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The bomber’s moon shone brightly, rising above the acacia, santol and mango tree tops. The bamboo clumps framed the full moon with its delicate lattice-work of leaves and branches. The dew-drenched fields, the little shanties we called home, the goats and carabaos tied to the tamarind tree all lay resplendent in the magic glow of the December moonlight.
We had been caroling since dusk and now nightfall enveloped us. We carried a torch made of bundled rice straw – well, what was left of it. Its dying embers now flew every which way. We walked briskly toward Apo Peelees’ house. A dog barked from the house across the irrigation ditch. Our instruments at the ready, I gave the signal to sing…
“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright… Round yon virgin mother and child… Hollllyyyy eeennnffaanntt….” we were suddenly interrupted.
“Pumanaw cayo. Anak ti diablo… Nargaan ti turog linocag yo! Balsigek ta rupa yo amin la… alsa…” The voice of Apo Peelees was unmistakable. It was a gravely voice seasoned with years of drinking Basi, Si Hoc Tong, Anisado, Creme de Menthe and quatro cantos Ginebra San Miguel – rut gut stuff. Apo Peelees also beat up on people when drunk. Sober? He was the nicest old man in the neighborhood but when he gets into that rut gut stuff – there is no telling what he’ll do.
My instincts told me to run. Flee before the axe came flying from the front door to the front yard where we stood singing. But the rest of the carolers started to sing again…
“Alan Apo inkan alaen… tay pascua mi nga inka iteden… ta dikam unay agtaeng… toy paraangan yo nga katimtimel…”
All I heard was a swoosh, then a stampede of carolers fleeing the scene. Apo Peelees was awake now and he came out with an axe. He was screaming and yelling, “Di cay agsubsublin. Tagbatek amin ta saksaka yo. Caponen cayo. Anak ti diablo…”
His voice trailed as we left his front yard in a hurry. After we felt Apo Peelees didn’t follow us, we stopped in the middle of the fields to catch our breath. I noticed Ricky, our purser, looking pale even in the moonlight. “What’s the matter Ricky?” I asked.
“i think I dropped the purse,” he said reluctantly.
“How about the bag with the rice cakes, the fruits and vegetables?” I continued my query.
“I left it by the makeshift stairs when we sang…”
One of our most successful SAS Ai scholars, Arthien Lovell Pelingen (photo at left courtesy of UP Galleria Studios) who graduated Class Salutatorian, SAS Ai 2011-12, sent us this letter, sharing with us how he is doing at the University of the Philippines where he is a Sophomore Biology student::
School’s starting once again. There’s excitement in the air. I never thought I’d feel this way about school. First of all, going back to school and stepping up to the next higher level, or rung means progress, advancement, achievement – one step forward toward the finish line.
At the moment I feel like sprinting, dashing toward that yellow ribbon… both my arms up in the air, palms opened and waving to the crowd, I’m gasping for air with every sinew in my body aching… but the race… it’s won – Yay! That’s all that’s on my mind right at this moment. But wait. First things first. I am getting way ahead of myself.
Field Team Director, Mr Albert Bunoan met with us SAS Ai scholars and our parents today. He welcomed us back to the SAS campus and exuberantly announced before the end of the day we would all be enrolled and registered. The room burst into instant, unrehearsed but organized pandemonium. Shouts, howls, yells, screams, and shrieks of joy and jubilation drowned Mr Bunoan’s voice but only for a few seconds. He restored order quickly and continued, “Today we also get all our school supplies!” The applause was about to erupt once again but Mr Bunoan was quick to add, “Though not until we go over certain points.”
“What could Mr Bunoan mean?” I thought. I felt somewhat uneasy. Mr Bunoan had my undivided attention now and I craned my head to catch every word he had to say.
“Dear scholars and parents,” he began. “Welcome back. Today SAS Ai proudly announces school year 2013 open and you are the reason for the mission.” Mr Bunoan paused for a sip of water. “Let us work together to make 2013 our best year, welcoming those joining our community for the first time.” Mr Bunoan outlined our responsibilities as SAS Ai scholars and the responsibilities of our parents supportive of our schooling. He was most thorough. Critical things like good grades, perfect attendance, personal behavior and development, humility and honesty, and most of all that we enjoy our learning experiences. Yes – that is why I am so excited to go back to school. I enjoy learning.
