By Edward B. Antonio
It is a dream come true for a school paper adviser and his student-contestant to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in the Regional Schools Press Conference (RSPC) fellas.
The prize is priceless – a trip to the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) which was held in Pagadian City (Zamboanga del Sur, Region 9) this January 22-25 for School Year 2016-2017. I heard that next year, it will be held at NIR (Negros Island Region). The NSPC gives a chance for both coach and his steward to travel and compete with the best campus journalists in the country. Previous NSPCs were held in Koronadal, General Santos, Mactan, Ormoc City, Tacloban City, Naga City, Isabela, Baguio City, Butuan City, Tangub City, Palawan, Manila and other parts of the country.
Our travel to the 2017 NSPC in Pagadian City with my contestant, Joannafel Lanot, a 16-year old Grade 11 lass of GAS-B (she won 2nd place in Photojournalism, English in the RSPC) was both exciting and sad.
From Vigan City (via Partas Bus), we travelled to Manila for our air trip to Ozamiz (Misamis Occidental, Region 10) because the lone plane trips (Cebu Pacific) bound for Pagadian Airport were already fully-booked 3 days before and after the NSPC. From Ozamiz, we had to take a van to Pagadian City and back to Ozamiz on our trip back to Manila.
Now, here’s the heartbreaker, fellas.
Upon arriving at Ozamiz airport, I looked for Emerson Palamin (Most Outstanding Elementary Paper Adviser) of Bautista, Pangasinan (he was earlier referred to by a friend supervisor) so we could join his group to Pagadian. He was with 9 other NSPC delegates including one Sir Joed of Manaoag NHS. After checking out our luggage, we were met by one Juliet Tagapan who claimed she is an Education Program Supervisor (EPS) for Values Education (Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao) of the City Division of Ozamiz, offering a van to take us 12 to Pagadian City up to our temporary billeting school which was Sagun Elementary School.
Our meeting was cordial. I looked at my watch. It was January 20, 2017, 7:20 AM. I even requested Joannafel to take a photo of us while I was taking note of her identity, hoping to write a column praising her for her hospitality. Madam Tagapan, I presumed, was in her early 60s. She was not that tall, quite chubby with fair complexion. She was all smiles as she offered the Hi-Ace van (Ozamiz to Pagadian) for P5,000. I was surprised because earlier net surfing revealed that Pagadian is only 1 ½ to 2-hour ride via van from Ozamiz.
While Emerson and com-pany were talking with Madam Tagapan, I called on the attention of one of the porters.
“Hello, brother. Here in Ozamiz, how much should we pay a van in taking us to Pagadian?”
“Sir, P2,500 puwede na pati na mga bagahe ninyo. Shall I contact a van for your group, sir?”
“Wait lang. I’ll talk to our group muna,” I said.
I insisted to Madam Tagapan that P5,000 is too much and that another van is offering to take us to Pagadian for P2,500 only.
“Naku, mura na yong P5,000. Itong trip ninyo to Pagadian ay kasama na dito ang tour. You will be toured to the different beauty spots along the way. Gawin na nating package deal ang tour na ito kasi wala na kayong time na mag-tour between Pagadian and Ozamiz pagbalik ninyo dito sa Ozamis for your air trip back to Manila. Then you can go later on to Dipolog, Dapitan and Dakak!” she said like a real tour guide, wanting to help make our NSPC trip as pleasant as possible.
As first timers in the area, we took the bait, for we trusted her as a member of the DepEd family and an EPS in Values Ed. We were looking forward to an enjoyable all-day tour!
(To be continued)