Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Making SMS the best school

Dear Everybody,

I would just like to inform everyone of some key developments in our common pursuit of making SMS the best school in Mt. Province by 2008 and in the Cordilleras by 2013.

Firstly, Brent School Manila (the most profitable Brent branch, where I am a member of the Board of Trustees) has confirmed in writing its willingness to help St. Mary's in upgrading its educational standards on a sustainable basis. I will be making a presentation to the Brent Board during the annual board retreat in Baguio on the various needs of SMS and how Brent can help. As a first step, Brent Manila will be sending its librarian next month to see how the SMSA library can be further upgraded.

Secondly, Mapua Institute of Technology (which has become one of the leading colleges in the country after it was taken over by Ambassador Yuchenco) has agreed in principle to having SMS as one of its outreach institutions and will be sending one of its deans to SMS in January 2004 to see how Mapua can be of further help. Mapua had already donated a truckload of laboratory equipment and supplies to SMS in 2001 and it was Ambassador Yuchengco himself who put up a new SMS building after the old one was burned down.

Finally, I personally accompanied Dr. Josette Biyo and her husband on a highly successful visit to Sagada last weekend. For those who may have not heard about her, Dr. Bito is a high school science teacher in Philippine Science High School Iloilo who won several national awards and in 2002 won the 2002 Intel International Award for science teaching, besting over 4000 contestants from all over the world (including the United States) in a final competition in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the first Asian to ever win such award. As a result, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory named a newly-discovered planet between Mars and Jupitar as Planet Biyo. Various educational institutions and corporations all over the Philippines, including San Miguel, have invited her to speak before students, employees and excutives. I believe that every Filipino who heard her has been inspired by her story. In Sagada, she spoke before students and teachers and inspired them to do their best in everything they do. She made the teachers proud of their profession and are now eager to learn new teaching methods, including how to make science and mathematics interesting to students. They appealed to her to return to Sagada to conduct a workshop this summer. She was so overwhelmed by the warmth of the recption that she cried whils speaking. Although she is fully booked for the next several months speaking and conducting workshops all over the country and therefore could not immediately say yes, she has assured me that she will do everything to accomodate SMS. One thing going for us is that she has been captivated by the beauty of Sagada. I told her to bring her family.

Through institutional linkages with Brent, Mapua, and hopefully Josette's own school, Philippine Science High School in Iloilo, where she has proposed that SMS teachers be sent for training during the summer of 2005, I am now more than ever confident that we can make SMS a world-class institution. This, however, requires cooperation and commitment from all the alumni, friends, and other stakeholders of SMS.

I will keep you updated on future developments.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Have a good day.

Rufino Bomasang

The Sagada church bell

from The Agawa compassion: Life in the country

-a budding author from Agawa, Besao
-works now as a development officer at Easter School
-an account on the bell which now stands in front of the convent in Sagada
-notice the reference to the Agawa people eating more.

The Agawa compassion
Life in the Country
Vicente Sapguian

Wanted: More Igorot journalists. Often enough on Igorot history and culture, we detect prejudiced implications from foreign and non-Igorot writers. But we cannot utterly blame them if we do not help to clarify the issues ourselves. One need not hold a doctorate degree to become an effective journalist or writer. I’d say an Igorot who was raised in that ethnic culture is better than a non-Igorot scholar writing about Igorot folkways.

It is delightful to learn that a young man from Agawa has begun a research work on his people’s origin and culture. I sought the man thinking to get from him more details about some stories that I gathered from their place. You know what I’ve found? A small treasure. The young man has come out with a book detailing his people’s history, researched and written from what he calls the real authors of his book, the old folks at home!
Leon O. Lonogan came up with a book he titled “The Sun Sets at Sunrise: The Rise of the Agawa Tribe”. Lonogan started researching on the origins of his people in 1997. He then presented his first work as a term paper required in an Education subject during his undergraduate teaching course at Easter School. Agawa elders, in due time, saw the volume and made suggestions to go more extensive. Historical details shaped up more clearly as more elders and concerned Agawa leaders helped in the research to establish facts and beliefs. The latest unedited copy of the book has just been bound last August.

Leon O. Lonogan is presently working as development officer of Easter College, Inc. He also handles some classes at the school.

A good editor can help refine the Lonogan manuscript and make it competitive in the book market. The book with its historical episodes is surely a priceless treasure for the Besao people.

Aside from the adventures of the pioneers of Agawa and how “Linnapet” and the twelve months of the Agawa agricultural year came to be, the origins of the four barangays of Agawa are amply found in the book. Adventure fills the reader as he follows the exploits of Agawa forebears who carved a land and passed a culture of exceptional unity to their people, up to this day “a slave to none, dependent to no one, and crony of nobody.”

