One of the inevitable results of the COVID-19 pandemic is job loss and limited travel from one city to another. To adhere to these regulations and prioritize the safety of the scholars, Ang Misyon’s weekly Saturday rehearsals have been suspended for the time being. For the program’s mentors, this means reduced hours and technical challenges in teaching their students from Beginners and Children’s Orchestras. As for Rhonnel Ibañez, one of Ang Misyon’s scholar-turned-mentor, he has felt this drastic change but still looks for ways to remain hopeful given the situation.
Rhonnel is 25 years old and a college graduate of Centro Escolar University with a Major in Music Education. Apart from being a member of the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth’s Percussion Section, he is a mentor of Ang Misyon Children’s Orchestra and is still active in a local band called Banda Dos Kabataan in Angono, Rizal. He has a clear direction and passion in life: music. He has been with Ang Misyon since 2013, which he shares has been a blessing because the experience has allowed him to travel to different countries to perform. Rhonnel considers himself lucky to be part of an orchestra as a percussionist and his dedication has opened opportunities such as performing with Manila Symphony Orchestra and ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
Through the years, he recalls the values he has learned from his parents and what he carries with him as the quarantine restrictions are still in place. First, he is grateful he had a bit of savings because he admits, it has been a tough few months for his family. Looking beyond the struggles, he knows that what is more important is to impart what one has learned to others, especially children who are willing to be taught and have dreams they wish to fulfill. “Sabi po ng tatay ko, hindi mo naman mapapakinabangan yan pag patay kana, kaya kung anong natutunan mo ugaliin i-share sa mga batang gustong matuto at nangangarap,” Rhonnel shares.
[My father said, one cannot take material things when they pass away, so why not make it a good habit to share your learnings to kids who wish to learn and have big dreams.]
He comes full circle as he teaches the younger scholars of Ang Misyon and sees how they, too, are from lower income brackets, which means making ends meet at home is a continuous feat. Having been an academic scholar while in school, he relates to the pressure of keeping up with studies, band practice, orchestra rehearsals and events. However, he has seen the fruits of hard work and wholeheartedly sharing his talent to others. “Bigay lang po ng bigay, hanggat kaya. Kung ano yung na-experience mo, bigay mo sa mga estudyante mo. Tapos kung ano man yung napulot mo na aral sa orchestra, ibigay mo din doon sa mga bata na gustong matuto para makamit din nila yung pangarap nila.”
[It is important to keep on giving as long as you can. Share what you’ve experienced with your students. What you learn from the orchestra, share it with the younger kids who wish to learn so they too can achieve their dreams.]
He has come to realize that teaching is his way of giving back, not only to the program he has grown with but also to the community he belongs to. Rhonnel said he trusts that as long as he gives it his best and his students hopefully do the same, they are well on their way to reaching their goals.
When asked what he can impart to the next generation of scholars, he pointed out valuable wisdom, which reflects what we at Ang Misyon feel are tasked to do as part of our service to society— to teach our scholars good manners, values of respect and discipline. He equates being an overall well-rounded individual to being a good musician, that the values go hand in hand with being a respectable performer especially in an orchestra.
Despite the uncertainties, Rhonnel is one of many in Ang Misyon’s community of young musicians who prays that the COVID-19 virus will be contained soon so that the orchestra can finally come back to rehearse and have public performances. He also hopes that his peers and students will keep practicing to become even better musicians and to keep their big dreams alive.