A Facebook LIKE is so Important. . .

Scott Fox of ClickMillionaires.com explains why Facebook Likes are important. He says the following:

Facebook Likes are “Social Proof, ” from you. These likes appear on your Facebook pages and they also appear on your friend’s Facebook pages and timelines. Your likes shown on these Facebook pages spread out in waves – ripples across the Internet. They appear on your BLOG posts, your comments and if you click on the like icon, you are actually broadcasting across the net your preferences. Social proof means you show your circle of friends, colleagues, acquaintances proof of the things you like. That covers the social aspect of Facebook Likes.

But more importantly, there is a business aspect of Facebook Likes too. When you click the like icon on a page you are affirming the contents of the page. You are telling the world you believe in the cause of the organization that owns the page. If the page is a non-profit organization, your LIKE Vote adds to the value of the cause promoted by the non-profit organization.

Which brings us to the point. You may think a click on the Facebook LIKE icon on the SAS Alumni International page is trivial; it is not. The whole world sees the things you like and if you are a fellow Augustinian and you haven’t yet visited the SAS Alumni International page and voted you LIKE us… then please do so immediately.

Tell the world you believe in our mission of helping young, bright kids who come from poor families get a good high school education at SAS through financial aid. Then after you click the LIKE icon, please give to the scholarship fund. Thank you.


Our SAS Ai Treasurer

Estrellita G Purugganan

Estrellita G Purugganan, SAS Ai Treasurer

Meet Ms Estrellita G Purugganan (photo at left), Treasurer of SAS Ai, Inc. Like most of our volunteer officers and board members here at SAS Ai, Estrell (we fondly call her), grew up on a farm in Santa Cruz, a town north of Tagudin. Hers is the all too common circumstance of dire poverty and hardship.

She tells her story about how she traveled to and from SAS high school daily from home, sometimes hitch-hiking, at times walking, and riding the small commercial bus, courtesy of the conductor who had taken a fancy toward her. She grins as she recalls those days of riding the bus. She continues with her childhood recollections:

“We had no electricity or running water.  My mother prepared our meals on the most primitive of stoves – three stones arranged in a triangular configuration whereupon she placed the pot and burned firewood underneath. Speaking of firewood… after we depleted the pieces of dried bamboo and the fallen wood bark for firewood, we resorted to gathering for firewood, dried cow dung in the fields. I never enjoyed gathering dry cow dung but to survive we had to do it. Looking back now, education translates to freedom. My high school education freed me to pursue a college education and eventually freed me to apply for a job in industry.”

For this reason alone, Estrell strongly supports SAS Ai’s mission donating to the scholarship fund. She declares with a big smile, “I sure could have used this kind of financial help when I attended high school.”

She concludes, “It would be a crime indeed to allow the minds of these bright kids who come from poor families go to waste. Our duty extends beyond recognizing their need; our responsibility includes actually funding their high school education. Let us help them break the shackles of poverty.”

SAS 2010 Centennial – SAS Ai KIOSK

Presidential Move

The President makes a move on the crowd massing at the SAS Ai KIOSK during the Centennial

The whole thing morphed into something funny. At the 2010 SAS Centennial celebration, SAS Ai fully participated in the festivities by providing three (3) venues to engage the attending public. First came the KIOSK, the operations nerve center for the entire SAS Ai team, then the Community Picnic held in Dardarat Beach, and of course we had the Centennial Ball complete with a live band, entertainment, raffles and prizes awarded.

The KIOSK opened for three consecutive days. On opening day, SAS Ai President and CEO, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA took the lead. The team opened the day with public announcements and general information about SAS Ai and its mission, followed by sign-ups for the daily raffle. Melanie Florentino, our Sales and Mktg Director designed the KIOSK and furnished it with the needed counters and temporary cabinetry. On the main counter rested four jelly bean jars with the sign “Guess the correct number of jelly beans for a prize”. The people went wild over those jars.

As word got out about the KIOSK, its activities, promotional items, and goodies, a crowd of curiosity seekers formed three long lines and massed on all three open sides of the KIOSK. In the above photo, the President makes a quick get-away from the advancing horde. “Don’t you just love it?” he quipped as he hurried towards the awaiting vehicle.

An OFWs Tale


Mother Marie Louise De Meester, ICM missionary, Foundress of St Augustine School

The title of OFW – an acronym for Overseas Foreign Worker, applies to the European Catholic missionaries who long ago braved the uncharted seas to reach far corners of a largely unknown world. Their mission to evangelize, or to share and spread the good news of the Gospel, served as their driving force and purpose. Reverend Mother Marie Louise De Meester, Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Immaculati Cordis Mariae – ICM Congregation) – Foundress qualifies as an OFW.

