Our VP of Sales & Marketing, Melanie P Florentino filed this report:
Dear SAS Ai Family,
Our VP of Sales & Marketing, Melanie P Florentino filed this report:
Dear SAS Ai Family,
In pursuing our mission to help bright kids from poor families finish high school, we come across many special applications or requests for financial aid. One such request came across our desk for consideration earlier this year. We can relate to this story. All of us are just one paycheck away from being homeless.
Maria, (we changed the names to keep the privacy of the parties involved) and her husband Taliofero operated a small cafe-diner. The place was no bigger than four office cubicles joined together, furnished with four tables with four chairs each. The simple menu included many local dishes affordably priced and targeted toward a clientage composed of the local government workers, school faculty and staff and a few students from wealthier families, who carry sizable lunch money allowance. Bottom line, business was booming. Maria was able to send her daughter Donna to private high school.
Then the unimaginable happened. Taliofero had a massive heart attack while cooking a batch of Dinuguan (a local blood pudding delicacy with pork innards). Their sense of loss and grief exponentially doubled as Maria suffered a stroke soon after they buried Taliofero. Utterly devastated, the family began to sell some of their belongings, jewelry and home furnishings to help run the business and to survive. Although it was touching and inspiring to see Maria and Donna try everything to mitigate the ravages of physical handicap and erosion of morale, the situation was nevertheless a portrait of raw despondency and frustration. Creditors repossessed their home. They moved back to Maria’s mother’s house.
Donna was going into her last year of high school. She had been an honor student all three years earlier and actively involved in the school paper as assistant editor. Donna’s bright and shows tremendous potential. But now, out of money and essentially broke, she faces transferring to the public high school. They applied for financial aid so Donna can graduate at the same high school wherein she started.
Our committee didn’t take long to decide. Donna will graduate this year from St Augustine’s School.
Our volunteers who run the everyday business of the SAS Ai financial aid program experienced their labor’s just reward at the graduation ceremonies of our first 2014 class of scholars. They remembered a group of kids, some shy and timid, who joined us in the program last 2009-2010. They were no more than young, tender saplings, newly graduated from intermediate school, filled with dreams and high expectations. They enthusiastically dove in, head first into the school year.
We all remembered the times when some of them faltered, slowed down by the dizzying array and sheer volume of high school work. Pop quizzes, periodic tests, quizzes, exams and research assignments, writing projects, athletic intramural sporting events, and vocational shop classes all added to the burden. But true to their promise they slugged it out and prevailed making all of us so proud. Four of them placed in the honor roll with one finishing as the class salutatorian. At the graduation reception, they stood beaming with pride along with their parents, teachers and mentors. Amid the flurry of activity from the paparazzi, they all thanked our donors and program supporters.“We thank you all, our dear benefactors, donors, and sponsors.
A few members of the Board of Trustees based abroad made it to the Philippines during the graduation ceremony. Joining in the celebration they saw how our newly graduated scholars extended their gratitude and appreciation as they spoke with all the dignitaries and guests. Talk about some happy campers. Our scholars looked so grown up. Where has the time gone? With smiles and grins and small conversations later, our volunteers, donors and supporters all agreed: “It was all worth it – all that sacrifice and labor.”
And so it is.
A television commercial promoting the merits of finishing high school ran for many years, if I remember correctly. Most famous of all in the series showed a young man shopping for a wallet. He comes to a store supposedly owned and run by a Chinese gentleman and a Chinese woman. The customer asks, “Do you carry wallets?”
The man and the woman make eye contact. Their facial expressions both register a palpable sense of skepticism about the customer, as if to say, “Will he be able to pay for it?” They speak in Chinese; no subtitles. The man goes to the back of the store to retrieve a wallet.
Returning to the waiting customer he hands it over to him. It’s a narrow, teeny-weenie wallet. The Chinese man and woman were both holding back bursts of laughter and guffaws. The customer’s facial expression turns from being nice and polite to incredulity. Checking the wallet the young man says, “Why, this is too small,” squinting his eyes directed at the man.
