Philippine Self-Help Foundation

LLC 16th Graduation

Our school held its 16th recognition and commencement exercises on March 15 and 16, 2012. 

I have had the pleasure of attending every single annual graduation ceremony except the one in 2008 when I was suffering from a broken rib from a fall. I am always touched by the event and this year was no exception.

In 2010, I was accompanied by Yuko Inoue, the daughter of my friend Anna, on a high school graduation trip. This year, my long-term student, Yusuke Kaba was with me on his graduation trip.

The graduation ceremony was due to start at 1.30pm. Yusuke and I as well as Ireen, our PSHF Bohol coordinator arrived in plenty of time. Teacher Ann pinned flowers into our button holes on arrival and gave us our programmes. Pupils and parents were arriving in large numbers and there was a festive atmosphere.

The event began with the processional. Pupils walk up the middle of the hall in hand with one or both their parents. Other guests follow suit including me walking alongside the guest speaker, Dr Viña Salomon. She and I take up our seats on the platform as does Ireen and our school administrator, Jean Legaspi. The graduates, all dressed in their togas are already occupying the front seats in the auditorium, boys to the left and girls to the right.

The event begins with the invocation by selected K1 pupils and this is followed by the Philippine National anthem. Everybody puts their right arm across their chest and sings. There is a dignity and sense of national pride at this time and it never fails to move me; indeed this year, I am attending for the first time as a resident of the Philippines which makes it all the more poignant for me.

The graduation ceremony itself has many components and lasts about 90 minutes. There are medals awarded to the honors pupils for each grade and short speeches by children. I am amazed at the self confidence of these children; Mikaela Pacada, the 1st Honors student for the graduating class made a two minute speech with no notes, not a hint of nerves and in a very clear voice.

The children of each grade made presentations to music and their teacher was always in the front row prompting them with their moves. When I was not taking photos, I was sitting on the stage behind the children for most of the presentations. I recall noticing one little girl in the K2 graduating class who appeared to be standing slightly behind her classmates and not fully participating in the singing of the graduation song. This did not escape the attention of my companions on the stage either. We discovered her name was Clare and she is a special child, one of two children in our school with special needs. At the end of the song, each child was given a rose and asked to take it to their parents. I watched Clare being kindly led off the stage by her classmate , Mykylla Jhoy Rahil, and then seeing her run up to her Mother with rose in hand. Mum picked her up and gave her a very big hug.

The ceremony closed with the singing of the farewell song by the graduates and then came the final picture taking. I was very keen to have one photo taken of the children who had received loyalty awards. These are the children who have attended our school since Nursery 1. I was surprised that as many as 17 children have been with us for so long.

I had a chance to talk with a number of the parents at the end of the ceremony and I was asked to be in numerous photos. I made sure to have a photo of Clare and her mum.

I should like to conclude by thanking our teachers, Jean Legaspi (K2), Jonah Abano (K1), Eva Omale (N2) and Ann Larawan (N1) for putting on a very enjoyable event, the children for the joy they gave us in their songs and performances and the parents for their support.

Richard Foster
March 19th, 2012