CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College/Professor Bernstein
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Category — TDimaculangan

No Regrets

Who She Was

Lynette Dimaculangan: a New York City resident currently juggling three full-time jobs as a nurse, mother and wife. However, this was not the type of profile her 17-year-old self would have expected for the future. In her youth, she was the spotlight of attention, whether she was around family, friends or schoolmates. She played Romeo in her all girls Catholic high school’s annual play and during the yearly village-wide celebrations that take place in the Philippines, known as the fiesta, she would sing on stage for all her town to watch. She had told her parents that she aspired to be a doctor, but secretly longed to be a singer.

Then, in the 1980s, just as she turned 18, the immigration of young Filipino singers to Japan became a rising trend. She sought an opportunity to be a part of this movement, and without hesitation, auditioned for a talent agency seeking Filipinas to travel abroad and perform. The eldest of ten children, she realized that this chance to become a singer would not only fulfill her dreams, but also her duty to give back to her parents and help them out financially. She began taking vocal lessons to improve her skills and mustered a great deal of enthusiasm from her younger siblings. Both her mother and father supported her endeavor to move to Japan, but an unexpected change in her life made her question the path that she wanted to follow.

She was not searching for anything of the sort when she first met him. A relationship seemed irrelevant, if not obstructive to her goals. But love, Lynette says, cannot be planned. She and her boyfriend started spending most of their days together. At the time their romance first began to blossom, she was set on leaving the Philippines to launch a modest career as a singer in Japan. Although she had intended to do this both for herself and her struggling family, she could not find the strength to leave her new love. The two options in front of her sparked an internal battle that she struggled with for two months. To stay or to go? She could not bring herself to decide. Surprisingly, her parents did not push her in either direction. Without the pressure to pursue this opportunity abroad, in the end, she chose her boyfriend over her love for singing.

In letting go of this chance to help provide for her family and gain independence, Lynette felt as if she had taken a great risk. Perhaps moving towards change creates a deep sense of uncertainty, but she realized that sometimes, maintaining the status quo is a gamble as well. She admits that for a while, she was afraid that she had made the wrong decision. She did not know if her boyfriend was “the one” or if her parents could continue making ends meet for their exceptionally large family. She envied the other young ladies who were making their own money abroad and wondered how she could have let such an opportunity slip from her fingers. However, she soon came to see that as a teenager, she still belonged at home, near those dearest to her. She was dependent on the comfort her family provided and the familiarity of her small town.

She later heard stories from her friend in Japan that many of the young Filipino women were lured into the lucrative world of prostitution. After listening to dramatic reports from her friend, she was thankful that she had decided to stay; her family and boyfriend were too. Although eventually, she would venture into new lands on her own, from this experience, Lynette learned that sometimes, things do happen for a reason. She also realized that an opportunity might not always be the best opportunity for a person if one is not ready to confront the challenges that accompany it. Although she never did pursue her dreams of becoming a singer, Lynette says with confidence that she has no regrets.

Photo Credits:

December 7, 2010   1 Comment

Now That’s Art.

Unique. Innovative. Controversial. MoMA is home to countless artworks, many of which embody all three characteristics. George Macuinas’s display, One Year, certainly falls into that category. “It just looks like a supermarket,” I heard someone comment when we first walked in. I, on the other hand, saw something aesthetically deliberate about the work. When I witnessed the empty food containers stacked in rows against the wall, I quickly noticed the patterns of colors and shapes they created. It was a difficult piece to interpret, if it had any meaning at all, but I could feel that the artist had carefully and intentionally arranged all the boxes, cartons, lids and plastics to be just where they were.

Other rooms showcased incredibly simple works that were hard to accept as masterpieces. Lee Krasner’s Number Three, for instance, was a canvas which displayed a random series of soft-colored red, blue and beige vertical stripes. I found the combination of colors appealing, but its lack of intricacies bothered me. I wondered how this could be displayed in such a renowned museum, when it appeared as if any person could have created it. When I encountered Barnett Newman’s Onement, 1, I was again struck with the same question. This time, the piece was a brown painted canvas with a single pumpkin-orange stroke running through the middle. “It’s modern,” some claim; “it’s just a line,” others might protest. Personally, I found myself leaning towards the latter.

