High School Faculty Cultural Trip and Faculty Development
In the early morning of April 1, 2008 forty-nine teachers from St. Scholastica’s College, Manila High School Unit, together with the general manager from Arfel Travel and Tours, checked in at Cebu Pacific to catch the 5:45 a.m. flight to Tagbilaran. The three-day/two-night tour brought the group to famous and frequently visited historical places and beautiful spots in Bohol and Cebu City.
Day One: Filled with heavy breakfast at Jollibee, the expectant and excited faculty members listened raptly to the pleasant voice of the tour guide from the Department of Tourism as she narrated the brief history of Bohol replete with stories and peppered with humorous accounts. The fascinating tour brought the group to the site of the historic Sandugo or Blood Compact. The Baclayon Church and Museum tour provided the curious group a glimpse of the ecclesiastical practice of a bygone era.
On the way to Chocolate Hills, the Bilar man-made forest was a refreshing sight to behold. Still green and free from industrialization, the countryside showed an abundance of nipa palms and other trees, and inviting clean, blue-green waters. Ascending the stairway to the top of a hill, one can see the awesome natural wonder of the famed Chocolate Hills, choco “mint” at this time of the year. At noontime, it was the Loboc River cruise with buffet lunch, a sumptuous feast for hungry tourists.
The group was regaled with an interesting account of the tarsiers’ unique behavior and reproductive life that elicited giggles and the now frequently asked question: “Which would you rather be, a mariposa or a tarsier?” After the Tarsier watching, a visit to souvenir shops for Boholan crafts and delicacies (Yes, peanut kisses!) capped the day tour. Later in the afternoon, the tired but happy group checked in at the Flushing Meadows Resort in Dauis, Panglao Island. True to its description in the brochure, Flushing Meadows “is built along a pristine white beach sanctuary and on an island bounded by colored coral flowers and rocks. It also features a breathtaking view of the Mindanao Sea and the Pamalican Island.”
Buffet dinner at Aces and Champions Bar and Restaurant in the resort was graced by Municipal Mayor Benedicto Alcala who gave a situationer focusing on peace and order, promotion of ecotourism and environmental awareness in Panglao Island. At past nine, it was resting time for some and a dip in the swimming pool or the beach for many. The well-maintained rooms and facilities were havens for rest and relaxation.
Day Two: The day started with exercise in the gym, on the bed, along the shore, in the pool or in the beach. Nobody skipped buffet breakfast in the resort. From morning until 3:30 p.m. were the subject areas’ corresponding development activity and bonding. The group converged for tour of the farm and buffet dinner at Bohol Bee Farm. Truly, it was paradise for organic enthusiasts because the farm offers “an alternative lifestyle, an interesting smorgasbord of organic delights.” Mrs. Vicky Wallace, the owner of Bohol Bee Farm explained in her talk that organic farming stems from the principle of agricultural development that leads to a better environment. A healthy option indeed! The farm also offers native products.
At 6:00 p.m. the group was back to Flushing Meadows for the solidarity night. The numbers in the program evoked laughter and guffaws even from some onlookers.
Day Three: The group was again treated to another lavish buffet breakfast before departure to the Tagbilaran Port. On board Weesam Express the faculty would be transported to the Queen City of the South – Cebu City. The buffet lunch turned out to be a surprise for Sr. Michaela, OSB who would celebrate her birthday two days after. The energetic tour guide informed the group of significant historical and cultural landmarks of the place interspersed with recent controversies in Cebu City. Time constraint did not deter the group in making a quick visit to Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and a lengthy purchase of pasalubong like danggit, squid, etc. at the Tabuan Market.
Time indeed flies when one is having fun! It was time to go to the airport for the 8:30 p.m. flight back to Manila via Philippine Airlines. Some teachers opted to stay days longer to meet friends and relatives while the CLE teachers proceeded to St. Francis Seraph Retreat House to continue their subject area development activity until April 5.
The cultural trip and faculty development in Bohol and Cebu were enjoyable and educational experiences that once again made the faculty proud of their beautiful country and grateful for the stronger bond and renewed camaraderie among the high school teachers. Revitalized and energized, onward they continue their journey and vocation as educators in the School of the Lord’s Service that in all things God, may be glorified!