To give you a foretaste of the book, here’s an abridged version of a portion of the chapter on ‘Agawa and the Establishment of the Besao Municipality’.

“When the mountain villages were divided into municipalities, Agawa became part of Sagada while Besao was included as a barrio of the municipality of Bangnin. . . . Government projects or donations were given through the officers stationed in Sagada. All ran smooth in the political and socio-economic affairs involving the Agawa villages..”

“In those days, when there was no electricity to run machineries and there were no communication facilities, a bell was very important. It provided information to the people. It reminded the community of the time of worship, let know the hour of the day, called the people during meetings, attracted their attention when there was an emergency, and gave a warning in time of danger for the community. With this, government officials stationed in Sagada were given the assignment to bring a big bell from Vigan, Ilocos Sur to Sagada."

“In the beginning of the 20th century, the church of Sagada requested for the bell. This was to be carried all the way from Vigan to Sagada since there was no easier means of transportation during those days. Carrying government or church properties was one of the means by which Igorots earned money, for mining companies were not yet common. The people of Sagada were of course prioritized to do the work. They chose their able-bodied men for the job and off they went to Vigan.”

To shorten, the Sagada men failed and so were the second batch of carriers who came from Besao. The church bell was too much for them even with the employment of long sturdy bamboo poles with the cumbersome object tied at the center and carried by the men on all sides. It was the Agawa carriers who persevered.

“In Sagada, the church officials did not give up to secure the bell. The year was 1903 when they offered a higher pay for the job and promised a shirt for every carrier. Able-bodied men from Agawa decided to try. Led by Budkaeng, 20 sturdy men from Agawa started for Vigan. Among them were Aklatan, Tigilan, Sib-aten and Ciano, the youngest.”

“The chief officer in Vigan whom they called Seniora welcomed the third batch of carriers. She fed them well and prepared their food provisions for the tortuous trip back. She observed that the Agawa carriers were smaller than those from Sagada and Besao, yet they ate twice more than the bigger men. Hope ran through her. She demurred to judge strength by the size of a person.”

“As the way it used to be in carrying a heavy object, the Agawa carriers tied the big bell to a bamboo assiw. They slowly lifted the heavy bell then moved down the road at a snail’s pace until they were out of sight. The Seniora was much pleased. He hoped that the difficult job would at last be done.”

“The way from Vigan to Sagada was long and hard. The Agawa carriers walked unhurriedly but certainly. Sometimes they had to follow the long route to avoid passing through a narrow channel. At times they had to walk at night to arrive at a place with water to camp. Fortunately, it was summer, there were no rains to make the journey more difficult.”

“As the carriers reached Langyatan, the mountain that overlooks the Lepanto River, they rang the bell, that its sound was heard in the Kayang villages below. The people upon hearing the sound of the bell gathered food and brought it to the carriers. This is an indigenous way of helping people with a heavy load, a native practice called mangoto.”

“On the fourth day, the group finally reached the village of Malliten in the Kinali territory. They decided to rest and go fishing at the Balas-iyan River, leaving the huge bell at the Dap-ay. Down at the river, the Agawa carriers enjoyed feasting on the fish, including eels and wading. They decided to stay the night at the river to mannilew.”

“Up in Malliten, men from Sagada who were sent to meet the Agawa group arrived and prepared to leave with the bell even without the Agawa carriers. The thought of the rewards filled their hearts. They did not think of the efforts and difficulties undergone by their brethren from Agawa who brought the bell to the upland, now only about a fourth of the way herefrom to Sagada. Selfishness reigned in them. They contemplated of taking the reward by themselves, so off they went with the huge bell home without the Agawa carriers . . .”

This episode extends more. But as I have said, I can only give you a foretaste of what the Lonogan manuscript has in store for readers. Anyway, the bell now remains a treasure in Sagada.

The misunderstanding between the Agawa and Sagada carriers for the reward of money and shirts helped to kindle the eventual separation of Agawa from Sagada. Agawa soon joined Besao to form the Besao municipality that it is now. **

For reactions email vicsapguian@digitelone.com

Sagada-Besao water dispute

Any one out there agree that Agawa was once part of Sagada?

That can not be. Aye pay di tomikitikid dung ket menleblebleb -- et omey kad Danum. Sankapay lomaylaylayog ad Sagada. Another way is tomiktiktiktikid ad Langtay sakapay lomaylaylaylaylayog to Bangaan sakapay menleblebleb -- to Sagada.

Ay ayeh pay sa!