As I continued to wander through the museum, I caught sight of a painting that completely stole my attention. From a distance, I could only see an irregular green shape surrounded by a dark blue background. When I approached the piece, I finally realized what the unidentified green mass on the canvas was: a slime monster! I stared at the painting for a while, then glanced at its white description box, only to discover that William Baziote had intended for the green “monster” to be a dwarf. As pointed out by my classmate, Sara, art can be exciting when one makes sense of it, but can also be disappointing if one becomes disillusioned with the artist’s actual idea.

On the other hand, I was shocked with Hedda Sterne’s painting for the opposite reason. When I first looked at New York, VIII, I felt as if the piece was screaming, “New York City!” After my experience with Baziote’s Dwarf, however, I managed to convince myself that I was wrong, and attempted to re-evaluate the artwork. After thirty seconds or so, I gave up and looked at the caption provided. I was stunned by the title, for it showed that the painting was in fact a portrayal of the city. I could not imagine how Sterne accomplished conveying such a clear vision without the use of lines and definite shapes. Her piece was abstract in appearance, but rather direct in the portrayal of her idea. Even days after having seen this painting, I am still dumbfounded by Sterne’s artistic talent, which radiates from this piece.

Through my visit to MoMA, I discovered that whether one is trying to define it or interpret it, art, as subjective as it is, presents a viewer with many challenges. In the end, however, I believe that art is really whatever you want it to be. An artist may present a work that is plain or elaborate, tiny or massive, predesigned or spontaneous; no matter what, it is up to the observer to decide whether a piece’s sensory impact, be it visual or auditory, is enough to make it art.

December 6, 2010   No Comments

Sara Krulwich

The Michigan Daily - Jay Cassidy

It is 1969. Sara Krulwich is about to push down the social boundaries built by the sexist society of her time. School officials remove the ban against dogs on the football field for the team mascot, but refuse to make an exception for any woman. The men insist, “The sign says no women on the field,” but Sara has a job to do. She must get to her subject, capture the action and document the event. She gets on the field, ignores the protests, and accomplishes much more than photographing the game. Ultimately, she makes her dent on history.

Nowadays, Sara photographs scenes that are of a much deeper interest to her: theater and opera. The road to this position, however was not easy either. Like her early years as a photographer, there were obstacles keeping her from a close view of the action. Of course, she did not allow these hurdles to stop her. For three years, she worked towards getting permission to photograph the performers on stage. Through her unrelenting efforts, she now has countless photographs published in the New York Times.

Although Sara Krulwich’s main feats show her success as a photographer, I find her to be a bit more than just a woman behind the camera. She is a go-getter. She is a mother. She is an activist. She is a learner. She is driven. Through her short time speaking, she showed that having focus and determination could be enough to cut through red tape and incite change. Perhaps her intended message to the class was to get close to the subject when taking photographs, but the ways she has been able to get to her subjects demonstrates a much larger lesson.

December 4, 2010   No Comments

Carner and His Double Cowlick

Perhaps my cousin Carner has passed the stage infamously known as the “terrible twos.” At the age of three, however, he is no less mischievous or hyper active. The day before Thanksgiving, my aunt asked me to accompany her to the barbershop. Yes, it was that time again. Carner was going to get another haircut. “Maybe you can help him stay calm today, hmm?” my aunt asked. I knew I could try, but he’s a restless little toddler and I was not sure if my presence would keep him behaved.

Once we entered the shop, an elderly Asian man with a wide grin pointed with his scissors toward a tiny chair. My cousin caught a glimpse of the scissors and immediately responded with his eyes closed and his head shaking. “No, no, noooo,” he squeaked adamantly. The barber chuckled, but my aunt did not. “Not today Carner. No tantrums today,” she reprimanded him. After a bit of squirming, Carner eventually settled into the seat.

