Graduation Day in the Philippines

Our 12-year-old niece from Guimaras, Den Den, graduated from the sixth grade recently. In a rare spontaneous mood, the day before the event, I informed my asawa that I wanted to attend the ceremonies. Our niece would be entering high school next year and these closing exercises would be a milestone in her young life.  My stunned spouse agreed.  Because I wanted to surprise our relatives back in the mango province, we didn’t inform anyone that we would be attending.40th Closing Exercises San Miguel Central School

The graduation ceremony was to begin at 8 am. As an American expat living in the Philippines for nearly four years now and married to a wonderful Filipina for over 13, I am well acquainted with the concept of “Filipino Time.”  

I doubted that the event would start on time.  I was right. We arrived at 7:45 from our home in Iloilo. Den Den and her mother, Alida (see following photo), came at 8:20. The  graduation ceremony started at 8:25, only 25 minutes late. The 40th Closing Exercises for San Miguel Central School in Jordan, Guimaras had begun.Den Den gets help from nanay

Roaming the grounds of the school as I waited for the commencement exercises to begin, I unleashed my asawa’s Sony Cyber Shot digital camera and took some pictures. Here’s  the entrance to San Miguel Central School in Guimaras.  The school is located between the “Old Site” and “New Site” markets in San Miguel, Jordan municipality, where my wife and I first lived when we moved to the Philippines from the States. Entrance to San Miguel Central School in Guimaras

I couldn’t resist taking the next picture of the Math Mini Park located on the school grounds. Mathematics was my least favorite subject when I was in high school. Hated it.  I struggled to get a “C” in mathematics. Art, history and literature were my favorite courses.

Math Mini Park in Guimaras

Loved this huge Mountain Dew sponsored signage for the school canteen. Wandered in and gulped down a bottle of Pepsi and checked out the assortment of junk food available.  I downed a whole bottle. 10 pesos. No soda with a straw in a little plastic bag for me.

San Miguel Central School Canteen

Taking a cue from legislation in the States (something very common in this archipelago) Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed a bill that would regulate the offering of soft drinks  in all grade schools and high schools in the Philippines.

Santiago stated the following: “”It is the responsibility of the State to protect our children from exposure to harmful substance. The sale of beverages that pose serious health risks can be curbed under the State’s POLICE POWER.” (Italics mine.) 

Den Den at 40th Closing Exercises San Miguel Central School

Den Den and her fellow  classmates were patiently standing during the graduation ceremonies. The event lasted over 2 1/2 hours. My asawa and I stayed outside underneath a few  trees for some shade. The temperature was   26° C,  79° F with 76% humidity. Not blistering heat yet. We had some classroom chairs provided by the school and were comfortable in the shade.  Crowd at gradution ceremony in Guimaras

Here’s part of the large crowd at the closing ceremonies. Her sixth grade class was composed of several different sections. Students attend from all around the area of San Miguel.    Den Den's 6th grade graduation in GuimarasDen Den is actually smiling in this photograph as she gets ready to take the stage to receive her diploma.  English was spoken the whole program. The guest speaker, a local dentist, was the speaker and kept her speech at around five minutes.  Good thing I wasn’t giving the commencement address. Would have lasted a lot longer than five minutes.  Ask my asawa. 

   More friends at graduation in Guimaras

Here’s Den Den with some fellow classmates. She’s the tallest of the bunch. I missed the actual photo op when she was handed her diploma onstage. I tried to focus the camera but couldn’t turn it on in time. But I’m a 61-year-old geezer. Cut me some slack. I didn’t even have any adult beverages at the time either (that would come later at Lisa’s Talabahan.)

Den Den and friends at Graduation

Here’s another picture with Den Den and some  friends.Den Den, 40th Closing Exercises San Miguel Central School in Guimaras

And here’s my niece with the last photo for this post.   Glad we made it for the graduation. Nanay had to return home since she had students of her own waiting on her at her preschool. Papa was home minding the sari sari store and keeping an eye on our younger niece JalAmiel.

My asawa stood in as the parent while Alida was gone and was quite happy to do so.  We’re proud of Den Den and her accomplishments thus far in her young life and expect great things from her. Her mother and father expect no less. Neither do we.  I don’t believe anyone of us will be disappointed. 

28 Comments

  1. What a great post Dave. Den Den is as cute as a bugs ear… I sure enjoyed the photos. I am proud of you for attending. We need more of that to show the folks that some of us are really the good guys and not ugly Americans as so many say… Congrats!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks, much, Gary. I appreciate the kind words. We’ve got a fine bunch of nieces and nephews in Guimaras in addition to the four living with us. These kids are all respectful, don’t complain and are grateful for the little things in life. Couldn’t ask for a better bunch.

      Reply
  2. I agree wholeheartedly with Gary. If only more expats would get involved in supporting their communities, it could only help to bolster our image. I’m sure also that Den Den will never forget that you were there to support her. Good on you Dave!

    Reply
    • Thanks, RandyL. I’ll be featuring another post coming up that deals with another graduation in nearby Guimaras. My asawa and I had the privilege of handing out diplomas to the youngsters and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

      We’ll also be in Guimaras the week of April 14th for six days to help celebrate the annual Manggahan Festival. The festival has carnival rides and games that our nieces and nephews love. They also have cold bottles of San Miguel. The asawa has already given me the word, however, no Tanduay Rhum this year. I have to stick with only Pale Pilsen. And I promised not to dance. That’s not a pretty sight, I can assure you.

      Reply
  3. Congrats to your niece on her graduation and enjoyed the pictures. I also disliked math in high school even more when I couldn’t pass my math proficiency test to get my diploma. It took me 7 trys to pass and living in Reno it actually turned out to be my lucky number.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Art. Glad you persevered and passed the math exam. As I stated, I absolutely hated math.

      Reno, huh? Whenever I think of Reno, the hit TV comedy Reno 911, always comes to mind. Funny show. :)

      Reply
  4. Dave,

    I guess I’m going to miss the Manggahan Festival this year (How Depressing)

    Fearless Frank from Florida

    Reply
    • Very depressing for us, too, Fearless Frank. That means I’m stuck hanging out with your old buddy, Tom, by myself. Wish you could have made it.

      Reply
  5. Frank is staying home and it just up to Dave and Tom to drink that beer? What is wrong with that???

    Reply
    • I don’t know, Gary, we’ll miss Fearless Frank, but rest assured, TomCat and I will be drinking his share. :)

      Reply
  6. Can anyone tell me what a case of beer costs in Mindanao? Or what you can reasonably guess it might cost? My wife keeps talking about us moving to Butuan City and buying a house there. Not too sure if I’m keen on it since I have a daughter from a previous marriage here in the States I worry about a lot. I think she would be lost without me, emotionally, spiritually (I know this might be understand; but I’m doing my best to describe a difficult situation). Jiji (my asawa? I’m not familiar with that word) is already setting up businesses in the Philippines with money we’re earning here in the states, and even investing in interest-bearing accounts in Phils. All of this I approve of because, outside of hard work, I have no way of increasing my financial worth here in the US. So, anyway, what does a case of beer cost? I assume they don’t have Rolling Rock. Does San Miguel compare to it? I’ve drank Red Horse before. It was okay, but not great. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Can any of you Mindanao guys weigh in on this one for Steve, please? Depends on what type of beer you’re talking about, Steve. Gold Eagle is the cheapest but tastes like warm pee. My American expat friend living in nearby Guimaras in Western Visayas used to pay P13 a bottle for it when he bought it by the case. But that was before the sin tax. Red Horse and San Miguel Pale Pilsen would be among some of the cheapest. I can buy a bottle of Red Horse for P28 at the cheap eateries in Iloilo.

      Moving to the Philippines is a radical lifestyle change. No doubt about that. My wife and I do not have any children. She already owned her home in the province so that, too, was a factor in moving, though now we rent a three bedroom home in a gated, guarded subdivision for 140 US Dollars a month. Lots of things to consider on making the big move, but I’m glad we did. Been here almost four years and loving it. Good luck.

      Reply
  7. Also, if you’re a Bill Murray fan the movie Kingpin always reminds people of Reno too…

    Reply
    • I missed that one, Art. I’m a fan of Bill Murray and the Farrelly brothers who directed the film, but that one totally escaped my radar.

      Reply
  8. Do expats have a bad image? Great story Dave, we just sent some extra support for my wife’s youngest brother who had a similar graduation, so this helped me have a better idea of what it was all about.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, Lee, some do. Here’s what US Ambassador Harry Thomas had to say back in September 201: “I estimate that may be up to 40 percent of foreign men who come here come for sexual tourism and that is unacceptable. And any of them engaged in things that violate the law, whether they are American or other foreigner, should be prosecuted. That is against human values,” Thomas said. That statement stirred up quite a controversy and the ambassador later apologized for it. But Mr. Thomas probably wasn’t too far off the mark in his original statement.

