam results to spend time on the competition & never use the competition as an excuse for poor results. The younger ones agreed instantaneously while the older ones considered it longer before nodding too. We discussed duties, the plot & the cast. Shooting would start the following morning. Actors & cast would gather at 7.30am. We'd be taking the school boat to a longhouse.

The longhouse folks gave me a pleasant surprise. They took out all their Gawai clothes & musical instruments. They inspired me with their wholehearted support. They really went the extra mile as you can see from the video. They even prepared lunch for us from the produce of their longhouse farm. I am very thankful for them. I wouldn't mind coming back here again for future productions.

I had to constantly monitor & give a lot of micro instructions from the begging until the end of the production because my students were very very very new to this whole movie production thing.
Many of them have never touched a computer or a camcorder before.
However, whatever they lacked technically, they made up for in enthusiasm & diligence. All of which you can see from the quality of the video.
Besides, they had a superweapon... yours truly.

After the longhouse, we dropped off the longhouse actors at school & picked up the Malay family scene actors on our way to Song town.
We were headed for the Malay village in Song to record the Malay family scene.
Here, I learned not to trust the promises of a Form 1 boy. He spoke highly of his friend's house & even talked about how he had obtained the family's permission. I wanted to source for a house of my own but he insisted on using his friend's beautiful wooden house on stilts.

Upon arriving in Song, he gave me a shock when he said that we had to walk 20 minutes to the house. This was not a torture I was prepared to impose on the crew & the actors so I went to a local friend's shop in hopes of borrowing his Hilux.
He was not in but his wife was. She casually popped the keys in my hand & told me to return it any time before leaving in her sporty Avanza & me completely stunned. Where can I find a better friend than this?
To great protest, I forced the kids to climb on the back as punishment while I enjoyed the aircon with the other teachers & the production director.

I was in for another shock when I arrived at that boy's friend's house.
It was a sorry sight. Rubbish was everywhere, the garden was unkept & the whole house looked like a total opposite of the rosy picture he painted earlier that day & the nights before.
The occupants were even more surprised when I approached them & revealed my intentions. Their children were running around the place & they looked really frustrated.
I could understand because the house was really in no shape to be in any video except one of those pleading for help kinds. Then, we found out that the friend had moved & his cousins were the current occupants.
Fortunately, I was able to find a better house through a teacher friend.

Since the theme of the competition was 1Malaysia, I had to find some Indians to appear in the video. God knows there are very few Indians in Sarawak. Even less so in such a secluded place like Song.
After shooting the Malay family scene, I sought out the only Indian family in the whole of Song. I was prepared to do a lot of convincing, bargaining & begging but was pleasantly surprised to find the mother agreeing instantaneously to have her family appear in the video.
What a blessed day we had!

Finally, the best highlight was when shooting the last scene on the final day of production... Today.
Initially, a team of 5 students were supposed to go to Sibu to shoot the city scene but, in the end, it was only the cameraman & I.
Our challenge: Find a group of Sibu-ians gullible enough to be coaxed into appearing in our video. This was no small task, mind you. City folks are very self-conscious & pessimistic. Even more so in FooChow Sibu. I know because I am FooChow.
We left school before the sun came out & arrived in Sibu at 9.30am to begin scouring the city & getting rejected or ridiculed for such an unconventional unheard of request.

But, God is good. He provided not one but a whole group of about 20 college students!
There was a class of architecture students from a local college doing a survey of the city that same morning. I got rejected by the first group I met but the second group I met hooked me up with several others & we made an awesome city scene.

I cannot help it. I'm sorry if I will offend you but I really have to say that, throughout the production of the movie, I saw God's hands moving & He provided miraculous resources, individuals & good weather. Thank you, Lord.
I would also like to thank the students for their hardwork & belief in the production as well as the teachers, staff & the principal who supported the production from beginning until end.

Go ahead & enjoy the video. It's worth it.

Sunday, August 22

Help My School's Video Production

Last Thursday, I received a letter on my table about a Liga Remaja Kreatif video competition.
I took a look at the theme: "Jalur Lebar untuk 1Malaysia"
Then, images & ideas naturally started pouring into my head as if God opened up a floodgate of infinite creativity & imagination.
I was pumping & ready to get on to it.

Then, I saw the due date... Monday, 30 August.
Which meant I had to courier it on Friday, 27 August.
Meaning I have only 7 days to do the scripting, casting, shooting, music & editing.

