Central Pangasinan Adventist School's 80th Founding Anniversary and 1st Alumni Homecoming

Central Pangasinan Adventist School (CPAS) is one of the oldest educational institutions in the small town of Mapandan -- in fact, it is the oldest private school in town. It was formerly called CPAMS or Central Pangasinan Adventist Multi-grade School. Just in case you are not aware of what a multi-grade school is, a multi-grade school has their classrooms shared by 2 grade levels having just one teacher (i.e. Grade 1 & 2 pupils has the same teacher).

I have always wondered how a multi-grade school works since every grade level has a different curriculum. Fortunately, I easily got an answer from my dad, who by the way has a first-hand experience of CPAMS. He told me that since they shared the same teacher with the other grade level, the teachers really have to be very equipped with loads of energy. The normal scenario during his time was: when the teachers discuss to the other grade level, she gives a seatwork or any written activity to the other grade level. The pressure was not just for the teachers alone, but for the pupils as well. They had to stay focused on what they were doing and eventually, they have mustered the art of ignoring the discussion to the other class. Amazing isn't it?

Anyway, in celebration of the school's 80th Founding Anniversary, the current school board members have thought of adding a significant highlight on their week-long activities - that is the first-ever Alumni Homecoming.

Our batch - Batch 1999, of course, joined the celebration. Not expecting a perfect attendance since most of my classmates are based abroad, but we somehow managed to have a good headcount. From the motorcade to the alumni night, it was one memorable reunion for our batch. Good laughs, old jokes, old faces, renewed friendships. I can talk about everything that happened in detail, but I think it would be too lengthy that it might need a separate post.

Anyway, I am very much honored and humbled to have been chosen by the School Board to be the Guest of Honor and Speaker for the Alumi Night to be held at the Mapandan Public Auditorium. It was also on this day, after the motorcade, when I was chosen by my fellow alumni as the first-ever President of the CPAS Alumni Association. I'm not sure how I can do this job knowing how non-cooperative some batch may be, but with the help of my fellow officers, I think it will be a fun experience.

Oath-taking with the newly-elected officers of the CPAS Alumni Association

Oh well, let's get to the reason why I decided to post about this. Since some of my classmates and some other alumni weren't able to attend the reunion, they have been messaging me if I have at least a video of my speech, because apparently, those who have heard it loved it! It was too overwhelming that even after a month, in different events, I still get remembered for my speech by random people. Unfortunately, there's no video, and I don't know if someone took a video of me. Fortunately though, I still do have a copy of my draft.

So here it is. This is not verbatim, because I always tend to ad lib whenever I do speeches.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, most especially to our distinguished guest, Pastor Jimmy Acosta, the former heads of our beloved school, Sir Placido Tapeceria, Ma'am Judith Bartolome, Sir Nelson Benavidez, the school board members spearheaded by Sir Vernie Decano, the members of the past and present teaching force, to the parents of our current students, and of course, to you, my fellow CPAS Alumni, who have dedicated your time and effort to celebrate with us in our 1st Grand Alumni Homecoming. Friends and guests, good evening. 

Last year, I received an invitation over Facebook for tonight’s event and there was pure excitement, as the idea of coming “home” and seeing people after a very long time was simply amazing. So, thank you to the organizers of this event. 

It is indeed both an honor and a privilege to be speaking here tonight. I honestly do not know why I was chosen as I’m sure there are so many of you around here who are more capable and deserving of giving this message. When Sir Vernie asked if it’s okay for me to give a speech tonight, I was excited because I thought it’s going to be just a simple testimonial of how my life in CPAS was. But when I got the invitation, I instantly felt nervous because I found out that I was supposed to give an inspirational talk. I immediately assessed myself on how I or my message, at least, can be an inspiration to you guys. I thought it was supposed to be given by someone who is super successful already. I mean, I was already invited by CPAS as their Commencement Speaker last 2015, but it was a totally different feeling when you are going to speak with the rest of the successful products of the school. 

Anyway, just like everyone else, CPAS had its humble beginnings. I am not privy to what it was before 1993, but when I first stepped on the portals of CPAS, its campus was really simple, the only people who experience the stairs are the Grade 5 and 6 students. We don’t have a big campus like the public schools, but it was fine, because with the help of our classmates and friendly teachers, I instantly felt at home.

My last year in CPAS was one of the best. I always look forward to going to class not really so for the academics but more so because I would be seeing my friends. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I did not learn anything back then because during my 1st year in high school, I was surprised that I know more than my classmates and most of the things discussed, because I have taken those up in CPAS already. 

Btw, we were never given the chance to say thank you to CPAS, but together with my classmates, GV Dacanay, Jeffrey Rosete, Jessan Visperas and Lady Katrina De Vera, thank you very much for the recognition you have given to our batch back in 2003 (that was under Sir Milandro Pabro). To all those who do not know, CPAS has given our batch a special award because in 2003, CPAS products topped in our town's major high schools, Mapandan National High School and Mapandan Academy. Really good job on that, CPAS Batch 99! Best batch ever!  

Pathfinder days, ukelele days, gymnastic days, we really owe it to our Grade 6 adviser, Sir Nelson Benavidez. Really cool and always takes time to bond with his students, not just as a teacher, but as a father and friend to all of us. We also have Ma’am Luisa Gandia, whose passion in teaching is truly admirable. Sila na lang po muna yung special mention since sila lang yung andito. 😊 

CPAS is different now. The kids are really different now. When asked for an analogy about CPAS, the first thing that comes to mind is values. CPAS is there not just to teach basic education to its students, but to instill the core values that every child needs while growing up. I realized that what CPAS has taught me was not just what’s in the curriculum – it prepared me academically for high school and beyond and then I asked myself, is that all? I think the value of a school lies in its ability to teach its students more than academics as academics coupled with life skills and right attitude is a sure formula for success. I always believe in looking back as I know that whatever I have achieved now would not have been possible if not for my experiences and CPAS is a big part of that.

For all intent and purposes, whether directly or indirectly, CPAS taught me to live, it instilled in me the discipline of hard work, perseverance, and most importantly, it taught me the real meaning of family and friendship while putting God in the center of our lives. My batchmates and I have been friends for more than 20 years now. 

Anyway. I can still remember our Graduation Theme during our time. PRESS ON TO THE GOAL. And it’s still applicable to everyone of us here. You students, keep pressing on to the goal. Do not let yourself be out of focus. Set a goal and keep pressing on to that goal. To you my fellow alumni, you may already be successful or halfway to your goals, so don’t stop there. Just keep pressing on. 

An alumni homecoming is always nostalgic and tonight’s event is no different. It is even made more special and memorable because it is the first homecoming of CPAS. According to the dictionary, nostalgia pertains to “the pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you can experience it again”, and that is exactly what most of us are feeling right now. It is indeed a pleasure to see old teachers, friends and schoolmates and throughout the night, we will be telling old stories and reliving our glorious CPAS days and then sadness and reality would dawn that we are no longer students and that all those things are part of the past. But I’d like to think that an alumni homecoming is more than just reminiscing so let me leave you with this question, we are here tonight, we are the alumni. So, now what?! What’s next?

Cheers to better CPAS years ahead, everyone! Maraming Salamat po at magandang gabi."

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