Mother Marie Louise De Meester founded the Religious – Missionary Sisters of the Immaculati Cordis Mariae or the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM), which was formerly known as the Missionary Canonesses of St. Augustine, in Mulagumoodu, India in 1897.

Born on April 8, 1857 in Roeselare, Belgium, Mother Marie Louise de Meester studied to become a teacher. A competent and kind teacher, her students admired and respected her. Later, she decided to leave the school where she taught to serve the poor.

On May 4, 1881, she joined the Canonesses-Regular of St. Augustine in Ypres (now known by its Flemish name of Ieper), Belgium in the medieval abbey of Notre Dame de la Nouvelle Plante to fulfill her missionary dreams.

After establishing missions in India, Philippines, China, the United States, Belgian Congo and other parts of the world, Mother Marie Louise returned to Belgium in 1923 and on October 10, 1928 died peacefully in Heverlee at the age of 71.

In 1963, the Congregation associated itself with the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) for mutual help in spiritual matters as well as in missionary activities. (Re: Wikipedia)

CICM Missionaries (OFWs) Come to Tagudin

The Municipality of Tagudin, a small seaport town along the Ilocos Sur coast just north of La Union Province, which was then part of the sub-province of Lepanto-Amburayan of the Mountain Province, became an important center for the CICM missionary ministry. The town of Tagudin remained part of the Mountain Province territory until 1920 when Amburayan became part of the province of Ilocos Sur.

Created in 1586, Tagudin Mission saw its first Augustinian Missionary, Fr. Matias Manrique, OSA, who was officially appointed in 1590. However, the parish of Tagudin had no permanent parish priest until May 1809. After the departure of the last Augustinian friar in January 1898, diocesan priests, Frs. Norberto Tamayo, Raymundo Quilop, Cosme Abaya and Quintin Donato took care of the Parish. They succeeded each other until the arrival of Fr. Carlu. This uninterrupted ministry of good and loyal priests may account for the fact that Tagudin has always remained a devout Catholic community.

Farola Beach Landing

Re-enactment of the June 21, 1910 CICM Sisters landing on Farola Beach taken during the SAS centennial. Standing leftmost is Engr Apolonio Villanueva III, great-grandson of then Mayor of Tagudin, Don Apolonio A Villanueva who headed the official party to welcome the newly arrived CICM Sisters. To the left of Engr Apolonio Villanueva III is the current Mayor of Tagudin, the Honorable Jun Verzosa

The Founding of the St. Augustine’s School Chronology

  • June 21, 1910 – Excerpts from, “And Mission Goes on After 1910” by Sr. Asuncion Martinez, ICM.

“On June 21, 1910, the obscure little town of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur came to life and – to a person – became energized into a highly festive mood. Something most unusual was going to happen. The mayor of the town, Don Apolonio A Villanueva made final arrangements with the Parish Priest, Fr. Florimund Carlu, for the arrival of four Belgian Missionaries of the Missionary Canonesses of Saint Augustine: Mother Marie Louise de Meester, foundress of the congregation, Mother Vincent, Mother Charles, and Mother Lutgarde. They were to arrive by steamboat scheduled for a 2 pm landing at Farola Beach. Arrayed in colorful attire and exuberant in festal rejoicing, Tagudinians lined the shore to welcome the new arrivals, led by Mayor Don Apolonio A. Villanueva and accompanied by the town officials. The welcome extended to the town plaza, followed by a solemn Te Deum in the church, and a formal reception by town officials in the “convento” (sister’s convent). The very next day after their landing and arrival, the missionary sisters opened the health clinic.”

  • July 4, 1910 – just two weeks after their arrival, these missionary sisters started the St. Augustine’s School in the basement floor of their big convent. 255 pupils registered on that very first day of classes. Thus began the first mission of the Missionary Canonesses of St Augustine in the Philippines.
  • Four weeks later, school enrollment increased to 300 pupils.
  • The first building of St. Augustine’s School was the old convento (Sister’s convent) built in 1832.
  • On 1910 the Sisters held the first elementary classes in the old convent.
  • The European missionary sisters (OFWs) ran the new St Augustine School using the same school system as used in Belgium. They taught reading, writing, arithmetic, needlework and a very intense course in religion and apologetics. They administered no written tests, not even at the end of the school year. They issued no report cards except a report for conduct.
  • They conducted oral examinations before a board of examiners consisted of Father Carlu, Mother Superior and the student’s religion teacher.
  • After the oral examination the student earned a grade expressed in terms of “excellent,” “very good,” and “good”. Achievement of any of these three terms facilitated the student’s promotion and advancement to the next higher grade. Those who failed to meet any of the three passing terms received a term “fair” requiring them to repeat the grade in which they failed to pass.
  • The next year 1911 saw the enrollment increase to 697 children.