Initially, I decided to forget about it.
But one sleepless night was a good enough sign from the heavens that this was something I had to do.
When opportunity comes your way, you grab it with both hands & then some.

This is a part of the production that I cannot do on my own.
Please help the production by sending this person a friend request on Facebook.
[The production is complete so this Facebook account has since been closed.]

Please tell all your friends to help too!

Will share the story & the completed work next weekend!

Sunday, August 15

How Many Mosqitoes Do You Kill In One Week?

I absolutely hate mosquitoes.
There is no insect in the world I hate more than the buzzing little pest that discreetly sucks your blood & after satisfying her lust, leaves a "Mozzie's wuz here" on your skin for you to scratch on. (No sexual innuendo intended.)
I loathe them. But they love me.
Seriously, I'm the mozzie magnet. My friends would sit close to me so that the mozzies will bypass them & suck on me instead.
I've always wanted to be a chick magnet but it seems I've attracted the females of the wrong species.

Whenever I see one of them flying around, I get into a frenzy.
I'd get into a clapping position & home in on these b**tards like a missile.
I'd clap away until I've killed at least one of them & then chase the others until they've escaped or I've squished every last of them.

One day, after killing 5 mozzies naked in the bathroom during an afternoon shower, I asked myself...
Who is actually winning the war?
How many mozzies do I kill in a week?
How many times do I get bitten in a week?
So I started counting 7 days ago.

taken from

There's nothing more satisfying than taking the life of a mosquito.
Last week, I killed 15 of them. My best day was Monday (6 kills). My worst day was Saturday (0 kills).
Not too bad, eh?

taken from

However, I was fighting a losing battle.
There was often too many of them for me to kill or repel. I was often overwhelmed.
I got bitten at least once every day (especially when I was sleeping! Sneaky b***tards!) for a total of 20 noticeable bites last week.
I got bitten the most on Tuesday (6 bites) when it rained & the mozzies woke up early to play.

taken from

I asked God why He created mosquitoes & he just laughed.
Why wouldn't he?
I bet I look funny every time I stare seriously into empty space & get into that ridiculous clapping position.

Monday, August 9

NKRA Rating For SMK Katibas

Many have asked me for this & I have only found out recently.
To all you better funded, better situated & better staffed secondary schools with 24hrs of electricity, read this & weep!
The KPM secondary school NKRA rating for SMK Katibas is 729 out of 2237 secondary schools in Malaysia!

Don't think that we have it easy though...
This school has been a performer for many years prior to this rating system & even prior to my arrival.
All this is achieved from sheer hard work, dedication & determination of the educators serving at the school.

Don't think that the school receives select students like certain high performing schools do.
This school receives 130+ Form 1 students from the deep interiors each year. Half of them do not pass UPSR. Better students will leave for more urban schools & then come back when they have developed discipline problems.

Actually, this schools gets a lot of 'rejects' every year.
Despite the circumstances, all of them are rehabilitated through rigid & sometimes harsh discipline. Then, they are drilled with extra classes, extra attention, doomsday messages, motivation programmes & mountains of exercises into pass achievers.
A handful will achieve As.

Congratulations, teachers & staff of SMK Katibas.
Although your many years of self-imposed slavery are not recognised by much of the academic world, it makes a world of difference for the students under your care.
I will do my best with what small influence this insignificant blog has to let your light shine for the whole world to see.

Sunday, August 1

Will Climb Windows For Food

Once upon a time, there lived a young rabbit named Yellow.
Yellow had just finished a degree at Rabbit University and decided to be a teacher so he could help the children in Farmlaysia to learn & love the English language.
He was immediately accepted & sent to a school in a magical forest.

Upon arrival, he met all the farm animals who staffed of the school.
There were hornbills, hamsters, guinea pigs, cats & other rabbits too.
Everyone was very friendly & Yellow wanted to form good relationships with every one of them.
Yellow was very excited & he couldn't wait to make a difference at the school.

The other rabbits were the friendliest to him. There were 3 other rabbits teaching at that school, Copper, Navy & White.
Yellow went to live in the same house with Copper & was next door neighbours to Navy & White.
On his first week, they prepared him dinner & they spent a lot of time together getting to know each other.

