Linggo, Setyembre 4, 2011

B90 Made History

The ARCH - How did all begin? It took me sometime to complete this very first blog I made for this project. Dedicated to all the men and women behind the success of the project implementation; I could not hold my tears from falling while composing, recalling all that came to pass from the time we reunited with my highschool batchmates to the day we opened the "Gateway to Brilliance & Excellence".

It was July of 2010 when our class president Razen Estoy posted the INCAT Batch 90 yearbook online, the instrument that connected the alumni of B90 after 20 years. It was a very good chance for us to reminisce our high school days and to plan for our 20th anniversary. We looked back at the past and remembered how our lives went through. Who was the girlfriend/boyfriend/crush of who and who? Who was the greatest bully, cutest, sexiest or smartest? What were the craziest things we did, and above all that, why our highschool years became so significant to our lives? For four years that we were nurtured with education; we eventually graduated in the Ilocos Norte College of Arts & Trades, last March 30, 1990. Geared with values and wisdom, we parted and engaged with different careers and interest. Unified after 20 years and with one common objective; that is to look back to our Alma Mater and give present to show our appreciation. It’s because we may not have been where we are now without INCAT.

Four major planning meetings and a lot of online discussions were taken place to complete the reunion activities and to come up with a project to be proud of; August when Ericson Valencia and Blandine Faye Mariano co-administered the class alumni’s newly created social network account. Same month that we had our 1st planning meeting in preparation for the celebration entitled 90@20. During our 2nd and 3rd planning meeting the next two months, we settled our schedule of activities, objectives and budget. Using our social network, we immediately asked our alumni’s voluntary contribution to complete the budget.  With determination, we gained support even from those who could not attend the event, and in just a month, we garnered more than the budget needed for our event. We generated around Php216,600, by merely asking for cash pledges of our batch mates.

Before our 4th meeting last November, President Razen and his "first lady", Joel Dul-Loog, talked with the INCAT school head, Supt Eugenio Pedro, about our intention to donate a project as part of our 20th year. And they agreed to undertake the improvement of the INCAT main gate. We came up with the idea to conduct an online design competition/discussion, and it was participated by engineers, architects, designers, artist and even non-technical persons of our alumni here and abroad. The objectives of the competition are to showcase talents being INCAT graduates, and to strengthen the bond amongst us.

December 28, 2010 was the big day, the 90@20 reunion and anniversary celebration of our class. With constant reminders using our social network account, text messages and Joy Nagasangan's assistance through her call center, we had a good number of attendees. A little more than a hundred alumni and almost all the faculty members headed by Supt Pedro were there to witness and be part of the event. The class affair started with a mass, followed by a motorcade then the program proper. Talents of INCAT who are members of the famous Laoag Gymnastics club showed up their abilities and opened the program with a dance production number. We heard words of wisdom from our mentors, Supt Pedro and the top favorite teacher of the class, Ms Richelle Blanco-Dejolde. Our class president also gave his word of gratitude to our mentors. The highlight of the event was the presentation of the designs as product of our online competition, and there were 6 entries presented. The entries of Davis Antonio, Venus Asencion-Tan, Roque Quinto, Emil Doloroso and two entries from Emmanuel “Jhun” Viray. His 1st entry was a design to improve the gate. And the 2nd was a design to completely  change the gate, an expressionist concept which was most admired by the attendees.
90@20 After the Motorcade
 With the Mentors
With deep inspiration that Jhun Viray had, he stated, “As the Architect of "The ARCH" of INCAT, the task was extremely difficult and some thought, impossible. We sought to replace an already iconic structure of our beloved institution. Building a new one might change some behaviors or somewhat change other people's lives. But this school taught me to be responsible enough to understand how a good design could help improve the daily lives of the users and the beneficiaries. And as a designer, I have goals and took this project too personal, it's all about me being different. And something I have made a personal philosophy and which I endeavor to live by. My goals and my concept in this project were clear and very honest. I wanted something meaningful and full of character. Something that should make positive community impact and should help our alma mater build a more sustainable and equitable future. I wanted something unique and to be proud of by everyone connected in this institution. And meeting all these goals in one stand is I believe makes this structure iconic. A true icon, frankly because, it is a perfect statement to prove that brilliance and excellence endures in the institution.”