In just about ten minutes or so, the impossible task had been accomplished. My aunt sighed in relief once the barber finished up the job with a few last snippets and a quick comb through his hair. “Sorry if he was fidgeting too much,” my aunt apologized with pink cheeks. “Oh, no problem, really,” the barber assured her, “It’s because of this. Two. Two means bad.” He pointed to the two cowlicks on my cousin’s head. “Really?” my aunt responded, almost with sarcasm. “Yes, yes,” he said, “Two. Two means naughty boy.”

I wondered where he got that strange idea. As I walked to the car with my aunt, I asked her, “Do you believe it?” She turned around. “No, of course not! It’s just a silly belief,” she stated with confidence. “Your grandma said a lot of things like that before. You know the older generation and their stories.”

November 30, 2010   No Comments

All About Team Effort

(Photographs by Brian Yee)

(A larger image may be seen at

Initially, I had wild plans for my collage. In my mind, I imagined music, video clips, and pictures all incorporated into one piece that exposed the rich variety of hip-hop dancing. However, I was later inspired by a topic that was much closer to my heart. After a visit with my former high school track team, I decided to take my collage in a completely different direction.

At that point, I knew that I wanted to create a more traditional photograph collage. While I had no prior experience with image editing programs, I thought I might dive into a new challenge. In the beginning, I felt overwhelmed with all the possible effects that were available and the use of different image layers. In a way, the many options that technology offered made me feel trapped. I saw that I could take the collage in many different directions, and I simply had no idea how to get started. At first, I considered avoiding this obstacle by switching to the old paper and scissors method. After some thought, however, I realized that printing out the photographs, and cutting and pasting them might be a waste of my time and materials.

The original photos I used to create the top center image in my collage.

Once I gathered the photographs that I wanted to use, I realized that I was not sure how I wanted to blend them into one image. When I began playing around with Paint.NET’s various effects, I tried one out called “ink sketch.” This effect allowed me to customize the ink outlines of the photographs, as well as the amount of coloring in each of them. Essentially, it turned photographs into images that appeared illustrated. When I continued to work with “ink sketch,” I saw that it allowed me to combine photographs into a more unified picture. This is seen at the top left of my collage, in which I used three different photographs to make one longer image. I tried to make it appear as though the different groups of competitors were running one behind the other, which was easier to accomplish with this particular effect. I also used this technique for the top middle image, in which I placed two candid photographs side by side to create a single picture.

I also had the option of merging together all the separate images through fading effects and by altering their transparencies. In the end, however, I created a more comic book-like feel to my collage by keeping the photographs defined in clearly boxed shapes. At the same time, I noticed that I could have cut and pasted the photographs by hand and still accomplished the same basic formatting of my collage. Nevertheless, I feel that working with the photographs digitally was more time efficient and less tiresome. Instead of carefully cutting each photograph in a clean straight line, I was quickly able to “cut and paste” each image with a just a few clicks. Although in the end, using technology to create my collage was very useful and efficient, I must admit that I was only able to utilize it by keeping my plans simple. There were certainly more effects and techniques that I could have used, but I decided to take baby steps when it came to manipulating and working with digital images.

November 21, 2010   No Comments

The Scottsboro Boys!


While the racial struggles of African Americans are certainly a serious historical matter, The Scottsboro Boys shows that the gravity of this issue can be successfully preserved through comical entertainment. Following closely the outline of a minstrel show, the play not surprisingly introduces a series of amusing characters. Perhaps the most striking of them is Sheriff Bones, who walks like a duck and speaks with a heavily exaggerated southern accent. Waddling from the beginning to end, he is quite a sight to watch. However, the two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, rival the sheriff’s humorous role. Ironically played by two black men, the plaintiffs are inherently funny characters.

In spite of the jokes and twists that are present throughout the musical, truth and justice remain prominent themes that hold the plot together. Joshua Henry emphasizes the importance of these values through his role as Haywood Patterson, the most outspoken of the nine Scottsboro Boys. At times, one can even taste the young man’s bitter rage and frustration with the South’s discriminatory ways and corrupt legal system. Later in the play, his decision to save the truth over his own freedom creates a powerful statement. Henry’s performance will be forever etched in my mind because of his charismatic and genuine portrayal of a young man living for justice.

