Creative and critical

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo September 29,2017 - 09:29 PM


In a writing workshop that was held last Tuesday in Toledo City, I asked students from various elementary and high schools to write essays out of three topics that I presented.

Most of them chose to answer the question: “What is more important: beauty or brain?”

Their collective answer was slanted in favor of the brain which they described as a critical ingredient to success.

Aaliyah Kim Regalado wrote: “It’s better to have brains than beauty because your intelligence will allow you to overcome the problems which life throws at you.”

Beauty, she continued, is a gift that helps people to gain acceptance in society and to establish initial connections. But beauty of face can only help you only at a certain extent.

“A smart person can achieve anything that the beautiful person can and more. Life is easier for the beautiful person but the smart person can ‘make’ life easy even when face with difficulties,” wrote Louiegee Gabuya, a high school student of De La Salle Andres Soriano Memorial College.

Another elementary pupil, Precious Mae Garcia of Cantabaco Elementary School, wrote that “a bright mind can lead a person to decide correctly… a person with brains (meaning intelligent) has bright ideas and will have greater chances of finding a job compared to those who only rely on their physical appearance.”

This was an exercise on writing a persuasive essay; hence the need to push the students to choose which is which. I was honestly thinking about beauty pageants when I was finalizing my presentation. Blame it to the staging of the first ever Binibining Cebu on October 28 and my discussion with my beloved gay friends on watching the Miss Universe live show in Las Vegas on November 26.

Perhaps the student who best captured my thoughts on this matter is someone named Jenrelles Manlangit. In describing physical beauty, the student wrote: “Imagine yourself as the subject of a beautiful painting in a museum. Many would stop to admire your beautiful face. Others would just stay there, staring… they cannot take their eyes off you.”

The student wrote that there is no need to choose between beauty or brains. What is important is what you do with your beauty and your brain to do good to yourself and to others.

I love that these students understand the value of intelligence and in a way, street smarts, to succeed in life. But what I love the most is the platform that Carmen Copper Corporation (CCC) gave to the students to think and write about concerns and issues which affect them.

Writing about “beauty versus brain” was just an exercise for the On-the-Spot Essay Writing Contest organized by CCC. My lecture-workshop and mentoring session happened in the morning. CCC senior corporate communications manager Sofia Picardal also gave an overview of CCC, the work that they do and the corporate social responsibility projects of the company.

I had a great time discussing with students the importance of outlining so they can better develop and write the introduction, body and conclusion parts of their essays.

In the afternoon, they faced the challenge of writing a five-paragraph essay on the theme “How does responsible mining operations help the community.” They were given one hour and 30 minutes to write their pieces. We went back to the basic: using pen and paper to express their thoughts.

The sound of the bell marked the end of the writing session and the sheets of paper were gathered to be turned over to the judges.

I joined two other judges from the Department of Education Toledo City Division and CCC to pick six winners: three winners for the elementary category and three winners from the high school category.

Every single student who joined this year’s contest went home with writing kits, certificates and pen holder souvenirs.

It was a fun afternoon of learning and sharing. We all went home with smiles on our faces, even those who were not declared as contest winners.

I hope more companies and organizations will do this type of contest. It encourages students to exercise their creative and critical thinking skills. They do not just rely on the internet to form their views on issues. They think for themselves and write about their choices and opinions. They are given time to breathe, think and decide for themselves; not spoon-fed by organizations with vested interests.

We need more endeavors as basic as an on-the-spot essay writing contest to steer the wheel of information management to the direction that it should be going: a platform of factual discussion leading to a healthy exchange of views and opinions.

Not a showcase of horrendous expletives and baseless accusations on social media.

Not an opinion formed by blind followers and overly zealous fanatics.

Not a mindless careless click of videos and articles produced by questionable and unreliable individuals hiding behind the name of a viral website.

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TAGS: creative, critical, workshop, writing

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