Each day on my way to school I pass by the open fields. Some parts of the fields lay fallow while some parts look plowed and cleaned, tilled and readied for the planting. My mind goes through images, scenarios and a collage of mental artwork only I can appreciate. I think to myself, “What if my mind is like that field over there,” I look to my right and see the neat and straight furrows.The soil looks fertile, ready for the seeds.
Isn’t that the same as going to school and learning? Our minds are like fertile fields. We prepare the soil in neat furrows, straight and single-minded, focused and ready for the seeds of knowledge to be sown by the teacher. That is why we go to school.
“Hey Fegie,” I heard a voice. It was Mr Bunoan. “Are you ready for 2013? Are you going for the honor roll again this year?”
Feeling a bit embarrassed for my dizzy-fantasyheadedness I blurted out, “Of course Mr B… yes Sir I am going for the ribbon…” is it the yellow ribbon of the race’s end or the red ribbon of the honor roll… gosh, I don’t know, but I am going for it.
Thanks SAS Ai for this opportunity to go back to school. Thanks for all your caring, kindness and generosity.
We are ready and hummin’. Education is freedom! Yay!
School registration is a couple of weeks away. Our Field Team goes through its busiest time throughout the school year. They gather the kids, take them to the local school uniform shop to be measured for their uniforms – skirts and blouses for the young ladies and pants and t-shirts for the young men. The kids are also measured for their pair of shoes – a pair of rubber shoes for the young men and a pair of patent leather flats for the young ladies. Then we have the athletic wear.
Later in the week, Field Team Director, Mr Albert D Bunoan gathers them for a luncheon meeting to discuss new policies from the scholarship committee that may affect their school practices. They go through introductions and an overall “kick off” for the school year. The lunch is simple enough: noodles and rice, rice crackers and sodas. This year two vacationing members of the board sponsored and donated funds for the luncheon meeting.
Here at corporate our Treasurer, Estrellita G Purugganan busies herself assembling the funding package. She remains hopeful we will be able to sponsor at the very least two, new scholars this year in addition to the current 20 whom we are sponsoring through several grades of high school. Director Albert Bunoan assures us his Field Team has already processed applications submitted by solid candidates for financial aid this year.
Our main concern remains the same. Will we have enough funds to launch school year 2013? The reason our small non-profit group raises funds all year round in a never-ending cycle of asking, requesting, and pleading for help from generous folks like you. We are asking you to donate to the scholarship fund via our secure online acceptance portal. We accept credit cards (VISA, MASTERCARD, and DISCOVER). Any amount you wish to donate helps a child attend high school.
It is never too early or too late to donate. We use the scholarship funds all year round to support the schooling of our scholars, pay for tuition, books, school uniforms, school supplies, athletic wear, lab fees, computer use fees, USB storage device for computer work, and school projects. Help us by donating to the scholarship fund today.
“When you give, give expecting nothing in return…” so the Good Book says. Peace be with you dear friend. We are still trying to raise enough money to send our kids to school that begins this coming June 2013. These are the bright and promising kids who come from disadvantaged families and who are eager and desirous to finish high school. A disadvantaged family makes less than P50,000 (Philippine pesos) or $1167 USD annual gross income.
Go to our secure online acceptance portal and use your credit card (VISA, M/C, DISC) to transact your tax-deductible donation. You can also open a monthly $45 dollar allotment if it makes it easier on your budgeting process. It costs $540 a year to send one kid to high school. Any amount you wish to donate helps send a promising child to school. Our program holds the sponsored child accountable for maintaining good grades, and the child’s family for making sure the child gets time to study.
To find out what the $540 USD annual cost covers go to our SAS Ai, Inc. website. While there, meet our scholars and those who volunteer to run the program. Consider your donation as an investment for the future. Consider your donation as an act of kindness toward those who can’t pay you back. Consider your donation as necessary in helping a child realize his or her childhood dream. Consider your donation as liberating these children from poverty – because education is freedom!
At last year’s graduation ceremonies, Juzel Ann Macanas, SAS Ai scholar class of 2012, made it to the honor roll receiving a recognition award for her excellent school work and good grades. To pin Juzel’s ribbon and to stand proudly by her daughter, Mrs Macanas attended the graduation ceremonies along with other SAS Ai scholars families.
As the ceremonies came to a close, the crowds morphed into smaller conversation groups. Juzel and her mom joined other honor roll students. They had hot coffee while others had iced water and soda. The conversation revolved around the obvious feeling of pride the parents felt for their kids excellent performance.