Aside from the credible acting, there are also musical numbers worth mentioning, most notably the “Electric Chair.” Although simple, the sound effects and lighting are able to transform a plain wooden chair into one that seems deadly and terrifying. The energetic song and well-choreographed movements also work in perfect combination to create a haunting dream. The star of this scene, Eugene Williams, who plays the youngest Scottsboro Boy, effortlessly depicts a naïve, yet endearing character whom the audience cannot help but love and pity.

Moreover, the simplicity of the set is complemented by the clever use of props. The chairs are constantly moved around to form different environments. They are ingenuously and effectively used to create a train, a bus, a jail cell and a court. When the actors sit on the wooden planks placed carefully above the chairs and bounce along in song, the train they are riding magically becomes real. When they sit in their seats and swerve in unison as the vehicle makes a sharp turn, the bus they are traveling on comes to life.  When they shake the chairs as if they are bars and fight with each other within the square space provided by the chairs, the jail cell they are stuck in appears to truly confine them. When they sit properly, with their hands on their laps in a neat semicircle, the stage turns into a real courtroom. Clearly, it is not extravagance or intricate designs that make a set incredible, but rather the actors’ use of imagination to carefully execute motions that make each place feel alive.

In addition, an aerial view of the entire performance surprisingly enhances a spectator’s experience. Every detail and action is visible from above, including the flawless symmetry of every dance number’s formation. Furthermore, each actor, regardless of his place on stage, is seen during each dance, which a front row viewer would unlikely be able to enjoy. There is also a scene in which one of the boys writes letters on the floor of the stage. Only those on the balcony are able to witness this small, but significant detail.  All in all, every aspect of the show, from the tambourines to the actors’ wild gestures and theatrical facial expressions, contribute to a passionate, lively and informative performance.

November 20, 2010   No Comments

Tracy Dimaculangan / Hidden Treasure


While New York City is known for its impressive skyline and bustling streets, I always felt that Central Park provided a refreshing view of the city’s beauty. In turn, I attempted to highlight nature’s aesthetic power in my collection of photographs, called “Hidden Treasure.” At first, I thought I might try to show how equally appealing the skyscrapers and the trees were. In the photograph below, for example, both the city and nature seem to share the spotlight.

However, I realized that this was not the type of image or idea that I wanted to portray. Instead, I wanted to recreate the feeling that I get when I am in Central Park. I noticed that in this particular park, the vibrant greens of the spring and summer trees and the iridescent leaves of the fall make the view of the city more enchanting. At times, I even feel that nature’s beauty is so overwhelming that it outshines the impressive glistening skyline. In several of my photographs, the large trees and their leaves cover a great deal of the buildings. In this sense, my title, “hidden treasure” refers to the portions and details of the city’s architecture that are not seen in my pictures. At the same time, my collection’s name also refers nature’s presence in the city, which is often overlooked by tourists and even New Yorkers.

Once I had decided on this topic, I immediately encountered a major challenge: trying to capture a good quality image. When I first attempted to take pictures with my relatively old phone camera, I was sorely disappointed with the results. I was under the impression that my vision and ideas would compensate for my outdated camera, but the photos I took were not sharp and came out rather dull. During my second and last attempt, however, I borrowed my sister’s digital camera, which made all the difference. I realized that although the camera itself is not the only ingredient to a successful photograph, it still plays a significant role in producing a desired image.

When I finally began to snap some photographs, I did not limit myself to two or three shots of the same image. In fact, I took some five or six pictures of each scene to try out slightly different angles and experiment with the lighting and zooming. I knew this would provide me with plenty of options to choose from for the project. I did not, however, anticipate another problem to emerge from this favor I thought I was doing for myself.

As I was evaluating all the images I had gathered from my day’s photography adventure, I was overwhelmed with over one hundred images. While it was easy to eliminate certain photographs from my project, I was often torn between two or three very similar, yet distinct images. Admittedly, it was a headache to stare at the same photographs over and over again before I came to a decision, but I think I was better off having different options, rather than just being stuck to one. Although I would have never thought to try out photography, my endeavors to capture different views of nature in Central Park have allowed me to explore a new artistic outlet.

