by Gabrielle Y.
The first time I saw him perform was during an Ignights presentation; The audience was mesmerised and silent, his voice filled the entire space. As I looked around the room, I saw several students crying. I leaned over to my friend and told her, “Grabe, ui may umiiiyak talaga. (Wow, there are people who are actually crying.)” when in reality, I was shivering in my seat due to how the performance was so heartfelt, like someone performing not with the body but with the soul. Voice booming and brimming with emotion, he delivered the poem as if he himself was part of it, as if the events of the poem were not merely stringed words but an actual living story. As he took a bow, the Oratory was filled with the sound of a roaring applause and loud cheering from the students. Once the emcees took over the stage once again, a seatmate leaned over to me and said, “Si Mr. Sejera yun diba? (That’s Mr. Sejera, right?)”
Kim Nathanyel Sejera, “Natha” to his friends, wasn’t always interested in the performing arts. In fact, he wanted to be a teacher for Science.
As a high school student, he’d always teach his classmates their Science lessons when they needed help. He told me, “Kadalasan laging wala yung teacher namin sa Physics; ako yung nagtuturo sa classmates ko ng physics so gusto ko talaga Physics Physics Physics, tapos lahat ng three choices ko na majorship Science. Una Physics, sunod Bio, sunod General Science. Yun yung gusto ko. Tapos nainvolve ako sa theater. (Our teacher for Physics was often absent; I was the one who taught my classmates Physics so what I really wanted was Physics Physics Physics, and all my three choices for my major were in the field of Science. First Physics, then Bio, then General Science. That was what I wanted. Then I got involved in theater.)” He only got more involved in theater in his high school to college years. Hearing his stories really showed how dedicated he was to making the act as authentic as possible. One such performance that really highlighted this was a speech choir he participated in. The piece was about a group of cannibals and he was the leader of the group, and to add emphasis to his character for the piece, he took a bite off of a piece of uncooked meat.
As I listened to him talk about this past experience, laughing at the memory as he told me that he didn’t eat for a whole day after the performance, it dawned upon me that there are people out there with such dedication to their work. He told me about various other plays he had participated in such as a play that won them third place for “Short and Sweet Manila 2015” and a play he wrote called “Walang Forever” that was held in Luneta Park. This led me to ask why he hadn’t chosen something like Theater Arts as his major. He told me about how he started off with wanting to take a science course as a majorship then teach science which, after being involved with theater, switched into wanting to take Speech and Theater Arts as his majorship to pursue his passion.
However, his actual majorship ended up being Filipino because of two factors. The first one is that he had been influenced by his professor at the time, Patrocinio Villafuerte, who is a writer aside from being a teacher. After becoming his student, he decided to have Filipino as his second choice for majorship. The second factor is, in the theater organization that he is a part of, he was already learning about theater. He told me, “...yung first choice ko Speech and Theater Arts so magiging redundant. Parang yun nalang yung tinahak ko nang buong college life ko so mas maganda siguro mag-Filipino ako para at least meron akong Filipino na mahahawakan na majorship. Meron din naman akong Theater at hindi sila nag-kakalayo sa isa’t-isa, diba? Parang pag Filipino ka pwede mong maipasok talaga yung theater o pagdudula kasi pinagaaralan mo. (…) dun nagsimula na mag-Filipino ako tapos yun, niyakap ko nang niyakap ko na yung Filipino. (My first choice was Speech and Theater Arts so it would be redundant. It’d be the only thing i’d be pursuing for my entire college life so I thought it would be better if I take Filipino so I’d at least have my Filipino major to hold-on to. I’d also have Theater and they wouldn’t really be far apart from each other. It’s like, if you take Filipino, you can really put to use theater or acting because it’s something that you’re studying as well. So I started with Filipino there and I continued to really embrace Filipino.)” which led to what started his career as a Filipino teacher.
He told me that he feels happy that he was able to teach in Xavier School Nuvali as his first teaching job. He smiles as he says how lucky he is to be able to get into a school with good students that let’s him be able to say “Ah, ang sarap magturo. (Ah, it feels great to teach.)” At the same time, one of his aims as a teacher was to teach in a school with English as the language most commonly used by the students in order to see his capacity to be able to influence students into speaking Filipino aside from the language they’re most comfortable with.
Currently, he is the moderator of Dulaang Xavier, the school’s very own acting club that is on its first year. During the GA of the celebration of Buwan ng Wika, the club performed a piece called “Papel“. The piece aimed to convey to the students that they should never stick to just being one monotonous role in their life.
Before everything started, he had been nervous about how the club would operate, whether any of the students would join, and various other things concerning the future of how their club would run. His worries soon dissipated after meeting his students. As he described his students, he was simply at a loss of words of how to describe how happy he is with the students he handles and how enthusiastic they are about performing. With the formation of Dulaang Xavier, he hopes to be able to produce Xavier students that are not simply performers, but performers who have care as Filipinos and give performances that can convey these messages they make as performers who have something to fight for.
To those who are too shy to live out their passions, to let the world see what they can do with their passions, he advises to embrace whatever passion to have. Whether you think you have talent in it or not, let it loose and do what you want to do: “Lagi ko ring pinapaalala: Walang taong magaling. Lahat nagsisimula sa ore. Parang gold mine theory. Magsisimula tayo sa ore, sa dumi, magmimina tayo, dadaan sa apoy bago maging gold. So feeling ko lahat tayo may tinatagong talents, hindi lang natin nilalabas. Para kung ayaw mong ilabas, (…) kung mahiyain ka talaga, ayaw mo mag-ganun, merong iba’t-ibang mga processes kung paano mo maeexplore yung sarili mo o maeexpress ang sarili mo sa ibang tao. (I also always remind this statement: No person is great. We all start as ore. It’s like the gold mine theory. We’ll start off as ore, as dirt, we’ll then mine and go through fire in order to become gold. So I feel like all of us have hidden talents, it’s just that we don’t really let it out. So if you don’t want to let it out.. if you’re really shy and you don’t want to do all that stuff, there’s a lot of processes that you can go through in order to explore yourself or express yourself to other people.)”