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Journey to Calabacita

Highway   |   Boctol Valley   |   Barangay   |   Barrio   |   School

April, 2002

Calabacita HS
Calabacita High School (76k)
High School Students.
High School Students (68k)
Waiting for class.
Waiting for class (75k)
Up a tree.
Marzon Sajulga. (103k)

Part 5: The High School

The Calabacita High School has 372 students in four grades, and 10 teachers. Some of the students come from an adjoining barangay, which does not have a high school. There are 2 classes in each of the early grades, but only one class in the final grade. This is because of student dropouts, mostly due to a need for young people to go to work to help support their families. (Education is mandatory in the Philippines through 6 years of elementary school.)

We arrived at the High School too late to see the morning's flag ceremony and the daily cleanup activities. As usual, we were quite a novelty. Some of these students had never seen a foreigner before and we drew a crowd wherever we went. The high school students were quite camera shy. Whenever Jim brought the camera up to his eye, the students would scatter. So he used an old photographers trick (being an old photographer himself), and kept the camera hanging by its strap on his chest. He just pointed his body in the right direction and pressed the shutter release. Most of the pictures turned out just fine.

This was one of the last days of the school year, and things were a bit chaotic. While some of the students attended classes, others were involved in a variety of other activities. Some of the boys were mixing concrete for a school improvement project. We saw two groups of students rehearsing plays which they had written, and which they would perform in class later that day. (We did not attend the plays, as we were afraid our presence might upstage the performers.)

This was also a day when the teachers had to complete their grade reports for the year. We joined them in the school library while they worked on their papers. Licita, the science teacher, showed Jim the chemistry book she uses for her classes. Most of the schools in the Philippines are quite poor and cannot afford expensive lab equipment or chemical reagents. The chemistry course is designed to use common household chemicals and native plant juices whenever possible to keep costs down. It seems a very clever approach.

Just before lunch, another teacher (Dolores Comique) asked if we would like some coconut juice. We didn't quite know what to expect, but we said yes. We were then very suprised when she sent for Marzon Sajulga, said to be the best tree climber among the students. There is a coconut tree growing on school grounds, next to the library. Before they picked the coconuts, however, Licita notified the man who had planted the tree. A large crowd quickly formed. Marzon climbed the tree and began dropping green coconuts to the ground. The coconuts were cut open with a bolo (a large, heavy knife used like a machete), some students washed a pitcher and glasses, and we were served fresh coconut juice. It was slightly sweet with just a hint of coconut flavor, and quite refreshing. Next, Mrs. Comique removed the flesh from the inside of the coconut shells. It was soft and sweet, with a mild coconut flavor. The whole process was unexpected and a great deal of fun.

So, we learned a great lesson. When someone suggests something new or different, it is often best to say yes. The result will usually be interesting and can be quite enjoyable. If you say no, you will never know what you missed.

Calabacita Elementary School.
Elementary School (97k)
Elementary students.
Elementary students (83k)

— Index —

— The Elementary School

We walked up the hill to the Elementary School. It wasn't far, but the hill was steep, and we were pretty well out of breath when we got to the top. The elementary students were not the least bit camera shy, and loved to have their pictures taken. Once again, we were such an attraction that classrooms emptied at our approach. Nothing would get done while we were there, so we didn't stay long.

The Elementary School has 6 teachers for 6 grades. We didn't ask the total number of students, but it was less than the High School, as there aren't any students from neighboring barangays.

We noticed that a few of the children (like the middle boy in this photo) had large bolo knives with them, and asked about it. One of the daily chores for the students is to keep the school grounds neat and tidy, and students bring the bolos to chop down weeds and trim the grass. Discipline is not a problem here, or in the High School. The teachers had no difficulty with students misbehaving, no fights, and no worries about trusting students with large knives. Quite a difference from what we were used to in the U.S.

And then our visit was over. We reluctantly left the wonderful people of Calabacita and retraced our path over the mountains and back along the coast to Panglao. We had a wonderful time, though we were exhausted by the time we got back to our cottage. We have already begun planning new adventures for next month. We'll even bring you along with us, if you like — just check back each month for a new report.


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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
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Created 4/2002. All photos are © 2002 Jim Richter.