US high school graduationBy V.P. Vamenta
Cebu Daily News
Time continues to fascinate me. I am used to comparing time to a free-flowing stream or river, with me bystander-ing on the bank, or sometimes floating along with it. But even after so many years of coming over to the United States and getting used to crossing different time zones, this time it strangely seems as if it was ages ago since I last came over… which was actually just last year!
After flying over from Cebu, I spent a happy and eventful over-a-week in Los Angeles with my son Antonio, his wife Rebecca and their three young daughters, and my daughter Amelia who had flown in from Texas. We attended the kindergarten graduation of their youngest, Caryl.
I also met Cebu friends from way back at a gathering on the occasion of the passing away of a beloved elderly lady relative of Rebecca’s, a long-time Los Angeles resident whose roots go back to Cebu City and the patriarch Quirino Rodriguez of the familiar downtown building bearing his name.
I have recapped these items from last week’s report to keep me grounded time-wise.
June 12th, Tuesday, Philippine Independence Day, Antonio drove Amelia and me to San Diego for the high school graduation of Jenelle Villalon, youngest daughter of Amador (“Jing”) and my late daughter Raquel. The commencement exercises of Class of 2012 at the Junipero Serra High School were held at the Jenny Craig Pavilion of the University of San Diego.
The auditorium was filled with families and guests seated in multi-tiers on all sides, facing the stage. The graduates in white and golden yellow caps and gowns marched in by twos, filling their seats in rows facing the stage. Honor graduates, including Jenelle, wore white robes.
After the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing of the National Anthem brought back memories when, in the Philippines before our Declaration of Independence, at official occasions we used to sing both the American “Star Spangled Banner” and our Philippine “Land of the Morning”.
Student addresses were delivered by two class valedictorians and three class speakers. A teacher delivered the faculty address, followed by the principal in a presentation of the class, and then the acceptance of the class by a trustee of the Board of Education.
Counselors made the class roll call and recognized the class valedictorian and salutatorian. This was followed by a singing of the Alma Mater song by a student , and the Turning of the Tassels ceremony by the senior class president. I was fascinated. It was my first time to attend a US high school graduation ceremony.
Another significant date we still observe is the birthday of our national hero Jose Rizal on June 19th. After Los Angeles and San Diego, where Filipino newspapers are available, I had no access to news from the Philippines. Here in Texas, however, June 19th is Emancipation Day, a that marked the end of slavery in America in 1865.
As a media person, I turn to TV news channels. In Mansfield and Arlington where my Amelia lives and works, there’s the Star-Telegram “Where the West Begins” published in Fort Worth, Texas and its Tarrant & Texas section.
As I write this, summer sunlight is streaming in midafternoon. It’s hot here with temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit! As in Cebu, I stay in front of electric fans and under ceiling fans, since my daughter does not use air conditioning.
In this summer heat, forest fires are a problem, burning residences and forcing people to evacuate in Colorado. With fewer fires raging in Texas, the state is helping New Mexico with its forest fires.
While school year 2012-2013 has started in the Philippines, here in Texas, school districts are conducting intensive summer school programs to help students who did not pass the new end-of-course standardized tests in Biology, Algebra I, World Geography and Reading and Writing. It makes me wonder how our own new K to 12 school year is faring.
On the subject of immigration, the papers report that Asians are outnumbering Hispanics entering the United States where employers increase their demand for highly skilled workers. Thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the States as children will be allowed to remain in the country without fear of deportation and be able to work, under an executive order of the Obama administration announced last Friday, June 15th.
This could temporarily benefit more than 800,000 young people. While not granting any permanent legal status, this clears the way for young illegal immigrants to come out, work legally and obtain driver’s licenses and many other documents.
President Obama did not consult with Congress, where Republicans have generally opposed illegal immigrants. Since this is Presidential election year in the States, does that makes “understandable sense”?
On the preservation of heritage relics, a concern for which we in Cebu held this year’s expanded Gabii s Kabilin, I was struck by a headline in the Star-Telegram last Sunday, “Gems of bygone era on endangered list,” about historic Texas courthouses.
One was a beautifully restored Renaissance Revival building, “a symbol of who we are… the heart of our community,” according to County Judge Cole Word.
More observations of my US trip ahead.
Till next week then, as always, may God continue to bless us, one and all!