Breakaway Telephonic Existence
the subsequent months, we talked and conferred a lot more with Philippine officials in
Riyadh, and DECS officials in Manila, than with the consular office in Jeddah.
We hired teachers from among the Filipino
dependents with B.S. education degrees. We encouraged parents volunteers to staff the
Donations such as books, magazines,
curtains, paints, flag poles, Philippine flags, sign boards, and yes, a public address
system (!!!, you'll know why I get so excited about this much, much later), were sent to
the school by well-meaning individuals and groups within the Filipino community at large.
Some sectors offered the school carpentry, maintenance and transport services for free.
Even a grade schooler, Noel de los Santos,
no more than 10 years old probably, donated all his piggy-bank coins to the empty school
coffer. Our cashier patiently counted the coins to amount to more than 80 riyals.
We made sure that we had a very
trustworthy and punctilious finance officer, Mrs. Helen Rodeo, who could account for the
money down to the last Saudi halala.
Except for the teachers and the cleaners
and some security guards, everybody else connected with the school were not paid any
salary on the first year of operation, certainly not the much resented honoraria for high
officials of the old school.
We set the tuition fees lower by at least
SR 1,500 than those of PSJ. We posted quarterly financial reports on the school bulletin
I became more of an entrepreneur, although
my family savings, even some of my home furniture and carpets, kept on flowing out of my
house into the activities and assets of the school.
My wife, Liza, volunteered to clean one of
the school toilets to assist an overburdened cleaner, since the school could not afford to
hire more cleaners in those early days.
My wife also became my unofficial,
personal secretary, often working out from our home phone set since the new school did not
have any telephone line and the SaudiTel Company was not about to make that easy for PESJ
- or for the other Jeddah residents either - to secure a phone connection.
Considering that all of us in the board
cum management committee were busy during the working day attending to our expatriate jobs
or administering the day-to-day affairs of the school (all the lady members of the board
had their teaching loads as well as administrative functions), my wife took care of
arranging most of the official contacts between PESJ and Riyadh, devotedly transmitting
messages and correspondences between the school and the Philippine mission.
The telephone technology, as any Web
surfer operating rabidly from his bedroom knows, became a direct lifeline to the existence
The Jeddah officials who continued to
administer the old PSJ kept on calling us a bunch of disgruntled, breakaway radicals.
Meanwhile, we continued to screen more
teachers and opened more classrooms. We organized more working committees, drafted school
policies and composed a school anthem: P-E-S-J, P-E-S-J, P-E-S-J, We're here to stay
... (or something like that).