It is fun and challenging to work with an architect like Jhun Viray. It started when we were developing his concept to come up with good design of gate. The first design challenge was to put his concept to illustration using merely a description that goes:
  1. Sa left side column, a two storey high tower, on top is the logo. Baseline dimension of the tower should be around 3ft front x 5ft side. At sa taas is 1.5ft x 2.5ft. Rectangular both ends. Parang patulis ang porma nya..
  2. Now, the Arch is the logo itself, but not the whole thing. Part of it starts (leaning) at the tower to the ground (should end where the right column at).. We should have same span/opening as the existing.
  3. As I could see, the arch starts at letter "C" of College (tower side), and ends between letters "TR" of Trades (ground level).
  4. Sa arc ang nakasulat lang dapat eh, "College of Arts & Trades". Use the whole space you have.
Out of that description, we needed to make a design with the right proportion and using the right mixture of materials and colors. And out of that description, I had to interpret the message and the meaning of his concept. So, were my tasks easy? Not at all, but with Jhun's guidance; mission accomplished. The design of gate was established as he envisioned. Its compositions are:

The Gate – designed with Pythagorean Theorem which denotes analytical knowledge.

The Pavement – the paving block design along the driveway with a rising sun pattern leading to the school campus.

The Logo – it is on top of the tower, the highest point of the structure, INCAT being designated as the number one Center of Excellence in Information and Communications Technology in Region

The Tower – it represents the famous Tobacco Monopoly Tower which is a very well known structure here in Ilocos Norte.  

The Arch – portion of the INCAT Logo, and denotes a rising sun which is the beginning of a day that signifies the start of a good future once enrolled in a school which is known to be “a hallmark of brilliance and excellence”.  

The Signage – Where “College of Arts and Trades” is shown.

The formation of all the elements reveals the hidden initial “IN” which stands for Ilocos Norte (you’re probably wondering where it is in The Signage).
With the total reunion expenses of about Php146,600, we had remaining fund of Php70,000. Isn’t that nice, we’ve got initial budget for our project. Not even close to 20% of the amount needed. Being the most expensive (estimated cost of Php568,000) among the six designs, we started planning the project with a lot of doubts. Doubts like, “will we be able to raise the amount in just one time fund drive?”, “do we have enough resources?”, “the fund raising scheme is for Metro Manila only, and not applicable in Ilocos Norte!”, “we can not complete the project this year, let’s see if we can make it next year!”. But those were dominated by confidence and perseverance that made us believe that we can make things happen. Various fund raising schemes were suggested. Some were Tianggue, Run-for-a-cause with souvenir items to be distributed, Flea Market and Jonathan Tayamen’s slip-of-the-tongue suggestion, a classic raffle draw. And to his surprise, his accidental idea was chosen to be implemented. Then he was assigned to be the chairperson of the Raffle Draw. We produced 4000 tickets to be sold at Php100 each. Grand prize of Php40,000, 2nd prize of Php20,000,  3rd prize of Php10,000 and 5 consolation prizes worth Php2000.

With the pre-occupied minds of B90 alumni, nobody noticed the discussion page to name the project. The most significant and easy to recall portion of the gate came to my mind, The ARCH. This was later given deeper meaning by the master of comical acronyms, Razen Estoy. From his trademark of making non-sense acronyms, he created a sensible one; The ARCH became The Amity, Reliance, Competency & Hope.
After more than a month of planning and preparation, we launched the raffle draw during INCAT Foundation day last March 3, 2011. With the title, “Let Us Build the ARCH” Raffle Draw, the fundraising campaign was indeed a collective effort. For more than three hectic months of our fund drive, we wanted to make everyday productive, no wasted time. Thanks to President Razen who opened his mind and believe on the ideas we had for the fund raising. He patiently did a multi-tasking job, including the printing and cutting of tickets and coordination with local official for the raffle draw permit, with Joy Nagasangan’s assistance. Razen also managed to pacify whatever tantrums of his partner had (that would be me), and he stayed as calm as possible. We did a house-to-house distribution of tickets to some of our batchmates and mentors together with Joel Dul-loog, Julius Pascua, Arnel Viloria, Marcelle Martillano and Marcial Manuel.
"Let Us Build The ARCH" Raffle Draw Launching
Merit to the committee members and local area coordinators who willingly accept whatever responsibilities.
  • Joel Dul-loog with Charity Ruiz-Bucala’s guidance - for managing our finances and procuring the needs in every event
  • Jonathan Tayamen – with his artistic talent in laying out the tickets, ads & souvenir items and the chairperson of the raffle draw
  • Arnel Viloria, Elfin Dela Cruz, Joy Nagasangan, Sherrie Sina, Amalia Gallego, Erwin Ybanez and Janet Valentin – our Local Area Coordinators who helped us in the distribution of tickets.
  • Marcial Manuel and Alwyn Salvador – for all the technical needs; lights & sounds during in every event, information technology concerns
  • Dennis Alipio – our media relations coordinator who was always there for the video coverage of the activities.
Our alumni abroad were very supportive. We had our online purchase of tickets. We did not have to physically hand-over the tickets to the purchasers, all we needed is to assign ticket numbers to those who purchased online and the database of tickets can be accessed. Thanks to the external area coordinators: April Maltezo-Pascual & Marites Calderon-Balignasay of Hawaii; Venus Asencion-Tan & Roque Quinto of Las Vegas; Emmanuel Viray of California; Jenifer dela Cruz-Hoare & Glenn Matias of Canada; Vanie Ledesma Manzano of Honkong; Ericson Valencia, Ferdinand Layugan and Jeffrey Tomas of Middle East; and Edison Domingo of Singapore.

