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San Sebastian High School pays tribute to a lady who has contributed 41 years of her life to the welfare and interest of the High School community. Most of us know her as the prim and proper elegant-dressed, soft-spoken and (really, really) fair-skinned Principal who would always meet you with a smile even when everyone  is having a bad hair day. God-loving that she is, she seldom talks down on people and instead lifts everyone’s spirit with her motherly countenance. Yes, a mother that she is, we know her as Ma’am Cristy, or Ate Cristy, or on a more formal setting: Mrs. Aliwalas.

Ma’am Cristy came to San Sebastian in June 1973 as a young and idealistic fresh graduate of St. Louis University, Baguio City, with a degree in BS Education, Major in Gen. Science and Chemistry. She is a loving wife of Mr. Antonio Aliwalas and is blessed with four adorable children – Anthony, Jeffrey, Dorothy, Anne and Cristy Diane – all of whom are now successful in their own fields of choice. The family hails from Abra, which makes a mockery of the usual concept that Ilocanas are dark-skinned and really tight-fisted (frugal?)  when it comes to money issues. Her generosity is among her greatest virtues, and many people who know her personally can truly attest to that. This trait, among the many, got her endeared to a lot of friends who have nothing unhealthy to say about her. She is, after all, blessed with all the good things that anyone could possibly dream of.

Ate Cristy loves education as her next-of-kin. Her passion for knowledge only complemented her wisdom and intelligence (she finished College under Academic Scholarship, by the way). As an academician, she has always been respected not only by her students, but by colleagues, as well. With her post-graduate degree in Educational Leadership which she gloriously earned from De La Salle University, she fortified her grounds in the field of education which she used intensively in her post as principal and as a PAASCU accreditor. Her soft voice did not prevent her from letting her ideas known to those who deserve them. Elegance, after all, gains higher patronage than rowdy demeanor.

Mrs. Aliwalas with then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

The authority in MRS. ALIWALAS did not come on a silver platter. In 1996, as her predecessor, MR. RAMON L. AVELINO left the SSC High School Department, she was named principal. Challenges came with the package. Having been appointed to the top-most position from being an ordinary classroom teacher and an Accreditation Coordinator since 1993, she struggled to win the respect of her colleagues and constituents, but only for while. Her short stint with her new office gained her an image of humane but law-abiding authority that no one could question her decisions to be a partial and/or unlawful. Her every move was calculated and anchored on facts. And while people with opposing personal intentions would not always agree, they could not argue with her judgment as being for the good of the majority. Likewise, her personal relationship, while treasured, did not alter her authority as personal bias. She was a fair principal as she is fair as a person, an epitome of kind-heartedness who did not use her authority for vendetta even on those who rudely opposed her. She respects every individual’s uniqueness and has only a few words to those who challenged her position: hayaan mo sila. She is never quick to judge even on the most serious offenses, for she is always cautious not to hurt the offender.

Mrs. Aliwalas’ numerous contributions to the SSC High School Department became most evident during PAASCU Accreditation (and reaccreditation, as of lately). From 1995, when the school initially gained accreditation, she carried out a rule of excellence in terms of quality instruction (she was, after all, the best Physics teacher before she assumed office). She also has been a PAASCU Accreditor since 1ALIWALAS, CRISTINA999, and has since made 37 visits to different schools in the Philippines.

Now as she vacates her post to Dr. Juliet Baltazar as the High School Principal, the SSC High School Department pledges a v
ow of respect and gratitude to THE LADY who shared a good number of her years to the betterment, not only of the department, but of the institution as well. The knowledge that she has unselfishly shared with every individual (especially to the students who came back for a great tribute) will always be cherished. The High School Department says “THANK YOU” to the friend, the mentor, the mother and the administrator who set foot and left the portals of San Sebastian College with an image as immaculate as her faith.  And while others have many good names to call her, for us, she will always be MA’AM CRISTY.