Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stuck On Sand

On the way to the famous Pagudpud white beach from Laoag Ilocos Norte, you will pass by the windmills of Bangui. Seen from the road, you can take any of the two entrances to get to the windmills. The 15 windmills were constructed by the Dutch engineers for the people of Ilocos Norte. The electricity converted from wind power had contributed very much in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere caused by the use of fossil fuel.
Our trip to the windmills was very memorable. I was driving a starex van which I bravely and ignorantly drove through the sand by the shore. I was misled by some tire tracks that I saw in front of me. I thought that if other cars had made it, why not our van. I came to know later that the cars were equipped with a 4-wheel drive. After watching and taking pictures of the windmills, we went back to our car to proceed to Pagudpud. But when I started the car, we were not can not gain an inch. We found out that our rear tires had been stuck in the sand. No amount of gassing up could move us out of the deep-sand. In fact, the more I tried to get out of it, the more we sank deeper. We were fortunate to have a native of Bangui extend his help to us. He gathered some woods to be put under the tires for better traction and brought some sand tools to dig and push aside the sand under the tires. After maybe an hour of clearing the sand and jacking up the car, we were able to get the car out. All of these happened under the intense heat of the summer sun! Even before we had an experience of the beach, we were already tanned!

I was very thankful to the man who helped us. Without him, it would have taken us longer and harder. In appreciation of his kindness, I gave him some money which made his eyes glow. I think, the money was more than what he expected. Maybe, it was many times more than a days wage. Maybe he was touched by the gesture. As for me, I was glad to have been assisted at the same time made a man happy. If he was a lot happier, that was good enough for me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Chef Mayor

He described himself as young and energetic during his mayoral campaign. He deviated from the usual "handsome" description of himself because he admits that his brother, his archrival, is definitely much much handsome than him. He was considered an underdog because many believed that a chef (even as a graduate of Le Roche, Switzerland!?) fails in comparison against a lawyer in managing and running a simple but hardworking town of San Ildefonso, Ilocos Sur.

I got a chance to meet Mayor Christian Abaya Purisima through my inaanak (binyag and kasal) RJ in his hometown of San Ildefonso while I was on a family trip to the northern provinces. We met him at the town's famous (and would become more famous) Bungro Ice Cream House. There, we were treated with healthy and exotic ice cream flavors. He told us that he wanted to encourage every barangay to have a product which they can concentrate on. So far, he had developed the basi in Gongogong town. They took advantage of the 200 year celebration of the Basi revolt which culminated in San Ildefonso (but started in Piddig). He improved the basi quality, packaged it and advertised it. Now it commands a price more than double its previous price. Basi had begun to be a promising drink not only in the Ilocos region but also elsewhere in the country and to foreigners (San Ildefonso ai the next town to Bantay and Vigan which are both tourist havens). Next, he developed the exotic healthy ice cream in Bungro town. Ice cream flavored with malunggay, ampalaya, papaya etc. are just some of the treats you may look forward to when you stop by the ice cream house in the town. Soon he will be beginning the soap industry  in another barrio (Yobi).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Important Role Of Catholic Schools

Have you ever ask why the Catholic Church runs Catholic Schools? Do Catholic schools manage and run their schools according to Catholic Church intentions? If Catholic schools were only meant for good education, then the Catholic Church need not and, may I say, should not be involved in running Catholic schools. The Catholic Church might as well focus all her resources for evangelizing rather than providing good secular education. However, Catholic schools have another important purpose other than providing good secular education. Catholic schools are good institutions for evangelizing. Together with providing good education, the Catholic Church saw the opportunity to give Christian education through the schools. She believed that moral education must be combined with secular education.

It was during the middle ages, the days of kings and princes, that the Catholic Church entered and engaged in running schools. It was seen as means to influence the rich and powerful through their children who will be enrolled in the Catholic School. These children, as we know, because of their status, would most probably be the future heirs of their parents throne or riches. Therefore, it was very probable that they would grow up to be the world's future leaders.  To be a part of their formation and education which would form the very foundation and source of their decisions, would make the work of evangelizing half done. It is the view of the Catholic Church then that by educating and forming the future leaders, the future would be Christianized.

Is it still the case now? Are the Catholic schools that we have now, aside from asserting that they are non-profit and provides excellent education, fulfilling their very purpose? The government had been very understanding and generous enough as to grant tax exemptions to religious schools because it recognized the fact that religious schools are good and effective partners in nation building and that they only accept donations. Schools are supposed to be an apostolate and not a business. Giving the religious schools the exemption is worthy enough for producing good and productive citizens.