IN SILAY City, we have a tourism program that has something to do with the social transformation of a young person to fully realize his full potentials in relation to society.
The one we have in Silay has the participation of the Assumption High School in Iloilo City with the cooperation of Silay City Government, Hacienda Adela (in Silay) and the management of CICM Training Center in Talisay.
There are two batches of Assumption High School students coming to Hacienda Adela in two dates (Feb. 1 and Feb. 5). Their main purpose for coming to Negros is to have their holy retreat at the CICM Training Center in Talisay with a sister retreat master (nun) coming from the congregation of Assumption sisters in Manila.
The holding of the holy retreat has something to do with the quality education coming from the Assumption schools. These students are made ready by having strong faith in God and later be a part of the community as commendable public officials, honest businessmen, first-rate workers, responsible parents, excellent employees, and commendable citizens of our country.
How did Silay tourism play its part? Teacher Rene Secular coordinated with me two weeks ago. He asked me to provide a tour package in Silay that involves interaction in the community, especially hacienda workers.
His intention suits the tour package in Hacienda Folklore Village. We started this as a pilot tourism venture five years ago and now we feel accepted by the tourism industry.
To date, it is being supported by Mayor Mark Golez by sending the city workforce for grass cutting and rice for food-for-work. Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego intends to help in the construction of eight lamp posts in the hacienda road leading to the highway. He also sent for additional chairs and rice for the community projects. Cristina “Baby” Unson-Lacson, the farm owner, has allowed the Asosasyon sang mgaMangungumasa Adela (AMA) to have its governance within the community to achieve human growth and spiritual development.
The first immersion program of the 45 senior high school students of Assumption High School-Iloilo happened last February 1. They arrived at around nine o’clock in the morning. They were ushered by the workers inside the small community center. The program started with a Latin chant, followed by San Roque hymn and “Martsa sang Silaynon.”
The small children of the sugarcane workers offered a dance craze and later challenged the students to join them. The hacienda folks had their fighting cocks to do a bloodless cockfight. Caro-carabao ride brought the students around the community. Some daring girls tried to be on top of the carabao to do the “driving.”
Teacher Rene with the other teachers accompanied them to “tinapsan” (sugarcane field) to see, observe, and follow what the workers are doing under the scorching heat of the sun. The students were ready to wear their “obrero” attire. Cutting cane is fun… “pamatdan” (cutting cane points), “tapas” (cutting canes) and “carga” (hauling sugarcane from the ground to the “caro” driven by a carabao).
The sweaty experience lasted for an hour and after that they tried washing their hands and feet in the water pump, the source of potable water for the community. Welcome food after the “karga-tapas” were a glass of buko juice and the Silay home-made piaya (our tourism piaya).
By eleven o’clock lunch was ready… “adobo-baboy para pigado,” langka-baboy-batwan-gata-lawiswis (a favorite concoction of laborer’s wife), kangkong “apan-apan,” “ginamos-ginisa” with green mango, and “pancit obrero.” The young workers ate with gusto like the “obreros de campo.”
After lunch, teacher Rene gave them a challenge to explore the community by groups and ask the hacienda folks about their life, their dreams, their aspirations, their problems, and their future wishes. After an hour, they were back at the center to emotionally unload their personal and vicarious experiences with the workers during the sharing period.
The officers of the hacienda workers formed a panel to answer the questions of the students and the teachers on their program on group farming, strategies to fight gambling, illegal drugs, and alcohol drinking. The community has a policy during election that the candidates campaigning for office cannot malign other candidates, and cannot fix their posters in trees and posts. They can only distribute flyers.
The community officers talked also about their scholarship program, cultural events, environmental projects and other concerns to upgrade Christian life of cooperation and love for others. After that down to earth interaction, the students and the hacienda folks parted ways with sweet goodbyes. Another group of “Assumptionistas” will be back in Hacienda Adela on February 5. Welcome God’s children!
Other than Teacher Rene, we have some teachers helping… Teacher Joven Llabore, Teacher Ivory Pan, and Sister Phoung Nguyen (from Vietnam).