Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our First-Ever Junior-Senior Prom!

The school held its first JS Prom on March 1, 2008 at Sunburst Resort, Silay City. It was very successful. It was impressive to see the students dressed formally and carried themselves properly "in the beginning." Of course, when it was time to dance to their favorite hip-hop music, all formality was gone!

Jam Calabon: "...when the music played, our boredom turned to bliss. All the people there were dancing like there was no tomorrow."

Elma Acuesa: "...daw binoy-an kami halin sa hawla... I was very very happy."

Elthon Buensuceso: "I enjoyed dancing with my classmates and friends."

Trina Parreno: "I enjoyed every moment I spent with my classmates. I want to do it again next year."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Begets Good

Let me share with you an email I received awhile ago ... the letter not only encourages us to continue our work but further strengthens our faith in God that with Him, nothing is impossible! FYI, Ms. Guevarra has generously committed to sponsoring an elementary child to study in SFAS starting next year! Praise God!

Hi Micmic,
Sawasdee from Bangkok!
My good friend Gerle shared with me your email about her son Charles. CJ, as we fondly call him is my inaanak (god-son). Since he was born, I only see him once a year when I go back home for Christmas. I'm glad to know that he's been doing really well in school not only academically but also socially and spiritually. Hearing stories about his kindness and generosity towards others makes me proud of him and at the same time reminds me of my own shortcomings! Sometimes, it takes just a simple but genuine gesture of an innocent child to remind us adults of what is really important in life! I am humbled by this young boy who continues to grow with a big heart for others and a great desire to make something of himself.

In a way, we have St. Francis of Assisi to thank for instilling such values in young children like CJ. Growing up in Silay at STA, I've had few opportunities of visiting your school when I was in elementary. I remember our field trips to St. Francis to share the Christmas spirit to other kids. However, I've never really known the scope of what your school does until I read your email and visited your website. You've done a great job for so many children and their families! The miracles you receive from peoples from all walks of life are amazing. The saying "good begets good" is indeed true -- every single good thing you do is like a drop of water that creates ripples in a pond. You have inspired others to reach out to the less fortunate and under-privileged of Negros. I pray that your foundation continues to grow and serve those who are in need. - Malou Guevarra


The Carmelite sisters of Bacolod sponsored a campaign to better acquaint more people with St. Therese of Lisieux, familiarly known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The first and second year high school female students, accompanied by Ms. Melit, Principal, attended the educational program on Feb. 29.

After a warm welcome from Mrs. Norma Tagle of the St. Benilde School, there was a one-hour documentary presentation followed by an open forum. When the program was over, the students still had enough time to walk around the grounds and buy souvenirs.

“St. Therese has inspired us to love God through our fellowmen, especially the less privileged,” said Ms. Melit after the visit to the Carmelite Monastery.


Fifty preserved duck eggs called “balut.” Only 50 per night. Each egg sold earns him one peso. P50 per night. Enough to pay for fare to and from school. Enough to pay for school supplies. Enough to pay for his school uniform. Enough to pay for a used pair of shoes when his cousin does not have an old pair to give him. Enough, sometimes, so that there is a little more food on the table. Enough to help his mother pay the money owed at the “tiangge” or corner store. Enough to drop a coin into his piggy bank. Sometimes.

Fifty duck eggs to sell between 6 and 9:30 in the evening. Then it's time to return home for supper and homework. On evenings when there is someone else selling duck eggs with him, he can run home for a bite to eat and then return to his selling post. When by himself, supper comes only after the eggs are sold.

To bed at eleven in the evening. When sales are not brisk, he has to abandon his post and walk about the neighborhood looking for customers.

Days when he has a lot of homework to do, he finishes them before selling the eggs. On exam days, he stays home. On Sunday he rests. But only then. Many are the days when fatigue overcomes attention and his grades drop or he goes to school late.

Tonight, a customer bought 30 duck eggs. Only 20 more eggs to sell and he can retire early and gain an extra hour of sleep.

When there was not enough for fare money, he had to walk 4.5 km. each way. His steadfast companion on a few of these walks has been his good friend Charles.

Meet Chad Velmonte. Age 13. Son, brother, student, and “balut” vendor. The last through necessity.

- written by Mrs. Ging Graham

Chad Velmonte is a 1st year student and scholar of the Tapulanga Foundation as well.

