By Sister Anna Carmela Pesongco, R.A.

Umay Ka!  Welcome to St Martin’s School!  Nestled near Crystal Cave in the City of Pines , is St. Martin’s School Assumption Baguio Elementary School.  What sets it apart?  Its neighboring villages are homes to indigenous tribes:  the Ibaloys, Kanka-eys  and the tribes from Mt. Province, Ifugao, Kalinga. Enlivening  its mission of enculturation, St Martin’s school opened its doors in the early 60’s to its tribal neighbors; and   in doing so, act as guardians of a culture quickly being eroded by the influences of media and city living.

Of the 130 pupils, 40% are scholars made possible mainly  through the Scholarship Program which its sister school, ASSUMPTION ANTIPOLO, has faithfully and generously supported  through the  years. Every section of Grade 12 who comes to  Assumption Sabbath Place for their class retreat meets these scholars for a simple  cultural  exchange, heritage appreciation  and interaction.  While challenged by the small student population and the ongoing struggle to sustain its scholarship program,  St Martin’s School remains steadfast in its vision.  Its vision is to foster a “Christ-centered learning community where justice, peace, care for creation and solidarity weave together our diverse cultural reality.”

To celebrate cultural diversity and  deepen appreciation  for  cultural heritage, the Cordilleran history, customs and traditions are made an integral part  of the Curriculum.   Indigenous songs, dances,  apparel, the use of the local instruments, the invocation of Kabunian  are   featured in   the performance of  THE MOUNTAIN STORY, a  tradition  which  dates back to  the early years that marked   St Martin’s School unique identity.     The story continues to be told,   enhanced, and enriched by some alumni  who are now parents, grandparents and faculty members of the school.


Long, long ago, people came to our land in search of gold. They dug deep into our mountains looking for the precious metal. It took a long time before they realized that the best gold was found in the hearts of our people. This  is  the story of our people who have always wanted to be free. That is why they have made the mountains their home. They  lived through winds and storms and heavy rains.   A  courageous  people,  we are not afraid of the dark. It is a friend to those who know that life also happens in the dark.

Like the sunflowers that fill our mountainside, we have waited long enough to know that it is no longer night for us. The day has come, it is time to celebrate! We want to share with you our gold. They come from our hearts. May they reach your heart! We are the pride of the Cordilleras! May Kabunian ever be so generous as we sing, dance and celebrate the many blessings we have received on earth.

We are grateful to Kabunian for giving us this land that we so lovingly till. In our labor, we learned to be humble and to know our place on earth, joyfully celebrating life and creation.

Though we differ in beliefs and traditions, we can become one!  Our story, our gold ,has now become a part of you.  Let us give thanks for this gift of life to Him whom everyone calls Father!

Once in a while, in the silence of the evening, just look out of your window towards the mountains, far beyond what your eyes can see. If you do, and if you listen to your heart, you will hear us gently calling, “Come! Umay ka!”

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