19 April 2007
The 2006-2007 school year is coming to a close at the University of the Philippines Rural High School (U.P.R.H.S.), near the town of Los Banos, in Laguna Province. Graduation will be held on the 27th of April. This is the location of the scholarship program of the Los Banos Liberation Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc. , which began in June of 2003 with a girl and a boy in their second year of high school. These students were selected because they demonstrated high academic potential and drive, and because their parents were too poor to pay the fees required to keep them in high school. The Foundation granted each of these first two scholarship students the peso equivalent of $250 (U.S.) in financial assistance. Because they performed well, their grants were renewed in their junior and senior years. In 2004 and 2005 additional "scholars" were brought into the program in their second year of high school. Since all met high academic expectations, the whole number of scholars receiving grants at the same time from the Los Banos Liberation Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc., during the 2005-2006 school year was six: two sophomores, two juniors, and two seniors. Two of them were young men and four were young women. The two seniors, the girl and boy who had started in the scholarship program in 2003, became the first graduates of the program, in April 2006. The young woman, Imarie, became valedictorian of the graduating class, and the young man, Jonathan or "JC", was within the top five in the senior class. Both passed entrance examinations for the University of the Philippines. These two students proved themselves excellent groundbreakers for the Memorial Scholarship program!
U.P. Rural High School, which has about 500 students, celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. It is administered by the University of the Philippines Los Banos, which started out as the College of Agriculture of the University of the Philippines, not long after the United States purchased the Philippines from Spain. U.P. Rural High School is a public high school, but it is very competitive to enter. The nation pays tuition, but the school charges special fees, amounting to about $250 (U.S.) per year, for certain mandatory activities and supplies. These fees are too high for many poor parents to afford. The Parent-Teacher Association and the Alumni Association provide some scholarships. The Los Banos Liberation Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc., founded in 2002, has undertaken the combined purposes of (a) helping poor but capable students complete high school and (b) honoring the memory of the 11th Airborne Division, United States Army, and the Hunters ROTC Guerrillas and other Filipino guerrillas who took part in the liberation of Los Banos Internment Camp.
The new campus of U.P. Rural High School stands in beautiful farm country very close to the drop-zone taken by the 11th Airborne paratroopers who jumped at dawn on February 23, 1945, touching off the dramatic and complex raid that rescued 2,147 American and Allied civilian prisoners of war from the Japanese Army at Los Banos Internment Camp. The Foundation's scholarships honor the memory of the 11th Airborne Division, the Hunters ROTC Guerrillas and other attached guerrilla forces, some 1500 townspeople of Los Banos massacred by the Japanese Army in revenge for our rescue, and the civilian prisoners of war themselves. The student grantees are charged with studying the history of the war and the liberation and presenting their research and creative work in the commemoration program which the school and the community present every February.
Jim Innis, President
Los Banos Liberation Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc.
- 5554 -