November 15, 2010   No Comments


Waiting for the fresh cuts!

Freshman Friday is certainly a day of horror for newcomers in high schools that honor this tradition. Fearing lockers, toilets, and garbage cans, freshmen may attempt to hide from the upperclassmen bullies who take pleasure from their fright and embarrassment. It appears, however that such cruel rituals fade away in college, perhaps due to a change in students’ maturity and a new perspective on what freshmen mean to their school. Instead, freshmen are welcomed and are often given attention and guidance. Giving clubs, teams and other organizations the opportunity to expand, freshmen are also received warmly and treated with enthusiasm.

Despite this seemingly stark contrast between high school and college freshmen, the traditions that emphasize the rookie status of newcomers is inescapable. During my visit to Williams College last weekend, I watched a home football game against Wesleyan University. It did, however, lack the excitement that comes with tight competition. Wesleyan’s defeat was evident even in the second quarter, and a few spectators, including myself, left before the end. I was under the impression that the peak of the day’s thrills had been reached at the close of the victorious game. Although I had long been gone from the football scene, my best friend, Eilin, urged me to head back to the area near the field. “We know they won! It’s over!” I argued. I was too lazy to return to the other side of campus. “Come on, there’s something I want you to see over there,” Eilin insisted.

I reluctantly walked back with him, and stopped just a few blocks from the field, where a sizable crowd was gathered with flashing cameras. There was cheering and laughter, but for what? I wondered what was going on. After a couple of seconds, I saw a few of the football players in the center of the crowd. Their hair had been cut and shaved in various amusing designs. “Wow,” I said aloud. Suddenly, I heard Eilin burst into a loud and shameless guffaw. “Oh my god! That’s my friend … over there!” he cried in the middle of his hysterical laughter. I looked over, and sure enough, it was one of his friends from the football team. There were random patches of hair left on his head. It looked as if a monstrous little five-year-old had cut his hair with both eyes closed. I turned to Eilin, whose laughter had finally died down into a smirk. “Well,” he began to explain, “It’s a tradition that if we win the last home game, the freshmen players get the craziest haircuts while the town watches!” I must admit, I thought it was rather funny, but that’s when I realized that no matter where one goes, a freshman is still a freshman, even if he is a champ!

November 13, 2010   1 Comment

A Suitcase of History


It is remarkable how much history a single suitcase can expose to the world. In the International Center of Photography’s exhibit, “The Mexican Suitcase,” one is able to witness an extremely organized and comprehensive overview of the Spanish Civil War. Upon entering the museum, I was immediately greeted with an enlarged image of the suitcase itself, carefully painted and spanning an entire wall. As I stepped further in, the first photograph I recall seeing was not one of the warfront, but rather one of Taro and Capa, two of the photographers whose works were highlighted in the exhibit. When I read the caption, I was surprised to learn that there was a romance involved between the two, an interesting fact that introduced their series of photographs. It appeared that the creators of the exhibit sought to provide a very complete view of the suitcase’s story, giving information not only on the context of the photographs, but the photographers themselves. There was even a map that displayed where the three photographers took photos from 1936-1939.

Aside from the background information on the photographers, the photographs, neatly lined across the walls, certainly captured my imagination and sparked my interest and curiosity on this historical event, which I knew nearly nothing about. As I observed some of Capa’s photographs, I realized that he was not only able to capture images of the soldiers and their activities, but also their environment. In particular, I noticed the barren and desert-like appearances of certain warfronts, especially of the Aragón Front. This dry and lifeless background seemed to mirror the theme of war and death, and made me wonder just how sad and empty the dismal atmosphere must have made the soldiers. Similarly, some of Chim’s photographs got me thinking about the war from a different angle. In a few of them, there were images of what appeared to be a religious funeral service for fallen soldiers. After looking closely at these photographs, I began pondering on the various aspects of the war culture: how the dead of both comrades and enemies were treated, how important mourning rituals were, etc.