“I am so thrilled to see my daughter receive recognition for her work. She studies well into the night her father and I sometimes have to tell her to get some sleep,” stated a proud mother.
Mrs Macanas spoke softly and confidently, “My Juzel has done very well ever since elementary school. Her father and I keep our expectations for her at a very high level. I expect her to fully continue receiving recognition for her excellent school work. We believe she can transition into a government-funded college scholarship. Someday….after she finishes high school.”
Juzel blushed a little upon hearing her mother speak so highly of her expectations of her. She knows her family financial status. There is no money for college, why, there wasn’t even any money for high school. What was she thinking about? Yet from the way her mother speaks, she detects her confidence, she senses her deep pride in her daughter’s ability to succeed.
Mothers have high hopes and dreams for their kids. In Juzel’s case, Mrs Macanas takes great pride in Juzel’s abilities and hopes someday her daughter will succeed in whatever she wants to do. To that end, Mrs Macanas, like most mothers, will work hard and sacrifice her own self-comfort so that her children may succeed.
At SAS Ai we hear about, we see their pain, and we help these disadvantaged families in their daily struggle for sufficiency and dignity. We recognize that Education is Freedom. Therefore we help these bright kids who come from poor families get a good high school education at SAS. This is our mission and we aim to do a great job. With your help we can make that difference and support these parents whose pride and joy lie in the bright future of their children. Donate to the scholarship fund today.
My mother works and lives in Agoo (pronounced ah-goo-oo), a town in the province of La Union, about 102 kilometers south of Tagudin. Without sounding too dramatic and overly sentimental, may I just say I wish I lived with my mother so I can spend time with her.
Life remains challenging for me and my family. My mother doesn’t make enough to support me and my siblings let alone finance my high school studies. My grandmother – she is so loving and good, God bless her – agreed to care for me while I attend SAS high school in Tagudin, courtesy of SAS Ai and its excellent scholarship program. I earn my keep and grandmother loves having me around to help her out with the spare parts business.
This past summer I spent time with my mother in Agoo. I can honestly say I have never had a more wonderful time spent with my Mom than these past couple of months. We did things together. She showed me how to sew and how to stitch. She showed me how to crochet and knit. I laughed when I saw the two pieces of knitting pins… they looked like the skewers that my grandmother uses to roast fish over live coals.
My mother told me she missed me and I cried because she never told me that before. I felt I had been a burden to the family that is why I live with my grandmother. Things are clearer now. I fully understand the reasons why I have to stay with my grandmother in Tagudin. Besides, how else would I finish high school at SAS?
And so my fun summer vacation also provided learning opportunities. My mother and I feel closer now. As I leave Agoo to go back to my grandmother’s place in Tagudin, I am going through emotional ups and downs. I feel my place is by my mother’s side. Yet realistically, I must go back to Tagudin because my grandmother needs me. My mother wants me to finish high school and so does my grandmother. With that said, I too want to finish my high school education at SAS. Unanimous… I look forward to the school year opening. I am ready for school.
Like the word “love,” the term “scholarship” has undergone many a metamorphosis. Take love first. When people mean to say they “like” mangoes, they rather exuberantly blurt out, “I love mangoes”. The same with scholarships. Even though the student recipient of the financial aid does not do well academically or at a scholarly level, that some group finances his or her studies makes the aid-recipient a scholar. Many groups profess to do good works, even charitable works, such as, giving aid to student recipients for a myriad reasons – all mind-boggling just the same. The announcement clamor and din is deafening.
The SAS Ai scholarship program stands high and above this loose amalgamation of “handout” programs masquerading as scholarships, as the gold standard scholarship program to help bright students who come from poor families get a good high school education at SAS through financial aid.
