Thursday, April 21, 2016

Despedida Response... Excerpts

Despedida Program
April 18, 2016
FLC Gymnasium
St. Paul College of Bocaue
Bocaue, Bulacan

[Greetings here]
Perhaps among those who are leaving this year, I am with the longest experience here in St. Paul College of Bocaue. Twenty-seven years to be exact, including my one year study leave in 1995 and one year personal leave in 2008.

Through those years, I have given the best of myself, the best years of my life, the best productive years a young professional could muster. Thanks to Sr. Ma. Milagros Amos, SPC, my first school directress and high school principal. She plucked me out from many when she came to St. Paul University Philippines in 1989, and sent me a telegram to report to St. Paul College of Bocaue in May 1989. All I was thinking then was to give myself two years to serve SPCB because it is too far from home. Another teaching position was waiting for me in Cagayan where the Principal of a government school promised me a good teaching position in his school.

That was what I thought.

In my next year in SPCB, Sr. Milagros made me the Student Welfare Committee Chair for Boys. Discipline was a big priority. There were rising fraternity groups luring our Paulinians. I was able to curb the proliferation of these gangs and fraternities by even reaching out to those who were recruiting them. I earned the ire of both students and parents due to the strict disciplinary measures we exacted on those students who erred. Many were recommended for transfer. There were no entertained padrinos. During that time, SPCB was overwhelming with enrolees that it had to be first come, first served, first admitted basis. That was the reason why SPCB Igulot was conceived.

I witnessed how the papers were processed. I witnessed how the holes and the foundations were dug. I was among those who prepared the papers for the time capsule. I served as the emcee of the ground-breaking ceremony. I personally assisted then Malolos Bishop Cirilo Almario as he lowered the time capsule, together with the school administrators and the members of the SPC Provincial Council.

As the building began to rise, Sue, Kevin Paul (our first born), and I, together with the late Miss Eugenia Manalastas and Miss Milagros Pascual, stayed here in Igulot to oversee the arrival of the construction materials. I had to wake up late in the evening to account the number of iron bars and bags of cement being unloaded, in spite of the presence of the security guards. At night time, though I had never handled one, a shot gun was issued to me for our protection, as there were no fences yet around.

In Igulot, we enjoyed what nature provided us. After a heavy rain, we would fish for gurami and luwalo for exciting viands. We raised itik and pigs as part of the income-generating investments of the school to augment its budget. We lived a simple life. The roads were dusty and rough. But we managed. There were moments when we had to walk from the town proper to Igulot. Nonetheless, we enjoyed.

It was on our first year in Igulot when we had to carry heavy boulders of rock, escombro, and lay them down for the road. In its early months and years, the CAT I of Mr. Manolo Kalata, began with tree planting inside the campus, where even the teachers were given seedlings to plant. Now we see the acacia trees, the narra trees, the eucalyptus trees all around. Even while it was raining hard, students and teachers alike planted trees along the road going to the Queen of Angels Monastery. I knew I planted mine as one turns left from the corner of St. Paul’s Road coming from the campus.

We grew up with the school. My two children, Kevin Paul and Kamille Marie, grew up inside the campus. Until the Sisters’ Convent was finished. By then, Sr. Milagros was transferred to SPC Paranaque.

Sr. Edwardine Columbano, SPC took over. She facilitated the construction of the FLC Gymnasium. The Sr. Marie Celine P. Santos, SPC became the Directress-HS Principal, where she gave the biggest adjustments in salaries after having raised the tuition fees to 30%, in consultation with parents in a general assembly. She proceeded to constructing the HS Building. But she did not experience using the building herself. She was transferred to St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur, as she was replaced by Sr. Estela Sebastian, SPC. It must have been very tight years that ensued. Our salaries were almost pegged to dormancy. Thanks to the effort of ranking the employees. When Sr. Bernadette Racadio, SPC took over, the loans were gradually diminishing, and the school was picking up once more. But the school maintained no tuition fee increase policy. So salaries were once more relegated to the background. But the wave pool was constructed. Then the St. Paul Spiritual Oasis. Nonetheless, overloads of teachers made their take home pays a little competitive with those of other schools.

This is just one part of the so many wonderful memories that I had with our beloved SPCB.