Ngem no Besao ah et kapapate. Men eh lebleb mo et id Besao.

Sabagay. My uncle Bacdayan(Nellie, Andrew and Albert's father) from Agawa (roots is Payeo) to get married, tenikid nad langtay danet lomayog ad Bangaan.

He did not realize that he created a hardship for the relatives. I have to accompany my grandmother from Payeo carrying rice on our heads. Climbed to Langtay and down to Bangaan. On the return we carried beans and cabbage.

Sagada-Besao water disputes

Sankapay lomaylaylayog ad Sagada. Another way is tomiktiktiktikid ad Langtay

Ay id Langsayan (near Kalimogtong) nan kankanam, because I roamed those mountains as a kid dat maid getkek as Langtay ti ngadan na mo:>)). Langyatan is another, but it is situated between Agawa and San Pidli (ooops, Fidelisan gayam met a).

Re Agawa being a part of Sagada, the more credible reference is probably hinged more on territorial jurisdiction. Agawa and Fidelisan has a common border - along the Buasao area - where there has recently been some conflicts on water rights. On those occasions of tungtungan, reference was again hinted (so I heard) that the two barangays may have been conjoined together as one jurisdiction before. As it is with local history though, most if not all have been handed down by word of mouth. As an aside, and in keeping with this related theory, Lake Banao (for Besao folks, Danum for Sagada) is currently being claimed by some (a couple with Sagada-Besao origins) for their personal use. Interesting, eh? Ironically, these so-called "claimants" are citing 'history' - believe or not!

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Dr. Biyo to visit SMS

I am forwarding the speech of Dr. Biyo, if some of you cannot open the attachment that Engr. Bumas-ang sent. Dr. Biyo is the teacher, through Engr. Bumas-ang's invitation, will be visiting St. Mary's School. She won the INTEL Excellence in Teaching award besting 4000 teachers from all over the world. You can also click the links to know of the award and more of her.

Linda Killip-Sucdad
SMS Class 70


Filipina - Winner of Intel Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Biyo is a public school teacher from Iloilo who won the Intel Excellence in Teaching award in the US, besting 4,000 candidates from all around the world. When asked by the judges why a PhD holder like her opted to teach in a public school in Iloilo, her response was, "And who would teach the kids?"

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory in Boston named a minor planet in her honor. Read the rest of her story below.

Related links at:

"The Power of the Human Spirit" Dr. Josette T. Biyo
24 October 2003 Edsa Shangrila, Manila

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. For a high school teacher to speak before a large group of business executives for the first time is overwhelming. But it is indeed a great honor and a privilege to speak to the group of people who is responsible for making San Miguel Corporation the top food and beverage company in the country, and on its way to becoming one of the top companies in the Asia-Pacific. I am here to talk about "The Power of the Human Spirit." Indeed, the human spirit has no limits. If you dream big, and you have the determination and the will to pursue your dream, it will become a reality. I dreamt of making stars; I was given a planet.

A few months ago, I was featured in the local, national and international newspapers. I caused a stir to be the first Asian teacher to win the "Intel Excellence in Teaching Award" in an international competition held in the U.S. Since its inception in 1997, no Asian teacher has received this award. But I think what created waves was, I am a Filipino, and I defeated 4,000 other teachers from around the world, including the American finalists in their hometown. Because of this, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory in Boston named a Minor Planet in my honor. There is now a Planet Biyo rotating around the sun which is located between Mars and Jupiter.

What made me win in this international competition? What made me stand out from among the best teachers in the world? My road to attaining this international recognition is a very long 23 years of improving and harnessing my craft as a teacher. I consistently study and learn new skills to improve my method of teaching. I want my methods to be interesting, relevant, and fun for students. For just like any product, the measure of teaching success is clientele satisfaction.

I finished a B.S. Biology degree from U.P. in the Visayas hoping to be a medical doctor. For lack of financial resources however, I took the first job opportunity available- teaching. Never did I regret this twist of fate. The day I entered the classroom, I knew I would be an excellent teacher.

My first eight years of teaching were spent in a rural school. For lack of teachers in proportion to the number of students, I taught not only biology, but also other subjects outside my field such as English, Music, and Physical .Education. The materials, equipment, and facilities for the type of effective teaching I had in mind were absent. These challenges however did not dampen my enthusiasm for the job. In fact, I became more creative and innovative.

I believe that teaching and learning should not be confined within the classroom. Even during those first few years of teaching, I see to it that the science concepts I discuss inside the class would have social dimensions. Thus, I took an active role in school as moderator of the Rural Health and Science Education Committee. I designed outreach programs for students and teachers. Through these programs, students were trained to teach primary health care to the people in the barangays. They also taught barrio folks how to make cough syrup from plant extracts and soap from coconut oil. Students also gave lectures on environmental protection and conservation.

