DAGUPAN CITY – The 10 Manlingkor ya Kalangweran who joined the trip to the land of milk and honey are back in Dagupan with sweet memories to reminisce in all their life. But more than the sweet memories are the life-changing experience they have gain from their 14-day trip to Milpitas City, California for a goodwill visit from September 14 to 28.

Jilian Kay Madison S. Fernandez, the young city mayor in sharing her stories about the trip, disclosed how she was touched by the warm hospitality and accommodation accorded  them by the people in Milpitas City especially the Filipino community that made them feel as if they were still at home while  miles away from the Philippines.

Jilian gave high regards on how the students from Milpitas High do their part in community service by helping out in the school’s fire prevention program including the conduct of lectures on what to do during fire.

“It was really nice to see how lots of students from Milpitas High were doing community service by helping out in this program, and I think this should really be adopted here, too,” said Jilian.

Jilian stayed in the home of her foster family, Mr. and Ms. Jess and Claire Ugto and Gilda Ugto, which  she considered as her second home.


She was thankful to them for bringing her to Stanford University, which made her to dream more.

“Once I stepped at Stanford I felt to myself that I really wanted to go to a great school like it. It was big, and its architecture and art was mesmerizing. It inspires for a simple student like me to achieve so much. It made me dream to get bigger,” she said.

In all the places that the group had been too, Jilian shares how she was excited in visiting the happiest place on earth, the Disneyland. The MYKs made a total of 12 rides in the Disneyland that day.

Their trip to the Universal Studios made Jilian more excited especially when she made a close encounter with her favorite, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“Oh my goodness, I was taking a million pictures, the seven-year-old in me who first read Harry Potter was crying inside. It was so great,” exclaimed Jilian.

The trip to America was not Jilian’s first, saying  “somehow, despite all the  leaps and bounce   I have taken in my life, the biggest step I have ever taken is the small step I took entering the plane alone for the first time. The small plane seemed bigger than the city I grew up in, although I’ve been in planes a lot of times, being on a plane without my family made the unfamiliar voices louder, the strangers seemed stranger, and although I’ve never had the fear of flying, it felt as though taking off would change a lot of things— and it did.

People would say it’s a simple story of ten kids going to America trying something new, but living in the story is more than that, it was growing out of old sweaters and the norm of the old town we lived in as we entered together the wild jungle of a new world with beasts and flamingos— well there will always be the good and the bad in realization, that is undeniable. And I’m a small fragment in this long novel, just another girl, as they say, trying to find her place in the world,” said Jilian.

To future leaders and future MYK’s, Jilian says, “Going to this trip alone scared me, yet here I am happy. Do the one thing that scares you, because like what Kelly Clarkson said in her son, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger. The future, and the opportunities that come with it, will always be risky and scary, but have a brave heart and take that big step forward. Reach for your dreams and you will soar!” she said.

Tabitha Vallejos Jimenez and Harmond A. Santos Jr. shared the same experience with Jilian that they were able to practice their independence and that by being on their own enabled them to persevere in their studies and to dream big.

All of them were grateful to Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, who traveled with them, for the wonderful experience and opportunity of getting into America, and also to Mr. Epee Rafanan.

On the other hand, Mayor Fernandez  was grateful to the hospitality and support bestowed upon them by the different civic organizations in the Northern and Southern California areas like the Dagupan City Association of Northern California headed by president Max Ray Garibay; Dagupenians Association of America headed by president Marcelo Reyes; United Pangasinenses of America, Incorporated headed by Mario Panoringan; Bonuan Association of Southern California and the Dagupan City Association of Southern California headed by Fe Valencerina and the City of Duarte especially council member Tzeteil Paras Caracci.

“The insights that the young student leaders learned and experienced during their school immersion tasks and the best government implementation and management practices that the local officials observed will greatly benefit our city as these get adapted and applied locally. We also had robust discussions and exchange of ideas on the status of Dagupan City’s development and future endeavors. We were heartened by their show of support to our various upcoming projects like the waste management program, the construction of a new government center, etc. to name a few,” said Mayor Fernandez.

The other members of the delegation were City Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo, Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Lorna G. Bugayong, City Legal Officer Ma. Victoria D. Cabrera, City Budget Officer Luz De Guzman, Ana Cristina Sinlao, School Principal Gary Desoloc and Owen Tan. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/Oct. 3, 2017)