American Ambassador Shows Up at SPED Christmas in Guimaras

Yes, an American ambassador shows up at the SPED Christmas Pageant  in Guimaras, the island province in Western Visayas known for the sweetest mangoes in the world.  The “ambassador,” an American expat living in the Philippines, and his charming wife, were escorted to front row choice seats by no less than Principal Daisy A. Solis, San Miguel Central School’s esteemed leader.

 

My asawa and I last attended a SPEDSpecial Education, function back in 2014. Our niece, JalAmiel, and nephew, Jorreale, are enrolled in the advanced student program of SPED, which also serves children with special needs. Advanced students and those with disabilities all fall under the Special Education program in Guimaras.

Amiel is currently ranked #2 in her class.  Jorreale has slipped from #11 to a position somewhere in the Top 25. I think our nephew is spending too much time watching Adventure Time on The Cartoon Network.

SPED Day at San Miguel Central School in Guimaras

The kids’ father, Joery, seen below in a classic Joery pose, was a participant in the parade which preceded the school function. Joery was taking a rare Saturday off. He’s been painting the exterior of our new home in the Philippines.

Classic Joery

Grade 4 SPED kids are pictured below. Nephew Jorreale, a member of the Grade 4 class,  is seen with a wide grin on his face in the center of the photo after next. He loves to mug for the camera. the SPED parade in guimaras

our nephew in the SPED parade

Members of the King and Queen’s Royal Court are shown standing before their anointed leaders in the next photograph. The King and Queen and runner-up’s in the court are determined by how much money each individual can raise. This makes for a great fund raiser opportunity in the schools and is a common practice on our island province.

I was announced twice as the “American Ambassador” by one of the emcees shown on the far left, holding a microphone. I stood up the first time and acknowledged the cheering masses with my best “beauty queen” wave which I gleaned from watching numerous beauty pageants on television.

The Royal Court of SPED

The Queen and King of SPED, Guimaras

SPED QUEEN AND KING 2015

our niece JalAmiel

Niece JalAmiel, far right, is getting ready for her dance number in this Frozen-themed pageant which even included some falling snow. The “snow” was generated by a teacher who would smack a stick on a sack hung on the rafters and filled with Styrofoam flakes.

Notice the firm hug JalAmiel’s classmate has on her. It’s common in the Philippines for Filipinas, regardless of age, to walk hand-in-hand with each other. You’ll also see the boys putting their hands on the shoulder of a friend as they go strolling around the local malls.

group kicks off the SPED function

These SPED kids led the audience in a prayer and worship session. Yes, Virginia, this is the Philippines, where it’s OK to mention Jesus and where prayer is encouraged even in the public schools.

another SPED group, with a Frozen theme

Check out the cool shoes on the cute kids shown above. The school went all out for this Frozen-themed pageant. I conservatively guess that our niece, JalAmiel, has watched the movie Frozen over a million times.

another SPED grooup

And what’s a Christmas pageant without some dancing Santa girls and Santa Claus? All the kids did a tremendous job in this event. more SPED kids with Santa

My asawa and niece, JalAmiel

Here’s my lovely asawa with our niece, JalAmiel. Amiel is now in the second grade and just turned eight years old a couple of months ago. When we arrived in the Philippines, she was two, but she’s growing up fast now.

My lovely asawa with our niece and nephew

My spouse with our niece and nephew. Here’s the two kids from several years ago. Amiel is no longer a chubby, or “healthy” baby,  as one doctor once diplomatically put it. Joriel and JalAmiel posing by the sibukah wood at "The Compound"

The Kano and JalAmiel

And here’s The Kano, Uncle Dave, with our niece. JalAmiel, unfortunately came down with chicken pox right after the event and probably will spend the week before Christmas at home and miss school.

Joery, Alida and JalAmiel

Joery and Mom, Alida, join JalAmiel. We all headed out to Lisa’s Talabahan for lunch. The program, which started at nine, was still going at noon when we left. This “American Ambassador” was hungry and needed some quick chow. It’s hard work being a celebrity in the Philippines.

14 comments

  1. Hi Dave, it’s nice to see the kids enjoy themselves and it looks like the American ambassador and his wife also enjoyed themselves just another day in this country
    We’re kids are allowed to be kids, it’s a lot different back home we’re there are
    To many rules these days, Derek in pasig.

    1. We did have a great time, Derek, thanks.

      Man, America is getting way too crazy. I don’t know about the UK but now I’ve heard some “educators” in the States don’t even want children addressed as “boys” or “girls” anymore because it isn’t politically correct. They want the kids to be “gender neutral.” What a load of carabao crap!

  2. Totally agree with you Derek.

    Dave, so great that you participate in these activities. You are doing your American countrymen proud by not being a loud, obnoxious, know-it-all, don’t give a flying frick about the filipino culture type of American (and foreigner) I have seen far too much of.

    The kids all look happy, Melinda looks happy, and I have no doubt your niece and nephew and the parents of those kids really appreciated you being there.

    Dave, this type of thing is why I think you are such a good guy and love reading this blog.

    1. Awww, shucks, thanks, Todd. Wait until you see an upcoming post where we were invited to a military camp’s Christmas party in Iloilo City. It was a blast. And though, I’ve lost my cool at times, I try to remember that I am, in fact, a representative of the country I came from. But Melinda keeps me in check and I’m doing much better. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Can’t wait Dave. I am not going to say to anyone that I have been perfect when in the Philippines. I have had my moments, for sure. But I always tell Americans to be a good ambassador for America. It makes us and our country look better and it makes filipinos happier because we don’t act like we are the cock of the walk and they are less than us.

    I have seen that so many times and it disgust me. You know, as well as I do, that when all the participants left that gathering many were commenting on how cool it was that YOU, the Kano, was there enjoying it. God, that is so great.

    Ok, off my soapbox. It just means a lot to me as I really love the Philippines.

    1. Thanks, Todd. Unfortunately I’ve seen too many expats, American and others, who have a superior attitude and walk around like they’re some sort of privileged character. They’re not.

      I hope to post a video today regarding one small portion of our visit to the Army base Christmas party. The celebration was a blast.

  4. Dave,
    Look’s like a good time was had by all. Jalamiel has really become a cute little girl. It’s always nice to be treated “special” here as a foreigner. Totally agree you would never see religion brought into a public school in the US like it was when we were in school. Which is really sad. Glad Melinda has that big smile and is back to normal now. We are getting a lot of rain from the typhoon now. We will get hit by the edge of it. Wish i could send you guys some as you really in need of it. Too bad it has to come right before Christmas.

    1. Stay safe, Papa Duck. We’ve only had a smattering of rain so far, we need a good, steady rain that will last all day or night.

      JalAmiel is at home now recovering from chicken pox. We went to visit her yesterday and she’s on the couch watching The Cartoon Network. We brought her over some ice cream, which always helps when you’re sick, in my opinion.

  5. Hi Kano,

    Stumbled by ur website b chance. I need your advice/solution on something. One of my friends (Indian) has gone to philipines. It was on May 2014. Since he has overstayed he is in the Illegal migrant category now. He has a girl friend there, since he dint get legally divorced from his wife.he cannot apply for the spouse visa i think. From research i understood that there was a BI campaign for alien registration and now its over. What are the ways to come out clean? Can he pay his dues in the airport?he lives in Negros Occidental.Sorry for posting it here. i could not find ur email id and you disabled comments in “the Americans living illegally.. my email id is annesq8@gmail.com

    1. Hi, Anne. Your friend needs to go to his local Bureau of Immigration Office if he wants to get this matter cleared up. He will be fined. He cannot pay his dues at the airport. If he wants to stay in the Philippines he MIGHT be allowed to stay once he pays his fine. I am not an Immigration lawyer, however, but I can tell you that his best course of action is to report to Immigration, in my opinion, at this point.

  6. I would have to agree with Dave. If your friend can hire a decent lawyer there he might have a slightly better chance of not being banned from re-entering the Philippines. If he cannot hire a lawyer he is better off just coming clean and going to immigration, paying the fine, somehow try to explain how he could have overstayed so long, and see where the chips fall.

    Guys and gals this is a situation that can ALWAYS be avoided! Do not overstay your Visa unless it is for a really really good reason, and about the only reason I can think of is that you became really sick and could not make it down to immigration. Overstaying a VISA for over a year…not going to work out well in many cases.

    1. A good lawyer might help, Todd, I agree. I’ve known of expats that have overstayed for years and go to Immigration and come clean. It’s really the best option in my opinion.

      To be honest, if a person can’t afford the modest fees to renew one’s visa, you might have come to the Philippines unprepared in the first place. Of course, if you are legally married to a Filipina, she can sponsor you for the 13a Permanent Visa and you only have to report annually to your local Immigration office and plunk down 310 pesos for your Annual Alien Report.

  7. Yes, overstaying the VISA is sorta inexcusable. I hate to pile on a guy that is in some trouble, but you need to know the laws and abide by them in ANY country. He has now put himself at risk of not being able to stay in the Philippines….EVER.

    But as me and you have mentioned before Dave, knowing people that can “fix” these issues is a big advantage.

    I have never overstayed a VISA and never plan to…but if I lost my mind for some some reason I have a few people that could probably “fix” the issue pretty quickly.

    1. Todd, I’m sure we all could trade some “fixer” stories, but I leave the bulk of them off this site. However,one of my favorite ones was an expat I met who wanted an annulment erased for his girlfriend. The girlfriend had a relative who worked at NSO, the National Statistic Office. The relative had a co-worker expunge the annulment from the NSO database.

      But as we both know, it is much easier to just follow the rules and ALWAYS keep your stay in the Philippines legal and up-to-date.

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