Exhausting, perhaps, but we had so much fun being online, yelling and asking for our batch mates’ assistance. Aside from their cash contributions, the cheerleaders of B90 helped and used their kabadingan factor in making the silent B90 observers come out. The cheerleading group is composed of Lea Dalere, Vanie Manzano, Blandine Mariano, Precy Libed, Roseville Badua, Jennifer Dela Cruz - Hoare, including the bading wanna-be’s Ericson Valencia, Ferdie Layugan, Roque Quinto, Mico Abad and Darwin Arquillo.

The initial date of raffle draw was 16th of April 2011. Few weeks before the planned date, we still had to distribute more than 50% of the tickets that we produced. So then we moved the date to May 21, 2011. We didn’t want to spoil the excitement of our batchmates who spent their vacation in the Philippines and wanted to witness the raffle draw. Thus, we replaced the April 16 draw activity with “B90 Summer Chill-Out Episode 1 – Family Day”. And since it was intended for family; spouses and children of B90 alumni joined the fun. We had activities such as face paintings, crafting; “Create Your Own Alkansya”, and Beaver the Builder coloring. Beaver is B90 proposed mascot that will represent INCAT. The event concluded with a meeting, getting the alumni’s commitment to strive harder to reach the goal of the fund drive.
B90 Summer Chill-Out - Episode 1
Several days before the raffle draw, early part of May, when our class president announced his farewell as he needed to go to Norway for career progress. A person with courage accepted the responsibilities left by our president. She never had a doubt when we said that B90 will support her in all our activities. She is Liberty Rioteta-Cinco, our OIC President.

At the very same date that Razen flew to Norway, the raffle draw finally took place last May 21, 2011. Elfin Dela Cruz did a good job for being the alumni with most number of raffle tickets distributed and paid, total of 400pcs. Rhoda De Vera and Gerald Famorca, with 100tickets each, topped the line of the most number of tickets purchased. Having a zero production cost (except for the prizes, of course), the event was productive and successful. Though we did not attain the expected proceeds; we were able to change a person’s life. The grand prize winner was in need of cash for his medications. He didn’t know the delay of the raffle draw and he almost threw the claim stub away. Surprisingly, he won and he claimed his cash prize of Php40,000 with teary eyes.
Raffle Draw Day
It was May 23, two days after the raffle draw, when we started to implement the construction. With the available fund, about Php226,000,  we were still 50% short of budget. This did not stop us from making progress. We decided not to include yet the pavement improvement to cut-off construction cost. We utilized all the resources we’ve got. The couples Rey and Sherrie Madamba allowed us to use their jackhammer for the demolition works. And Odilon Aguada lent his metal scaffoldings. We also found ways to meet the budget and some of which are the following; Rommel Constantino, 2nd prize winner of raffle draw donated his P20,000 cash prize. Jeff Tomas’ wife, 3rd prize winner gave half of her P10,000 cash prize. And we had a lot of cash donors. Gerald Famorca delivered steel materials without any mark-up and we saved up to 10% of the steel material cost. Galicano Cristobal, Jr. donated and he himself delivered 100% of the sand and gravel needed; Joriel Guerrero paid 50% of the bricks cost and some other material donors for the cement. These two gentlemen, who ended our search for contractors, accepted the implementation job and gave a lot of efforts to complete the project. Considering the marginal budget, they participated in the development of cost-saving ideas without affecting the quality of the structure. Steel works implementer, Odilon Aguada shared his idea that reduced 10% of the cost of steel works. Concrete & masonry works implementer and construction coordinator, Marcelle Martillano found ways that reduced 35% of the concrete works cost. These savings gave us the opportunity to put back in the scope the originally planned improvement of a portion of the pavement.

The ARCH - In-Progress
The projected completion of construction was before July 09, 2011, the planned ribbon cutting day. But with some dilemmas; unpredictable rains that interrupted the painting works and some construction quality issues; the project completion was delayed for two weeks, and the construction cost grew up. Thanks, however, to Marcelle Martillano who never ran out of ideas to deal with construction difficulties. I can’t remember when the last time I gave complement to local construction supervisors/coordinators was, but I can’t help but appreciate and say that he did a remarkable job.

