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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11th Grade Class Topnotcher, Daniella Lazo


Daniella Lazo

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Daniella Lazo

Daniella graduated on top of her 11th grade class, garnering the highest of honors.

She is poised to move up to 12th grade next school year (2018-19). Congratulations Daniella. You make us very proud.

Daniella’s academic record is impeccable. With her positive, outgoing, and friendly attitude, she contributes actively to classroom discussions, participating in various learning activities.

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Daniella Lazo’s Mom pinning one of her many top award ribbons

Her class attendance and good sense of punctuality remained solid and unbroken throughout the year. She is actively involved in her community in the practice of her faith, and in the mission of her church.

Daniella stands as the perfect example of an excellent, hard working, and focused student. She helps other scholars in the SAS Ai program by tutoring and by peer-to-peer coaching. She is collaborative and a very supportive team player during school projects.

(All photos courtesy of Ms Margarita Bayan, SAS Ai Student Affairs & Activities Coordinator)

Summer Rain


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Calesa Row

It was a beautiful day – salubrious weather, a gentle breeze, quiet, empty streets – the calesas have all gone. Most of the produce merchants have sold their vegetables, fruits, and root crops. The fishermen have sold their catch.

The only folks left in the open market place were the vendors of clothing, blacksmiths from Sinait who locally made and produced machetes, and kitchen knives. In the mix were some folks from the north who handcrafted clay pots for cooking, and hardwood pieces of furniture. They were packing their wares ever so carefully and loading them into Conestoga-like wagons pulled by oxen.

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Panday Sinait

The skies remained clear. Not even an errant sliver of cloud marred the bright rays of the sun. Oppressive heat waves radiated from the simmering surface of the asphalt road.

Then, out of nowhere, droplets of water fell from the cloudless sky. At first, just a few tentative drops.

But with increasing intensity and volume, the staccato beat and sound of raindrops overwhelmed the immediate surroundings.

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Playing in the Rain

Even a tin can littering a ditch hit by dense raindrops rang out a syncopated note… a nice counterpoint to the rhythm of the falling rain.

I loved to watch the roiling muddy waters race through the network of ditches.

The fine dust that covered the hot road surface doused by the rain gave off a unique scent of cleansing.

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Monsoon

 

The memory of that smell stays with me to this day.

I’ve traveled the world. I could never find a place that emitted and gave out such aromas, smells and scents – in the rain – as those I smelled as a child growing up in my hometown of Tagudin.

 

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!

Today, I’m Grateful for


Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

“Just in case you were wondering what to be thankful for, just feel your pulse.”

Got up this morning and automatically went through my routine. Stretch. Bend. Touch  toes. Reach. Flex. Yawn. Shake. Bathroom. Shower. Toothbrush. Shave-splash. Socks-shorts-shirt. Trousers-tie. Coat. Shoes. Briefcase. Phone. Car. Keys. Drive. Office.

“Good morning folks,” I greeted a group of co-workers as I passed them by the coffee station. “Don’t drink it all; leave some for me.”

“Mornin’. It’s Monday. What are you so happy about?” one of the women feigned a snide remark.

“Good to be alive!” I shouted back hurrying to my work station.

Reaching my cubicle, I plopped my case on the counter, turned on my PC, hung up my coat and reached for my coffee mug. “Thank you Lord for helping me through today’s morning commute,” I prayed underneath my breath as I proceeded to the coffee station.

The beverage station emptied quickly. The group had already gone back to their Call Center stations. The morning shift change was underway. I filled up my mug. The strong, steaming, delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee overwhelmed my nostrils. I took in a deep breath. “Ummmm… now that, is coffee.”

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Nothing like a fresh hot cup of Java in the morning…

For the first time in a very long time I paused in the middle of an exhale excursion. A strong sense of gratitude ran over me and I felt the urge to pray. “Thank you God for coffee beans… for my cup of Java. Bless those who grow them, those who harvest them, those who process and grind them, and those who package them into those coffee cans they stack up in the stores for us to buy. Lord I am grateful for this cup of fresh coffee this morning. What a blessing and I thank you.”

