Letter from Jerome P. Gatungay to Dionisio J. Caspe Jr.

2/23/2008 - Alumni Hall Project of the CNCHS Alumni Association (Photo by Dionisio Caspe Jr.)
November 19, 2008

CNCHS Alumni Association
Cabatuan, Iloilo


Season's greetings to you from the teachers and staff of Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School.

We in the school are giving priority attention to infrastruture projects that are effected to the school sponsored by various stakeholders. One of these is the Alumni Hall of the CNCHS Alumni Association that had been constructed years ago and was left unfinished. The structure had been left lying to the elements for many years that resulted to the damage of its columns and crumblings of other parts. This ultimately had become an eyesore in the school.

In as much as we are trying to line up all infra projects in the school for full implementation by next school year, we have been aware of the deplorable condition of the existing structure and that we have decided to do some necessary actions for its completion in the near future.

Jerome P. Gatungay
Principal, Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School
In view of this, we earnestly and respectfully request the CNCHS Alumni Association, thru your good office, to hand over and relinquish to the school the completion of the project. The school will source out funds for the eventual completion of the building and such shall be used for whatever purpose we deemed beneficial to the entire population of CNCHS. As a gesture of gratitude, we will provide the association a space in the building intended for its office.

We have been very grateful to the Alumni Association, being a potent force and indespensible partner of the school for effecting many projects and assistance that had redound to quality education.

Lastly, the entire CNCHS family would like to convey its sincere thanks and deep appreciation for the benevolence the association had accorded to the school. With this, we look forward to an appropriate and favorable response from you.

For a strong and solid partnership of the school with the Alumni Association in the future.

God speed and thank you.

Very truly yours,

Principal II

Letter provided by Dionisio Caspe, Jr.
Photo at left, scanned by Cab@1

Letter from Dionisio J. Caspe Jr. to the Alumni Association

Dionisio Caspe Jr.
President, CNCHS Alumni Association
Valedictorian, CNCHS Class 1968
February 23, 2009

Dear Fellow Alumni,

In 1998, your officers decided to embark on the project for the construction of an Alumni Hall. The project became the main thrust during the Seventh General Alumni Homecoming in 2001 which was estimated to cost P5 million. During that homecoming, two-thirds of the funds raised was allocated to the Multipurpose Fund specifically for the construction of the Alumni Hall. Of the amount raised of about P450,000.00, the amount of about P495,000.00 was spent before the 2004 homecoming for the initial construction of the proposed hall. We have seen what happened to the initial construction during our reunion in 2004. From that time, until our homecoming in 2006, no additional work was done on the project.

Your present board requested an architect to review the costings of the original plan for the Alumni Hall. Based on the estimate submitted after the review, the cost of the original plan for the alumni hall could reach P30million. Consequently, the board decided to prepare a new plan for the alumni hall, a toned down version of the original plan. The new plan would cost more or less P1.5M. As of this date, our Multipurpose Fund has a balance of P490,000. This would mean that we have to raise about P1million more to continue and finish the project. In one of the meetings of the class coordinators, one the suggestions to raise funds was for each class to give at least P10,000.00 for the project. This is in addition to whatever funds we could raise during this year’s homecoming.

Our association has received a letter from Mr. Jerome Gatungay, Principal of CNCHS signifying the school’s intention to complete the construction of a building on the present site and utilizing whatever has been constructed, should we decide to shelve the project.

It is in this note that your present board is urgently appealing to all alumni to help raise the fund necessary for the completion of the project as it is the sentiment of everyone to have an alumni hall.

We know you will not allow this project to fail.


Letter from Alexander Escucha to the Alumni Association

Alexander Escucha
Valedictorian, CNCHS Class 1973
First Vice-President, China Banking Corporation
(Alexander Escucha, April 6, 2009)

What I have is not a particular stand or position, but rather a series of questions, or a framework, that might be useful to think through the idea and concrete implementation of the project.


At the meeting of the alumni homecoming coordinators last March, I had a chance (with the indulgence of CNCHSAA president Nasing Caspe) to propose that the CNCHS alumni board rethink the idea of an alumni hall by clarifying the terms of reference:

1. what the project is really about,
2. for whom is the project (who are the real intended beneficiaries)

In the course of trying to answer these questions, it naturally raises the generic question of what is really the proper role of the alumni association vis a vis the CNCHS administration, the CNCHS students and the alumni in general.

What strikes me about the alumni hall project is the almost automatic assumption that an alumni hall is something that is desirable to have. So let us break it down into its components. The best info appears to be the announcement made in 2001 about the project, which is supposed to include:

1. an office
2. a dormitory
3. a conference hall
4. a kitchen
5. comfort rooms (but of course)
6. a Hall of Fame

The 2001 souvenir included a snapshot of how the alumni hall would look like, with an estimated cost of P5 million. Based on the February 23, 2009 letter of Alumni Assn president Nasing Caspe Jr., the cost of the original plan if it were to still be implemented would now reach P30 million. About P495,000 has been spent on the foundations and columns thru 2004, but none since then. It is now actually an eyesore.

