Big Rig Drivers

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An essential part of our financial aid program (FAPHS) that helps bright kids from poor families finish their high school education is student mentoring and counseling. We motivate the kids to continually think about their plans after high school, and to preoccupy their thoughts about what they love to learn and do in terms of skills. This “thinking about the future” exercise serves to awaken and revitalize inner resolve to commit to a goal. It is part and parcel of our effort to direct, counsel and guide our young charges.

Randy, a quiet and serious kid in our program loves any kind of driving experience. On Sundays, when fares are abundant specially Church-goers and small merchants traveling from the outlying barrios or villages into town, he hangs out at the local bus stop plying the “transportation trade”. He volunteers to help load baskets of produce, merchandise, goods and then hitches a ride to town to help unload. We asked him what’s up with the gig? He smartly said that sometimes the driver would ask him to park the vehicle, or to back it out. He considers getting to drive the car his reward.

Mini van to San Fernando

Mini van to San Fernando

He loves any kind of driving, tinkering with engines, and fixing things. He has “driving” in his blood. Randy will drive for nothing – just so that he can get behind the wheel – be it a lowly tricycle for fare, or a modified World War II jeepney, or even a small mini van transporting passengers longer distances.

In our program we also invite vacationing alumni member professionals to come talk to and share with our kids what they do for a living and their careers. We had a guest from Washington state who drove semi trucks for a living. He told his story about transporting apples, peaches, pears, and other produce from Yakima to Chicago, or transporting merchandise to New York. Randy sat there listening, mesmerized. He didn’t move a muscle during the talk. He looked admiringly at the gentleman, like a starry-eyed movie fan in awe of their screen idol.

“I did some cross-border trucking usa… er…yes, picking up a load from Tacoma, driving to Canada and then on the way back I picked up another load from Vancouver and drove all the way down to San Ysidro by the Tijuana border.” He said this long sentence without taking a breath. The kids gave him blank, puzzled stares, as if to say, “What’s he talking about?”

A big 18-wheeler

A big 18-wheeler

Realizing he dumped too much unfamiliar information on them, he smiled and produced a map of the western United States, unfurled it and laid it down on a long table. The kids quickly gathered in excitement. Soon many fingers pointed at places on the map covering the entire surface. The guest speaker and Randy moved to another table.

“Sir… please tell me more about your work. Is it hard to get a driving job in America?” Randy eagerly asked.

“No. It’s not so hard. But the preparation, training, licensing, the rules and regulations, and final certification are quite demanding though,” replied the guest. “But like any other skill, the more you do it, the better you get at it.”

With palpable excitement Randy asked more questions. “What does it take to become a truck driver in America?”

“Well, I don’t think we have enough time to cover everything,” said the guest speaker. “I’ll tell you what. Come by my mother’s house this evening and we’ll talk some more about it.”

Social and Moral Development

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Choices and Consequences

Choices and Consequences

Even before students contemplate applying for our financial aid program, they know about our stringent accountability expectations. Students are held accountable for their good grades, their health and safety, and their moral-social development. “Actions have consequences,” is a guideline that’s instilled, incorporated and that becomes part of their daily routine.

100% of our students graduate high school. With a zero attrition rate as the norm, we’ve never lost any of our students to truancy, bad grades, or delinquency.

Justice is blind

Justice is blind

Our indoctrination session for new students includes an extensive presentation on “The choices we make decide where we wind up in life” example scenarios. One of these short clips shows a young person who acts recklessly and conducts themselves poorly – as a matter of practice – before thinking seriously about the consequences of their actions.

The dramatization movie trailer shows what happens. A reckless act resulting in an accident. Then there is a preliminary investigation, the arrest and the trip to the police station, the phone call to the lawyer, the deposition, indictment, life in jail, the trial while represented by legal counsel, and the sentencing. These “steps or stages” are the same kind of services and processes a decent law firm would offer a client – such as, see  to put things in perspective and in context.



Our kids shudder as they watch the show of what can happen as a result of some innocuous, juvenile action – well, action precipitated by an attitude – “it sounded good at the time,” sort of, you know how it is. Like, taking Mom’s car without prior permission for a joyride with the gang.

