Going Back to School; I’m Excited – by Fegie Yvette Layco

Fegie Yvette Layco, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

Fegie Yvette Layco, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

School’s starting once again. There’s excitement in the air. I never thought I’d feel this way about school. First of all, going back to school and stepping up to the next higher level, or rung means progress, advancement, achievement – one step forward toward the finish line.

At the moment I feel like sprinting, dashing toward that yellow ribbon… both my arms up in the air, palms opened and waving to the crowd, I’m gasping for air with every sinew in my body aching… but the race… it’s won – Yay! That’s all that’s on my mind right at this moment. But wait. First things first. I am getting way ahead of myself.

Field Team Director, Mr Albert Bunoan met with us SAS Ai scholars and our parents today. He welcomed us back to the SAS campus and exuberantly announced before the end of the day we would all be enrolled and registered. The room burst into instant, unrehearsed but organized pandemonium. Shouts, howls, yells, screams, and shrieks of joy and jubilation drowned Mr Bunoan’s voice but only for a few seconds. He restored order quickly and continued, “Today we also get all our school supplies!” The applause was about to erupt once again but Mr Bunoan was quick to add, “Though not until we go over certain points.”

Scholar's school supplies

Scholar’s school supplies


“What could Mr Bunoan mean?” I thought. I felt somewhat uneasy. Mr Bunoan had my undivided attention now and I craned my head to catch every word he had to say.

“Dear scholars and parents,” he began. “Welcome back. Today SAS Ai proudly announces school year 2013 open and you are the reason for the mission.” Mr Bunoan paused for a sip of water. “Let us work together to make 2013 our best year, welcoming those joining our community for the first time.” Mr Bunoan outlined our responsibilities as SAS Ai scholars and the responsibilities of our parents supportive of our schooling. He was most thorough. Critical things like good grades, perfect attendance, personal behavior and development, humility and honesty, and most of all that we enjoy our learning experiences. Yes – that is why I am so excited to go back to school. I enjoy learning.


The mind is like a field. The furrows are straight. Ready for the seeds of Knowledge to be sown.

Each day on my way to school I pass by the open fields. Some parts of the fields lay fallow while some parts look plowed and cleaned, tilled and readied for the planting. My mind goes through images, scenarios and a collage of mental artwork only I can appreciate. I think to myself, “What if my mind is like that field over there,” I look to my right and see the neat and straight furrows.The soil looks fertile, ready for the seeds.

Isn’t that the same as going to school and learning? Our minds are like fertile fields. We prepare the soil in neat furrows, straight and single-minded, focused and ready for the seeds of knowledge to be sown by the teacher. That is why we go to school.

“Hey Fegie,” I heard a voice. It was Mr Bunoan. “Are you ready for 2013? Are you going for the honor roll again this year?”

Feeling a bit embarrassed for my dizzy-fantasyheadedness I blurted out, “Of course Mr B… yes Sir I am going for the ribbon…” is it the yellow ribbon of the race’s end or the red ribbon of the honor roll… gosh, I don’t know, but I am going for it.

Thanks SAS Ai for this opportunity to go back to school. Thanks for all your caring, kindness and generosity.

We are ready and hummin’. Education is freedom! Yay!


Joyful Realization


The Family of one SAS Ai scholar

Three years ago, our field Team spoke with this family about their eldest daughter who was about to finish elementary school and graduate sixth grade class Salutatorian.

Field Team Leader Albert Bunoan began the conversation, “Mr and Mrs Sotero, we are here because your daughter Soledad expressed interest in applying for financial aid to attend SAS high school.”

“Who are you?” Mr Sotero sounded skeptical. “Why would Soledad want to attend SAS high school? All her friends are in public school.” Mr Sotero seemed bothered about something. His wife Calixta was fixing sweet potato stew in the kitchen. She listened intently even as she stirred the pot.

Mr Bunoan smiled and calmly explained to Mr Sotero about the SAS Ai scholarship program. “SAS is the premier private school in the province. It would certainly be to Soledad’s advantage to attend high school there. The faculty is very capable and the facilities are up to date. Soledad can apply her smarts and learn a lot from what SAS has to offer.”

“Isn’t that school only for the rich?” asked Mrs Sotero finally getting into the conversation. “One of my aunts attended that school and graduated in the late forties. Yes it is a great school.”

Mr Sotero chimed in, “So are you going to pay for Soledad’s tuition? How about her books and lab fees?”

Mr Bunoan showed the Sotero’s the SAS Ai program documentation. “Mr and Mrs Sotero, we will take care of Soledad’s registration, books, school uniforms, shoes, socks, school supplies but you will have to take care of her lunches and transportation.”

“How you doing that? You got money or something?” Grandma spoke her broken English. She was rocking the cradle in the other room. “You taking my Soledad and keeping her in dormitory? She needed here helping with the field and pasture.”

“Grandma Sotero, no, we are not taking Soledad and putting her in a dormitory. We are enrolling her to attend high school at SAS,” Albert said with a smile.

That was three years ago. This year Soledad will begin her fourth and senior year of high school. She has done well, staying in the honor roll after each year. She expects to graduate with high honors.

At the annual parent-Field Team meeting, Mr and Mrs Sotero reminisced with Mr Bunoan. “Remember when you first came to see us about Soledad attending SAS high school?” Mrs Sotero said.

