BSU goes to Abra for CILC Rollout

 1st Cut
September 18-20,2009


Second school in my itinerary for this year’s series of CILC trainings was Abas National High School in Sallapadan, Abra. We started early in the morning of September 18, 2009, and early means 2:00 in the morning. We had a little bit of adventure when we were maybe 45 minutes along the way. We received a call from our PM asking if Manong Lito was with us. Now we didn’t know Manong Lito was supposed to ride with us in the van. We had no choice but to go back especially since Manong Lito will be our guide to the school. Manong Lito is originally from Abra and he isof course familiar with the place and the people.

We wasted about an hour of travel, and then of course there are the usual stops for food and drinks, stretching, and needing to go to the toilet. We also had to drop by Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) to get our partners for the training. With all of these stops and the short adventure, we were able to arrive at our destination at 11:30.I was thinking it was longer than that though. We were going as if the travel would take forever. Not to mention that the road is not friendly to our butts and backs.DSC00445

Once I got out of the car, I felt the heat that is characteristic of the lowlands. But the refreshing thing is I could see green all around. Although the heat was bearable, I still felt weak. I wanted to get back in the car and continue enjoying the airconditioning. But our beneficiaries are eagerly awaiting for us with our snacks and lunch. They’ve been anxiously waiting for us. They even thought something has already happened to us along the way.

We gobbled our snacks and immediately set out to set up the materials needed for the training with the help of some of the students and faculty.

Student participants of Abas NHS registering for the training.

Student participants of Abas NHS registering for the training.

 Most of our participants were students. There were 14 of them. There were also five teachers and the PTCA President. The set-up is different with the first three schools we conducted the training to, in that this time there are more students. As a matter of fact, in all the three previous schools, they were all teachers, LGU members and PTCA representatives.

The principal was not yet in because she had to attend a meeting with all other principals in the municipality. So, we had to start without her, right after our sumptuous lunch of sinigang, fried bangus, tinapa, string beans shoots – all delicious.

At this time, I only did a surface check on the place i.e. I simply asked if there was a CR and a source of water. I haven’t checked all the facilities yet. I simply accepted the “yes” answers to my basic questions.

We went with the training program. During the course, we learned that all participants are going to sleep in the school since most of them lived very far from the school. Instead of wasting time of travelling to and fro, they all agreed to stay in. This was good news to us, especially since we caem in a little bit later than scheduled.

While we were in the car we actually talked about taking night sessions so that we can advance their lessons and have enough free time in the afternoon of Sunday. Our participants agreed. They were even very excited to learn a lot from the training.

Some of the workshops were done under the shade of trees or inside the other classrooms to provide participants with more room and cooler air.

Some of the workshops were done under the shade of trees or inside the other classrooms to provide participants with more room and cooler air.

Now, from the 20 participants only three of them (who were from the faculty) had actual experience in using computers, the rest know nothing except for the appearance of computers. These we also saw from their pre-assessment evaluation.

The training went on smoothly, if I may say so. I took charge of the briefing the participants about the project. It was my first time to do this. I only had to do the hosting for the opening program, presenting the objectives, house rules and grouping the participants into teams, and assisting the participants if they met with any difficulties with the programs. But since there are three schools where the same kind of training is being conducted, we had to take dual or sometimes triple roles. As I have said, I even had to act as a laboratory assistant sometimes.

So it was me, Tolitz and Sir Ed (Eduardson Tacuban, of ISPSC) who took charge until 10:30 in the evening. Even if we ended the first session very late in the evening, the participants retained their excitement and eagerness especially when they had to do a lot of hands-on exercises already

Our only source of water...We had to be thankful though because the other team had nothing like this. Students had to each caryy two pails of water whenever they go to school.

Our only source of water...We had to be thankful though because the other team had nothing like this. Students had to each caryy two pails of water whenever they go to school.

We had to take a bath at the end of the session for we’ve been sweating profusely the whole day. The students were good enough to get me two pails of water from the artisan well (which was the only available water source, aside from the river which is still a few meters away). As I poured the first tabo of water, I immediately took note of the smell of rust in it. But well, better than smelling stinky for how many days. Its coldness refreshed me though. I had another disappointment however, when I was itchy all over after my bath. I had to take another bath, this time with alcohol, to dispel the itchiness. It was a temporary relief. The itchiness went on and off through the night.

Being the only female in our team, I had the privilege of sleeping on the long seat made from kawayan, and laid down with a comforter to make it a little softer. The males had to content themselves with a mat laid on the floor. Despite these though, we welcomed sleep. The Principal, Ma’am Norma actually offered their house for us to stay in and take a bath, but we opted for the laboratory so that it would be lesser of a hassle for everybody. We also didn’t want to be travelling late at night going to Ma’am Norma’s house.
My bed...especially made soft by extra beddings prepared by the students.

