Kyle Zyra Lazo, PMA Class 2021


Kyle Zyra Lazo

Kyle Zyra Lazo, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2014-15

SAS Ai stands proud of one of its outstanding scholars, Kyle Zyra Lazo, Batch 2014-15. Congratulations Kyle Zyra!

She was admitted to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), a promising member of PMA Class 2021.

Ms Kyle Zyra was a very disciplined high school student. Her strong suite has always been leadership, team play, a hard driving effort – all traits of a good soldier. She declared early on in the program about her plans to eventually seek a scholarship at PMA and a Congressional commission to serve in the Philippine Armed Forces as a commissioned officer.

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Cadet Lazo’s first photo at PMA

Her dreams came true. She was admitted to PMA.

But before she could outright enroll and register at the military academy, Kyle Zyra had to work very hard to prepare for the very competitive nationwide admissions test that also included a multi-faceted and rigorous physical exertion test culminating in a thorough physical examination.

May 28, 2019. It was incorporation day. Kyle Zyra was formally admitted to the academy on this day and became a proud member of PMA Class 2021.

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Cadet Lazo in full dress uniform

PMA Cadet Lazo, fully attired in her dress uniform, stood at attention by her neatly made up bunk,  awaiting further orders.

Notice the clean, spartan and minimal amenities that furnishes a cadet’s sleeping quarters.

Before the official day of incorporation, and while Kyle Zyra went through the processing phases, she stayed in a transient barracks along with the other cadets. Her family was granted a few minutes every day to visit with her.

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Mr Lazo and Cadet Kyle Zyra Lazo

Here is Mr Lazo (photo at right) visiting with Cadet Kyle Zyra Lazo at the transient barracks. Notice how proudly Mr Lazo stands by his daughter.

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On a Bivouac

A helmeted Kyle Zyra Lazo (left bottom) grinning and enjoying the trek, along with another cadet who participated in a bivouac during her physical training prior to being admitted at the academy.

We at SAS Ai feel privileged to have reached out and extended financial aid to Kyle Zyra Lazo’s high school education – an excellent investment.

We thank our generous donors who believe in and stand by our mission and cause and who support all the kids in the program. We thank our many supporters, benefactors, and volunteers for believing that Education is Freedom. Below photo is Kyle Zyra Lazo’s graduating class of 2014-15. She stands second from the left in the front row.

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(L-R) Front Row:  Leonardjon Buenavista (BOT), Kyle Zyra Lazo, Kristine Joy Cardenas, Kim Shelly Tan, Melvie Legaspina, Melanie P Florentino (SAS Ai President & CEO). (L-R) Back Row:  Albert Bunoan (Fld Ops VP), Everlyn Jamandra, Maiah Genelle Dauz, Mariella Stephanie Tacho (Graduating Class Valedictorian), Rocel Ann Vinluan, Krisha Teodosio, Geraldine Layco, and Tina Laycano (SAS Ai Auditor)

 

“We Gave Them Everything. . .”


FatherMasonryWork

Masonry is hard backbreaking work.

Parents, at some point, lament their having been so doting, caring, and overly giving to their kids. Specially when things go awry. Their child gradually turns deaf, steadily becomes belligerent, goes wild and joins the tattooed, chain and stud-adorned masses. What went wrong?

Psychologists write volumes on human behavioral case studies, on human bowling balls hitting the gutters, on dysfunctional families. They write, analyze and endlessly discuss humans gone bad and enmeshed in hopeless situations.

Our case is simple enough. The parents work tirelessly. For those who are fortunate, Grandma and Grandpa help babysit. In most cases, the kids come home to an empty dwelling. Towards the end of the day, the parents come home from work, dragging, tired, hungry, irritable, angry at what happened at the plant, office, or ward. They eat in silence too tired to converse. After a beer and some TV they crash.

After her husband died, she suffered a severe stroke

Operating a small cafeteria is just as demanding.

Meanwhile, the child’s sequestered in his or her bedroom, playing Nintendo, Xbox, or Smartphone, laptop or any Internet capable gadget. They’re into texting, sexting, nexting, whatever. Heaven only knows what sort of pornography the child accesses.

