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99.99% Sagada Igorot

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Back to Ambasing Elementary School Once More
“Ambasing uskilaan id Kaw-a,” we sang our school hymn in front of a cheering crowd when we graduated at Ambasing Elementary School (AmES) in March 2002.

The lyrics of the anthem was written Mrs. Luisa Kilakil, my fifth grade teacher . The melody was borrowed from a Christian aria titled "There's a Church in the Valley." The lyrics mentions about "Kaw-a", obsolete name of the location of school. In fact, a huge portion of the campus was donated by Mr. Leon Lizardo, my maternal great grandfather. 

I remember how I climbed the stage to deliver my Welcome Address as the batch salutatorian. I climbed the stage again to be recognized as the head of the school's volleyball team and part of the team that represented the district during the provincial sporting event.

Two weeks ago, I had a chance of having a glimpse of the place that first taught me how to sing ABC and how to use a verb in a sentence.

I accompanied my niece Eve Lizardo Lanyi, who is based in the United States of America, to gather data on multi-language learning. On top of that business, she wanted to see the school where her mother Juliet Lizardo- Lanyi graduated in elementary (Juliet was the top student of her batch years ago). 

Eve studies both Cognitve Science and and Dancing. And yes, she is a ballerina! When I met her the day before our visit to AmES, I was frank enough to tell her that ballet is only for the rich while contemporary dance genres are designed for commoners.

Dr. Marcy Lizardo- Bolona, Eve’s aunt and a department head at the Benguet State University (BSU) College of Teacher Education (CTE), accompanied us. Lyra Marcso Alunes, a professional guidance counselor,  also came all the way from Baguio City to be part of the team.

When we reached the school, we were fascinated by the changes in the school. There was an open gym covering the basketball-volleyball court aready. The last time I went there, the gym was still unfinished. The "Pre-Fab" was replaced by a one-storey building that houses the faculty room, and the computer laboratory. The new CR was built nearer the buildings. Thus, the kids need not to go at the back of the main building for their necessities.

Upon entering the campus, we were welcomed by the teachers at the school. They invited us to coffee wherein we talked much about the Nutella chocolate butter which was waiting for us on the table. According to the teachers, the butter was sent by Mrs. Virgina Guitilen's daughter Eva who now works in Switzerland.

Years ago, Dr. Bolona was the guest of speaker during a graduation ceremony. According to my mother, Dr. Bolona delivered one of the most notable graduation speeches in the history of the school.

It was fascinating to check out my teachers who are still there after 13 years. Well, Mrs. Kilakil is still there. My kindergarten teacher Mrs. Susan Kollin Likigan, fifth grade teacher Mrs. Dorcas Malabong, sixth grade teacher Mrs. Arthur Bosaing and fourth grade teacher Mrs. Guitilen are still around.

Eve proceeded to her class observation with the class of Mrs. Ana Duclan Bayoya then went on to interview Mrs. Malabong. She was extracting information on how kids in the school use four languages: English, Filipino, Kankanaey and Ilocano to learn concepts.

While Eve was busy, I and Lyra accompanied Dr. Bolona to give kinder kids some fun. Dr. Bolona hosted singing and story-telling sessions. She taught the kids how to sing the folk song with this lyrics: "Ginao, pising ya etag, ya etag, ya etag, ya etag. Men-ili-ili-ili-limis."

Surprizingly, a Japanese named Huku came and observed the school kids with us. According to him, he studies English in South Korea.

At around 11, Eve finished all her stuff and we are ready to leave the school for our trip. We bid goodbye to the teachers and took a few pictures with them.

When the school disappeared in my sight while we were riding on a jeepney to town to catch the latest bus going to Baguio City, my mind and heart were singing the school anthem.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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