My bed...especially made soft by extra beddings prepared by the students.

In the morning of the second day, we all woke up complaining of back aches. And I noticed some small red spots on my skin, which I guess was from whatever gave me the itch the night before. They looked like bite marks from pulgas. But there were no dogs in the area, and the itch came in right after I took my bath. So it must be from the water. I had to take another bath though because it was again hot and I knew it would be a long day. And again, after my bath, I had to douse my skin in alcohol because the same itching occurred.

Breakfast was good. As always, in events like these, the meals are a treat for us. Most especially if they were those that we don’t usually eat in the highlands. I being a lowlander, enjoyed the greens in our meals. We always have pakbet or dinengdeng or boiled leaves in bagoong and tomatoes. And I tell you it was a treat! 

Manong Paul came in on the second day, which was scheduled for lessons in writer. The participants were able to produce letters and mini posters using the skills that they have learned. They were again clamoring for overtime sessions, so we ended up to 10:00 in the evening. Two of our students, despite being tired too, prepared our beds in the laboratory. Sleep, again, was welcomed easily.

Third day! As I woke up this morning, the first thought that came to mind was “Last day!We’re going home in the afternoon.”

We proceeded as usual. Breakfast, morning sessions (prayer, recap, and warm-up exercises), and a little bit of chit chat here and there. At 9am, we received a call from Ma’am Flor that Dr. Rogelio Colting, BSU President, and his party are already in Abra and they will be visiting our school first.

Participants eagerly present their outputs.

Participants eagerly present their outputs.

Students and teachers alike struggle to familiarize themselves with basic computer operations and applications.
Students and teachers alike struggle to familiarize themselves with basic computer operations and applications.
Upon learning this, Ma’am Norma, the Principal, panicked a little because they were not prepared. We were all thinking that Dr. Colting will be coming in later in the day. But it would seem that they set out earlier. She rushed out to tell the cook to prepare a little more glamorous merienda. Glamorous became suman and chicken which were utterly delicious, especially the chicken.

It was a good thing that our participants decided to wear their iSchools shirt and so when we had our pictorials with Dr. Colting, they were all in violet.IMG_5305

We finished earlier than the day before. We said our goodbyes right after lunch. We had to drop by in Pangtod to get the other team (who were in-charge of a training for Pangtod National High School). They were lucky enough that one of the teacher-participants offered his house for them to stay. Good for them since the house is not that far from the school, unlike in our case.

We had to wait for the other team who went to Mudeng though. So we stayed in Jollibee, Bangued, to have snacks while waiting and of course to take advantage of the airconditioning.

It was already 4:00 when we all set out for Baguio City. Along the way, despite our tiredness, we found a lot of things to talk about and laugh at. It was not the people that we were laughing at but the situations we had been through. We shared stories about our participants, about the food we ate, about our beds, etc. We even found Ma’am Flor’s long lost twin! (This is rather a long story but those who have been in our car can relate to this and had a good laugh at it. Thanks Sir Ed and Sir Charlie!)We arrived in Baguio at 11:00.

It wasn’t bed and rest for me though, because I had to prepare right away for my trip with my students to Vigan City. Upon entering the house, I unpacked my stuff, boiled water for my bath and then took a bath. I so dearly wanted to sleep but I was afraid that I might not be able to get up at 3:00 in the morning for our trip. So I whiled away the time by watching a movie, but sleep won. When I felt that I was about to sleep though, I texted Yeng to wake me up when he gets back. He got back at almost 1:00 in the morning, but he let me sleep and woke me up at past 2:00 am.

At 3:00 in the morning, still very sleepy , with aching back and the start of a migraine, I picked up my bag and with Yeng, went out of the house to wait for our service vehicle for the trip. But, well, this is another story.


2nd Cut
September 25-26

The days went by so fast and then it was time for us to go back to Abra. This time, we had to go back to BSU again because we left Julie Ann. You might say it was dejavu . Same thing happened during the first cut but at least this time we haven’t gone far when Julie Ann texted us that she’s there waiting for our ride.

Sinanglao, a delicacy in the Ilocos region, consisting of chopped beef boiled in their special blend of soup.

Sinanglao, a delicacy in the Ilocos region, consisting of chopped beef boiled in their special blend of soup.

It was the same routine and route all over. We had to drop by Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) to get Sir Ed and Sir Jon. A stopover at a sinanglaoan in Narvacan, something that we weren’t able to do during the first cut. Ergo, our breakfast was hot sinanglao. They even chopped the meat right in front of us.
Another stopover at the Ilocos Sur-Abra junction for Sir Charlie and then off to Abra.