SFAS considers him a model student and teen-ager! His father was laid off from work last year because of the change of government mayor. His mother stays home and takes care of his 2 younger siblings.

I was recently driving back to the city after school when I saw him walking towards the city SOAKED in the rain! I brought him home - asked him why he was walking home and he said he didn't have money for public transportation. The foundation is now shouldering his transport money ... to say the least!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I close my eyes and hear the sound of the softly falling raindrops on the roof. I can feel the wind caressing my skin. Its chill makes my hair stand on end. After some time, I feel I am alone. I am in a field. Raindrops are falling on my head. I let myself get wet. I do not move. I continue standing and looking at the gray sky. Though it is raining, I feel happiness inside me.

Suddenly, I am on a road with someone. It seems we are going somewhere and we are running. We are laughing as we run. My clothes are soked just like the clothes of that someone I am with.

Then I remember the time when it was also raining and Jam, Andrew and I went to Hacienda Lonoy for archery practice. The memory is still fresh in my head because it happened only a few days ago. It was Tuesday afternoon, March 4. At first, we hesitated to go to our practice but, in the end, we went. We decided to go because we never thought the drizzle would turn into a downpour. But we were wrong. The rain became heavier when we were halfway to our destination. We ran as fast as we could. I felt annoyed at first, but we had a great laugh. Especially Jam. She was great company. We laughed and talked while we were running. We arrived there very drenched and we were shuddering. It is a moment I will always think about everytime it rains.

- written by Julie Ann Estardo, a 3rd year student-scholar

This is a piece Julie Ann wrote after I did an exercise with them in class. I asked them to close their eyes and imagine it is raining. The exercise is akin to what the Carmelite sister did during our day of recollection. I asked them to think of the feel of the raindrops on their skin. Or the smell of the air on a rainy day. Is there a person who comes to mind when it is raining outside? Any specific remembrances of events? I wanted them to do this to hone their ability to use their senses as well as develop their imagination. - Ms. Ging Graham

On License Plates

Green...black...green!! While riding a jeepney going home, I noticed that these were the colors of the plate numbers on cars, public vehicles, motorcycles and jeepneys. I entertained myself reading the plate numbers printed in black or green as the jeepney I was riding in passed different vehicles and vice-versa. Then I realized what these colors signified. Black is for public vehicles and green is for private ones! Then an ambulance sped by. "Oh, an ambulance!" I thought. "Its plate number is printed in red!" Is it red for government-owned vehicles, I wondered.

- written by Micho Santillan, 2nd year student-scholar and member of the Writing class

Sunday, March 9, 2008

In-Service Training for Principals in Boracay!

Attendance at an in-service training program for school administrators sent Ms. Melit Gustilo, Principal, to Boracay, a beach resort in Aklan known worldwide for its white sands, clear waters and blue skies. Sponsored by the Dept. of Education, the seminar ran from January 21 to 23. One of the objectives of the seminar was to "apprise the ESC (Education Service Contracting) school administrators and principals of FAPE's (Fund for Assistant to Private Education) programs and projects undertaken to upgrade the standards of ESC/EVS schools. Dr. Lolita M. Andrada, Director IV, Dept. of Education - Bureau of Secondary Education, spoke on "Preparing Our Schools for a Competitive Future." Dr. Lourdes Quisumbing, Chair of UNESCO-APNIEVE, covered the topic on revitalizing secondary education for the challenges of the 21st century. Of Dr. Quisumbing, this is what Ms. Melit said, "Dr. Quisumbing is 89 years old but I could see how alive and dedicated she is in upgrading quality education."

A PenPal Program between American and Filipino Kids

Right: Girl scouts in the US
Left: 3rd and 4th graders in SFAS

In the US, school children can join lots of different kinds of clubs to help them to learn how to do things and to help them have fun with new friends. Children in the country often join "4-H" and learn about taking care of horses, cows, and pigs. Children in the city and country can join "scouts," which helps them enjoy the outdoors by camping and hiking. Scouts learn skills like first aid, cooking, and sewing. They also learn about our city and about children in other parts of the world.

Girl Scouts in the US set aside one day each year, called "Thinking Day," to share what they've learned about children in other countries. This year, one scout group at Forest Knolls Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, chose the Philippines, because three of the girls have relatives who live there or came to the US from the Philippines.

