I’ve heard his name many times in the past years. The surge of curiosity about Serge finally subsided when we’re formally introduced to each other by another violinist friend, Michael, after his White Coat Ceremony at the historical Inaugural Program of the AUP College of Medicine on August 9, 2015.
I discovered his wit in writing during the Love Concert of Philippine Meistersingers (formerly AUP Ambassadors) on February 2016, when his ‘open letter to singles’ was read in between renditions. It was hilarious, and yet honestly raw.
Michael went with him in Bali for the 6th Asia Suzuki Method Conference. So, when I saw his Bali updates in Instagram a few days ago, I invited this gifted violinist-PT-soon-to-be-MD to be my guest blogger this week. His musical musing is “medyo seryoso coz it’s in English”, according to him. Probably later, he could write again, the “conyo” type. Haha!
BALIk Tanaw: The Doctor is In…donesia
by Serge Aclan
Since we were young, my sister (Ira) and I were able to study both the piano and violin in the Greenhills Music Studio under the Suzuki Method. Our efforts have also led us to represent the Philippines in different Conferences in Taiwan, Australia and even play in recitals or events in the US, Singapore and even our native Philippines.
Because we were both studying in the University of the Philippines, we rarely have a chance to fully engage our music but rather music has been a stress reliever during toxic weeks. We also teach during weekends in order for us to give back the beautiful things we have learned to others.
Fortunately for us, this year, we were able to once again represent our country during the 6th Asia Suzuki Method Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Island of the Gods, Land of a Thousand Temples
It has been in my bucket list for years. I’ve never been so excited to attend a conference. Not because we were going there as violin teachers with our very own students (we used to represent the country as students) but because it is going to be in Bali: the Boracay of Indonesia, the paradise down south, the Island of the Gods and the Land of a thousand temples.
Something about Bali is magical, something bordering between spiritual calmness and imaginative fantasy. Whatever it is, I am very excited to finally plant my feet on this small but wonderful island. I am ready to walk the beaches, meditate and temples, and maybe get a massage by the sea.
“Don’t read too many books, Feel Nature”
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki once said that one should not read to many books but instead feel the nature around oneself. Indeed Bali is the perfect setting for such a Conference wherein the students and teachers, after a long day’s work, may sit by the beach or go hiking to relax themselves.
The Conference venue itself, The Bali International Convention Center –Westin, is situated beside one of the best beaches in the area. It wouldn’t hurt a little if I was able to breathe in the ocean air during breaks in between classes. However it was not all play during the conference. We had to attend and observe classes as teachers so that we may apply them to our very own students. The conference itself is quite extensive since there are daily recitals, hourly classes and seminars as well as teacher trainings with evening concerts to cap the day.
Beautiful Tone, Beautiful Heart
If there is anything that could parallel the beauty of Bali, it is the sound of the music being played by the children of the Suzuki Conference. The sound is so genuinely beautiful one might wonder how could a 7-year-old child play a full Mozart Concerto by memory just like an adult. Or how one might think that this 13-year-old pianist is already a concert pianist in his own right, not to mention the multiple competitions he has won.
As a former Suzuki kid myself and now a Suzuki teacher, I believe that music is produced beautifully by the efforts of the Supportive Parent, the Perseverant Teacher and the Hardworking Student: The 3 vital sides of the Suzuki Triangle. Take one away and all will fail. But fortify all sides, beautiful music comes out.
Another thing about the Suzuki Method is that producing concert artists is not Dr. Shinichi Suzuki’s main purpose. His main goal in life is to teach and create Good Citizens. Through music, Dr. Suzuki may change lives and touch the hearts of people so that a harmonious society can be made. He believes in the idea on which the Character must come first, and then the talent will follow. After all, music is the sole language that the whole world could understand. Through music, we could send out love to all.