Man, that felt good. I should do this more often, you know, express my gratitude for blessings received. It is the right thing to do.

Typhoon “Lawin” Damage

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Convent Roof Compromised

If my memory serves me right, the last typhoon that flooded Tagudin and outlying areas, tore up buildings and homes happened earlier this year or sometime late last year. That storm brought rains that made the river waters rise, overflowing its banks, inundating its tributaries with tons of water-borne mud, rocks, and debris that came raging downstream. Barangays like Sawat were cut off and the emergency response units had to ferry folks and their livestock to higher ground on make shift rubber rafts and other motorized water craft.

Another typhoon came by recently, only this time it didn’t spare the town proper. It directly hit the Sister’s convent. The hurricane-force winds tore up the convent roof made up largely of nailed corrugated tin sheets. Once the tiny swirls of dervishes (tornadoes) whirling along the fringes

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Ceiling slats couldn’t keep the rain off of convent furnishings

of the major gusts found the exposed seams of the corrugated tin sheets, it was only a matter of time until the entire roof was ripped off of its sub-roof foundations and underlayment.

With the roof compromised, the convent became a veritable open vessel for the torrential downpour. You can just imagine the devastating effect of the unchecked water pouring freely on exposed furniture, books, filing cabinets, chapel statuary, beds, linens, and other household items.

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Mayor Jun Verzosa inspecting the damage to the Sisters Convent

Headed by Mayor Jun Verzosa, local government officials inspected the damage to assess the repair costs. The ICM Sisters sent out requests for financial help to the alumni at large. SAS Batch 1958, headed by Mr & Mrs Niceto and Delia Batac of San Diego, CA., along with Engr Apolonio and Emilie Villanueva, Mr & Mrs Sam and Lolita Hassan, Mr & Mrs Fred and Margarita Lasmarias to name a few, immediately collected contributions and sent the amount to Sr. Nida

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SAS Class 1958 at the SAS Centennial

Buyuccan, ICM and Sr. Connie Gacutan, ICM.

We ask all fellow Augustinians to please take a few moments to make a generous donation toward the repair of the badly damaged Sister’s Convent. Thank you.

“Learn to Concentrate…”


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Our SAS Ai scholars pose for a group photo during a quarterly scheduled meeting

“You must learn to concentrate,” the home room teacher, Mrs Salve Lascota advised one of her brighter students. “There are just too many distractions out there. You cannot let your mind wander.”

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Heavily distracted

Young Cristina nodded her head. “Thanks Ma’am Bing,” she replied, somewhat embarrassed for having been caught daydreaming. She redirected her gaze from the window back to her desktop. She even shook her head lightly – as if to clear the cobwebs that seemed to cover her brain. It was two o’clock in the afternoon and she felt drowsy. She and her buddies had generous servings of Halo-Halo topped with ice cream – a deadly combination of high sugar and fat.

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Halo-Halo with Ice Cream

She seemed to take in the advice. But… then she thought, “Concentrate on what? What could Ma’am Bing be talking about?” Cristina is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. She is a bright young lady, serious and motivated, who dreams of being a dental hygienist someday. But man, it’s hard to stay awake in class in the afternoon, in the oppressive heat, in the asphyxiating humidity. Add to that Mrs Lascota’s sing-song-y presentations that’s so soothing it can lull, even an ornery Tasmanian devil, to sleep.

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Infatuation can be distracting

Truth be told, Cristina is distracted. Big time. And she knows it. It’s that Aglosolos boy from Libtong. Yes, he is a bit rough around the edges, sometimes rude and often ill-mannered but he is a solid young man with a great personality. Charming, crafty, and clever as the asp that long ago coiled around the apple tree in the garden of Eden and seduced Mother Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. So Cristina drifts into dreamland every now and then, thinking about that Aglosolos boy who haunts her every waking moment.

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Concentration

Ah… the perils of puppy love. Infatuation. First awakenings. And in high school, things can morph into a wilderness scenario so very easily. Fortunately, we have teachers like Mrs Salve Lascota who, out of love for their craft, their students, exert influence over them, encouraging them to channel their attention to their studies, to focus on their goals, and to concentrate on things that are relevant and important.