PGMA’s Speech during the Grand Centennial Alumni Homecoming of the Ilocos Sur National High School (ISNHS)
(While surfing the net, I found this speech by the president herself about our school.)
Thursday, January 10, 2002
Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Thank you very much Congressman Nib Baterina, outstanding alumnus of Vigan, now Ilocos Sur national high school, donor of the Balay Alumni and one of the outstanding prosecutors in the trial, in the trial that led to my becoming President of the Republic of the Philippines. Apo Engineer Padernal and the other officials of the alumni association of the Ilocos Sur National High School. I will also greet the other members of the community of Ilocos Sur national High School, the principal, the teachers, dagiti estudyante who are the future of Ilocos Sur and the Philippines. And I would like to greet the officials of the province of Ilocos Sur headed by Governor Didi Savellano, who is not an alumnus of Ilocos Sur national high school but his father was an alumnus of Ilocos Sur national high school; Didi Savellano is the father of Ilocos Sur. I will greet also Chavit Singson, who is no longer the father of Ilocos Sur but I consider him the father of EDSA Dos. I would also like to greet Congressman Eric Singson; the chairman of PCSO Honeygirl de Leon; her brother also and Chavit’s brother, jerry Singson, the vice governor of Ilocos Sur; and my partner from the national government Secretary Dinky Soliman; my other partner from the national government, Presidential Assistant Renate Diaz; and my associate in Malacañang, Undersecretary Bobby Capco; outstanding alumni who all spoke tonight; and all of you alumni of Ilocos Sur National High School who I’m sure are all outstanding as well.
I am very happy to be here with you on the occasion of your celebration of the 100th anniversary of the life of Vigan now, Ilocos Sur National High School.
I will also be celebrating an anniversary soon together with Chavit, nib, dinky and all the other major players of EDSA Dos — our first year in this administration.
In this administration, as nib said, we believe in work ethic. We believe in matching rhetoric with action. We believe in performing rather than grandstanding. And we believe in having a clear vision and that vision is to be bold in our national ambitions and win the battle against poverty within the decade.
In order to do this in the 21st century we must look for our competitive advantage in the world of global competition. And that competitive advantage is our human resources. The great Filipino worker and anybody who attends this reunion tonight will have no doubt that indeed the Philippines is the home of the great Filipino worker.
And after seeing the roster of our outstanding alumni we can also say that indeed Ilocos Sur national high school is also a home of great Filipino workers no less great than any other Filipino worker from any other high school in the republic of the Philippines.
Let us examine who are some of these great Filipino workers produced by Ilocos Sur national high school.
There is one who is not here with us tonight because he got stranded doing his work — doing his work for our administration, doing his work so that we will have agricultural modernization which is one of our four main components for fighting poverty. I am talking about class 1979, dr. Leocadio Sebastian. He is not here tonight because he is doing work for me, but he sent us his representative presidential adviser on job creation in Agriculture Luisito Lorenzo. Cito and I are very proud of Leo Sebastian because the work he has done in philrice, the Philippine rice search institute, has adopted for the Philippines a very important hybrid rice from china that adopted in the Philippines, can increase the productivity of our rice farmers by two-and-a-half times. We are adopting the
work of Leocadio Sebastian in 50 hectares for the year 2002. Ay, 50,000 hectares not 50 hectares, 50,000 hectares. And because of the work that Leocadio Sebastian has been doing not only has he received honors as an outstanding alumnus in the Ilocos Sur national high school he is also one of the ten outstanding young men of the Philippines for the year 2001.
I would like to … And we look at the others that we have heard tonight truly they are great Filipino workers for Vigan, for Ilocos, for the Philippines for other parts of the world as well.
Tonight our invocation was given to us by father Joe Tacderas. He didn’t make a speech about his memories but he is a great Filipino worker of god who has brought God to the people of Bolivia. An outstanding Filipino worker working among the people in Bolivia.
And we have heard of course an outstanding Filipino worker in governance who have shown good governance not only in the Philippines but in Hawaii as one of our two Ilocano state congressmen of Hawaii. And I would like to congratulate congressman Jun Abinsay for making us Filipinos proud of him.
And we talk about the great Filipino worker in other parts of the world, in other parts of the Philippines, tonight we saw an example of a great Ilocano worker who is showing governance not here in Ilocos Sur but as a city mayor of Sorsogon City, sally mandolin. I have had the opportunity of visiting sally many times in Sorsogon where she is not only the City Mayor of Sorsogon city but also the first lady of the province of Sorsogon because her husband is Governor Raul lee. And it was sally who kept nagging me about coming to your 100th anniversary. Thank you Sally for inviting me here.