SAS Ai Souvenir Shoppe

Shunnamite Woman

Hely Somera in her store that houses the SAS Ai Souvenir Shoppe

Tucked away in a small corner of a residential group of buildings, along the main road that goes through the town of Tagudin, behind the main SAS school building by the church belfry, and east of the municipal building, the Shunamite Woman store does a brisk business. Its owner, proprietor, operator and manager, Ms Hely Somera, volunteers with the SAS Ai Field Team. Her store sells SAS Ai souvenir items and operates as the main outlet for SAS Ai, Inc. memorabilia.

SAS Ai souvenirs

SAS Ai Souvenir Items

During the 2010 SAS centennial celebrations, many SAS alumni came home to attend. A few of them came by the store to see and inspect the merchandise on display. The tote bag proved most popular among the ladies while the baseball cap appealed to the men. The polo shirt proved a good seller as well.

Sales proceeds go to the SAS Ai scholarship fund. When visiting or stopping by the town of Tagudin, in Ilocos Sur, or for Tagudinians and fellow Augustinians who are home on vacation, stop by the Shunamite Store and pick up a SAS Ai souvenir item or two as a memento of your visit to the old Alma Mater. When you buy a souvenir you help send bright kids who come from poor families to SAS for their high school education. We thank you for your patronage and support of the mission.

Hely Somera

Hely Somera, the Belle of the 2010 SAS Ai Centennial Ball

Hely Somera took part in the 2010 SAS Ai Centennial Ball as one of the ushers and greeters of the many guests and dignitaries, and certainly as one of the Belles of the ball. She assisted the President and CEO of SAS Ai, Atty Romeo J Somera greet and seat the town mayor, the Honorable Jun Verzosa, and the vice mayor, Honorable Rogelio Lorenzana and their families.

A member of the Field Team, Hely Somera also helped Albert D Bunoan procure tables and chairs for the guests, buffet banquet tables for the food and beverages for the ball, balloons, bunting and other decorations.

FEB 9, 2013 SAS Family Day

Melvie Legaspina

Melvie Legaspina files a report – SAS Family Day

SAS Family Day – A report filed by SAS Ai scholar and high school sophomore Melvie Legaspina

Here at St Augustine School, we celebrated Family Day on February 9, 2013. The special day showcased many activities, prepared by the students and PASAS officers, performed by the student body. Activities included highly choreographed group dances, raffles with generous prizes, and various singing performances by people and choir groups. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The entire SAS student body, from grade school to high school performed  a tightly organized and energetically cadenced dance number to entertain our parents, teachers, visitors and guests. After the dance, we received a standing ovation that lasted for several seconds. But the most awaited part of the program however was the grand raffle draw to decide the first prize winner. The first prize was a Net Book.

Class Dance

The Dance

I am certain all the students vied, hoped for and wanted to win the Net Book first prize. One student won it but it wasn’t me; never been that lucky. As consolation, our class received the “Best in Performance” award for a dance number performed with fans and umbrellas. Our home room teachers who helped refine our dance number ecstatically and unashamed, expressed their joy for winning the award by jumping up and down and hollering wildly.

The exhausting day finally ended and as people went home I overheard them say positive things and comment favorably about how much they enjoyed watching the numbers and listening to the music. Though tired, I felt a tremendous amount of pride and a sense of accomplishment having taken part in the SAS Family Day activities.

SAS Ai Crowns Tagudin Town Fiesta Queen

Atty Romeo J Somera, President and CEO

President and CEO Atty Romeo J Somera (right front) presenting the Town Fiesta Queen the SAS Ai “Education is Freedom” Trophy

SAS Ai, Inc., the 501(c)(3) non-profit providing financial aid to bright kids who come from poor families so they can attend SAS high school burst into the scene at the 2009 Tagudin Town Fiesta. SAS Ai crowned the Fiesta Queen and presented her with the SAS Ai Education is Freedom trophy that year. There to do the honors was none other than the President and CEO of SAS Ai, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA (see above photo).

SAS Ai’s community outreach extends beyond awarding financial aid to qualifying scholarship applicants and working with the civic and cultural organizations during town festivities, such as, the annual town fiesta . The public charity organization SAS Ai helps the community in time of devastating floods, storms and typhoons, such as, typhoon Peping that flooded several of the outlying villages. SAS Ai functioned as the central collection point of emergency donations coming from overseas and elsewhere for typhoon victims and disbursing same through the Mayor’s office and the SAS Administrator’s office.

SAS Ai President and CEO, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA, traveled to the Philippines using his own personal funds to officially represent SAS Ai and to take part in this auspicious occasion of presenting the fiesta queen the SAS Ai Education is Freedom trophy. He also traveled there to publicly recognize and present the new 2009 batch of SAS Ai scholars to the town of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur.