Our History: Legacy then; Legacy Still
A Historical Background of Al Majd International School Dammam (Philippine Curriculum)
by Ael Xyandreiz C. Lacson and Donmig J. Cunanan
Al Majd International School Dammam (Philippine Curriculum), known today as one of the top Filipino schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its extraordinary achievements, dedicated and outstanding faculty members, staff and most of all the bright young minds that it houses.
Looking at it now, it is hard to imagine that it ever was anything less than renowned. But as we all know, every legacy has a story and a legacy starts with as little as eight incredible people with love and concern for Filipino expatriates’ children.
The school first opened its doors after 4 families namely Mr. Romeo O. Novelles and Mrs. Emillia J. Novelles, Mr. Edwardo
P. and Mrs. Maria N. Solar, Mr. Teodoro and Mrs. Clarita F. Cagampang, and Mr. Sofronio G. Rulloda and Mrs. Lita C. Rulloda copiously donated the funding for its construction. These families dedicated this school not only for their children but also for the hundreds of Filipino youth overseas looking for a suitable place to learn. With their perseverance and passion for education, the hard work paid off and thus in June 1995, a legacy
The school humbly began its first school year (1995-1996) with the name Philippine Embassy School in Dammam (PESD) with 118 students, 16 teachers and 14 admin staff members. Despite such a small number of students, the members of the school never failed to deliver quality education for levels as low as Kindergarten to levels of secondary education. One of these prominent members was Mrs. Zelinda L. Dizon, known as the first principal of the school. She did outstanding work during her short term of 2 months and was then followed by Mrs. Emerlinda B. Baldomero. The first Chairman of the Board, Mr. Romeo O. Novelles still holds his title to this day. The loyal workmanship of these members was the key factor that paved the way for our alma mater to thrive.
Despite the seemingly impressive development of the school, it was still a long way from being what it is today. The school stood upon a warehouse used in the Gulf War and so even though the establishment was suitable for housing the inquisitive youth, it was still rough around the edges. The interior was decorated beautifully along with a nice red-carpet for the flooring and the classrooms were more than subpar yet the exterior was nothing like that of an ordinary school and looked more like rugged barracks. Though we can only imagine what it would be like during those years, it still astounds many of us to know how much our school developed since then.
A notable part of our school’s history was the fact that we kept many traditions alive. Included in this was the Citizen Advancement Training (CAdT) which began as soon as the school was up and running. Just as we do today, the school used to host Fancy Drills Competition and the annually awaited Bivouac pulled together by the very first commandant Mr. Rod Dan Zulueta and Mrs. Anna Liza Cunanan along with the first Corps Commander, Mr. Dexter Eje. Their hard work instilled nationalism and responsibility towards young cadets and cadettes and resonated as their legacy lived on by students following their footsteps.
A dignified school needs a dignified hymn. Such was the idea of young Fitz Gerald N. Solar, who composed and wrote the PSD hymn that we are all too familiar with today. It is amazing to think that the inspiring lyrics that every AMISDian knows lived on even before our time. Fitz Gerald N. Solar was indeed brilliant as he is now a graduate of Bachelor in Science in Conservatory of Music, majoring in Voice and Piano, at University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.
Our alma mater goes through yet another difficult challenge as it struggles to financially support itself. The school previously was supported by the embassy, thus the “Embassy” in its name until an unfortunate announcement from the ambassador of the Philippines stating they can only support one embassy school. Sadly, a Filipino school before PESD was now the only school supported by the embassy and so the school struggled for a sponsorship. On the verge of termination, the school managed to find Mr. Zaki Al-Awami who generously agreed to support the school and so the first sponsorship of our school was established. This series of events shows that anything good will thrive by the will of the people passionately working for it.
Due to the newfound sponsorship, the school continued its service by the name Philippine School Dammam (PSD) and was then recognized as a private school. During these triumphant times, Mrs. Lita C. Rulloda, the school principal was working the gears to make sure that the school was in top condition. With her efforts as well as the combined workmanship of the teachers and staff, the school passed its first ocular visit from Department of Education.
The school not only dealt with a lot of changes during this shift in sponsorship but also received a lot of criticism questioning the legitimacy of the system. Despite of this, the school continued its tireless service and was aided by the kind words of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. She claimed that it was pointless to question the legitimacy of a school and added that if it was able to properly mold the minds of the future generation then it is more than enough evidence to show for its legitimacy.
After 2 years of sponsorship, Mr. Zaki Al-Awami stepped down due to internal difficulties and the year 1996 was known to be the year where Her Highness, Princess Jawaher Bint Mohammed Bin Fahad Bin Jalawi Al took up the school for financial support. It was then that Her highness was recognized as the new sponsor. With this development, the school was due for another name change Al Majd International School Dammam -Philippine Section hence it became an extension of the British Curriculum that the Princess primarily sponsors. This didn’t last for very long as the school returned to its more well-known name – Philippine School Dammam.After 5 years of the school thriving through hurdles and challenges, it was granted an official license by DepED. This allowed the momentum of the school to rise even more as it became a well-known establishment in the Eastern Region, changing the lives of overseas Filipino youth one step at a time. With the expansion of the school, more and more patron and parents supported the facility giving it more recognition. The recognition opened many paths for the school to join organizations such as OKOR (2002), EPPSAM (2012) and PISAM (2015) which enhanced the student’s cooperation, sportsmanship and loyalty to the alma mater.
During the year 2009, the school changed its name once again after the ministry demanded that there should only be one school under the Princess’ sponsorship. Her highness decided that her brother, Prince Mohammed Bin Fahad Bin Jalawi Al Saud would instead be the sponsor for the school and thus it was named Al-Jazeera International School in Dammam (AJISD).
It was in 2015 that the school underwent major reformations and development as the ministry encouraged the school to build more utilities and buildings for the sake of a higher quality education. It was also during this year where the gender segregation of students took place and two different sections of the schools were introduced. This change brought about another switch-up in terms of the establishment’s name. As we know, Al Majd International School in Dammam – Philippine Curriculum (AMISD-PC) was the latest and current name change that the school went through. This name change signified a new level of development for the school and it symbolizes the constant efforts of the staff to provide the highest quality of education for hard-working students.
Al Majd International School Dammam – Philippine Curriculum (AMISD-PC) stands proudly today as an unmoving presence in the Eastern Region. The struggles it went through over the years shows that the integrity of the school remains unfazed. Many students, staff members and teachers contributed to the legacy that our alma mater has left behind thus far. It is now up to us to continue this legacy and stay true to what our school stands for. The pursuit of education will always thrive; No matter how much challenges we may face, as long as we believe in the legacy of our predecessors, we are capable of continuing it and will always live in our quest for quality education and excellence.