The film narrator takes over the scene at this point and delivers the punch line even as the Chinese proprietors laugh hilariously. “High school graduates make 22% more in wages than their school dropout counterparts. Get smart. Finish your high school GED today.”
Very powerful commercial promoting high school education. For a great majority of Filipinos today, this ad is not necessary to convince them a good high school education is important. Parents want their children to finish not only high school but college, pawning everything they own to finance their children’s education. Filipino parents know that with education come good jobs.
We feel the same way as parents do about education. We believe that bright young minds ought not go to waste just because their families are too poor to send them to school. This is our mission: to help these bright kids finish high school with financial aid. Won’t you join us by donating to the high school fund? Thank you.
Each and every night, after counting her money, she went into dreamless sleep, her ears insulated from the sounds of the world. She had no worries, no fears; just sheer joy in knowing that she had a pile of money at her disposal.
No situation fazed her. She luxuriated on an aire-ride bed taking delight in the fine layers of Turkish quality linen. The rustle of brocade covers combined with the lightness of the goose down stuffed pillows titillated her imagination. The silk sheets provided her with maximum opulence.
As was her nocturnal habit, she counted her cash in the dim candlelight. No bright lights for this lady. That would compromise her privacy. She confidently stashed her cash underneath her mattress. No bank ever won her trust. She contentedly went to sleep each night – the captain of her own destiny.
Out in public, when asked for a small donation for a charitable cause, she would quickly break into a satisfied grin and haughtily declare, “Well, I’d love to help but the money is at home. Really. I don’t carry cash. Maybe some other time.” And off she would go on her merry way.
Her obituary suddenly and unexpectedly showed up in the Church weekly bulletin. Our secretly wealthy lady passed away in her sleep. The emergency responders came to gather her remains. On their way out one of the technicians noticed a dollar bill on the floor but kept on walking.
The next day, the cleaning lady came to clean the apartment as scheduled. She saw Ben Franklin’s image on a hundred-dollar bill lying on the floor by the bed. She remembered the deceased woman very well. There was a time, when she started working there, that she begged the rich woman for a small loan so she could buy some groceries for her family. Of course her plea went unanswered. It was as if the deceased woman was deaf… or feigned deafness.
The cleaning lady went about doing her cleaning routine. Lifting the mattress to tuck in the new sheets, she discovered the deceased woman’s wealth and riches. Money… dollar bills stacked up four deep. The money … inanimate paper… lifeless green bills… just lying there. What good are they to the dearly departed woman now?
Mrs Celestina Bilaoen Bautista (left) – we call her “Cely” – supports our mission to help bright kids from poor families finish high school with financial aid. She staunchly believes that education is freedom.
She’s a retired registered nurse (RN), having worked in the Bronx hospitals of New York city for many years. Earlier in her life before finishing college and earning her Nursing degree, she attended and graduated from St Augustine School in Tagudin, province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. Cely is a member of the famous SAS Class of 1958.
Never one to forget her humble beginnings, Cely is no stranger to hard work and self-reliance. She remembers the goodwill of others bestowed upon her specially when she was first starting her Nursing career. Her success story is our success story. She loves these disadvantaged kids. She backs her hope for their success with her continued support and donations to the high school fund.
Thank you Cely and may God bless you always.
Young people want many things. Sometimes all at once. Young people long for adult supervision; they don’t ask for it outright but by their actions they want and need it. Supervision adds to their feeling of security – that they are acting within the bounds of good and acceptable behavior.
Often, parents reluctantly supervise their school aged children. Why? Because they don’t want to get into heated, volatile and explosive encounters. Part of the growing process sees the dependent child daily expending much effort and energy establishing an identity. The child pushes the envelope in a helter-skelter way, groping, jabbing and kicking at anything and everything.
Mr and Mrs Macanas fully involve themselves with their daughter Juzel Ann’s education. The fruit of that involvement is self-evident. Juzel made it to the honor roll again this year.