The program uses this twofold criteria with no strings attached:
- The student applicant must come from a disadvantaged family with a gross annual income of less than P50,000, or $1167 USD depending on the exchange rate
- The student applicant must have a grade point average (GPA) of 85% or better
And here is where the SAS Ai scholarship program leaves the rest of the pack huffing and puffing in the dust. SAS Ai offers the most generous package ever. For every sponsored scholar, the annual financial aid pays for:
- Tuition – matriculation costs
- Books, reference materials and publications
- School uniforms – Skirts and blouses for the young ladies and a pair of pants and T-Shirts for the young men
- Pair of shoes and socks – patent leather shoes for the young ladies and a pair of rubber shoes for the young men
- Athletic wear for PE and intramural sports – (the scholar’s family pays for special uniforms for volleyball and/or basketball teams)
- School supplies – stationery, writing tools, notebooks, sewing kit, crayon kits, paper
- Computer Lab fees, family fees, miscellaneous fees
- Internet Cafe fees for online research and eMail services
- A USB storage device for every scholar to store computer school work
Refinements of the SAS Ai program that sets it far and apart from the “random acts of kindness” dubbed as scholarships:
- If accepted to the program after a battery of pre-tests, interviews, home visits to establish need, parental guarantee of coöperation, scholars are held accountable for maintaining their grade point average to 85% or higher.
- The local SAS Ai Field Team headed by Director Albert D Bunoan stays on top of all scholars:
- taking care of their school supply needs,
- looking after their personal safety and welfare
- disseminating pertinent information from corporate.
- The Field Team also regularly files update reports to the board of trustees (BOT) on periodic exam results, and on status of scholar’s school work and attendance.
- If accepted to the program, all scholars are held to a high standard of personal behavior, active community involvement, and exemplary social, spiritual, and emotional development.
- If accepted to the program, all scholars must acquire skills in the use of current technologies to electronically communicate and to develop a good oral and written command of the English language used in business communications.
- We recruit prospective applicants from all over the public school system, in Tagudin, Santa Cruz, Sudipen and Bangar, La Union, Suyo, keeping the competitiveness for acceptance tight and keen
- When recruiting prospective applicants we look for inner-drive and reason, maturity and a dire financial need with no strings attached. More specifically, SAS Ai does not expect or need everlasting loyalty, allegiance and/or payment in kind from the families of accepted scholars.
If you know of anyone – a family in need who may want to send their bright and highly motivated child to attend SAS high school, please let us know. Click on this link to find out more about SAS Ai, Inc. and how to make a tax-deductible donation to support the scholarship fund. We solely rely on our generous donors and mission supporters to send these bright scholars to Saint Augustine School.
Maiah Genelle Dauz (photo at left) is a SAS Ai scholar sponsored by Tina Laycano of Canada (photo at above right). Tina worked for the Canadian government as a computer and networks analyst and has since retired. Like Maiah, Tina hails originally from Barangay Dardarat.
Maiah sent us this short article she wrote about her summer vacation spent there locally in Barangay Dardarat.
“Summer vacation affords us time for myriad activities. Some activities involve long road trips to the metropolitan city of Manila, certainly a sojourn accented with detailed plans for elaborate evenings of dancing and fine dining.
Other activities include visits with relatives who work and live far away – some as far away as Australia and Canada. I heard about a couple of friends who spent time with relatives in Mindanao – a long way from Tagudin. Mindanao is the southern most island of the Philippine archipelago. I heard stories of them eating large pineapples, duhat, Guimaras mango, santol, rambutan, jackfruit, and dorian. My mouth watered at the mere mention of these exotic fruits.
For me, summer vacation was necessarily kept simple but loaded with fun. My older brother and sister came home to spend a couple of days with us. They took breaks from their work – something I knew they could ill-afford at this time. Yet they were there; it made my mother very happy.
This summer school break I realized that this time of year isn’t only for vacations. It is also a time for making memories with family; it is time for bonding. I dearly love spending time with my mother – no matter what we do – it could be as simple as a trip to the public market, or a short trip to the rice mill to buy a ganta of rice. When I am with my mother I feel like I am walking on soft cotton clouds. I just love my mother’s company.
I made sweet memories this summer – not only with my mother but also with my siblings.
A famous saying goes, “Time flies when you are having fun.” This summer was no different for me – my family and I enjoyed boatloads of fun. The couple of days my older brother and sister spent with us were gone even before I could unpack their handbags and tell them my stories. Good thing I bonded with them. With their busy schedules who knows when we will all get together again?
Soon the school year begins. Once again we will work hard with our studies. This year I want to make sure my generous sponsor, my Tia, Ms Tina Laycano will feel proud of my accomplishment. I made up my mind to write her to let her know how I am doing. I will also write to the members of the board to thank them and assure them of my ongoing drive to succeed and to be in the honor roll.
Summer’ been way too short. Where has the time gone? By the way, did you get to bond with your family?”