height of all these PESJ activities, my boss, the general manager of my
overseas-contracted workplace, was giving me long sharp looks already. To my credit, I had
stashed away a lot of unused vacation days over the years. I gradually used these days up
to compensate for my frequent absences from the office, or for the inadequate hours I
could spend at the office in between school board meetings and general assemblies.
Meanwhile, the cash continued to flow out of my pocket.
By mid-year of 1996, it was obvious the
present facilities, even with the expansion steps, were not enough to accommodate the
growing school. It was also obvious that parties who wanted the PESJ closed down were bent
on doing just that.
On several occasions, some people posing
as representatives from local government authorities came to the school, warning,
harassing and threatening, even picking up one of our regular staff, Dadong, and one of
our parent volunteers, Raymund Davis, and holding them briefly at the local police
station, then deciding to let them go again before the school could react.
It was also apparent that internally,
conflicts and factions were developing.
Some of my co-revolutionaries remained and
acted as revolutionaries even when they were at the helm of government already, unbending,
unrelenting to any compromises. Some of us continued to refuse to join and associate with
other Filipino expat organizations in Jeddah, simply because these associations were
closely linked with the consulate general offices.
Some switched goals with the intensity of
an European football match and brazenly demanded more benefits, mainly monetary, from the
school as if it was their natural birthright to do so.
Unknown assailants resorted to old school
tactics of breaking car windshields.
Some board members abandoned their post
It was a period of eggs and balls
In the meantime, with the opening of
another school term, the PESJ interim school board further reduced the annual tuition fees
by a couple more hundred riyals, with promises of more rebates at the end of the school
year. PSJ had by now also reduced its tuition fees to a comparable level after all the
years that its school officials so adamantly claimed it could not be done: from a high of
SR 6,000 in early 1995, the tuition fees were now hovering at the level of SR 4,200 per
By late August 1996, as mandated by the
PESJ school policies, the parents elected the first official school board composed of
None of us in the interim school board
stood for re-election.
A shrink might have said to us at that
juncture: you have been wrangling with each other, and with the other school, and with
consulate and embassy officials and with local authorities for so long now, that you
probably just wanted to take a much-needed break.
Of course, it was not exactly like that at
all, but who can argue with a shrink?
For a while the interim board supported
the fresh slate of parents-officials, especially when it was time to negotiate for moving
the campus to a common, bigger area, 40% occupied by PESJ and the other 60% occupied by
PSJ. The two schools were to be renamed as International Philippine School in Jeddah with
two sections: the Science Education Section (which the PESJ claimed) and the General
Education Section (which the PSJ did not want to claim), each section operating
autonomously, with curriculum, management and finances of its own.