In school there’s bad company. The kid feels no self-worth. Feeling worthless, wimpy and below par, the kid invites rough treatment from other students. The wish to belong and to be accepted mounts. The kid wants to be cool. His parents don’t and can’t give this brand of coolness – but some kids in school can. The kid gravitates towards the vortex of cool and gets sucked in. Bad company, bad habits, vices, addictions. . . even glorified promiscuity and the lack of regard for authority. Immorality, depravity, and sexual perversions come next, heavily accented by failing grades.

The parents throw up their hands and despondently cry out, “We gave them everything… we slaved and toiled so they could have everything we never had. And now this?”

Melanie gifts

At SAS Ai we look after the welfare of our students.

At SAS Ai, our Field Operations Team looks after the welfare of our students. We make no room for bad attitudes. We stop such unwanted seeds from germinating. We acknowledge our students for their hard work in school, and we recognize them for their good grades, exemplary behavior, and academic progress. We promote a positive attitude, gratefulness and good citizenship.

At SAS Ai we ask our students to help their parents with their chores at home in addition to their rigorous homework studies. We inspire them to collaborate, coöperate, and work as a team.

We offer mentoring, coaching, and encourage group study sessions. We believe in our students being tech savvy. We offer Virtual Classroom activities, Internet Cafe for research and electronic mail.

Students meet with President & CEO


PresidentJULscholarsCRPDLast July, President & CEO, Mr Leonardjon L Buenavista took a special trip to the Philippines to meet with the students who take part in the SAS Ai financial aid program. Mr Buenavista paid for his own trip and expenses. SAS Ai gave no funds to help defray the cost of his visit.

For the benefit of our donors and supporters, we want to state this upfront to reinforce our statement that we do not have any administrative costs connected with our financial aid program.

The meeting agenda included topics on leadership, teamwork, peer-to-peer help, group study, and participation in the Virtual Classroom activities. By all accounts, everybody had a great time. The meeting enhanced camaraderie among the students and provided student access to SAS Ai’s officers. Field Operations VP, Albert D Bunoan helped set up and conduct the meeting.

Things were going great and then. . .


After her husband died, she suffered a severe stroke

After her husband died, she suffered a severe stroke sending everything into a tailspin

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.

 

Dogs Don’t Chase Parked Cars


Dogs Chasing Moving Truck

Dogs Chasing Moving Truck

“Dogs don’t chase parked cars,” my father was fond of saying. It seemed as if it was his “Ultimate Windex” canned response to all dirt, grime and slime problems submitted to him for clean up consideration.

I remember telling my father about a problem I had with another high school paper staff writer. Every day this boy would scream and yell at me, “You don’t know how to write! You can’t write. You have no idea what you are doing! What are you doing here?”

“Sheeessh…” I thought. He could at least show me where I was falling short, help me correct my mistakes, or how I can improve my style – whatever. Not this constant ridicule, personal attacks and public humiliation. But no such luck. The harassment went on. I said nothing to the Principal or home room teacher about the boy and his hostile actions. I let his juvenile outbursts slide.

The editor in chief, a teacher assigned to head the paper, would intervene and get in between me and the bully – if she were there present in the room. There were times it would be just me and the agitator in the room and I would suffer much from his bellicose attitude and taunts. I’d bite my lip so hard my inner mouth lining bled or formed packets of blood clots. I didn’t want to fight the boy. Honest. I wasn’t afraid of him. I dreaded suspension and shaming my parents in front of the priests and nuns who ran the school.

Talking to my father and pouring out my troubles gave me a sense of calm. “Dogs don’t chase parked cars,” he said it again. “You’re doing something right for that paper… you’re on the move,” he continued. “Why else would this boy act so agitated toward you? Almost seems as if he wants you out of there. Too much competition maybe?”

My father’s words sank in, percolated, and like cream rose to the surface. I took my cue and thought to myself. “If I were a car, why would this dog be chasing me?” A window burst open in my mind and streaming sunshine came pouring in. “Of course! If I were a car… hey, I am not a parked car. You know? I am moving!” I laughed and hugged my father. “Thank you Sir…” I managed to blurt out as I ran out to the yard.

Monday morning. The editor called me in to her office. “You’ve got the interview with the President of the University. I am assigning it to you because you’ve earned it. You write more like a journalist as opposed to a comic book writer.” She looked refreshed, glad and ready for the week. “Here…” she held out an envelope and motioned for me to take it.

I gasped as I regained my breath. Good grief. I didn’t even realize I had stopped breathing. “I… I… thanks Ms David. When is the President coming to visit?” I asked as I stepped closer to her desk.

