BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"J-A-S-M-S Oh yes! The school we love the best."

SOMEWHERE between my heart and Quezon City, lies the haven of my childhood, a place which is largely the reason why I am in the mold that I am now.

JASMS School, the grade school department of the Philippine Women’s University, was the school of my youth. To this day, I still feel thankful to my parents for putting me there.

Last week, I was together with fellow JASMS students after a long time. How happy we were to see each other again.

It has been so many years ago since we stepped out of our playground to live the rest of our lives.

Today, we are proud and happy pursuing our interests in life. That is, after all, what JASMS gave us. It did not raise us to become nerds or academic slaves but more importantly, JASMS taught us to do what we want. It helped us find our place under the sun.

Today, some of us are already fathers and mothers to amazing little boys and girls. We all have our own lives now but wherever we go, we always bring with us everything and even more than what we got from our school.

JASMS began in 1933, under the leadership of President Francisca Tirona Benitez. She sponsored a novel experiment in childhood education which is “child-centered” and totally different from the educational approach of the time, according to an article posted at

"In essence, JASMS is an educational environment where children and parents feel and see for themselves the warmth and friendliness of relationship, the absence of rigid pressure to conform to set standards and where learning is enjoyment. How the young develop in attitude, behavior and relationship as they grow into personhood, the kind of motivation and depth of wisdom as they grow into maturity-is the mission of the school," it said.

Some parents may not totally agree with the JASMS way. The students enjoyed too much, some have said.

But we disagree. We will always be happy with what we experienced. Nobody knows how it was except us. We know the real deal.

There, it was possible to climb "mountains," to soak oneself in mud and enjoy it, to travel to different corners of the world without mom and dad, to learn while playing and to enjoy every minute of one's youth. It was almost okay to be afraid, to express your angst, to rebel and to learn from it in the process.

JASMS allowed us to be children. It also gave us enough time to grow.

JASMS is that one place we will always call home. It is somewhere between Peter Pan's Neverland and Holden Caulfield's universe.