Man is a Child of His Environment
Dr. Suzuki also believed that talent is never inherited. It is therefore honed by the experiences a child sees and feels during his development. Talent is nurtured. With this and the environment in mind, I’ve decided to take a tour of Bali. The Bali environment might help nurture me further as I know I would learn new things in the tour. After all, my Suzuki piano teacher, Prof. Carmencita Arambulo, taught me that there is a lot of learning in travelling. (Hehe)
After booking a bus worth USD 150 (You may divide this among the members of the group. We were around 20) , we first went to the Batik Factory. This is where they make national costumes that you see your Indonesian friends are wearing. We were shown the process of how it is made. The place reminded me of Baguio and how our kababayans there produce their own linen products. I suddenly realized that our cultures are intertwined.
Next stop is a tour a temple (I forgot the name of the temple sorry HAHA). We were asked to wear a sarong as a sign of respect (and decency maybe ‘cause I was wearing shorts). Took a few pictures of the old structures. The whole thing was an Architectural appreciation time.
Third on our list was Sacred Monkey Forest and this was my favorite stop. Unlike the monkeys in Uluwatu or other parts of Bali, the monkey’s here are friendly. Friendly in a sense that they don’t care about your presence unless you have a banana. The monkeys also let you take pictures of them without them taking your camera.
On our way to our next destination, the Bali Rice Terraces (which I won’t elaborate upon since our own Banaue Rice Terraces is waaay more beautiful), we passed by Ubud Village. If you can remember the 2002 Bali Bombings, this village also has a planted bomb in it. But according to locals, since the villagers are faithful to their gods, the bomb was “prevented” from exploding, as compared to the district of Kuta wherein dozens were wounded. Kuta is district of prostitution, drugs and low spirituality among the locals according to our tour guide.
For lunch, we headed to the “Tagaytay of Bali”. I call it that since we were high up in the mountains overlooking Mt. Batur, an active volcano. I was wearing a sando and I was freezing because of the cool winds. We had an Indonesian buffet for lunch and I must say it was one of the best lunches I had during my stay in Bali.
Finally we headed to the Luwak Coffee Plantation where we had a taste of “Cat Poo Chino”. Yup Cat poo. A native mongoose (Musang in Filipino) eats the coffee bean and when it defecates, the bean remains intact. The beans from the cat poo are them processed to make coffee. Gross to some but a cup of Luwak coffee is priced at a whopping Php 1,000 per cup in the Philippines.
We finally decided to cap the day Filipino-Elementary-Field-Trip style: SHOPPING! We made a stop at Krisna Shopping Center in Kuta before heading back home to the hotel.
As recap we spent USD 150 for the bus. For the entrance fees we each spent IDR 80,000 (~USD 6) and about IDR 100,000 (~USD 7) for lunch. Divide the bus for 24 people; add up the collateral for total of approximate USD 20 for a day tour. Not bad huh? The agency that we hired is also generous enough not to rush us in every destination that we went to; unlike the usual tour were the tour guide keeps on pushing everyone to rush.
Bali: A Balance of Work and Play
Bali is a city in its own right but it has retained its countryside character. Bali, therefore, is a good place to balance work and play. Just like how we, the Conference participants, were able to balance both attending the Conference and at the same time have fun on the side.
Life in itself must also be a balance. Right now, I am a 2nd year medical student in the Adventist University of the Philippines College of Medicine. My sister will soon enter med school. We thank the Lord for giving us the wonderful gift of music so that we may have something to lean on when stress comes rushing in. Just like when we were still students in UP, music will always be with us.
Nothing is impossible when one can balance. You just have to put your heart into it. As Dr. Shinichi Suzuki once said, “When Love is deep, much can be accomplished”.
SERGE ACLAN is a Certified Suzuki Violin Teacher, Philippine Suzuki Association. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in BS Physical Therapy from the University of the Philippines – Manila. Currently, he is in the Year Level II Doctor of Medicine at the Adventist University of the Philippines.
For queries re Violin lessons or personal questions, e-mail: email@example.com.
Note: Photos credit to Serge Aclan. The photos and article should not be used, reproduced and manipulated by any means without a written request and consent from the author.
© 2016 LAF