Better late than never, so true, because we were able to meet the budget needed with the cash donations of the big hearted B90 donors who were late to join our social network, just few weeks before the planned project completion. And with additional Php5,000 that made the Php20,000 donation of Lizette Quebral who’s been always observant, supportive and first ever to give her share for the project. Considering our receding budget and the need to minimize expenses, B90 people are merely text messages away and they are always ready to lend their helping hands; for things such as mantel to cover the structure during paint works, Rosemarie Pascua and Oliver Andres responded. They are members of the solid and helpful Tropang Pluto of B90 headed by Hazel Juan and Gina Coloma.

Amounting to Php368,000, the project was completed. And with the materials donated plus the waived supervision fee of our construction coordinator, the total amount drawn from the B90 fund is Php 341,500.

Project construction might have been over but the online discussion never ceased. We needed to revisit the project slogan. One suggested that it should be in Ilocano. Most of contributors are based abroad, beating those who are staying here in Ilocos. They used words that only heard from our great grandparents. This gave us the idea to promote our dialect to the younger generations by posting all the Ilocano slogans inside the INCAT campus. Another witty idea, huh! Still in English, and thanks to the committee formed by Supt. Pedro who formulated the slogan out of the suggestions of B90 alumni. The project slogan “Gateway to Brilliance and Excellence” is in line with the school slogan “A Hallmark of Brilliance and Excellence”.

July 24, 2011 when the Batch 90 alumni once again convened for the unveiling and project turn-over. Attended by about 50 alumni, 25 INCAT staff & students who gave intermission number and two guests to cut the ribbon and bless the project, the event was indeed full of emotions. All the attendees admired the effort and strong will that Batch 90 had. Even the INCAT Alumni Association President, Atty. Jaime Agtang, our guest speaker who was asked to give inspirational message was the one who got inspired with the B90 achievement. He even requested us to accept him as honorary member of B90. After the project was blessed by Rev. Fr. Engelbert Elarmo the ribbon was cut, literally, with the bang of fireworks and The ARCH finally opened. The Laoag Gymnastic Club (INCAT students) performed with the gymnast wanna-be’s of B90, myself, Joel Dul-Loog my dancing partners during highschool,  Julius Pascua & Jon Tayamen and, yes, even the used-to-be silent, Marcelle Martillano and the used-to-be bullies' favorite subject, Ceasar Andres. Lunch was served after the final production number. How could we afford to generously serve lunch to all the attendees despite of having an almost zero balance account? Again and again, with the unselfish alumni here and abroad who donated foods & drinks.
The Unveiling and Project Turn-Over
So proud to be part of the INCAT Batch 90 alumni, as we always say. Is it because of the leadership displayed by the officers? Or is it because of the support and trust that the members gave? It has been a never-ending “chicken ‘n egg” discussion of how we succeed. It’s a simple metaphor of reinforced concrete equals B90. What does concrete composed of? It is composed of materials that if we individually look into, they are nothing but ordinary and strength less substances:

Steel Reinforcement – hard but can not stand on its own; these are the officers of B90; tough as they seem to be, but need supports from others for them to succeed.
Gravel – lump but loose; create voids when grouped together, need sand to fill-in the voids. These are the area coordinators; they need their members to fill the gaps among them.
Sand – loose and fine granules; gravel and sand need cement to bind them together; these are the members of B90 who thought of themselves as small and who thought that their contributions may not have been significant, but they fill-in the spaces that make the group solid and more stable.
Cement – powdery, easy to be blown away by wind, need water to bind the particles together and turn into solid; these are the overall leaders, those who unite the group, lead everyone to one path, one objective.
Water – flimsy, turn into vapor when heated; these are the advisers/mentors of B90, like water in concrete, they do not have to be there throughout our lives but they played important role in bringing out the strengths inside us. And like water that is sprayed on to concrete surface until the full bond between all its substances is developed, they never leave us until they are confident that we can be on our own.
Putting all the materials together at the right proportion, combination and timing; a dependable, sturdy and reliable concrete structure is formed. Sounds like INCAT Batch 90, isn’t it?

There may be few who were reluctant to help, but there are heroes that we can count on. There maybe devils who said, “dream on, you can’t make it”, but there are angels saying, “We are here standing by to support you”. With all the struggles we had specially the inconvenience we experienced that delayed our project completion; The ARCH is not only a symbol of knowledge, hope and progress; The ARCH reminds us of how Batch 90 was united and stood still to uphold integrity and how we proved that perseverance and teamwork can make dreams come true. To those who purchased and distributed raffle tickets, to those who donated cash and materials, to those who responded every time we need help and to those who gave their time and efforts that no amount of money can match… Maraming maraming salamat po! We made it! Mabuhay ang Batch 90!!! Kudos INCAT!!!

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Images provided by:
Marygrace Palting-Agcaoili and Jonathan Badua (Roseville Badua-Reales' brother)

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