“Yes. I thought Mr Sotero was going to do me bodily harm,” Mr Bunoan lightheartedly replied. “SAS Ai is very happy for Soledad and proud of her accomplishments. And so must you be…”

“Mr Bunoan thank you so much for not giving up on us,” Mr Sotero said in a very humble and subdued voice. “We couldn’t have given Soledad this kind of good education.”

“Yes we are most grateful to the donors of SAS Ai. And of course we love SAS Ai and all the volunteers who run the organization,” Mrs Sotero’s eyes misted.

It was such a different meeting than the one that happened three years ago. Such joyful realization…

Living Free… really?


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.

Imagine. . .

Scholars at the store

Imagine if these bright kids never attended high school just because their families are too poor to send them to high school… what kind of future would they have?

What does the future hold for these bright kids who come from poor families?

They want so much to attend high school and to finish it – yet can only dream about it.

They own academic skills, an aptitude to learn, and a burning want to rise above the clutches of poverty that’s pinned them down all their life.

We see these kids – they are all around us – and we can help them. Can you imagine yourself doing nothing to help them become more hopeful by helping them get a good high school education? Can you imagine yourself being unmoved by their plight when all it takes is for you to give a little donation to the scholarship fund – and SAS Ai does the rest handling your investment?

School year 2013 starts in a month or two. Now is the time to give them a hand. Now is the time to share your blessings with these bright kids so they can attend high school and become hopeful again. Now is the time to send in your donation to the scholarship fund. Imagine… you are investing in the future!

Registration Day is Here

Registration Day

Registration Day is a Happy Day specially for the new SAS Ai scholars

2013. A new school year at SAS. New faces. New surroundings. Overwhelmed by the registration activities, pre-school activities, and meetings with the Field Team, our new SAS Ai scholars move about in a daze. Our returning scholars move with more ease and purpose. Exciting and at the same time emotionally draining, our “newbies” go through the day’s registration activities.

Certainly a highlight of registration day covers the fitting of school uniforms. T-Shirt and Pants for the boys, a blouse and a skirt for the girls. A pair of rubber shoes and socks for the boys and a pair of patent leather shoes and socks for the girls. For most of our scholars, if not all, life hasn’t been very giving. These kids live in austere, spartan surroundings.  This would be the first time they would actually enjoy trying on new clothes and shoes – quite a thrill for all of them.

Foremost in our minds are our generous donors, contributors to our scholarship fund, without whose support and charitable actions, our goal and mission would not be in place for these bright kids. We take this time to thank all our supporters and contributors. Please continue to send in your donations to the scholarship fund.

Our Field Team facilitates and handles the registration activities making sure all our scholars receive proper attention. This makes for a long day for our Field Team members.

Michelle Costales, BSEd

In the house of Michelle and Raymond Costales, happiness reigns as king. Michelle is a member of our SAS Ai Field Team based in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. She gives the following account of her achievement:

“Happiness reigns in the Costales household. I finally finished my college course earning my Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education.

We praise and thank God for his support, guidance and confidence in me. As icing on the cake, I am happy to share with you I passed my Teacher’s Credentialing Board examinations as well. I am now an officially licensed elementary school teacher.

While waiting for a teaching job opening, I now volunteer at the Department of Education teaching Home Economics subjects in Barangay Salvacion. I love the enthusiasm of the children specially in baking class. It should come as no surprise. They all love cakes and pastries.

Happenings in our family include the high school graduation of our eldest daughter this March 27th. An outstanding student, she placed in the Honor Roll. She applied and received acceptance to the University of the Philippines in Baguio City where she will study Math and Science courses.

Our other two lovely daughters also attend SAS and considered outstanding pupils – one in the first grade and the other in the fifth grade. We can’t thank the Lord enough for our good fortune.”

Michelle, on behalf of our President and CEO, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA, members of the Board and members of the Field Team, may I offer you our heartfelt congratulations on your great achievement.

We are most proud and certainly privileged to have you as a member of our SAS Ai Field Team.

SAS Ai Centennial Ball

Leonard and Melanie

Leonard and Melanie MC’eed at the SAS Ai hosted Centennial Ball

SAS Ai’s active participation in the 2010 SAS Centennial celebration included a Centennial Ball that invited all attendees to the festivities. The President and CEO, Atty Romeo J Somera, CPA, headed this event. Visiting members of the Board, the Field Team and all SAS Ai scholars and their parents also helped.

The dance band “Plectrum,” an entertainment group highly recommended by SAS Ai supporter Jose Pepito Sison of Michigan played and provided the evening’s choreographed dances with their troupe and acrobats.

Handling the MC and co-MC duties, Leonardjon Buenavista and Melanie P Florentino ably provided program coverage and continuity. Their main gig included calling the raffles, awarding prizes to the winners, and casting the spotlight on attending personalities from the different SAS class batches. They also arbitrated and took care of the prize disposal, as in the case of two winners claiming the same prize.

While many prizes went to the raffle winners, of note were Mr & Mrs Peter and Nora Sprenger from Canada, Board members and backers of SAS Ai, giving prizes and awards to the SAS Ai scholars for: (1) excellent school work, (2) good citizenship, and (3) Centennial Spirit, and (4) Most exemplary scholar. President Romeo J Somera liaisoned with the municipal and school dignitaries. Albert D Bunoan, other Board members, the Field Team took care of the logistics with the scholars and their parents.

All who attended enjoyed the Centennial Ball, rewarding SAS Ai for its sustained community outreach.