Subsequently, a letter dated Nov. 19, 2008 from CNCHS Principal Jerome Gatungay asking the alumni association to return the unfinished project to the school, which will finish it while providing an office for the alumni association.



2/23/2008 - Alumni Hall Project of the CNCHS Alumni Association (Photo by Dionisio Caspe Jr.)

Let's go back to the first question: What do we need an alumni hall for? Let us tackle the elements of the alumni hall, in the words of my Japanese professor, "each by each":

1. An office -- CNCHS can actually provide an office for the alumni association within existing facilities. Or as Principal Gatungay proposes, within the building that CNCHS will complete.

2. A dormitory (with the kitchen) -- this is a completely separate business proposition, I doubt if this is really feasibile as a sustainable business proposition
    2.1. In the first place, when alumni go home, they usually stay with their families or relatives.
    2.2. Even those who no longer have residences in Cabatuan can always stay with friends or relatives, or at worst stay at a hotel in the city.
    2.3. But whether a dormitory itself can be a sustainable element of the alumni hall is very doubtful. The unanswered questions here are: who will be the client base? Students (can they afford?) or visiting alumni (don't they have other options/choices to stay?) Can their business be sufficient to cover the intial investment and the cost to run such a dormitory?

3. A conference hall -- there are enough facitilies just for meetings. Any regular classroom can accommodate the meetings of the alumni association. For bigger meetings, there are bigger classrooms. Besides, how many meetings does the alumni or any other alumni related activity need in one year? Not much.

And for bigger venues not only for meetings but also for bigger events, the big hall in front of the administratin building is probably sufficient. In fact, it is already used for many social events such as receptions for weddings, baptisms and other parties.

4. A Hall of Fame -- all it needs is a room. Even the office of the alumni association will suffice for this purpose. All it needs is for the walls to be available for plaques or citations for outstanding alumni (I don't remember that we have started to give out those citations though).

To summarize the above, the question is: DO WE REALLY NEED A SEPARATE BUILDING CALLED ALUMNI HALL FOR THOSE PURPOSES? In my view, the answer is NO. The needs can either be met by existing facilities or there is no real need or demand for them.


2/23/2008 - Alumni Hall Project of the CNCHS Alumni Association (Photo by Dionisio Caspe Jr.)


From my involvements in other alumni associations such as the UP School of Economics Alumni Association and the UP Visayas Foundation (where I was invited to be a member of the Board of Trustess, and now am Chairman of the Finance Committee), my sense is that an alumni association basically serves to help two consitutuents:

1. the school (alma mater)
2. the ultimate constituent of the school -- the students

If you accept above as the true beneficiaries (and therefore the real starting point), then there are only basically few activities or projects that the alumni association should support:

1. facilities that respond to bigger student needs -- more classrooms (maybe the government can take care of this)
2. improvements in existing classrooms -- I believe the ADOPT A CLASSROOM is already responding to this
3. special facilities for specialized needs -- more computers or computer classrooms
4. scholarships for bright and deserving students
5. special awards for outstanding teachers
6. special fund to finance special seminars/courses/studies for teachers
7. special fund to finance participation in competitions for students

In terms of prioritizing the above activities, the key question is WHICH PROVIDES THE BEST ADDED VALUE FOR THE STUDENTS OR THE SCHOOL? WHICH IS SUSTAINABLE?

From a macro point of view, the social problem is this: DECS statistics show an alarming decline in the enrollment ratio (ratio of students enrolled versus actual population who SHOULD BE in school) from elementary, to high school, to college. It would be quite interesting to see the statistics for Cabatuan -- both in elementary and high school -- so we can really target our efforts more effectively.

These activities or projects can be supported by the Alumni association itself, or the Association can just be the conduit or facilitator for specific families or classes.

In short, instead of being fixated on the alumni hall, there are a lot of other meaningful projects that the alumni association can undertake or facilitate which will have meaningful impact on the school and especially on the students.

So unless there an extraordinarily generous alumni who is willing to finance the completion of the alumni hall by himself, the proposal of Principal Gatungay for CNCHS to take over the project makes sense. It saves the Association from the embarassment of an eyesore and would allow the association to focus on new projects that are more doable but with visible impact. Even in the UP Diliman campus where the alumni association put up a big building called Bahay nang Alumni, the location is at the back of the University theater, not right in frontline of the campus. It is perhaps appropriate that the current location be really devoted to an academic building for the use of the students.


2/23/2008 - Alumni Hall Project of the CNCHS Alumni Association (Photo by Dionisio Caspe Jr.)

These are some of my thoughts. Perhaps some of these points can be considered during the Alumni association general meeting. I would be glad to serve as an adviser to the Alumni Board along these lines, if they see fit to have me involved.

See you at the reunion.


Alex Escucha