Letter from a High School Graduate


Dear Sir,

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(L-R) Mr Macanas, Juzel Ann Macanas, and Mrs Macanas on graduation day

Life is like a game… a Game of Chances. There are different challenges, levels of achievement, rewards, successes, failures, and even “draws” where you don’t win, don’t lose, but just break even, or move laterally.

The most scary part of this Game of Chances, I think, is the inevitable end when you see the “pop up” that says, “Game Over!” And you are left asking, “How did I do?”

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Mr Macanas pinning high honors award on Juzel Ann’s lapel

I am finally finished and successfully done with the “Achievement Level 2” in my life, called high school or secondary education. “Level 1” for me, of course, was Elementary school.

In negotiating Level 2, I endured all the emotions – happiness, sadness, hurt feelings, disappointments, craziness, embarrassing moments, foolish pride, being sickly, stressful moments – even while recovering from sickness, and eventually feeling better. And many more.

Many challenges came and went. Some disguised like homework, pop quizzes, research activities, journalistic reporting and the like. Some involved my own personal problems, notions of inadequacy, and lack of sleep. Sometimes in level 2, the Game of Chances told me I failed, or I lacked something, or I needed more improvement. But even then I still played, and never gave up giving the game my best shot.

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Classmates pose for a group photo

My allies and friends helped me get by – fortunately – and of course I speak of my parents, teachers, friends, SAS Ai, and God. SAS Ai rewarded me with awards, recognized my efforts, encouraged and inspired me to continue on. SAS Ai gave me strength, motivation, eagerness to improve, and the heart to courageously face and surmount obstacles.

Being a member of the first batch of graduating 12th grade Senior High School (new K-12 program) in our country makes me feel special. It makes me feel proud. Not getting the graduating class “GOLD” medal however, saddens me a bit because I feel I disappointed all of you. But I am happy to say that I received many “BEST” awards in different areas:

  • Outstanding Student List – first and second semester (the entire school year)
  • Parangal Awardee – Best Cartoonist and News Writer of our school paper “Aweng”
  • Best in Mathematics
  • Best in Accounting
  • Best in Applied Economics
  • Best in Organization and Management
  • Best in Business Finance
  • Best in Filipino
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My parents and I went up the stage many times to receive the BEST awards

I feel that the BEST awards were declared spontaneously, unplanned, and not part of the main program. As the unexpected winners were announced, tension covered the floor. Each and every time my name was called out for a BEST award, my parents and I walked up the stage, received the award, and went back to our seats. We did this many times and each and every time my name was called, the audience, teachers, staff, and students erupted in uproarious applause. It was surreal. They clapped, screamed, screeched, yelled, beat their seats with blunt instruments to make noise.

For each of those fleeting moments, I owned the stage. I felt like I was the only star twinkling brightly in a starless sky. I will never forget the experience. And in the backdrop, all my hard work, the sweat, the tears, and sacrifices faded and vanished into thin air, like wisps of smoke, in light of the immensity of the awards.

My parents, not to be outdone, dubbed me “Class Valedictorian”. I had to laugh a little. I knew they were way too biased. But I love them both for their loving gesture and kindness.

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Juzel Ann Macanas

Now, I face the next level of the Game of Chances. I expect this step up level to be more difficult, and riskier to negotiate. Where will I continue my studies? Are there college scholarships out there for which I can qualify and apply? Questions. This much I know. Saint Louis College looms largely in my sights as my next school. I want to pursue a BS degree in Accountancy.

I am faithfully hoping God will guide and help me through my search, and guide me through my next challenge level. He always has. I know he always will.

Thank you so much SAS Ai for investing in me and my high school education. Thank you to all our benefactors, donors, and supporters. I hope I will be able to pay it forward, just as you have exemplified with your financial aid program.

Sincerely yours,

Juzel Ann B. Macanas
SAS Ai Batch 2018

 

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May 30, 2018 Graduation Ceremonies


Congratulations to our students (in the program) who are graduating and who made it to the OUTSTANDING STUDENT list.

Well done!

PonceOS2018Leo Joshua Ponce

Leo was in 7th grade. Today, he moves up with a well deserved promotion to the 8th grade.

Mr & Mrs Ponce proudly pinned the outstanding ribbon on Leo Joshua’s shirt, congratulating him.

They sent a very nice note to SAS Ai, expressing their gratitude for the program that helps Leo Joshua and other well deserving students attend SAS high school.

