TWO invitations made my day a day this week, specifically last Tuesday, September 27, 2016. Both related to school celebrations: one, to the hundredth anniversary or centennial year of Benguet State University (BSU) in La Trinidad, Benguet; the other, to the foundation day of Camp 7 Elementary School (C7ES) in Baguio City. Starting time for both affairs was 9:00 a.m.
The BSU program was titled “Unveiling of the Hundredth Anniversary Marker” while the C7ES program was titled “First Foundation Day” with the theme “Camp 7 ES Through the Years, Educating the Youths”. I chose to attend the latter first then proceed to BSU later, a decision that was incumbent upon me as an elder in the community served by the school (my two orphan wards are enrolled in it) and I did not regret because by conversation at the stage my understanding of the title of the program was straightened out. Historical notations are still to my menu despite the ravages of the years upon our God-given mnemonic gift. It was a refresher’s hour to have listened to the historical account of the school given by Rona W. Ambaked. She proved to be a worthy advisory teacher of the Diamond Section of the ultimate class Grade VI. A source of pride too to her head teacher Dr. Teodora B. Botis because her paper, if well preserved in the library, or much better library-museum, of C7ES, will not just be a piece of paper anymore but a golden find for researchers of the history of Barangay Camp 7. For, seventy-five years after its founding in 2001, when the institution will be celebrating its diamond jubilee, the pieces of information about the first fifteen years of Camp 7 Elementary School diligently gathered and intelligently put together by a budding researcher-writer Rona Ambaked will surely be appraised like the valued nuggets found in Sitio Lower West geographically paralleling the heritage that is world-famed Kennon Zigzag.
Another reason why I did not leave the C7ES program for that of BSU may have been a physical one, but that should not be taken seriously for me. Fact was the entry and exit road from Sitio Lower West where the school is located became part of audience seat accommodation. It was jam-packed with people; not even individual passersby could feel at ease traversing and be a disturbance to listeners. Parents and barangay officials led by no other than iconic Punongbarangay “Tancy” Danao, who was actively instrumental in the acquisition of the C7ES lot, must have taken note of this situation for the purpose of much needed facility expansion. Like the city as a whole, the school is now burgeoning with people of its own—the pupils. The 16 faculty members and 2 administrative staff, 18 in all compared to the more or less one-third of that number some fifteen years ago, can barely cope with the unavoidable sectioning of pupils.
Their number and incentive should be paid attention to NOW by DepEd and Congress and other concerned functionaries. How abominable to see ourselves watching our senators and congressmen spending hours and days for hearings to settle disputes among themselves while we are paying for them from the sweat of our brows including the teachers, who cannot avoid paying taxes for even meager salaries!
Good, so very good, however, that the Foundation Day Celebration organizers brought a comforting respite in the manifestation and timely words of a good guest speaker. She was introduced by no less than barangay head Tancy so I’m sure what I heard did not deviate from the truth. Before that, I only knew that she was for years school principal of the City’s premiere national high school; now, she is Chief Education Supervisor, School Governance and Operations Division. She confessed that it was her first time to see the school ground first hand and from her observation it was more than worthwhile for her to have stood her ground against the erstwhile anti-community attitude and plan of the BCDA (Base Conversion and Development Authority) for the area ”where this school is involved in its further operation”. To show her satisfaction to the maintenance and developmental performance of the school under the present school administration she announced that “the reserved realigned amount of Two Million Pesos will go to Camp 7 Elementary School. The announcement was met with a very welcoming clap from the audience, even from the smallest of the tots who briskly rendered a therapeutic callisthenic dance. Her developmental foresight made me believe that she, Dr. Elma D. Donaal, is more than what Leader Tancy said when he described her well-poised and good-looking as ever “uray no anya nga angulo ti pangpusipusam, mayat latta pay laeng”. Her naturally addressing me with the cultural “Mang Ben” made me conclude that her D. must have something to do with a soft-spoken Governor Dalog with whom I once sat at stage in a Lang-ay Festival in Bontoc together with BARP President Federico Balanag. Good breeding should really be instilled already in the family, the first school.
Incidentally, when I proceeded to BSU in La Trinidad after a hospitable lunch, the cultural address “Mang . . .” came back to my mind. I recalled the report that then NCIP Head Commissioner Kenny Insigne advised the concerned BCDA staff not to disturb anymore that area (where the school is) in Camp 7 (“Haanyo gargarawen daydiayen, adda ni Mang Benny idiay.”). If that was what transpired and so listened to, thank you, Commissioner Kenny, NCIP; thank you, BCDA; thank you, Educator Elma, DepEd, and I will not forget, the PNP Director who became Philippine President, Fidel Valdez Ramos, for reassigning the Camp John Hay Air Force Guards elsewhere and effecting the segregation of the Camp 7 portion from the Camp John Hay Main Base. That sip of “people’s coffee”, with us flanked by your eleven generals, is imprinted in our memory. Education of the young is truly paramount in nation building.–Cp #09293259855