After that fateful long night
at the negotiation table in September 1995, I never saw the consul general again except on
several occasions when the Riyadh-based Philippine ambassador traveled to Jeddah to
organize meetings among school officials and antagonists to try to thresh out acrimonious
When I reached home to relate the details
of that nights meeting to my fellow boycotters who were anxiously jam-packed at the
living room, there ensued a heated exchange of opinions, agreements and disagreements.
Some left the room, some cried, some slept at the corners of their sofa seats. Before the
night ended in the wee hours of dawn, our group of parents reached a decision to organize
another school, with the blessings - we hoped and crossed our fingers behind our backs -
of the Philippine ambassador.
We sent a delegation to the Riyadh embassy
within the week after gathering enough signatures from parents about their willingness to
enroll their children in a new Filipino school. We also collected several hundred riyals
for the plane tickets of our delegation. All in all, about a hundred signatures were
presented to Riyadh. After hearing our case, the Riyadh officials told us to wait a few
more days while they consulted with the Jeddah officials.
After a seemingly endless wait of three
days, we secured the go-signal to organize the school, phoned in to us by the Filipino
attaché for education cum foreign information officer of the Philippine Embassy in
Up until then, we did not have any cash
for the proposed school, but once the word was out, we were able to quickly collect the
initial funding from our core group. The fund was used to rent an empty three-story
building with a front yard that was wider than that of the old PSJ. What ensued was a
frenetic week of bayanihan in Jeddah.
By October 6, 1995, the breakaway school
was up and running, initially with 67 students and some 8 teachers. The exact number of
students kept on changing day to day from that time on, some coming in, some going out,
depending on the ebb and tide of rumors about Philippine schools circulating in town, but
steadily, steadily increasing over time.
The old PSJ certainly did not take this
sitting down. It was a revolutionary period, and both sides knew they were waging a war.
It was one brief moment when I evolved into a revolutionary.
Contentious issues were vented out in the
Letters to the Editor pages of the English dailies in Jeddah; Arab News and Saudi Gazette
reporters were courted by both sides for carefully issued press releases; house-to-house
information campaigns were conducted; spies were sent to attend general assemblies and to
report back on the plans and pulses of the opposition.