“In their own way, they love the school.”

–       Essence Yearbook 1987

It’s not a generation gap – that’s what I discovered. Actually, it’s more of a philosophy gap that exists between me and my students. By philosophy I mean the philosophy of the school one graduates from. A student of mine, shortly before she finished her make-up test on Death on the Nile, explained that it was a cultural thing, an Indonesian culture thing, that is. Two of her classmates are transferring to a new school next year unlike her and the rest of her classmates. They are staying to complete the International Program class and sit for their IGCSE exams.

She explained, “The thinking, Miss Liana, is we transfer to a different school after we graduate from junior high. We don’t stay in the same school to pursue, say, senior high school. It’s a culture thing.”

Batch ’87 will help to bring back the green landscape of JASMS with the restoration of its beloved mountain. {Artist’s rendition by Jimmy Montero/JASMS QC Alumni}

JASMS Batch ’87 members have uttered “Mountain tayo” once in their lives. {Photo by Jason Moss/JASMS QC Alumni}

I wonder what she’ll say if she found out that my dear childhood friends and I stayed in JASMS (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School) from kindergarten to high school. Running deep in our veins is the philosophy of founder Mrs. Doreen Gamboa, “learning to be free”. It is the philosophy that guided me through university and my careers in journalism and teaching. It’s still my guiding principle particularly in training my students to be independent but without turning their back on their friends and community; to be critical thinkers and not blind followers; and to give back.

A school, I believe, moulds students to the best that they can be and this takes time and nurturing. The process of learning is disrupted due to the constant readjustment and trying to fit in if one keeps school hopping. Unfortunately, by the time one has settled and slowly imbibed the school’s spirit, prompted by the dictates of culture, they move again. To fully understand the essence of school, one has to be enrolled in that school from the very beginning. The child grows with the school and vice-versa.

On a personal level, I gave back to JASMS earlier on by following in the footsteps of my former English teacher, Mrs. Cecile Medina, and honed the language skills of the students (yes, gave them a taste of the research paper that Mrs. Medina taught us). On a group level, Batch ’87 is all set to give up to the school they love the best.

Sceptics might raise their eyebrows in incredulity and ask, “Why give back?” The answer is simple – we honour and acknowledge the people and the institution that have played a big role in our lives. “(It is) because of the school’s different approach to teaching that we are who we are today – great unique individuals. JASMS gave us tools to learn through experience, to discover on our own, to keep asking questions and to grow in an environment filled with so many wonderful options,” say the batch’s unwavering leaders who keep everyone together.

Sit back and relax – enjoy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Get your tickets from JASMS Batch ’87 representatives. {Cinema Chairs by Salvatore Vuono/}

Spearheaded by the formidable triumvirate of Tito Pijano (in-charge of Finance), Elena Achacoso-Pascua (Marketing), and Gay Clave-Guevara (Coordination), Batch ’87 gives back to JASMS with a special screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the three epic fantasy-adventure films directed, co-written and produced by Peter Jackson. Premiere night is December 14, 2012 at Trinoma Cinema after 9pm. Tickets are priced at PhilP500 a piece but packages and sponsorships are available.

All the proceeds from ticket sales will go to funding the inaugural line of projects namely, purchasing a box or two of SRA Reading Labs, which are wonderful for honing reading skills, microscopes for the labs and to support the project to revive the “mountain”.  The “mountain” figured prominently in a true-blue JASMite’s life. For starters, quibbles and whatnot were settled at the mountain that began with the simple utterance of “Mountain tayo!” Any student knew that a lot was at stake when the gauntlet was thrown at you and a whole lot more when you didn’t take up the gauntlet. The mountain, sadly, disappeared when the school encountered financial difficulties and the area was flattened and parcelled off to interested buyers. But with the Reclaiming the Past ceremony held on September 28 and the pledge of the new board of JASMS, the mountain will be restored to its full glory and Batch ’87 will certainly be part of this momentous event.

SRA Reading Laboratory – classic teaching tool in a JASMS classroom. {Photo by John Medina/JASMS QC Alumni}

So I call on my friends and former students scattered throughout the globe, and those teeming with the JASMS spirit to help my batch in honouring the school. Be part of giving back and help propagate and uphold the philosophy of “learning to be free”.

For tickets and further enquiries, contact Tito Pijano at +63 9178888209, Elena Achacoso-Pascua at +63 9228629539, Gay Clave-Guevara at +63 9178211709| and Melissa Pizaña-Cruz at +63 9178866372.


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