FAROLA and SAS Ai – Beacons


The “Farola” or Lighthouse helps ships at sea. Barangay Farola got its name after this lighthouse.

“Barangay” Farola (meaning barrio Farola, or a village named Farola) got its name from this lighthouse structure erected by the US Army Corps of Engineers when the Philippines was a US Territory and Commonwealth. In the local vernacular the word lighthouse translates to “Farola”.

This Farola stands along the shores of the South China Sea, in the town of Tagudin, province of Ilocos Sur, island of Luzon to warn mariners of dangerous rocks and shoals. Serving its purpose well, this lighthouse safely guided many nighttime landings of US troops during World War II.

To draw a purposeful parallel between SAS Ai and this lighthouse, we can cite the inherent benefit of financial aid to disadvantaged kids so they can attend high school. Just as the lighthouse guides the mariners safely on their charted courses, SAS Ai aids disadvantaged students toward earning their high school diplomas at SAS.

In many ways SAS Ai has become the beacon to other financial aid providers by showing them ways to properly carry out their program, by standing tall and exemplifying true leadership in the non-profit sector.


SAS Ai at the 2010 Centennial

Scholars and Parents

SAS Ai scholars and their parents attend briefing before the community picnic

SAS Ai participated in the 2010 SAS Centennial celebration in a major way, offering three venues and activities for all those attending and members of the community at large. The community picnic, headed by Tina Laycano and Andring Ladi involved all the scholars and their parents, members of the Field Team, members of the Board of Trustees who were visiting from abroad, and the SAS Ai President and CEO, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA.

In the above photo we see the scholars seated in front with their parents seated directly in back of them. Scholars from left to right, Cristina Javier, Mirasol Literato, Ina Gabaldon, Michelle Pera and Jessa Lastimosa (who has since graduated) listen to the briefing. Members of the Field Team also sat at the back.

The community picnic proved successful serving close to 1750 people.

Board Members Visit with SAS Ai Scholars

BOT Visit

Board of Trustees members visiting SAS and the SAS Ai scholars

(Above photo L-R) Willie Santamaria, Albert Bunoan, Virginia Buban (in back), Aleli Mae Villaros (in front), Remy Sagun, and Louella Bayan enjoy an afternoon visit with tea and sweet rice cakes.

Board of Trustees (BOT) members Willie Santamaria and Virginia Buban, both based in California visit with Field Team members Albert Bunoan (Field Team Leader), Aleli Mae Villaros, Remy Sagun and Louella Bayan. They filed a report of a very productive meeting and visit to the board and to the Scholarship Committee.

Willie’s and Virginia’s itineraries included visits with the SAS Ai scholars on the SAS school campus. The unplanned visit by members of the BOT delighted and surprised the scholars. The Field Team gathered the scholars, the rest of the Field Team and arranged a quick luncheon meeting with the two BOT members. Discussions covered ideas from Virginia detailing plans of sponsoring more scholars. Currently we sponsor four students each year.

Counting on charitable and generous friends and donors, we look toward a successful fund-raising campaign. We fully intend to continue with the financial aid program even if we can only raise enough money to support one student per year.

The Woman in the Rain

Lunch viands

The modest dinner table. We were ready to eat. Then a knock came at the front door.

Monsoon season. Rain with no let up. Day and night torrential rains pounded the sandy soil. Alleys became wadis and the dirt road a huge mud hole. The South China Sea roiled and cavorted pounding the fragile shore with unusually large waves. None of the village fishermen who lived close to the river’s edge could launch their outriggers. To the village fisherman, no fish, no rice, no food. The monsoon held back the fishermen from plying their trade and earning their keep.

We lived a quarter of a kilometer away from the sea. We relied on my parents’ buy and sell business for our sustenance. My parents planned for the monsoon season, storing enough grain to last during extended rainfall. That day we helped prepare dinner and set a modest table of toasted dried fish, ginger black beans, wakame seaweed salad, steamed rice, hot pickled peppers, ripe mangoes, and sweetsop.

My father led the prayer before meals and we sat down to eat. A knock came at the front door. “Go see who it is,” my mother said addressing no one in particular while she placed the bowl of seaweed salad on the table.

I got up and ambled toward the front door opening it. A woman in a mu-mu stood in the pouring rain. A tattered towel covered her head partly covering her face. She bit at the two ends of the towel to keep it in place. Water cascaded from the towel folds down her face, neck and body. I stood there too stunned to speak. I forgot my manners.

“Who is it?” my mother asked.

The woman answered, “Missus, I am Soledad from the river’s edge.”

“Please come in,” my mother walked over to the door, pushing me aside gently. “My goodness boy,” my mother said looking at me, “where are your manners? Can’t you see Soledad is soaking wet?”

“Come in, come in… please,” my mother looked at Soledad imploringly.

“Please Missus, I am soaking wet and your floor,” Soledad started to cry.

In a comforting tone my mother reassured Soledad, “What’s wrong my dear girl… never mind the floor, come in out of that rain before you catch a cold.”

Soledad stood in the rain. “Missus, my family, the kids… we haven’t eaten in two days. There is no rice. Please I beg you loan us even just five cups. We will pay you in fish when the waters calm down and my husband can set his nets again.” She was sobbing by now.

“Oh Soledad,” my mother said, “we only have enough rice for a couple more days. I am so sorry…”

From where he sat at the dinner table my father heard the entire exchange. My father signaled my mother to come back to the kitchen. I followed my mother to the kitchen. “Just give her the rice she needs,” my father said reassuringly to my mother. “God will make sure we have enough. He always does.”

Just like that. My mother put five cups of rice in a plastic bag and handed it to Soledad who by now was drowning in the rain and in her tears. Soledad tucked the plastic bag close to her breast and bidding my mother goodbye she hurriedly cleared the gate on her way home.

I never forgot that exchange of words between my mother and the woman in the rain. Neither have I forgotten my father’s reassuring words to my mother: “God will make sure we have enough. He always does.”