Our students are also reminded that they must keep up their good grades and that they conduct themselves like the scholars that they are, on and off campus.

The end goal of every student in the program is to graduate. To be successful, they learn early on that they must make the right kinds of choices. The choice could be as simple as doing one’s homework assignment every night as opposed to doing them sporadically and sometimes not doing them at all. Or it could be as big as choosing one’s path or program after graduation.

Our actions and choices have consequences.

Student’s Meeting Report 12-2014

Meeting Dec 26 2014 004

Students electing a student Liaison officer

Last December 26th, the day after Christmas, our students in the financial aid program met, supervised by Mr Albert Bunoan, VP Field Operations. Attending, unless otherwise noted were:

  1. Kristine Joy Cardenas
  2. Maiah Genelle Dauz
  3. Everlyn Jamandra
  4. Geraldine Layco
  5. Melvie Legaspina
  6. Kim Shelly Tan
  7. Krisha Teodosio
  8. Rocel Anne Vinluan
  9. Phoebe Balala
  10. Students electing a student secretary

    Students electing a student secretary

    Fegie Yvette Layco

  11. Juzel Ann Macanas
  12. Abigail Ponce
  13. Kisses Ulpindo
  14. Kennrik Bunoan
  15. Keanna Bunoan
  16. Kyle Zyra Lazo – absent
  17. Grace Anne Laycano – absent
  18. Mariella Tacho – absent

Mr Albert Bunoan called the meeting to order at 9:30 AM with the following agenda:

  • Election of a student Liaison officer and an assistant Liaison officer from among the students.
    • The Liaison officer coördinates all student activities, issues, concerns in and out of school and reports to the VP Field Operations before every scheduled meeting. The assistant Liaison officer performs all the duties as back-up.
    • The purpose of this position is to give the students leadership experience.
  • Election of a student recording Secretary and an Assistant recording secretary from among the students.
    • Duties include taking meeting minutes, preparing the minutes for submission and reporting to VP, Field Operations after every scheduled meeting.
    • The purpose of this position is to give the students an opportunity to experience secretarial duties, emphasizing attention to detail and official reporting.
  • Mariella Tacho - Student Liaison Officer

    Mariella Tacho – Student Liaison Officer

    Kim Shelly Tan presided over the election and vote counts.

    • Nominated for Liaison officer were Mariella Tacho, Kim Shelly Tan, and Geraldine Layco.
      • Voting results:  Tacho-10, Tan-4, Layco-1
      • The students voted Mariella Tacho as Liaison officer in absentia.
      • Melvie Legaspina called Mariella and informed her of the election results. Mariella accepted the position.
      • Kim Shelly Tan, garnered the second most votes for Assistant Liaison officer. She accepted the position.
  • Nominees for Secretary were Fegie Yvette Layco, Rocel Ann Vinluan, Melvie Legaspina, Geraldine Layco, andEverlynJamandra.
    • Voting results:  Fegie YvetteLayco-6, Rocel AnneVinluan-4, MelvieLegaspina-3, GeraldineLayco-2, andEverlynJamandra-1.

      Fegie Yvette Layco - Student Secretary

      Fegie Yvette Layco – Student Secretary

    • The secretary position went to Fegie Yvette Layco, who accepted the position. She immediately assumed her duties, taking meeting minutes, notes and points during the discussion. Later, she compiled the final meeting minutes and sent her report to Mr Albert Bunoan, who ultimately sent it to the BOT.
    • As second place vote getter, Rocel Ann Vinluan took the Assistant secretary position. She accepted the job.
  • A monthly student off-campus meeting will be held, starting at 9:00 AM on the following dates:
    • January 31, 2015
    • February 28, 2015
    • March 21, 2015
      • Attendance to all scheduled meetings is mandatory.
  • All students must give their grade report cards Mr Albert Bunoan within one day upon receipt of said grade report cards. SAS Ai will withhold tuition payments for any student who do not give their grade report card within one day of receipt.
  • Announcements:
    President & CEO Melanie P Florentino, MAEd

    President & CEO Melanie P Florentino, MAEd

    • Newly elected President & CEO – Melanie P Florentino, MAEd
    • Secretary-Treasurer – Crisostomo L Buenavista, MAEd
    • Auditor – Tina Laycano, BSEd
  • Other Discussions:
    • Continue to actively pursue the shadow program and bring it to fruition.
    • Discontinue the Virtual Classroom activities but the WIKI is open for all students to BLOG and to comment and post.
    • A field trip is in the works
  • Open Forum – no one asked any questions, nor had any concerns.
  • The meeting adjourned at 11:05AM.

Fellow Augustinians Living in Canada


Tagudinians Association of Canada held their annual reunion

SAS Alumni International (SAS Ai) gives a warm shout-out to our fellow Augustinians living in Canada for their support and commitment to our mission of helping bright kids from poor families finish high school. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May the New Year bring you prosperity, happiness and good health.

We have members of SAS Batches 1980 and 1981 living in Canada who have generously given to the school fund. Thank you. So too with Batches 1958, 1959 and 1966. At the last grand reunion in 2012, we heard some folks have retired and others soon to be retiring. Most of them belong to the earlier batches who have recently celebrated their silver jubilees, or golden jubilees.

Funny how jubilee celebrations always bring out into the limelight (some though reluctantly) those among us who like to lie low in the grass. Perhaps because they are finally reaching retirement age, they have more time for leisure. Whereas before they were hustling, working two or three jobs to raise their families.

Listen. There’s talk on the grapevine about some very nice retirement living facilities there in Canada. Okay. Give me a break. Canada is big country. We know but hey, such as, there are places like Wallace Living, ( that offer assisted living for seniors, apartment living for folks looking for a place to rent, etc. Have you heard about them? That’s in Nova Scotia though. But more importantly, their company website is accessible and user-friendly so you can browse it at your own leisure. As a side note, we heard members of the Manzano family from Bangar just arrived and may need housing assistance. Let us know if you need some contact information. We can put you in touch with some of our fellow Augustinians living there, near the area.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Tinkerer

Mr Ateneo Dioscoro, the son of poor sharecroppers, was class valedictorian of his 1967 high school graduating class. A math and science whiz kid, he never took notes during lectures, much to the chagrin of his home room teacher. Fact is, he didn’t carry a notebook. His pad paper was a small gum-shoe spring-bound notepad that he carried in his hip pocket. Never studying for tests but achieving high grades, young Dioscoro just seemed to coast.

He found classroom activities boring. He wanted to work with his hands. His favorite after school activity was vocational shop, carpentry, and machine shop. He loved the touch and feel of woodworking tools, mechanical tools, and various tools used in the welding business. To him using a pair of long-nose pliers didn’t just involve twisting fine wires or pinching tiny sheets, or retrieving stray screws in tight places. No. To Dioscoro it was not using the tool. It was also a time for discovery, a time to scrutinize and admire such a fine invention of a tool. Concepts fascinated Ateneo to no end.

you-have-an-idea-for-an-invention-now-what-1Before he graduated high school he confided to his favorite shop teacher, Fr Van Pelt he was ruminating on a revolutionary idea that could enhance how wrenches work. Fr Leonilov Van Pelt, Dioscoro’s teacher was a Belgian missionary priest, who flew planes early in his career and worked as a metallurgist for a European conglomerate before entering the seminary to be ordained into the priesthood. Fr Leonilov was an accomplished engineer. He took care of the mission’s water system and the emergency back up generators. He and Dioscoro were like two peas in the same pod. They would discuss and talk on end about tools, machinery, and the general manufacturing processes.

“So what’s this idea of yours?” asked Fr Leonilov. “Can you talk about it? Anything interesting?”

Dioscoro beamed. “Well, it’s just a concept in my head mostly at this time. I can see the entire system though,” he replied.

“It seems like you have a good grasp of your idea. Whatever you do you must seek professional help,” said Fr Leonilov.

“What sort of help Father?” queried Dioscoro. “Are you talking about legal help, or engineering help, or what kind of help?”

“Professional help – like, graphic artists, prototype builders, testers to test your product, to name a few. And then you must protect your invention by filing for a patent. The best way is to turn it over to licensing and promotion professionals. Here, why don’t you check out this group. They seem to have their act together:

“These folks are the best at what they do,” Fr Van Pelt continued. “They’ll take your project from start to invention and patenting. This much I can say. Do not wait too long to get your ideas down on paper. But you must hide it from prying eyes. Work feverishly and complete your concept presentation.”

Dioscoro became quiet. His eyes lit up. He grinned widely. Fr Van Pelt had an idea of what Dioscoro was thinking. But then again no, he didn’t have any idea. Because you see, Dioscoro had been busily working on his idea for the past year. He was already beyond just mere conceptualizing and mentally massaging his invention.

“Father Van Pelt?” asked Dioscoro. “If I can assemble my stuff – you know, sketches, dimensions, projections, drawings, calculations, mock-up and end product prototype … do you think I can come over and show them to you?”

“How soon are we talking about?” asked Fr Van Pelt.

“How about now?” And Dioscoro was off and running to his house.


Fun Way to Learn Spanish

“Today’s word is ventana,” announced Cleotilde, our self-proclaimed Spanish instructor. She hails from Central America and she’s full of zest for life. She tells us countless stories about how she managed the arduous thousand mile trek across the desert to come here. It took her a couple of years, working odd jobs along the way, scrimping and saving. And, here she is.

officewindowsventanaCRPD“Okay fine, but what does ve…, or did you say wenta…” one co-worker began to ask.

Cleotilde cut her short. “Oy… listen. I said, ventana, the ‘v’ is pronounced with a ‘bea’ sound, not ‘v’ as in ‘Victoria’… O keh?”

“So what does ventana mean?” asked Isidro, our Filipino accountant.

“It means, window,” replied Cleotilde. “So today, we learn window… ventana. Ventana… window.”

A voice from the mail room joined in. “You mean like Windows? Like Windows 7?” Laughter.

Cleotilde was not amused. “That is windows,” she said. “More than one. So ventanas.”

“Yes. Sem ting,” chimed in Lee Ku Huang, our senior sales clerk. “Window is window. So ventana is ventana. O keh?”

Huh? Oh boy, this lesson is quickly turning out to be a UN meeting. But the lesson is free, so we keep going.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea.” It was Cleotilde. “A quiz.” She comes up with these pop quizzes – like clockwork. She says it’s good for understanding and word recognition. “Okay. So Windows is ventanas and 7 is siete.”

I think she lost the whole office crowd at this point. We went back to work. I thought about the word for the day, “ventana”. Good word to know. Ventana is window. Window is ventana. I mentally repeated the word – even silently mouthing it, you know, like Milli-Vanelli. I had the sudden urge to use the word. Why not? All they can do is laugh at me, right?

“Hey Lee, do me a favor and open that ventana,” I looked at Mr Lee Ku Huang who sits by the office water cooler. “Yeah that one,” I said, pointing at the window by his desk above the water bottle.

“O keh. I open ventana,” Lee said grinning as he reached up to crack open the tiny window. “Ventana… window,” he mumbled the words to himself.

Later that afternoon, Linda, our executive secretary came in after attending a corporate luncheon meeting. “Hey guys,” she waved as she zipped by our desks. Slowing down, she looked back our way. “Oh… ya’ll want to know where next year’s presidential awards will be held?”

“Sure, we do… but who all is going?” asked Cleotilde.

“You guys are eligible,” replied Linda. “All depends on the sales, the profit margin, you know, the bottom line.”

“Okay where?” we all chimed in. “This better be good.”

Linda, with dramatic flair said, “In Costa Rica… and… ta da… drum roll please. We’ll be staying at a place called… let me see….” She opened her case. “Ah… here it is. At a resort called Las Ventanas. Ain’t that cool?”

We looked at each other. Well, well… we know what that word means… ventana… yes, Ventanas… windows. We surely learned a good word today.

A Teacher’s Gift

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Meet Ms Paz Hadoc, teacher at St Augustine School, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. She knows how important and critical her job is in shaping student behavior, not only in cognitive skills, psycho-motor skills but also and more importantly in attitudinal skills.

To the seriously motivated student, Ms Paz Hadoc exemplifies perfection. What gifts does a teacher give besides her attention and devotion to her profession and students? Plenty. Just look at the photos in the slide show. Come up with your own answers.