SAS Personnel Day Celebration


SASPersonnelDayWhen I attended St Augustine School back in the ’50s it was a gender segregated school. By this I mean the girls had their buildings and grounds and the boys had the church plaza and their boy’s department building by the belfry. It was a different world. A world without girls is not a natural world. To this day as I reflect on those bygone days of high school, I can conclude that gender segregation deprived us boys of an opportunity to develop social skills specially with the opposite sex.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there, and besides this is not the subject of this piece. The only SAS personnel when I attended SAS were the ladies who helped the Sisters in the convent. I remember one of them and her name was Agatuna. She spoke very little English and some disjointed Ilocano. But she managed to get work done from us kids in the book binding trade. She assisted Mother Urban in managing the book returns, refurbishment and rebinding, and text book re-issuance at the beginning of the school year.

We were just kids, day dreamers and playful boys who knew nothing about life and reality. We traipsed through high school and worked revitalizing those books out of sheer fear of Mother Urban who had a mustache and a goatee. She was tough. One look from her spelled spiritual death you had to go see Father Carlos to get back into the church’s good graces. Agatuna was the “good cop” in that Mother Urban-Agatuna tandem. Agatuna suffered much from our juvenile derision and mild rebellion but she got the work done by threatening to report us to Mother Urban for our sloppy work.

In my memories, Agatuna, SAS Personnel of long ago did a splendid job helping the Nuns run the daily operations at St Augustine School. In many ways she counseled us, she showed us how to refurbish the books properly, showed us true loyalty and respect for authority, exemplified for us the spirit of reverence for the sacred; she showed us self-discipline. I am grateful for the time I worked under Agatuna’s tutelage and although she didn’t have a degree in Psychology she always knew how to give public recognition for a job well done and how to criticize in private. That experience, to me, has proved to be invaluable.

Thank you SAS personnel for continuing with the excellent tradition of service.

A Living Legacy


St Augustine School Girls Department Circa 1958

St Augustine School Girls Department Circa 1958

Founded in 1910, St Augustine School (SAS) started out as a mission school erected and run by the Belgian nuns and priests (CICM) who came to Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, Philippines to help spread the Good News. A short history of the school may be found at the SAS Ai WIKI. The last 103 years has seen the steady ascent of SAS as the premier private school of Ilocos Sur province. SAS Alumni work, live, set up private practice as doctors, engineers, certified public accountants, registered nurses, and do entrepreneurial commerce internationally.

Today’s global economy makes the job market keen and competitive. We have bright, promising and highly motivated kids in the community who come from very disadvantaged families and thus are financially unable to attend SAS high school.

It is so that these kids may get an opportunity to finish high school at SAS that our non-profit organization SAS Ai dedicates and commits its efforts. We solely rely on public financial support. To this end we humbly ask you to please generously donate to the scholarship fund. This is the only way we can fund these kids’ high school education.

We believe Education is Freedom. These children have known nothing but poverty, hunger, and even hopelessness throughout their lives. But they are the future. Investing in their high school education makes possible the ushering in of a living legacy – the next generation of teachers, scientists, doctors, engineers, civic leaders, clerics, fathers and mothers raising healthy families, and highly competitive overseas workers.

This holiday season, we ask you to please consider making your charitable contribution count. Invest in these kids. Help make their dreams come true. Give them an opportunity to finish high school. A $50 dollar tax deductible donation can help send a student for one month of schooling with the funding spread to cover tuition, books, school supplies, and school uniforms. You can even open a monthly allotment using your VISA, MASTER CARD, or DISCOVER card. Any amount you want to donate is truly appreciated and will help tremendously.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Former Classmate Comes to SAS Ai’s Aid


Cely Bautista

Celestina Bilaoen Bautista, SAS Class 1958

” Hi Tom, how and who will I give the donation here in the Philippines? I hope somebody is responsible here who you designated. Regards too and take care of your health coz it’s your wealth, di ba…”

Cely asks me to whom should she give her donation to the scholarship fund while she is in the Philippines on vacation, and how? I replied, please submit scholarship fund donations to:

Albert D Bunoan - PR Committee Member

Albert D Bunoan

Mr Albert D Bunoan

Field Team Director

Barangay Dardarat,

Tagudin, Ilocos Sur,

Philippines

Such a short sweet note from a friend. Meet Cely Bilaoen-Bautista, SAS Class 1958. After high school graduation she attended and earned her BSRN from San Juan de Dios College in the Philippines. She went on to work as a registered nurse for Montefiore Hospital. She’s now retired and lives in the Bronx, New York.

