School Year 2016-2017 is just days away in the Philippines, so this week was the official Brigada Eskwela – a time for preparation of school campuses prior to the start of classes on June 13th. Sir Jade visited Daanbantayan Wednesday to check on preparations for the September projects in Cebu. While up north, he was able to help Sir Chester at Daanbantayan National High School open up the four newly-arrive balikbayan boxes and get the new flat panel monitors set up.
Lots of things on the to-do list this week, some of which actually got accomplished. The most exciting was meeting with Judy and Denis Severson of The School Fund – more on that below. We also heard just this morning that the first four balikbayan boxes arrived at Daanbantayan National High School. Those boxes left here on March 23rd and contained computer equipment purchased from the Silicon Valley Chapter of the World Computer Exchange (www.worldcomputerexchange.org). Jade is planning to head up to Daanbantayan this week to begin the cabling, so it’s a wonderful bit of timing that he can also work with Sir Chester to check out the newly arrived equipment.
As of yesterday, every last one of the 80 monitors donated by Free Geek is in a box now, either ready for shipment to Cebu or on its way already. What a thrill it is to know that we will be equipping schools with new computer labs as well as addressing CRT attrition in existing labs! We send a huge THANK YOU to Free Geek for this game-changing donation and to Katherine Yen and Marcus Lee for their help in getting everything packed for shipment. And in addition to the boxes flowing out of Reneal IEO headquarters, World Computer Exchange just made their first foray into balikbayan box shipping, sending five boxes to Cebu stuffed with desktops, keyboards, and mice purchased by Reneal in support of the 2016 projects.
It’s been another week of progress in testing, packing, and shipping computer equipment to Cebu for our September projects. Katherine was back Monday, and the garage is looking spacious again with only one final row of monitors to tackle. We also have a stack of desktops and laptops that have their disks wiped and are ready to go. We are expecting at this point to deploy them for the as-yet-undetermined 2017 projects. While I hate to let hardware sit unused until we return to Cebu early next year, it’s clear that we already have a full plate for the September 2016 trip with five new installations, the 2nd Annual Cebu Open Source Software Championship, and system administration training.
I have to admit, the garage full of monitors from Free Geek was a bit intimidating when we got home from vacation in late April. Monitors are always an interesting challenge to pack – the odd shapes, the unique ways that the stands must be removed for packing. Knives, pliers, screwdrivers, extra sets of hands – all are employed to get monitors into boxable form. And then there are always little pockets of empty space in the boxes that have to be filled with *something* for secure shipment.
We’ve had a nearly unprecedented three weeks away from our laptops, but now we’re home again and it’s time to get back to work. Coincident with our homecoming, the new long-term support version of Ubuntu was formally released yesterday. Neal has been eagerly awaiting 16.04, so it was great timing! He’ll have his work cut out for him for the summer. And today our shipping service, Manila Box, picked up six boxes bound for Cebu. Still lots of packing and shipping to do yet, but it’s nice to have so much already underway.
This week we made a quick trip up to Portland, Oregon to pick up a generous hardware grant from Free Geek (www.freegeek.org). Blog readers may remember our last trip, and this trip was equally inspiring and productive! We came back with 10 desktops, 15 keyboards, 30 mice, and as many monitors as we could cram into our rental truck – over 80! We are so thrilled that we will be able to give these monitors new life in public high schools in the Philippines where we are constantly battling attrition of the CRTs they received back in the early 2000’s. In addition flat panel monitors consume so much less power and take up a lot less space, so it is a big advantage for the schools to replace the CRTs.
Exciting news! The Reneal IEO Board of Directors has approved the new Cebu project plan! We will be installing the Reneal system at Calape National High School and Tominjao National High School, both in Daanbantayan. Daanbantayan is at the very northern tip of Cebu, and it was in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan in November of 2013. We are so happy that we’ll be able to support these schools that sustained a lot of damage in that catastrophe. And in a first, we will be installing the Reneal system for three of the brand new Senior High Schools: Arcelo Memorial, Carmen, and Daanbantayan. So although it’s a big chunk of work to install at five schools, we’ll be working with three very experienced IT teachers for the three Senior High installations.
The jet lag is gone, the laundry is done, and now we’re ready to start planning the next batch of projects in Cebu. There is a Reneal IEO Board of Directors meeting tomorrow, and we’re excited to see the outcome as they analyze the data we’ve collected to date on prospects for later this year in Cebu. Reneal IEO is now supporting TWENTY schools in Cebu, and we look forward to the possibility of adding more. In the meantime, below is a summary of the 2016 work to date that we presented to Dr. Rhea Mar Angtud, the Superintendent of Cebu Province Division, and Dr. Arden Monisit, the Superintendent of Mandaue City Division.
We’re sitting here in Seoul, the 9-hour layover serving as an interlude to the always-difficult transition between our life in the Philippines and our life in California. There are many things we’re looking forward to: the silence of the suburb where we live, spinach, cooler temperatures, and of course friends and family in the US. But I am already missing our family in Cebu, spread now from Daanbantayan to Mandaue City, but most especially in our home town of Compostela. It is ten years this month since we first arrived in Manila as new US Peace Corps Volunteers, and we both continue to be amazed and humbled by the blessings that we have received since we first set foot on Filipino soil.