For the members of the Philippine Normal University’s (PNU) Circulus Literati, bestselling contemporary romance author Mina Esguerra’s offer to fund the education of two Literature students was something completely unexpected. “We were not really the ones who initiated the project. A project that involves funding a student’s tuition has always seemed so far-fetched, too ambitious, and just impossible,” recalls Arianne Reques, Circulus Literati’s president for this current school year. “Miss Mina V. Esguerra was the one who talked to one of our members saying that she wanted to support two Literature majors financially.” [caption id="attachment_137079" align="aligncenter" width="576"] CIRCULUS LITERATI and its more than 100 members seek to uphold the love of literature through outreach programs, Literature Week celebrations, and the funding of the studies of future Literature and English teachers.[/caption] But for Esguerra, the idea had been something she had been thinking about for quite some time now. She says that as a college student she had generous people help out with her tuition as well, and she had been looking for an opportunity to do the same for other deserving students. That opportunity would come to her during a talk she delivered at PNU on Internet Literature. “PNU already invited me to speak once before, and I loved how the Lit students knew their stuff. I’d mention book titles and they’d know them. It just made me feel good that people studying to be Lit teachers were passionate about reading,” she explains. “The second time I was in PNU to speak (invited by Circulus Literati this time) I learned during lunch with the dean how much the tuition fee per semester was. And I thought that I could definitely raise that, set aside some amount per month to help a future teacher with tuition. I asked if Circulus Literati would help, and they made everything happen.” SPONSORS FOR SCHOLARS While Esguerra had minimal requirements for whose tuition she would help fund — voluntary application for assistance based on need, as well as an essay on the applicant’s favorite book — Circulus Literati was a little more stringent with its screening process. According to Reques, interested sophomore majors are given a form to answer that covers basic information, amount of salary of parents, and grades. Circulus Literati then chose five from two streams, English and Filipino, and had them write the essay requested by Esguerra. The group is already ensuring that this becomes a regular project. “We, the officers when the project was started, plan on going over it with the next batch of officers. We plan on discussing with them all the details of the project and teaching them how everything worked. From that, hopefully, the future officers will be able to keep the project going and add improvements to it,” says Regues. “It also would not hurt to have more sponsors. If we get more sponsors, that means we will have more scholars. Of course, we will still be watching over it, if ever the new set of officers has any problems. ” THE IMPORTANCE OF LITERATURE Esguerra’s desire to help out future teachers is certainly in line with the mission of the nine-year-old Circus Literati. Founded by the first class members of the AB/BSE Literature course, Circulus Literati aims to promote and uphold Literature and the love, art, science and pedagogy of it, in PNU and in society. It also aims to showcase the importance of Literature in addressing certain social issues, such as poverty, education, political matters and even economic concerns. From its first 14 members, Circulus Literati’s numbers have expanded to 120. Despite being only nine years old, the group has already conducted outreach programs to poverty-stricken communities. It holds an annual Literature Week that features discussions and dialogues about social (both in local and global scales) matters, where Literature has a significant effect. “With the current K-12, Literature-based curriculum, the club is expected to be more active in engaging, much more anticipating concerns in raising the bars of Philippine Education,” remarks Circulus Literati alumnus Alvin Tugbo. “The club is one of the most dynamic organizations, enough for it to respond and even catalyze change in PNU and given a fair chance, in Philippine Literary scene and pedagogy by and large.” Both Esguerra and Reques believe that funding the education of future Literature and English teachers still has a place in the world, even with the focus being put on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and fields. “It is worth funding the education of a Literature teacher because Literature people are one of the most humane people in the world. Because of the field we are in, we are able to see the other sides of the world and of humanity more than others. Also, with the current K-12, Literature-based curriculum, the need for qualified and well-trained Literature teachers has increased,” says Reques. “I think that a student who loves to read and can communicate well will go far and accomplish much, not just in the arts but in STEM fields too. It’ll take great English/Lit teachers to bring that out in them, so supporting those who want to teach this is so important too,” adds Esguerra.
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