At the same time, however, it was not always easy to study the fine details of each image, as some of them were relatively small. While there were plastic magnifying rectangles available for use, a seemingly clever and useful tool, they did very little to enhance the photograph viewing experience. Moreover, there was also a projected video documentary on one of the walls. Unfortunately, I felt as if I were viewing a movie on mute. While it seems reasonable that the audio accompanying the video was not put on a high volume, it was difficult to follow and understand what was being depicted. Although I do recognize that the additional media was a creative touch to the exhibit, it failed to supplement the information already provided by the photographs and their captions.

On the other hand, “The Mexican Suitcase” also showcased original artifacts that strengthened the historical richness of the exhibit. For instance, there were some original documents, such as government letters from Paris and magazines from the 1930s. They were in various languages, including Spanish, French, and what appeared to be either be Hebrew or Yiddish. Although I did not understand what any of these papers meant, just the idea that they came from across the world and from an entirely different time period fascinated me. However, the most notable artifacts were certainly the actual three boxes that comprised the Mexican suitcase. Suddenly, the gridded boxes filled with rolled film became real, allowing me to really absorb the story of the suitcase.

Although this exhibit was small, it was overflowing with historical information. Like the suitcase itself, “The Mexican Suitcase” had much to offer, including countless photographs, old documents, and a deeper insight on the Spanish Civil War. While I did not anticipate witnessing such an eye-opening exhibit, I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to ICP.

November 8, 2010   No Comments

Where is your I.D.?!

No dorky outfit is ever complete without the Townsend Harris I.D. card!

Binder. Check.

Extra loose-leaf. Check.

Folders. Check.

Pens and pencils. Check.

I.D. … I.D.?!?!

“Noooooo,” I moaned to myself, as a frown crept over my face. I frantically looked through the contents of my bag. Where was this precious piece of plastic hidden? It was only the first day of school and I had no desire to get reprimanded by the security guards so early in the morning and so early into the academic year. I was finally a sophomore, but I felt completely like a freshman. The “I forgot my I.D. card” crisis was common amongst Townsend Harris newcomers, but after a year of experience, I was ashamed of my forgetfulness.

In my high school, the I.D. was not simply an identification card. It was essentially one’s golden pass into the school. No pass, no entrance … or at least no entrance without an embarrassing scolding at the front door and a few dreadful demerits to go down in one’s record. Unfortunately, I was out of luck. I was a block away from school without my I.D. and there was no turning back. I took a deep breath before taking my first step inside. I opened the door and made a pathetic attempt to scurry past the security guards. “Young lady,” one of them yelled, “WHERE IS YOUR I.D?” I was caught and stood frozen in my tracks. I could feel my face turning scarlet red, as I slowly turned to face her. Suddenly, I felt a lie fumble out of my mouth, almost like an instinctive reaction. “I’m a freshman. I-I-I didn’t get mine yet,” I managed to stutter. “Oh, well okay then,” she replied. My heart was pounding and I hurried to the nearest stairwell. I ran up the stairs, amazed at my own escape from humiliation and punishment.

When I returned home later on that day, I was confronted with the typical first day of school question. “So, how was it?” my mom asked. I groaned and began my story with a detailed account of my morning and the I.D. card incident. When I finished, she laughed and said, “What’s the big deal with the I.D.?” I sighed. She did not understand. In fact, I do not know if anybody outside of the Townsend Harris community can ever really understand how important that I.D. card is, or at least, how important my high school makes it seem.

Not surprisingly, the anxiety that comes with forgetting an I.D. at home is still very much alive at my former high school. When I hopped on a Q46, early last Thursday morning, I saw two younger girls get on the bus after I did. I glanced at them for just a second, but I instantly noticed their I.D. cards glistening, as they hung around their necks. Typical, I thought. They were definitely Townsend Harris freshmen. I smiled to myself and shook my head. Two months into the school year, and they already knew just how important these little cards were. Of course, wearing one’s I.D. card outside of school is considered a dorky move, even for a Harrisite, but for a freshman, fearful of those demerits and security guards, there seems to be no hesitation in wearing it on the bus. I suppose I should have been more like them on my first day of sophomore year.

October 31, 2010   6 Comments