MANILA, March 10, 2005 (STAR) HINDSIGHT By Josefina T. Lichauco -  In 1920, the International School Manila (ISM) was founded by American and British parents who wanted to provide their children with a competitive curriculum and an excellent educational environment. Turning 85 years old this year, ISM has been around for as far back as I can remember. It has become an integral landmark in our country. Under the direction of its first principal Lita Craig Brown, eight American teachers taught grades one through 12 to 50 children in a church building donated by the Episcopal Church of the Philippines.

Iíve met expatriates who come and go and inevitably I am told that one of the things they like about being assigned to Manila is the existence of our International School. Grade school and high school at ISM carry excellent reputations and globally competitive standards that succeed in preparing its graduates for college in some of the best schools in the world.

ISMís high school offers the International Baccalaureate diploma necessary to successfully apply for admission into the best universities in Europe and get accepted to universities like Oxford and Cambridge, among others.

For expat parents who place great importance on the quality of their childrenís education, I have become familiar with the fact that many, if not all of them, have found themselves lucky that our country does have this excellent educational facility that is ISM. Other international schools are present in other Asian countries, but the Manila facility continues to maintain its high success record. The high school in Asia that consistently has been able to get their graduates into the best colleges in the US and Europe has been ISM.

Through the years, talk travels fast I guess, for as an expat family leaves, the successor-expat is informed about how good an education ISM provides. The school has currently 59 different nationalities represented.

Of course, no one will disagree with me when I say that the existence of such a learning facility as ISM within the Philippines has made our country more attractive to foreign investors who have to send their team of expats here, multinational business executives, leaders of global NGOs, diplomats, professionals, etc. ISM has been like a comfort blanket to many of them because inevitably one of the first things foreigners with young children inquire about in the country of assignment is the kind of education available for their kids.

We Filipinos are so concerned about the education of our children. Relevant officials in government and those that run the relevant NGOs right now are deeply concerned about the quality of the public school system in our country which the State is duty bound to provide. A great number of parents have this intense desire to give the best possible education to their kids. This is so true and was stressed by Aristotle when, in answer to the question, "What is the difference between an educated and an uneducated man," he replied, "The same difference as between being alive and being dead."

To commemorate the 85th anniversary of ISM, a gala dinner is being held on March 12, highlighted by musical and ballet performances. There will also be an auction, since the series of events leading up to the dinner are all fundraisers. Proceeds will support, among others, the very important and ongoing Filipino Scholarship Program for the Filipino students.

There is this touching story of scholar Paolo Yap, who belongs to high school batch of 2003, who topped his high school class and was admitted to Harvard University on a full scholarship. Young as he was, he talked about his dream in life Ė to become president of his country someday and make his country the great country it desires to be. Other Filipino high school graduates from ISM who have been admitted to Harvard on full scholarships are Marivic Mapa (í02) and Maiga Miranda (í97).

Patricia "Papat" and Michael Escaler are parents of two boys from ISM. Time indeed flies, because it is still quite clear in my memory when my kids and I, after the graduation of my only daughter, drove from Boston to Connecticut where the Escalers were staying at the time. Their two sons, Andrew and Benjamin, were tiny kids then and it was difficult to believe that Benjamin is graduating from high school at ISM, and Andrew is now doing college in Boston for a degree in economics and philosophy as an honor student. It was through Papat that I found out that ISM is turning 85 years old and has, in fact, relocated to the Global City in Fort Bonifacio.

Aside from the strong Filipino Scholarship Program of ISM, a major project is the "I-Care Program" which is the main outreach project of the school wherein the students go to the provinces and disadvantaged communities. The students help build Habitat for Humanity homes, as well as help clean, protect or improve the . They also learn about and help in the preservation of historical landmarks, learn and teach different crafts, engage in writing, art, drama, theater, dance, and wall-climb. What they call the I-Care week provides all the students and the faculty with the opportunity to experience a connectedness with the world outside the classroom. This project supports and implements the schoolís commitment to develop the students as knowledgeable and responsible citizens.

The Escalersí younger son, Benjamin, has gone to Sagada for the I-Care program to help the community. He and his companions from ISM carried cement from the hills, mixed it, laid the bricks, and enjoyed every minute of it. I know one alumna of ISM, Dr. Carolyn Butler, now a pediatrician, who is a very active leader in the activities of this program that have to do with sick children in these communities.

At ISM, students receive the education, the cultural awareness, the sensitivity and action-orientation to someday help address the problems of the poor barangays. As future political and business leaders, they learn early enough that far-flung poor communities all over the world need a tremendous degree of help.

The presenting sponsor for the week-long ISM celebration is Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, the other major sponsors being ICTSI, Smart, Equitable-PCIB, the Jardine Matheson group, All Asian Countertrade Inc. and San Miguel Corporation, among others.

Thatís 85 years of providing a superior international school program. Time indeed has flown!

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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