“Here’s the assignment packet.” She handed me a brown envelope. “All the information is in there. Familiarize yourself with the dates, times, venues, and talk with his personal secretary to schedule the interview. You might as well do the whole kit and caboodle.” Ms David seemed pleased with her decision.

It was a moment to celebrate… It felt good to be recognized for one’s own work ethic and performance. Indeed, dogs don’t chase parked cars.

“Work for Food”


Why...

Why…

The man stood by the crossing holding a cardboard sign that read:  “Work for food.” I wondered how long he had stood there in the oppressive heat with nothing to cover his balding head. By his feet lay a plastic shopping bag, a back-up sign, and what looked like a tarp from some military surplus store, heaped with all his meager belongings.

I began to wonder as I drove away if he would eat that day. Would a concerned soul offer him a job or a meal; it was getting late in the afternoon. I tried to catch a parting glimpse of him via the rear-view mirror. I thought to myself, “Was he homeless perhaps? Or maybe just an itinerant wanderer?” I didn’t know what to think. But I’ve always been one to lean toward the right – that if I have to wash dishes, flip burgers or dig ditches to eat I would. It bothered me to think about how could such a man allow himself to descend into the pits so that he has to beg for food?

I know I am judging and I shouldn’t. Forgive me. There are a myriad reasons why we do the things we do. For all I know he could be an undercover agent on a stake out. Or a man stepping out to avoid being sequestered at home with his nagging wife. Who knows? And here I am playing “here come the judge…”.

I arrived at the grocery store, bought the items on my shopping list and on the way out stopped at the store’s food counter. “A double cheeseburger, fries, large soda to go please.” I retraced the same route home. Yup there he was, sign in hand, still hoping, still waiting. Pulling over to the side where he stood I turned on my emergency signal as I stepped out of my vehicle to approach him. A surprised look formed on his face. He probably expected me to offer him a job. I handed him the bag of food. “Just a little something… hope it helps.”

Reaching for the bag, he looked into my eyes momentarily. I saw his eyes grow misty. They glistened in the afternoon sun. He took hold of the bag and with a parched voice he said, “May God bless you brother. Thank you.” I wept all the way home. I know the statistic: We are only one paycheck away from being homeless.

Changing Certain Attitudes


Planting rice seedlings

Planting rice seedlings

“Good morning Sir. I am Albert Bunoan from SAS Ai. We are here to visit Rosa your daughter. Rosa said she wanted to attend St Augustine School (SAS).” Albert extended his hand to Rosa’s father hoping for a good handshake.

“Very good Mistro, (mistro means teacher)” the man replied, calling Rosa in the next instant. “Rosa… Rosa…”

Rosa came down. She smiled when she saw Albert. “Good morning Sir,” she greeted Albert waving her hand.

Albert asked Rosa, “Did you tell your parents about your plan to apply for financial aid? And that you want to attend SAS high school?”

“Yes Sir,” replied Rosa. Then looking her father’s way, she continued, “But Sir I think my father is not in favor.”

Taking his cue from Rosa, the father spoke. “Mistro… if it is all the same, we appreciate your gesture but I think Rosa will go to public school because we do not have money to send her to SAS. Also, she will just get married and have children. What good is the money spent? To spend money for women’s education is wasting money.”

Albert somehow knew he had reached an impasse – perhaps a temporary one – but he didn’t have the time nor the inclination to try to change the man’s thinking. What a pity and how sad… he thought inwardly as he left.

Albert walked away heavy-hearted. From his conversations with Rosa, Albert knew she had smarts and potential. Good grades, active in the community and with the little children in Church Sunday school. Rosa wanted success. Her desire showed brightly in her earlier conversations with Albert. She wanted to attend a good school and would work hard to get into a financial aid program.

Fast forward the tape.

Clearly, local folks harbor strange, lingering attitudes and notions about women, girls – specially their young daughters. Outside of having babies and keeping house, to them women have nothing else to give to society. As a result of this ingrained, wrong attitude toward women, these local farm folks will not even entertain other possibilities for their daughters besides working around the farm.

We hope to change these outdated attitudes. We aim to spotlight the performance results of our students for them to see. Perhaps as they observe how well the kids do and how assuredly they finish high school, maybe then they will relent and recognize their daughters.