SMS celebrate ‘ob-obbo’ in alumni reunion March 31-April2

>> Thursday, March 16, 2017

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA MOUNTAIN PROVINCE - The  more than a century-old St Mary School established in early 1900s shall be holding its  grand alumni homecoming March 31-April 2 with  the theme: ‘Celebrating the Spirit of Ob-obbo’.
‘Ob-obbo’ is a local cultural term referring to cooperation. 
                St Mary’s School through the years since it was financially and  administratively autonomous from  the Episcopal Church in the USA in 1990 had been raising its own finances from tuition fees of students, pledges from alumni who handled  tuition fees of some students and donations from friends. SMS before it became incorporated as St Mary School of Sagada Inc (SMSSI) in 2003 was a mission school under the ECP and thus derived  its finances from the  church. 
                One standing source are tuition fees of students currently now at P18,500 per school year from P9,000 in previous years. There are 208  students including  senior high school students presently enrolled in the lone private school of Sagada.
                Another source is the Educational Service Contracting Program with funds sourced from the Government  Assistance to Students  and Teachers (GASTPE) from the Department of Education (DePEd)  with some  P6,500 to P7,500 subsidy per student brings down to some P11,00 to P12,00 tuition fee per school year paid by the student.
                Other support came from friends including the support of former International School (IS) music director Dennis Faustino who through the years rendered his services free as principal of  SMS and conducted  concerts among SMS high school students and  IS students with proceeds having gone to SMS
                The school also received subsidy from ICCO, a Netherlands-based support agency; tuition fees from students and pledges from the alumni in the early 1990s.
                The  establishment of the  Sagada National High School  (SNHS) furthered  financial constraints of the school with the enrollment of a number of students to the free tuition fee public school. From an enrollment of some 300 students per school went down to some 150-200 students per school year.
                SMS alumnus and businessman Frank Longid became instrumental in  personally  handling  tuition fees of some students  and began soliciting support from  SMS alumni  for the financial upkeep of the school  in the late 1990s till he died in  2003.
                Other alumni  continued  Longid’s work including  SMS alumnus and  former  Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Engr Rufino Bumasang who, through the years had been forwarding monetary support and donations he solicited from  friends  including those from mining companies for the  SMS program sponsor a Faculty Chair. 
                Bumasang is the pioneering chairman of  the newly incorporated SMSSI in 2003 from a mission school managed  by the ECP.  
                SMS alumnus and one of the members of the SMSSI Board of Directors Nellie  Abeya Pit-og continued the  efforts of  Longid and Bumasang as an appointed chairperson of the Student Financial Assistance Program  in 2010 raising  support from alumni and other partners  to continue support on tuition fees of  students and financial upkeep of the school.
                Since the school had its  first four graduates in 1932  increased  to  3,500  graduates in  year 2000 to 5,000 plus graduates who are now working in  their varying  professions and occupations.
                The school now embarks in senior high school as part of the K12  curriculum with a promising enrollment of 64 senior high school Grade 11 students taking  humanities and social sciences;  and  science, technology,engineering and math electives.
                For this  grand alumni homecoming,  each school year class is encouraged to come together and  forward their  pledge of commitment in furthering the  mission of SMS towards academic excellence.
                It is a celebration that the school remained to be functioning  in  responding to challenges through the support of  alumni and friends, the students  parents and the  dedicated work of staff and  officers in what is called sharing and partnerships or ‘ob-obbo’.


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