And of course if we speak about the great Filipino worker I have mentioned father Tacderas, I have mentioned Leo Sebastian, I have mentioned already also if by way of thanking him for his introduction congressman Salecnib Baterina, whose mother is also the oldest living alumna of Ilocos Sur national high school from 99 years ago. We would have wanted her to be here tonight but of course if she graduated 99 years ago, I mean if she’s 99 years old then that means that it’s very difficult for her to be here. But she not only was a good alumna she produced a good alumnus and therefore that means that there’s a good future for Ilocos Sur national high school. And we have greeted congressman Jun Abinsay.
I saved the best maybe for the last? Well, I am very grateful that Ilocos Sur national high school produced a man whom I can rely to defend the republic and that is general Narcing Abaya. General Abaya, I understand, he said who was class 64′. But he was too modest. He was class 64’ valedictorian. And we learned he finished engineering but he was too modest he was number one topnotcher in the engineering exam. And he talked about his military career but he was too modest, he failed to tell us that he is a graduate of west point class 1971. A great example of an outstanding Filipino worker in defending the republic.
And so, tonight we see examples of the great Filipino worker, the great Ilocano worker, the great product of Ilocos Sur National High School.
As we celebrate 100 years we look at the next 100 years. What is the future that is the role of Ilocos Sur National High School? As these outstanding alumni have all shown an important work, important role in the life of the Philippines, of other parts of the world. What will be the role of Ilocos Sur National High School in the years to come?
I said earlier that our competitive advantage in the 21st century is our great human resources. And that is why if we are going to compete in the world of the 21st century our growth sectors are those sectors that are in the human resource-intensive, skills-intensive service sectors. And the job of the Ilocos Sur national high school and the entire educational system of the Philippines it would be able to provide a new generation of knowledge workers who by the time they look for jobs and look for their careers they will be as outstanding as the alumni that we are honoring in this platform tonight and they will also make a great contribution as the great Filipino worker Vigan, to Ilocos Sur, to the national government and to other parts of the whole world.
The human resource-intensive, skills-intensive service sectors are exemplified by information and communication technology and tourism. Let us take tourism first. Vigan is a natural attraction for tourism. Vigan was once known as ciudad Fernandina the capital of the entire Ilocos which used to cover Ilocos norte, Ilocos Sur, la union and even Abra the mountain province where I came from today. And being the capital for so long of Ilocos during the 400 years of the spanish period, ciudad Fernandina has been able to retain and maintain and sustain and preserve a culture that the whole world needs to see. And I am very glad that in previous times my friend Mina Gabor especially assisted the province of Ilocos Sur to put together the heritage village that should truly be an important spot for people to visit when they come to the Philippines.
Governor Chavit Singson has also told me that in his 70 hectare property where I am spending the night tonight there will soon be hopefully investments in a hotel and in a golf course so that more people will come to visit Vigan as they land from Laoag international airport.
Speaking of Laoag international airport, we now have regular flights from china — from shanghai to Laoag Philippine airlines three times a week, southern china airlines from canton to Laoag — and therefore we are able to cash in on a large, large new market, the market of china which just this past year has joined the world trade organization. China is a country with one-and-a-half billion people that has been growing at the rate of nine percent GNP for the past 20 years. Imagine what china will be in our future if we know how to make them visit the Philippines especially northern Philippines where there are only one hour or two hours away by plane. And this is what is in the future of tourism for Vigan; and that is why as our speakers were saying when their teachers used to get angry with them or hit them on the shoulder cause they didn’t speak english well, it’s important for us to continue our world skills in Ilocos Sur National High School so that we will make people come here feel the hospitality and feel at home as we show them the rich culture of ciudad Fernandina. That is one future that Ilocos Sur national high school should provide for.
The other future is information and communication technology. And so, I was asking Didi Savellano is this school computerized? He said yes, there are computers. Is this school wired with internet ? He doesn’t know. But I think that if it is not wired with internet, as your special guest of honor that is what I would like to contribute to the future: we will transform your computers into internet sites, into a website so that the children of Vigan national high school or Ilocos Sur national high school as you graduate you will be good enough for the best in the world because it is information technology that will be the key to success in the 21st century.
And even as we prepare our high school students for the world of ICT, for the cyberworld, by helping you with your internet connection it is also important that we produce more and more knowledge workers, I.T. professionals in the years to come and for the children to enjoy going to ICT. To enjoy going to engineering like Engineer Padernal and general Abaya, they should enjoy while they are still very young, science and mathematics.
Right Engineer? That’s why you became an engineer because you were good in science and math. And that’s why it is important, as a part of the reform of the educational system of the Philippines, that we are strengthening science, math and english in our basic education.
and as Ilocos Sur national high school has produced such outstanding alumni that are here on our platform tonight I am sure that if you continue to devote yourselves to the requirements of the new century — science, math, english, internet and history and all the graces that go with being a hospitable people — I am sure that in the next great homecoming there will be another batch of VIPs in the platform of Vigan national high school being just examples of the many great Filipino workers within our auditorium today and all over the Philippines and all over the world.
Congratulations alumni of Vigan National High School.