They also expressed their most sincere appreciation of being part of the SAS Ai family. Mr & Mrs Ponce assist at various SAS Ai functions held for the benefit of the kids in the program.

GarciaCarlaNicoleCarla Nicole Garcia

Carla Nicole was an 8th grade student this past school year (2017-18). She maintained good grades, good study habits and was duly rewarded with an outstanding student award in both semesters.

Next school year (2018-19)? We are sure she is poised to join the 9th grade class and to be in the list of outstanding students again. She’s that talented.

Her family, relatives, friends no doubt are so proud of her accomplishments.

Congratulations Carla Nicole on a very good year!

MusniMomCrpdMaxin Angelo Musni

Maxin Angelo is quickly becoming a household name all around the SAS campus. Maxin participates in extracurricular activities such as, drama, campus journalism, and other scientific out-of-the-classroom projects.

He attended SAS as an 8th grade student (2017-18), graduating with outstanding student honors. He is moving up, reaping his rewards, with a promotion to 9th grade come school year (2018-19).

Maxin’s Mom (see photo at left) stands so proud by her son. Congratulations to both for a job well done!

 

 

Batch 1984 Reunion 2015


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SAS Batch 1984 Reunion 2015

Reunions overflow with joy, mirth, nostalgia, and unabashed sentimentality. It’s good to see and catch up with friends, classmates, bosom buddies, and former compatriots in crime.

 

At the class reunion old classmates go back in time to relive their high school days. Oh, there are embellished accounts of crushes and objects of affection. There are untold tales that remain unmentioned, sealed in the hearts of those who hold secrets even when their guard is pulled down by libations liberally flowing and the Karaoke machine blaring the old Elvis tunes.

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“Come Let’s Dance…”

“I’ll take it to my grave,” said one quiet and demure lady nursing her bottle of beer.

“If he doesn’t know it by now, how I suffered over the years pining and longing for him to recognize me – well, I guess he’ll never know. Damn him.”

She took a disinterested sip of her beer as she resigned herself to her gloom.

 

“Hey, come on. Let’s dance. Forget that guy. He’s probably dead by now anyway.” But the words didn’t give her any comfort.

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The guys told the same old jokes

The guys were laughing so hard, telling old jokes they have all told and laughed at before. They croaked like animated toads emerging from their mud holes in the first rains of May. Some of them glanced at the ladies.

 

“Hey Mah Jong, did you know that she had a crush on you?” remarked one, no longer sober guy as he pointed his nose at the direction of one of the ladies.

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The ladies were looking good!

“Is she still single?” asked a curios Mah Jong.

 

“Dunno. Why don’t you ask her?” The guys actually giggled and guffawed at this remark.

“What? Ay yay yay. Such small talk. But it’s a reunion, right? Don’t be such a square. Enjoy!”

The night wore on. Food was spread on the tables. Serving platters were replenished again and again. Plates were filled and refilled.

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SAS Batch 1984 Reunion 2015

Everybody had a great time, a grand old time.

Reunions are great!

No Place Like Home


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South China Sea coast of long ago

At thirteen I convinced myself I had already earned my doctorate degree, all done with school, done with education. I saw myself standing, resplendent in my purple toga, proud as can be towering way above the crowd of high school kids all clamoring for recess. I had my Walter Mitty moments and daydreamed a lot. Why, the propeller sounds of a Pan

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Far away places with strange-sounding names

American airliner flying overhead from Hong Kong to Manila could make me imagine “far away places with strange-sounding names.”

 

Yes, and only in my mind was I a PhD having earned it at the University of Hard Knocks.

I couldn’t wait to leave home to explore the world. School was a drag. Earning one’s keep was so unnecessary. Looking back now, I tell myself, “What a fool. How could you leave paradise? The willowy coconut trees, the pristine waters of the South China Sea, deserted beaches stretching for miles, the wind in your face and a carefree lifestyle away from an industrialized world.”

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This carabao is wise beyond his age

The wise elders used to admonish us kids: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” I was intrigued. And it’s true. Come to think of it, why does the grass always look greener on the other side? Is that why the carabao always wants to move to another field to graze disregarding the lush zacate grass upon which it stands?

I remember I had on a pair of Elpo rubber shoes. I hated them. What I wanted was a pair of Converse All Star shoes. From America. Made in USA. For some reason the Converse shoes were all the rage and I wanted to wear that which was in vogue so I could be in. Thinking about it now, my pair of locally manufactured black and gray Elpo rubber shoes were just as good and fine. They protected my feet walking to and from school. They did their job.

