Graduation: Personal Labor Comes to Fruition


SAS Ai Class 2014

SAS Ai Class 2014

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.
Without your generous help we couldn’t have finished high school.
God bless you, your family, your health and your work.”

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.

Advertisements

Become Involved; Join the Mission


Bo-te-te - toxic but good eating

Bo-te-te – toxic but good eating

The Good Book describes the Kingdom of Heaven as like a fisherman, who throws his net into the waters and catches all kinds of fish. He goes through his catch, separating the good eating fish to one side, while setting the not-so-good for eating fish on the other side. And so it shall be on judgment day. I paraphrase of course.

Reading these stories about the Kingdom-of-Heaven-being-at-hand in the Good Book and reflecting on it, I am thinking that yes, the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now. The master fisherman throws his net in the waters catching all kinds of People. Well, people come with different characteristics and make up. For example, some people can feel the need to support a cause while others cannot and won’t. Some remain unmoved and sit on the fence. Still, some people are so turned on they will go the extra mile and begin to promote the cause bringing in more support. These advocates would be like the yeast, in another Kingdom of Heaven story – the change agent the woman added and mixed with the dough making the dough rise and double in size.

And it touches me so deeply to see our supporters and volunteers in action. Friends who donate to the program, complete strangers who sponsor these bright kids through high school, and those who champion our mission. I am speechless; how do they do it? What moves them? I take a deep breath, inhale the spirit and think. Indeed the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

You Can’t Take It With You


Cash Stash Under Mattress

Cash Stashed Under Mattress

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?

We Thank Our Donors


Cely Bilaoen Bautista SAS Class 1958

Cely Bilaoen Bautista SAS Class 1958

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.

Preparing the Soil for Planting


How straight are your furrows?

How straight are your furrows?

My father, who loved to work the land growing cash crops, used to say, “When you plow the field, never look back to keep your furrows straight.” Over time I have reflected on his words and I’ve come up with my interpretation using it as a metaphor.

Progress connotes looking ahead in a forward direction being aware of the side views. Those who keep looking back – either because of nostalgia, or misplaced sentimentality, or wishing things could be as they used to be – seem to stagnate and languish. In the Army when the drill instructor barks, “Mark Time,” the men march in place, never making forward progress. Looking back is like marking time. It’s the hamster on a treadmill routine. Also, those who move forward while looking back usually end up in the ditch or in a collision.

Preparing the field for planting is what we do when we help these bright kids who come from poor families get a high school education thru financial help. We inculcate in them education as an important change agent or as a way to achieve freedom. Their young, receptive, and eager-to-learn minds, are like the fertile fields. We plow the furrows straight, not crooked – readying them for planting the seeds of knowledge and wisdom. We keep our gaze set to the future, looking ahead and forward, exemplifying how important is self-discipline and avoiding distraction.

Our bright kids need financial help badly to finish high school. Won’t you please help by DONATING to the scholarship fund? Thank you.

Help Wanted


helpwantedSubtleI have seen that “Help Wanted” sign tucked in on window pane corners, behind glass doors, on menu boards and on mall bulletin boards and store fronts. Once I inquired inside a pet store posting a Help Wanted sign. But after I was immediately met, literally face-to-face, by a Gigantor Great Dane, I turned around and walked out.

We have had our Help Wanted sign posted on our Facebook page, BLOG page, on our official websites for all the world and fellow SAS alumni to see. We haven’t had many replies, not even inquiries out of pure curiosity. Our plea for help is largely being ignored.helpwantedCustomers

What could we be doing wrong? How can we improve our signage? Our message?

Could it be that our sign doesn’t communicate exactly what we need? (Photo at right courtesy of The Huffington Post)

We need help in raising awareness of our mission to help bright kids who come from poor families get a high school education through financial aid.

We need help raising donations for and contributions to the scholarship fund. Our only source of help comes from your generosity. Please… we need your help.

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!