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BAPP-Germany visits SSC-M; forges peace with Scholasticans and the Poor

October 23,2015

To strengthen the bonding and achieve peace between and among Germans and Filipinos, 16 Grade 11 students, two teachers and one Benedictine priest from Rhabanus Maurus Gymnasium, St. Ottilien, Germany came to see St. Scholastica’s College-Manila High School Unit and visited of its adopted communities last July 28-August 9, 2015 as part of the Benedictine Ambassadors of Peace Program (BAPP).

Day 1: Welcome Rites

Accompanied by Frau Renate Dietzel, Coordinator of Student Exchange Program, Herr Stefan Straub, and P. Theophil Gaus, OSB, these German guests were welcomed on July 29  by the School Administrators and faculty led by Sr. Mary Frances Dizon, OSB, School President, Prof. Virginia Fornias, Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), and Sr. Rosalina Fajardo, OSB, Junior High School (JHS) Principal; together with the 17 Scholastican participants and families of the Benedictine Ambassadors of Peace

The Welcome programme commenced with the celebration of the Eucharist and concluded with agape held at Friedenshaus Hotel School. This was followed by an orientation facilitated by Ms. Jona Marie Lim, assistant principal, on the school’s history, vision-mission and programs, including the two-week program of activities organized by Ms. Aileen Magbanua, teacher-in-charge of the SSC-M Exchange Program.

Likewise, the Student Council officers and JHS Administrators toured the German guests around the campus and made them see the various facilities.  They also tried to learn the Tinikling, the traditional bamboo dance, and some rudiments for theatre arts which completed the jam-packed first day.

Day 2: See Manila 

The second day was all about knowing and experiencing Manila. The group had a guided tour around Fort Santiago, Rizal Shrine, and Casa Manila Museum in Intramuros.  They also had a driving tour around the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) which ended at the Harrison Plaza Shopping Mall.

Day 3: Nature Encounter 

After visiting places in Manila, the German delegates, together with their BAPP partners, S. Rosalina,, Ms. Magbanua and S. Mary Emmanuel, went down south for yet another activity – but this time, closer to nature. They all went to St Scholastica’s College Farm to plant trees.

Day 4: To the Villa of the South

On the fourth day, the guests had a glimpse of the Filipino culture and tradition. Inspired by the historic colonial plantation and rural life of the 1800′s, the famous Villa Escudero was really the place to be for the German visitors.

For the first time (according to them), they were able to experience having lunch at a Waterfalls Restaurant. Filipino food was served on bamboo dining tables positioned a few inches from the falls. 

Day 5: The Benedictine Ora et Labora Way

The week opened with the traditional High School Morning Praise at the cemented area. Because the German visitors do not have any general assembly back in their own school, it was their first time to witness and be part of a Flag Ceremony. Also, in the said morning gathering, they were formally introduced to the whole JHS community.

After the AM Praise, they had the chance to learn coffee painting under the guidance and supervision of Mr. Fernando Lacson, Jr., an Art teacher. During the two-hour session, the exchange students were instructed to paint any scenery they saw in Boracay and/or in other places they visited together with their BAPP partners and their families over the weekend.

Highlights of the exchange program were the visit and interaction with the underprivileged and poor communities in the afternoon. The students were deeply touched as they played, held hands with and looked into the eyes of the street children at the Tuluyan San Benito.

Day 6: Visitor No More

On their sixth day, the German students were distributed to different classes in Grade 10. They, too, attended the classes that Scholasticans had for that particular morning. They participated, recited, and demonstrated as needed in the lessons they had.

After attending morning classes, they had a cooking session with Mrs. Evangeline Banta, Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) teacher. Mrs. Banta taught them how to cook one of the famous Filipino recipes – Adobo.

While the students were cooking, our Board of Coordinators (BOC) had a chance to meet with the German teachers. To energize them for the next activity, the group ate simple lunch with rice and adobo at the culinary art room.          

To end the day,  all visited the Ayala Museum in Makati. 

Day 7: To the Highlands 

The German guests were brought to another tourist destination here in the Philippines – Tagaytay City. They had eco-trek, tram ride across the mountain ridge, and swimming in Tagaytay Highlands. Aside from the physical activities, they engaged themselves in some recreational activities in the venue.

After their trip, they spent the remaining hours of the day with their respective host families.

Day 8: Day with the Kids

On their eighth day, they visited Rafael Palma School, our partner public school, Damas de Filipinas, an orphanage, and Pangarap Foundation, a Boy’s Shelter in Pasay. They played with the children who whole-heartedly welcome them into their shelters. The kids, in return for the Germans’ genuine kindness, played basketball with them, while others played cards with the rest. According to German guests, if ever they would have a chance to come back to the Philippines, it would be for these children who need help and love.

After spending the day for outreach activities, they had their taste of a heavy down pour in Manila as they travelled back home.

Day 9: The Filipino “Feels”

During the month of August, the Filipinos celebrate “Buwan ng Wika” – a month for dignifying the Filipino language that unites one and all. And as the JHS took part in this annual and national feast, the Filipino Area sponsored the Opening Program for “Buwan ng Wika”. Everyone in the JHS community wore Filipino costumes for the said day. Performances from the Music Ensemble, Glee Club, Dance Troupe and selected teachers and students were rendered not only for the JHS community, but for the German visitors as well.

On their part, the German guests wore their national costume as they celebrated “Buwan ng Wika” with the JHS community. The members of the Dance Troupe taught them a traditional Muslim Dance which they performed right after the short rehearsal.

After the short program, the exchange students were sent to their respective Grade 10 classes for the traditional mini-Barrio Fiesta. Here, they were able to taste Filipino version of rice cakes, delicacies and menu for snacks. This also gave the Scholasticans a chance to spend quality time with the guests and make them experience the Filipino style of hospitality.

Because it was a fully-loaded morning for the Germans, they were given time to rest after they had their lunch with the Student Council. After recharging themselves, they had an hour‘s interview with the Blue Flame, the Official Junior High School Publication.

No “goodbyes”, just “til we meet again”

As a closing ceremony, the Campus Ministry, with the help of the JHS Administrators and sponsorship from the parents of the Scholastican BAPP partners, organized the Farewell Rites held at the Sr. Carridad Barrion Hall.

There was a celebration of the Word through prayers and Scripture readings. In the middle of the liturgy was dinner sponsored by the parents of the Scholastican BAPP partners. As a way of showing gratitude and appreciation, the German guests performed production numbers for all present in the hall. Then, the the candle-lit dance ceremony of the celebration of ties and friendship followed.

The student peace ambassadors were moved to tears as each one bade goodbye and offered gratitude symbolized by exchanges of gifts of vigil lights, peace cranes and friendship bands for once-in-a-lifetime face-to-face encounter across cultures and races united in one Benedictine Spirit of Ora et Labora.

It is our hope that this exchange program has planted the seeds of peace, harmony and unity in the hearts, minds and spirit of  all who were encountered during the visit.

That in all things God may be Glorified.

N.B. Photos taken by St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, High School Unit Audio-visual staff