Her generous gesture and offer to donate to the scholarship fund touches me deeply. Like most of us, Cely lives on fixed income now too having retired. Yet, she supports the cause and mission of SAS Ai, Inc. Perhaps because she attended and graduated from this great school she wants these bright kids who come from poor families to experience the same excellent education she received. Admirable.

Cely knows the meaning of “poor”. She saw all forms of poverty framed within the context of her workplace. She saw squalor in the inner cities. She witnessed families literally trying to make it day-to-day when she lived back home in the Philippines. Cely is no stranger to the poor and her heart tells her it would be a crime to waste such brilliant minds; these kids need an education. They need help to attend high school.

She follows the message of generosity and charity toward those who have nothing. Cely gives to SAS Ai from her own need. That is the most admirable form of giving.

Thanks my friend for your generous donation.

He Heard and Listened to the Clarion Call


Saratoga

Clarion Call – “Education is Freedom”

I know of a man who heard and listened to the clarion call. Since the beginning he knew only of spartan surroundings, growing up in a large family of modest means. All his brothers and sisters competed for honors in school. Not to be ignored he earned his fair share of achievement medals and academic awards.

His mother worked hard as the family’s primary bread-winner. His father’s waning health and strength bound him to the wheelchair. This young man, who was once faintly recognizable amongst siblings heaped atop one another, survived the ever-changing family dynamic to emerge a success in his own right.

He heard and listened to the clarion call. An inner voice cried out:  Education is Freedom! Come away, come away. Set sail for distant shores and cast your net in the deep waters. After graduating from Santo Tomas University with his Chemical Engineering degree he landed in Chicago where he set the world literally on fire. Feverishly working his way up the ranks, he earned patents on several chemical concoctions bearing his signature. He ascended the leadership ladder steadily and became the Director of Research and Development at L’Oreal, the perfume giant, until his retirement.

Polon

Engineer Apolonio Villanueva III (BSEChem)

Meet Engr Apolonio Villanueva III. He and his lovely wife Emilie (Nee Valdez) originally from Baguio City live in Chicago, he having happily retired from industry and she from the medical field. Engr Polon (as we fondly call him) thinks very highly of SAS Ai’s mission to help bright and promising kids who come from poor families get a good high school education at SAS thru financial aid. So much so that he supports the scholarship fund for these kids. And we thank him for his donations.

Today, many former SAS graduates work, live, and have retired all over the world. Many are doctors of medicine, engineers, accountants, government workers, teachers and politicians. They heard the clarion call and listened to it. More importantly they acted on it.

The clarion call rings out once again. Listen. Education is Freedom… come away and help send these bright kids to high school with your donation to the scholarship fund. Every bit helps. Surely, with your gift you are making one child feel most fortunate attending high school.

Living Free… really?


Overacting

The man’s in need, the dog’s for feed – but the cat, look out, she’s into over-acting!

It was at the airport that I saw this display of an excellently choreographed  begging technique. The cat caught my eye. She’s flat on her back, feet splayed, paws outstretched, her facial expression unmistakably of deep hunger. Not a single passer-by failed to stop, notice, smile, grin, admire, and give.

While this ensemble may amuse and entertain, what really lies behind this life of begging? An investigation followed and found out that:

  • The man was down and out of his luck, was homeless with no family.
  • He and his pets are on the move and have run out of funds temporarily.
  • The man is happy with his life – no responsibilities, no bills, no financial obligations, no taxes, and they can move freely when and wherever
  • On a good day all three members of the begging team can come up with $500, with the cat fetching the tidiest sum of $200-$250, followed by the dog at $150-$175 and the man at $120-$150.