Usually, we find out information from books and from the internet. But this time, we thought it would be better if we could actually "talk" to some kids in the Philippines.

One thing we want to find out about is what sorts of houses you have in the Philippines. Our houses are mostly built from bricks or wood and must have heat, because it can get quite cold here--it was 0 degrees C yesterday, and that was warm for January. It can also get quite hot (35 degrees C) in the summer, so many have air conditioning also. The houses are quite close together, because we are near the city of Washington, DC; some girls live in apartment buildings or townhouses. Most girls have their own bedrooms, or they share with a sibling.

Another thing we would like to know is what you do in school, and how big your classes are. At Forest Knolls Elementary School, there are about 550 children in grades K-5. The lower grades (K-2) have classes of about 16 children each; there are about 22 children in each class in the upper grades.

Every day, children here study mathematics, reading, writing, science, and social studies. They also have a half hour of recess--play time with friends, usually outside. There is a cafeteria, so children may buy a hot lunch or they may bring a sandwich from home. There is a gymnasium, so they can learn basketball, volleyball, and lots of other games. They also learn art, music, and computers for one period each week. Some children spend time learning to speak and read English, since they have just come to the US. In third grade (age 8), children learn to play the recorder; in fourth grade (age 9), children can choose to learn to play an instrument like the trumpet, the flute, or the saxophone.

Most of the girls in our group of sixteen are ages 8 and 9. They like to do lots of different things! Many play soccer; some take dance lessons or piano lessons; three are learning to figure skate, and some are on a swim team. Many have pets like cats, dogs, fish, and turtles. Most like to play games and read books. Most also have to help their families with chores at home. What do children there do with their time out of school? - by Mrs. Karen Nelson Maisto, teacher

We have also started a pen pal program between other school kids and children of the donors living in Bacolod, Manila and the U.S. If you have a son or daughter ages 6 - 16 years old who is interested to meet and be friends with one of our students, email me so that I can "assign" a "pen pal." The program is very interesting because children learn from each other as they write to each other, e.g. different culture and way of life. And our students "put into practice" writing in English!

A Carmelite Nun Visits SFAS

Sr. Madelaine Ledesma from the Order of the Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Cagayan de Oro City (in Mindanao), daughter of the founders of the school, visited SFAS last March 3, 2008. With her was a companion from Cagayan, Ms. Letlet. She met up with her cousin as well, Ms. Ging Graham, who just finished giving a class with the 3rd graders. Students enthusiastically welcomed and greeted her. It's not every day that they meet a contemplative nun!

Special Graces from St. Therese of the Child Jesus

The relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (a Carmelite nun) visited the Philippines. High school students were able to visit and ask for "special blessings" from the saint as her relics were displayed in San Diego Parish church in Silay for several hours last March 7, 2008.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ang Hampang nga Soccer

Ang Hampang nga Soccer

Masadya ang hampang sang mga kalalakihan
ang bola sang soccer amo ila ginaagawan.
Perti pa ang bubo sang mabaskog nga ulan
apang masadya man sa gihapon ang ila nga pinagagawan.

Madasig ang pagsipa nila sang bola
nga daw indi gid masapar sang kuntra,
gani ang bantay sa kada goal ya
eksido gid nga indi makascore ang kuntra.

Lantawa kung kis-a sila nagakatumba pero madasig
man sa gihapon ang ila nga pagtindog.
Tungod ang bola balik-balik nga nagabinurahog
sa pagsipa sang bola ini perti gid kabaskog.
Gani sila tanan nga mga players sang soccer
gusto gid nga magdaog.

by Romnick Sadio, a 3rd year student-scholar
He wrote this poem after he watched a game of soccer being played in the school field.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Beautiful Friendship

Chad and I have been best friends since Grade I. I was a new student at St. Francis and I needed a close friend. I heard there was someone whose name sounded like mine. So, I introduced myself. I saw we were both short, smart and naughty. We decided to become best friends based on our similarities. We did not know then the real meaning of friendship.

Year after year, we became closer. We are partners in class presentations, dramatizations, and report preparation. We have lunch together and walk home together

Chad is helpful, funny and understanding. Although we have our fights, they never last more than a day. In sadness or happiness, in success or failure, Chad and I will always be friends. Til death do us part.

By Charles Justin B. Hilado, a 1st year student in SFAS
Both Charles and Chad are scholars of the Tapulanga Foundation and members of the Writing class.