It was during my stint as the Secretary of the Paulinian Family Circle was registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission. I was the one who prepared the documents, including most of the provisions of its Constitution and By-Laws. We registered the official name as Paulinian Family Circle – HS Department, Inc. Any amendments that were done, were likewise submitted to the SEC during the subsequent reigns of those who took over the leadership. Even regular financial reports were submitted to the SEC then.

One of the major projects were the intercom sound system of the now Grade School Building. Another was assisting in the financing of cementing of the roads in the campus, including the construction of the covered walk.

Through the years that we were inside the campus, we were entrusted with a lot of things, including being guards at night time. The entire school was our playground for Kevin. The Sisters who saw Kevin’s childhood became his lolas. The younger Sisters, grew fond of him. Kamille’s birth signalled our beginning to stay outside of the campus, as the Convent was already done.

In my more than 25 years of having been with SPCB, I did not simply serve locally. I had served also at the national level. I served as one of the trainers in leadership congresses especially those facilitated by Sr. Felicitas Bernardo, SPC. I likewise served as a member of the Science Core Committee since its first National Paulinian Science Congress in Dumaguete in 1998 with Sr. Veronica Borbon, SPC, Sr. Evangeline Anastacio, SPC, and Sr. Angeles Ilagan, SPC as the Chairpersons, until the last Congress held here in SPCB. I had served in the many SPC Educators’ Congresses since the time of Sr. Teresita Bayona, SPC, as the Assistant Provincial for Education, until last year.

I owe it all to the Sisters who saw a lot of potential in me. It was my joy to be of service not just to SPCB, but to the SPC Education Ministry as a whole.

I thank God that in spite of the so many responsibilities, I was still able to write textbooks that circulated nationwide. I was able to author, co-author, coordinate, edit the production of 8 science textbooks, 8 computer textbooks, and 7 elementary science textbooks. Through these books, I knew I was multiplying myself as a teacher, not just to my own students but to those who used my textbooks through the years.

That is why it pains me to go, at the peak of education changes here in our country. I am leaving my post as the HS Academic Chair having maintained high standards and having set general directions that the HS Department may pursue. I see SPCB as the center for Academic Excellence in Technology Integration as I dreamt it to be the Digital School of the Future at least here in Bulacan.
No. I did not resign. Because to resign is to severe a beautiful employer-employee relationship. In fact, I wrote several drafts of my letter to Sr. Maria Remedios Cayetano, SPC, our present School Directress. No, I was not resigning. Then it dawned on me that I could go for early retirement, as it is allowed in the CEAP Retirement Plan. So I did.

My filing for an early retirement is not at all planned. It just came, because the opportunity to shorten my preparations for our twilight years opened unexpectedly. If I won’t grab it now, it may never come again. I am in a rush. I don’t know what documents to prepare. I am not certain of the future, but I have to move fast. If and when things will not materialize the way expected them to be, I leave it up to God to open other doors for me.

I have not even said goodbye to my beloved students. I would have loved to do so. I have not even informed yet my father about this. Nor my brothers and my only sister. I have not even talked to Kevin about this. I prayed hard to our Lord to accompany me in this new journey.

But I have to move so that the school will not be left hanging on what to do next, should I simply move out as the school year has already started. I have to take this bitter pill of facing the consequences of my decision to pursue what is offered abroad, in case it will not materialize.

To all the Sisters, teachers, maintenance, staff, personnel, parents, students, I had been working with through the years, I am leaving full of memories of each one. You know how I led as an Academic Chair in the HS Department. You know how I pursued quality work, academic excellence, managerial reasonability, while cultivating camaraderie, understanding, and friendship. For me, when it’s work, it’s work. When it’s about relationship, it’s relationship. When it is school matter, it must remain a school matter. I knew the boundaries of my duties and responsibilities. I knew where to stand. Forgive me with whatever shortcomings I may have committed through the years, as I also would like to be healed of the pains that remained in my heart through the years.

I leave SPCB with a heavy heart, because I am not prepared to leave, and because I see the dawn a new SPCB the way I dreamt it to be.

Thank you to all the Sisters, teachers, parents, students, benefactors, friends, acquaintances, who, in one way or another, have become a part of my life. I am a Paulinian because of your inspiration.

Once a Paulinian, always a Paulinian.

God bless all of you.