Yellow did not have a fridge at his house to keep his carrots fresh so Navy & White left their door unlocked so that he could enter their house to use their fridge at any time.
During the weekends, Navy would even take him to his home at the nearest town for some RnR & shopping.
Soon, the 4 rabbits bought a washing machine together which they put it in Navy & White's house.
Yellow was very thankful to have made such wonderful rabbit friends.

taken from 

On Yellow's first day as a teacher, he met the principal first.
The principal was a rabbit too like Yellow, except he was bigger, older & wiser.
The big rabbit explained to Yellow what was expected of him, which classes he would teach & what should do with them.
Yellow liked the big rabbit because he thought that he cared a lot for the little student animals & was a very hard-working rabbit. He wanted to learn from the big rabbit.

One day, the big rabbit told Yellow that he would be part of a school magazine committee.
Yellow was very delighted to find that he was going to work as assistant chairman under Navy who was the chairman & also whom he considered as his best rabbit friend.
Over the next few days, they talked a lot about what they wanted to do with the magazine.
Navy declared that he wanted that year's magazine to be better than the previous year's & Yellow was very happy because that was what he wanted too.

During their first committee meeting, Yellow noticed a change in Navy's demeanour. He was not his friendly self & was very fierce.
He did not have an open discussion with the other committee members nor did he try to inspire them.
He told them what to do with an angry face & fierce tone.
Yellow did not understand this & he felt deeply disturbed, but he kept things to himself because after the meeting, Navy was his normal friendly self again.

taken from

Little did he know, soon he would be a target for such coldness & harshness.
One day, out of the blue, Navy & White refused to speak to Yellow or even look at Yellow.
They ignored him when he wished them good morning & they even put on an extremely unfriendly angry face every time they saw him.

They treated him like an unworthy piece of dirt & he felt really really guilty & bad about it because he looked up to them & really liked them.
However, he did not understand why they did this to him & he dared not ask them why.
He tried asking Copper but Copper just played dumb to it.

The worst part of it all is, he still did not have a fridge at home so every time he went to get a carrot for his meals, he had to endure their silent wrath & angry faces.
Also, when previously they would leave their door unlocked, they would lock it now. After a long day at work, sometimes Yellow had to climb windows to get food for his hungry stomach.
Soon, they locked their windows too so sometimes Yellow had to skip meals.
Despite all that they did, Yellow still felt kindly about them & tried to rationalise their actions.
However, he was too afraid to ask them why they did this to him or ask them to please leave their door unlocked.

Yellow would face the same kind of treatment when he went to use the washing machine at their house.
He felt like he was stealing his own food & illegally using the washing machine he had paid for.
He had a horrendous life as a beginning teacher.
Yellow was very confused, how could they be so nice to him & then suddenly be so cruel?
He feared them for some time.

Their emotional absence in Yellow's life was not an end to his social life.
He made friends with every animal in the farmhouse school.
He dined with the other animals, made merry with them & formed relationships with them.
For a long time, he suffered silently. Not telling anyone but God about what was happening until he could understand what was going on.

When it came to the school magazine, Navy never bothered to have another meeting after the first one. Even when he was constantly asked by Yellow when they would actually start working on the magazine. He would look annoyed & unconcerned before promising to do it soon.
He never got around to doing it so Yellow felt that as the assistant chairman, he had to step in at the absence of the chairman.
Through a lot of hard work & late nights, Yellow managed to finish the magazine with the help of the committee members.
However, he was very unhappy at how irresponsible Navy was. He was so positive & made so many promises in the beginning, but, in the end. it turned out to be nothing but empty talk.

Yellow never did understand why they treated him such.
Neither did he want to anymore.
Yellow bought a new refrigerator together with Copper & enjoyed many hearty meals without needing to go though the valley of the shadow of death.
Yellow still went to use the washing machine though because it was his right. He paid for a quarter of it & he was promised the freedom to use it.
He got used to the coldness of Navy & White while forming better relationships with the other animals & with Copper of whom he is very fond of.

Still, he remembers how wonderful Navy & White have been to him during his first few months & is still willing to forgive them & accept them back as friends.
But, he will not take the first step. They have hurt him deeply & put a big black blotch in his initial teaching experience.
They were the ones who started treating him warmly & they were also the ones who started treating him coldly. Perhaps that negates their initial friendliness.
However, Yellow still greets them good morning every day with the hope that they will start treating him warmly again.

The End.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...