What a life, eh? Living free, or free-living, or living for free isn’t for everybody. What do you think – would you consider this kind of lifestyle?

Personally, I prefer responsibility, the daily challenge of making it by hard work, prudence, competitiveness, and accountability. I need the satisfaction brought by making it through the day with a minimum of hassle, the least amount of self-inflicted mistakes and mental errors. I need my daily triumph over life’s many challenges.

Nightfall finds me in the comfort of my dwelling and with faith bursting out of my heart I gratefully lay my head on a soft pillow, sleep through the night, secure and confident that God will wake me up in the morning in time to enjoy my cup of fresh hot coffee, ready to face life once more – and win.

SAS Ai Excellent Comments at GREATNONPROFITS Come in 3’s


2012 Awards

SAS Ai, Inc. Winner of the 2012 Greatnonprofits Top Rated Awards

Writes Melanie Florentino, Sales & Mktg Director, Public Relations Vice-Chair and Philippine Bureau Chief (read more of Melanie’s short bio):

“I am extremely proud to be affiliated with SAS Ai, Inc. as a volunteer. Our mission is to help bright, promising kids who come from financially deprived families get a good high school education at a decent and respected school – SAS.

Other organizations also offer financial aid to needy kids but SAS Ai’s very makeup and program efficiency make its aid package to stand out. SAS Ai’s all volunteer staff selflessly and tirelessly performs its duties and responsibilities, working and collaborating together, sharing their time, talent, and precious resources. The SAS Ai financial aid program is the most generous of its kind; SAS Ai’s Field Team, under Director Albert D Bunoan, runs it efficiently.

SAS Ai’s mission does not end with merely soliciting donations to the scholarship fund; it extends way beyond and over fund-raising activities. The mission includes coaching, role modeling, personal guidance, counseling services to our scholars and community outreach.

SAS Ai provides free high school education to bright kids who are financially poor. Perhaps what SAS Ai does may seem like a simple way of caring, compared to the bigger programs, such as, UNESCO, UNITED WAY, or The RED CROSS. SAS Ai’s educational welfare outreach nevertheless greatly impacts children’s lives. SAS Ai wishes only to help more kids – deserving because of their pure intellectual abilities and their intense want to learn, but stilted in growth by abject poverty.

Donations to the scholarship fund from generous people can change this equation from hopelessness to hopefulness, from uncertainty to a window of opportunity, from ignorance to enlightenment. It is SAS Ai’s hope this educational opportunity propels them to pursue and chase after their dreams and aspirations. Every precious child has a right to be free. Education is freedom.

SAS Ai does its work in the true spirit of charity – the absolute finest rendition of same – in the world!”

A Silver Lining


Ondoy

There was no river to overflow. There was only rain and the devastating flood

It rained day and night with no let up. The water had no place to go. The storm drains clogged with dead leaves and other debris during the long drought and now these same drains failed to allow the run off to freely flow.

Misery. Devastation. The small houses suffered most as the water level rose. People became displaced seeking shelter in the most unlikely places – atop corrugated tin roofs, bridges, even junk piles in the dump. A cry for help rang out over the countryside.

SAS Ai, Inc. volunteered to broker a voluntary emergency collection among Filipinos living and working here in the United States, and elsewhere overseas. A few kind and generous souls came forward with their donations. SAS Ai then contacted the local municipality and informed the mayor of the emergency funds transmitted to his administration for distribution to the victims. SAS Ai also informed the Principal of St Augustine School of a forthcoming emergency aid package from the overseas Filipino workers for the victims of the typhoon and the flood.

When the rains stopped and the waters receded and the flood victims returned to what was left of their homes, the Mayor’s office and the Principal’s office had already distributed the aid package to 98% of them. The aid was given in a very timely manner.

Although emergency help is not SAS Ai’s primary mission, we can thank the President and CEO of SAS Ai, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA whose prompt action helped the typhoon victims with the emergency collection. In this instance SAS Ai performed community outreach services, the very umbrella wherein the SAS Ai scholarship program falls under.