Accents: Sense and Sensibility — and Service

By JULIA CARREON-LAGOC

THE San Antonio – San Nicolas Elementary School (SASNES) in the municipality of Oton has reached a milestone, and a centennial jubilee is in full swing. SASNES celebrates 100 years of success and excellence — the theme the alumni have chosen bespeaks of goals achieved in peak performance. The graduates from the two barangays assert the theme highlights what they’ve attained in their long journey of life, and they take pride for standing by it.

Why is there no school for San Antonio alone, and why no separate one for San Nicolas? Why is there only one school for the two barangays, unlike in all other barangays where each has its own? “History of the School” elucidates how the alliance of the two barangays came about as published in the 2008 souvenir book of the San Antonio-San Nicolas Alumni Association. Excerpts:

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The first proposal for the establishment of the school was in Barangay San Nicolas as approved by the people of both barangays. Prominent families of Brgy. San Nicolas, specifically Panique, Masculino, and Clavel, offered their land. Opposing the proposal were equally prominent families of San Antonio—Cementerio, Clavel, Carreon. With the disagreement of both factions, it was decided to have the school constructed between the two barangays to be named San Antonio-San Nicolas Elementary School. Records show that the school was founded in June, 1914 with 2 as original number of teachers.

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Memories streamed forth as I stepped on the school ground after several years of having lost connections. Joy mingled with a tinge of sadness engulfed me as I recalled the days gone by, the pitter-patter of small feet in clogs or rubber slippers (shoes were only for special events). Ah, the classrooms where we got introduced to Pepe and Pilar, the fruit-bearing trees we climbed, heedless of Miss Titser’s warnings. Care-free young voices where que sera, que sera was a question farthest from our minds…

I belong to Class ’49, and, as of today, know of only five left (three are still verifiable) out of about 20 or 25 of us then. I grieve for classmates who went ahead, peacefully at rest “six feet under the ground,” the idiom acquired in the upper grade. To those who have carved a niche in their chosen profession, warmest congratulations.

It was heartwarming to see fellow alumni sharing experiences and excitedly planning for the SASNES weeklong, May 24-31, centennial celebrations that started with a Walk for a Cause, Saturday, May 24, a fund-raising for the school gymnasium. The physically fit walked the entire stretch of San Nicolas and San Antonio up to the town plaza and back to the school site. More of the activities in a succeeding column.

Far from the fictive, romantic world of famed novelist Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, as used here, refer to the plain, unfurbished realities we live in. These are two essential traits that boost up Service in answer to the appalling needs of our country and people. Sense, Sensibility, Service – three components to summon if we have to be worthy of our formal education that began with SASNES.

A deep Sense of involvement and commitment, and Sensibility to the needs of the community, that of our two barangays in particular. Service rendered without strings attached — in whatever way we can, be it big or small. High time to payback for the free elementary education we have enjoyed. Harness our talents earned from the elementary up to our college years and beyond. Hear ye, guys and dolls, skills gained should flower and bear fruit.

If truth be told, Success didn’t grace the path of many alumni, and, consequently, neither did Excellence. Fate can be choosy, it is said; the stars are unkind. I say, banish thoughts of fate and ridiculous star predictions. The keystones are dedication and determination. For diplomas and degrees, it was kayud (hard work) all the way from our parents to educate us seven children, as it was with our own son and three daughters. The school’s hallowed portals embraced us all.

Often, inexplicable circumstances beyond our control thwart the road to success, prevent us from reaching higher rungs in the educational ladder. The major obstacle, I contend, is dire financial need, firstly, because jobs as steady sustenance are nowhere to be found. But this is a different story for economic wizards and the government to take into account. If at all possible, no one but no one should be consigned to “the short and simple annals of the poor.”

This seventy-ager looks at the young graduates and would-be graduates of SASNES with buoyant optimism, hopeful for their bright future. I say, face boldly the hard knocks of life; be aware of the fundamental lessons our alma mater have so painstakingly ingrained in us. Dream on, and turn those dreams to reality, as we, your forebears, are doing or have done.

I, one digit in the vast array of alumni, can only wish the school of my youth, the San Antonio-San Nicolas Elementary School — ever greater Success and Excellence as it turns out year after year, generation after generation, fresh graduates who will be facing challenges as the next 100 years unfold. ([email protected])/PN