      Reply
  9. I live in Tagum City on the wonderful island of Mindanao. I have been to Butuan City one time and will never go back. Much too dangerous for me. My wife Meriam was born and raised on this island and she hated the place. The NPA is in the middle of a war and Butuan City is a major hideout for them. Butuan City is hot and dirty.

    Expats in Northern Mindanao are called sexpats. Most treat their ladies like crap… Expats are being shot and killed up that way too. There are much better places to live. Davao City is OK but expats are being shot and killed there too. I know one man that lives in the north of the island and had a 12 hour brown out last week. Normal for him is only 6 hours. Rent for a few years before you buy your wife a house and land. You will never own it…

    Reply
    • Thanks for the info, Gary. Batuan City looks like a place to avoid. It’s always good to get a perspective from someone who actually lives in the region.

      12 hour brownouts? We had those a few weekends ago in Iloilo. They suck. Six hour brownouts are bad enough.

      Reply
  10. Thanks Gary for the info. Yeah, some of that I knew. I was in RTR (Remedios Trinidad Romualdez) and there was a hill, San Antonio Mtn., I think, standing in full view before us where I was told the NP (as they call them) were very active. Occasionally a military helicopter passed over head. I was told if you travel at night you have to worry about being stopped by them.
    Problem is, she wants to live there because that is where all her family is. And I don’t know if it helps but at least part of her family are Philippine police and military.
    I’m certainly no sexpat!

    Reply
  11. If her family is police and Army then you want to live at least 6 hours away. They are the ones the NPA go after. NO WAY will you be safe near them. Not too long ago the NPA took over an entire village going house to house looking for weapons. They knew where to look. No one was hurt but it sure scared the folks and their families.

    Sexpat? Not me. Meriam is a ordained Bible woman and she has worked in churches all over the Visayas and Mindanao. I just hate it when people put me in the same group as some of these low life scum.

    Good luck in what ever you do. I will pray for you.

    Reply
  12. Thanks Gary. Maybe I can convince her to live in some other part of the Philippines and visit her family when she wants to.

    Reply
    • That’s some good advice from Gary, Steve. Plus, I think a majority of the expats living here would recommend checking out a place and renting first. Get a feel for the place first and see how you like it. Though my wife and I first moved to Guimaras, her home province, when we first arrived in the Philippines in July 2009, our move to nearby Panay Island, where our home Iloilo, is located, worked out much better. Better hospitals, better shopping, and relatives have to get past armed guards to get into our subdivision (though we have five extra relatives visiting us overnight right now, but we love all of that bunch.)

      Reply
  13. Dave,
    I know Tito Dave is very proud of Den Den and all of the Nieces and Nephews. They are all great kids and never any problems with them. You couldn’t ask for anything more. That is a rarity here in the states. It’s good that you get involved in local activities. Anne and Myself plan to get involved locally in some manner. Great photos of Den Den at the graduation. She is a nice looking young lady. Will there be a graduation party? Have a nice day

    Reply
    • Thanks Papa Duck. We do have a great bunch of kids in Guimaras and Iloilo. Unfortunately, since my asawa has a multitude of brothers and sisters and their children scattered throughout the Philippines, a few of the kids have run into some trouble. My own Mom and Dad had three sons. I was the oldest. I kept my nose to the books and stayed out of trouble. Lost my youngest brother when he was only age 38. My middle brother had some problems in his younger days.

      No graduation party, PapaDuck. We did take DenDen to our favorite talabahan and treated her to lunch. She, along with her younger brother and sister, will be spending a week with us enjoying the nearby swimming pool, the cinema at SM City and shopping. Glad to hear Anne and you are going to get involved too, but I’m not surprised to hear that. Take care.

      Reply
    • It’s a great place to live, Neil. Now if I could just get some water on a daily basis and no five hour brownouts like the one we had last night, I would be even happier.

      Reply
  14. :) Right, Dave. But once the bulk water supply contractors gets to perfect their means of conveying the precious liquid, we will be okay. And in a few years, the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II will be another major water source.

    I heard that the brownout last night was caused by the tripping of a major line in far away Negros Is. :)

    Nevertheless, it’s no excuse for the very long brownout. Cheers!

    Reply
    • We’re going to get a well dug and water tanks installed once we get our new home next year, Neil. I’m not counting on any water project being completed.

      Yes, I read an article about the cause of the brownout and the same article states that the “power” company is scheduling another long brownout this weekend. We hope to be in nearby Guimaras which has half the number of brownouts we’ve experience since living in Iloilo.

      Reply

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