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ATAYDE: Clowning leads to good health.





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FEATURE
Laughter Therapy

By Jose M. Kalaw
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:30:00 08/10/2008

Filed Under: Health, Lifestyle & Leisure

MANILA, Philippines - If Carlos ?Caloy? Atayde had his way, clowning around would be part of every doctor?s prescription. Citing medical reports, he points out that hearty laughter burns calories faster than traditional aerobic activities like biking, while improving blood circulation and promoting a more restful sleep.

But then again, Atayde has always been in the business of making people happy. An animated stage performer at De La Salle College in the sixties, his high school classmates recall his boundless creative energy and unflagging optimism.

?Maybe it?s in the genes,? he says of his obsession to entertain people and make them laugh. ?My father was an entertainer before he joined the army. He used to be a stage actor, tap dancer and pianist. I had a great time singing along with him and talking about the shows that we watched.?

Those genes are still at work today, helping Atayde conduct what he calls ?happyshops,? workshops meant to bring out the inner clown in people to make them more effective and inspiring as communicators and workers.

The idea came to him in 2002 when La Salle?s Bro. Andrew Gonzalez FSC, then the secretary of education, commissioned him to conduct a workshop for private and public school supervisors and teachers. Brother Andrew gave Atayde two guidelines: one, to make the participants? workplace and classroom more conducive to learning and growth; and two, to promote values among their co-educators and students.

Given a free hand, Atayde designed a workshop that he called ?Laughter from the Heart.? With the help of a professional clown, he showed that the qualities of a good clown host matched the qualities of a good educator.

He explains, ?Both have to effectively communicate with their audience. They must be sensitive to their audience and know how to manage their response. Their presentation must also be enjoyable and interesting, and they should be able to capture their audience?s attention a hundred percent. Most importantly, a good clown and a good educator must be of good heart.?

To make the session a fun learning experience, Atayde invited the educators to perform the exercises used by actors training to be party hosts. He also presented true-to-life stories of people who had become effective communicators and the methods they used to capture their audience?s interest and attention. The sessions emphasized the positive effects of being happy on one?s self and on people with whom one interacts.

The sessions were held at Teachers? Camp in Baguio City. Atayde recalls that the workshop participants were all smiling broadly as they trooped out of the auditorium. ?I was so encouraged by the results,? he says.

So encouraged, in fact, that he started calling his ?Laughter from the Heart? workshop ?happyshop? as it reminded people that they can be happy and make others happy as well. ?Laughter from the Heart?, he says, is a ?one-of-a-kind, feel-good, interactive motivational experience.

?The ?happyshop? helps participants understand and appreciate themselves better, and the world they live in as well. It helps them manage their reactions to certain situations in life. In a sense, it is food for the soul,? Atayde adds.

Producing entertainment is nothing new to this guy who, after graduating from La Salle in 1971 with a bachelor?s degree in literature, joined a company founded by film and stage director Peque Gallaga. It was here that he learned the ropes of production, enough for him and a business partner to come up with their own concept of stage entertainment several years later.

Using Filipino mascot characters, Atayde came up with a values-oriented show called ?The Adventures of Bata Batuta,? with such characters as Alice Kamatis, Kardong Kayod and Ading Saging. He was not only its scriptwriter, producer and director, he also played the role of ?Bata Batuta.? The show toured the country and so exhausted him that he lost a lot of weight, he recalls.

Time for a break: Atayde went back to school for an MBA and at the same time joined the Citibank group of companies in 1977. Ten years later, he set out to pursue a long-cherished dream. He formed Values Media, Inc. which conceptualized, produced and marketed the Boyoyong Clowns and ?The Adventures of Habi Tabi.?

The Boyoyong Clowns proved to be a big hit, and set the trend for professional values-oriented clown entertainers in the country. They continue to be in demand at family and corporate events. The ?Habi Tabi? musical play, meanwhile, mined religious stories that were presented in various venues in the country, including the Folk Arts Theater.

But the ?happyshop? remains his favorite among all his productions, says Atayde who has been conducting laugh workshop sessions for corporations, including the high-stress call center industry. ?It allows me to share and help enrich the lives of people,? he explains.

And while the results of his workshops cannot be scientifically measured, Atayde is heartened by the feedback he receives. ?There is a marked attitude change among participants, particularly in the way they deal with clients, subordinates and superiors. Most people who have attended our sessions end up becoming more pleasant, supportive, and open to change and new ideas. They become team players. They also become more focused on the job.?

It seems there is no holding back this man on a mission to make people happy. Well, after all, who wants to stop laughing?

Atayde will co-produce ?Laughter from the Heart? with De La Salle high school batch ?67 in support of the One La Salle Scholarship Fund campaign. It will be staged on August 23 from 3:30 to 5 p.m., at the Bel-Air Village Clubhouse in Makati. For tickets, please call Ms. Tina Aurelio at tel. numbers 303-1393 and 536-7235.



Copyright 2014 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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