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Rice Fields in Ambalayat

Can I ever go back home again? Not according to the wise sage. Because you see, home is no longer as it was when I was young and growing up. The place has changed and what I expect to see is no longer there. Even the familiar faces – friends, relatives – they are no longer there. Home is a now an entirely different place.

Am I longing for the past? Maybe. There is a saying about leaving part of your heart someplace specially if the pleasure of the stay is so intense it gets seared in the mind. Perhaps that was it. I loved my childhood spent back in Farola… the little fishing enclave by the South China Sea.

Whatever Happened to. . .


“I’m so glad to get out of this concentration camp!” Carmen declared as she received her high school diploma. Somewhat hot-headed, she’s had several run-ins with the school principal, Reverend Mother Marie Cabrini. Carmen was a straight A student. Excellent in athletics she represented the school in the inter-provincial intramural contests as the varsity volleyball team captain. Under her leadership they have won titles two seasons in a row.

That summer we heard Carmen won a full athletic scholarship to the University of the Philippines, the most prestigious college in the entire Philippine archipelago. It came as no surprise. The class overwhelmingly voted Carmen most likely to succeed. Carmen’s good fortune was the talk of the town. Her securing a full scholarship inspired many from her graduating class. Even those who had no plans of attending college. Why, the news even prompted Dalub Guro, an otherwise shy and timid geeky young man, to apply for acceptance at Saint Louis University in Baguio City. Dalub was going to just hang out, watch the bull rushes grow by the sloughs of Barangay Dardarat and gather edible snails and frogs.

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Carmen’s Family – (L-R) Muslim Pearl Diver Limahong Al Habandi, Limahong’s mother Palestra, two older children, and Carmen holding the baby.

Their graduating class held a reunion recently. A little over half the class attended. For many, class reunions turn out either good or bad depending on many factors. That’s one reason for the low turnout. Some class members had gone overseas to work, many of them settling for mundane, domestic jobs. Most of the overseas workers didn’t make it to the reunion. Carmen was not in attendance. Everybody looked for her. She was nowhere to be found.

Dalub Guru was there though. Resplendent in a three-piece suit, Dalub was a changed personality. He was no longer shy and timid. He had gotten rid of his terrible acne, traded his thick horn-rimmed glasses for contact lenses and took on the persona of a Tommy Lee Jones. There were rumors that Carmen wound up in Mindanao teaching Math and Science at a local high school. During a class excursion to the coast that Carmen supervised, a secret admirer, a Muslim pearl diver, one of her older students in her class allegedly abducted her. He kept her sequestered in his house for at least six months before letting her free. She married him unwillingly. But as dictated by the local laws and morality rules she had no choice.

Class reunions, where, “Whatever happened to. . . .?” questions allow folks to catch up with former classmates. Class reunions, where the answers given are bound to shock you.

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.

Some Things Don’t Change


IndiaFruitStandWQOkay you are here. Well, what do you think?

Without zooming in to the picture and closely investigating the pasted bills on the walls, can you tell where this fruit stand is just by looking at the bananas, the structure itself and the bicycle and motorcycle in front? You bet you can.

I looked at this picture and immediately jumped on choice (a) Irisan road to Baguio City. These fruit stands dot the roadside from Bauang, Naguilian to Moonglo, to Irisan and so on. The structure looks the same, the thatched nipa roof is the same, the vegetation is the same. You get the picture. But, just to keep things straight, this fruit stand is in India. Yes, India. It could be in Bangalore, Madras, or even close to the Taj Mahal.

And for that matter, this fruit stand could be in Ulan Bator, Mandalay, the Silk Road, or it could even be in Sr i-langka or Java. I saw a fruit stand just like it in Costa Rica up on a mountain road somewhere towards San Jose. This same type of fruit stand can be found in many parts of the Philippines, in Nueva Ecija, Abra, Sorsogon, Cagayan de Oro. You can find this fruit stand in the outskirts of Singapore, or in the New Territories outside Kowloon.

There are some things that don’t change. In my experience, when I come to a place or structure that shares the same features of the places and buildings reminding me of home I feel a strange sense of déjà vu. The sensation is strange because you know you stand on strange soil yet your eyes perceive familiar sights. The atmosphere suddenly becomes charged with a mixture of nostalgia, homesickness, maudlin and sentimental emotions. There you stand, transfixed by your surroundings in a timeless moment of eternity.