Those eight years of teaching in a rural school has prepared me for greater challenges ahead. Working with the children of the poor has instilled in me the importance of service, compassion, and respect for human dignity. I have learned to love teaching, and I see it as an instrument for transforming the person and the community.

After eight years of teaching however, I felt I had nothing more to give to my students. I resigned from my teaching job and enrolled as a full time M.S. in Biology student at De La Salle University in Manila. I was lucky to get a scholarship which included free tuition and a monthly stipend.

To augment my stipend, I taught as part-time lecturer in the Biology department and worked as research assistant by one of the senior researchers in the university. This I did on top of my full-time MS load. I was so engrossed with my studies however, that I finished my M.S. degree in one year and five months only, after which, DLSU took me in as a full time assistant professor.

Teaching college students at De La Salle University was an entirely new experience. With modern and sophisticated equipment at my disposal, my world opened to the wonders of scientific research. However, I still value the importance of nature as a big laboratory such that in my ecology classes, I would bring my students to the seas of Batangas, the rivers of Rizal, and the lahar-affected areas of Pampanga to conduct field studies. Pursuing my Ph. D. while teaching also enabled me to conduct researches which were presented in the country and abroad.

Research is very exciting. It means sleepless nights, disappointments, physical and mental exhaustion. But the joy of discovering something new in nature makes it all worthwhile.

While Manila has provided me with opportunities for professional growth, I still feel that my heart is in Iloilo. Thus, with an additional degree and one additional son, I brought back my family to Iloilo in summer of 1995.

In June 1995, Philippine Science High School Western Visayas hired me as a Special Science Teacher. Only on its third year of existence, the school welcomed my suggestions and expertise. I helped develop its Science Research curriculum and introduced some innovations for teaching the course.

Barely a year of teaching at Pisay, I realized that my role was not only to teach students but to train teachers as well. This I do by organizing workshops for teachers in the region.

One day, I received a letter from the students. The letter said, "Dear Ma'am Josette, we know you are being groomed for directorship of the school, and you would want to be the director someday, given the chance. The thing is, we don't want you to be the director. We just want you to be a teacher. Pisay needs teachers like you. The Philippines needs teachers like you." Their letter touched me deeply.

When I won the Metrobank Foundation Award in 1997 as one of the outstanding teachers in the country, the Pisay community gave me a poster. The poster was a white cartolina filled with signatures of students, teachers, and the non-teaching staff. In the center was a painting of a rose, and the message which says, "You are the song that plays so softly in our hearts; that gives us inspiration to aim for greater heights and bigger dreams. Congratulations. We are so proud of you."

In 1998, I won another national award as one of "The Outstanding Young Filipino" formerly known as the TOYM in the field of Secondary Education. Last year, I won the "2002 Intel Excellence in Teaching Award" in an international competition held at Louisville, Kentucky from May 10-17.

In Kentucky, I presented to the panel of judges and to about 150 teachers from all over the world my method of teaching Science Research to my students in Iloilo. I told them that the Philippines is a third world country blessed with abundant natural resources. However, we face problems such as the rapidly declining environment and the lack of equipment and facilities for scientific endeavors. Faced with this situation, I introduced innovations and strategies for teaching the course. These innovations included: a) building a scientific library, b) conducting field studies, c) establishing linkages with research institutions in the country, d) holding science forums in school, and e) teaching students laboratory and field techniques which would help them in the conduct of their research work.

The judges and teachers from different parts of the world were amazed that even in the absence of sophisticated equipment, my students were able to produce quality research outputs beyond their expectations.

At this point in time, let me show to you what we do in our Science Research class? ( a five minute power point presentation of my class activities).

I went to Kentucky with three high school students from the Manila Science High School, and one student from the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology. These students competed in the International Science and Engineering Fair which was held back to back with the teaching competition. The students from Manila Science competed for a team project in Physics, while the student from Iligan competed for the individual category in the field of Microbiology. These students were competing with 1,200 other students from around the world.

May 17, 2002 was a glorious moment for the Philippine delegation in the U.S. When it was announced that the student from Iligan won second place grand award for Microbiology, our delegation was ecstatic. When it was announced that the students from Manila Science won first place grand award for Physics, our group was delirious. When the grand award for "Excellence Teaching" was announced, and for the first time in the history of the event an Asian teacher won, and a Filipino, there was a standing ovation from the crowd as the Philippine flag was waved in the air.

The Philippine delegation's road to success in Kentucky was far from smooth. We almost never made it to the U.S. Our visa interview was scheduled on May 29 when we were supposed to be competing in the U.S. by May 10. Almost desperate, we went to the Department of Foreign Affairs for help, only to be told that the Office cannot give us an endorsement letter to the U.S. Embassy because they cannot guarantee that we are coming back.

It was a painful experience for me and the students. Anyway, we were able to get our visa on the last minute the most unconventional way, and brought glory to this country.

Let me show to you the scenario during the first day of the teaching competition?.

When I entered the judging area, one table in front was occupied by the board of judges. At the right side of the room, the table was occupied by the finalist from China and her supporters. The table at the left side was occupied by the finalists from U.S.. and their supporters. The center table for the Filipino finalist was empty. I sat there alone.

I went to the U.S. bringing a CD for my presentation. I also brought some transparencies and a white board pen in case my CD won't work. Coming from a third world country, I was prepared for the worst. It turned out, I was the only finalist without a notebook computer. Luckily, one American finalist lend me his computer; but before doing so, he gave me a brief lecture on the parts of the computer and its use.

I was the fourth presenter. When it was my turn to present, a panel member asked if I needed an interpreter. I said, "No thanks." A personnel from Intel volunteered to run my presentation. I said, "I can do it." After my presentation, they said, "Wow, you're so cool. You know more than us!"

What am I telling you? That despite our country's limited resources, Filipinos can compete globally given the proper training, support and exposure. Our winning at the international scene may not reflect the general condition of science education in the country. But with our concerted efforts, my dear fellowmen, we can move this country forward and show the world that we are a globally competitive race.

Last May, I was in Cleveland, Ohio to present my methods of teaching to 150 teachers from 17 countries. I also served as the team facilitator for the Spanish-speaking teachers from Brazil, Costa Rica and Argentina.. Last August, I gave a demonstration lesson to educators from the third world countries of Laos and Cambodia.

Filipinos are indeed talented and will excel at the international level in their individual capacity. But as a country, we lag behind. This is because we lack the spirit of community which is very strong among progressive nations.

When I went home to Iloilo after the competition in the U.S., my school gave me a very warm welcome. During the convocation, students and teachers expressed how proud they are of me. I told them, "I am very proud of you too. It is you who has brought me to where I am now. Our experiences together has brought world attention to the fact that hey, there's a world-class school out there in Iloilo; a school with world-class teachers and students. I told the teachers and I quote Mr. De Quiros that "being world-class doesn't mean going internationally and showing our best out there. Being world-class is passion and commitment to our profession. Being world-class is giving our best to teaching. Being world-class starts right inside the classroom."

In winning this international award, I do not claim to be the best teacher of the land. There are thousands of best teachers out there, working silently, giving their hearts to teaching, without thinking of benefits or rewards. I salute these teachers. In winning this award, I believe I was just commissioned by somebody up there to deliver the message that indeed, Filipino teachers can be world-class teachers. In winning this award, I have shown to the world that Filipinos can be world-class if they choose to be. And more importantly, I have shown to my fellow Filipinos that they can be world-class if they choose to be. That if we do our best, we can conquer the world.

During the panel interview in the U.S., one judge asked me, "You have a Ph.D. in Biology, why do you teach in high school?" I answered, "And who will teach these kids?" Another judge asked if how much am I paid for all my pains. They were shocked when I told them that I am getting a net pay of not more than $300. a month.

When your job becomes your mission, your primary concern is giving your best in everything you do. Knowing that you have contributed significantly towards the creation of a product which can make a difference in your company and the larger community is reward in itself.

Believe in what you are doing. Believe that you can make a difference. Believing however doesn't mean you have to stop from where you are now. Believing is improving your skills and maximizing your potential. With determination and the will to win, your company can conquer the world.

As members of the San Miguel Family, you are lucky to take part in the production of high quality and accessible consumer products that can be found in every Filipino home. Your skills do not only contribute to the development of the country's economy, but you also bring out the spirit of fun, joy, and laughter into the lives of the people; thus helping make everyday life a celebration. Your capable hands can paint a true image of the Filipino as a people- intelligent, hard-working, passionate, fun-loving, creative, innovative, "magaling!."

You could paint one bright picture of this country and its people - by your achievements in the workplace, your teamwork, integrity, passion for success, and your discharge of civic responsibilities. You can show the world that you are the new technocrats, capable and willing to meet the challenges of the new order of market globalization. You can show the world that you are the new citizenry, capable of making this country a worthy member of the league of peace-loving nations.

Be proud!

Thank you very much.