We first went to Mudeng to drop off Julie Ann, Frevy, Cesar and Sir Charlie. This meant crossing the river via a makeshift barge (let’s say Abra’s version of a roro). The river was big but calm. We had to wait in line since there were already a lot of vehicles needing to cross the river. The Abra was a 10-minute ride away from the river. Right after the team got down from the car we went back. This time though we had to wait longer because there were more vehicles waiting in line to cross. We were entertained by Girl Scouts from Abas High School, on a truck, on their way to a one-day scouting conference. After 40 minutes of waiting, we were finally on the barge and then off to our respective schools.

The queue for the barge was so long we had to wait.

The queue for the barge was so long we had to wait.

On the barge...

On the barge...

We had a little difficulty along the road to Abas. It rained the night before and so the ground is wet. Some parts of the road were muddy and hard to pass by. We hit some of those parts. Manong Roy our driver worked hard to pass by those parts.

The school was a cheery sight. Despite the gloominess that hangs in the rain that forecasts rain later in the day, all participants were already there tinkering with the computers, finishing up some work. And so on the training went. 

Working overtime, the participants proudly present their outputs.

Working overtime, the participants proudly present their outputs.

Later in the afternoon, Manong Lito, Manong Paul and Manong Roy agreed to go to Pangtod NHS for another kind of session. Earlier in the day, during the ride, the boys were talking about having another kind of session which involves butchering a goat and then some bottles of some kind. You know what I mean. So they went but the rain made the road harder to pass so they decided instead to go to Manong Lito’s house in Dolores for that other session.

Sometime in the night, it rained hard. My thought then was that the river will surely get big and it may not be passable, even with a barge. Second thing that came to mind was that the road will get muddier and harder to pass by. But then again from here, it will all be downhill.

Morning came. The strong rain has stopped. There was just a drizzle. It was a little colder. Colder in the sense that we weren’t profusely sweating just like during the first cut. Ma’am Flor said she will be attending all closing programs and our school will be the first one to hold such. They arrived at about 10AM. The Mayor of Sallapadan arrived before then. And we were very grateful that he was able to come.

Sallapadan Mayor Cardenas attends the closing program in Abas NHS.

Sallapadan Mayor Garde H. Cardenas attends the closing program in Abas NHS.

The host team for the day started the program. It was all organized. The day before, I told them what they should do and what the parts of the program will be. They went at it with gusto and pride and the program went on smoothly. I must say, they were impressed at how we organized things. There was even a dance number by the students. And they had a field day when they watched the 6-minute video presentation I made the day before. They couldn’t believe it was me who did the voiceover. With a little help from Audacity, I modulated and then edited my voice a little bit. And the result was well, let’s just say okay. Later in the day, they said that we had the best closing program for all three schools.

The Mayor gave a short speech, so did Ma’am Flor and Ma’am Norma. When it was Ma’am Norma’s turn, she became a little emotional. She expressed her joy in having their school chosen as a recipient of the program. She said it all still seems to be a dream. She added that she never thought this would happen.

Student-participants dance to the tune of Sandara Park's Nobody but you, a favorite song in all high schools here, :-)

Then it was time to go. The goodbyes were heartwarming, so is the gift of a dust pan made of narra. You won’t find anything like it anywhere!

We stopped by Pangtod NHS. They were already starting their closing program. After the program we had our lunch there. While we were having our lunch, they told us of the stories of possessed students in the school. At first, they said that they were really afraid. They didn’t know what to do. The possessed were screaming and going haywire. Later, they let them free on the ground to do as they pleased. According to them, it was a riot. All possessed were running, screaming, hitting each other right under the heat of the sun. And then “possessions” stopped. Maybe the sun did the trick!

And then off to Mudeng we went. True enough, the river has gone bigger. Still though there were a lot of people lining up to cross. Ma’am Flor decided that she, Cesar and Manang Josie will be going to Mudeng and we (along with the cars) will be waiting on the other side of the river for them. They had to hike up their pants because the barge cannot go to the shallow part of the river. They had to walk a little to get to the barge.

Cesar, Sir Charlie, Ma'am Flor, Manang Josie and the others, with bags and all other things in tow cross the river on the brage.

Cesar, Sir Charlie, Ma'am Flor, Manang Josie and the others, with bags and all other things in tow cross the river on the brage.

We waited for more than an hour. We entertained ourselves with chit chats. We were getting bored. We wanted to go to Bangued and wait in Jollibee again. But we had to wait. Donnely was on his phone calling Julz every now and then how things are going in Mudeng. Suddenly I remembered I have some funny stuff in my laptop which just might entertain the guys. So I pulled my laptop out and they had fun watching Moymoy Palaboy and Roadfill, and some funny Japanese stints.

Finally, they were crossing the river. They were waving from the barge. We felt relief that they were fine and we can finally go home.

Another stopover at Jollibee for snacks, a tour to Victoria’s Park to get a view of the whole of Abra, picture taking at the tunnel and then off we went. Homeward bound!

It was another tiring but fulfilling trip.

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