BLACKFOOT —Starting as a swimming coach 33 years ago, Jeffrey Hammett has lived through educational changes, revolutions and revolts in The Republic
of the Philippines.
“I attended Stanford University and was an all-American swimmer
in the ‘60s,” Hammett said. “The national team in the Philippines needed
some expertise in swimming so they offered me a two-year contract.”
After taking a trip around the world, Hammett started as a swimming coach in the Philippines in 1980. In 1980, the exchange rate of the Philippino peso to the U.S. dollar was 7.6 to one. In June 2013, it is
approximately 43.5 pesos to the U.S. dollar.
Hammett has been a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Brent International School. Currently, he serves as the Deputy Headmaster at the Brent International School Manila.
This international school operates in three locations—Baguio, which
was established in 1909; Manila, established in 1985; and Subic Bay,
established in 1995. About 1,100 students attend classes in the Manila site, from nursery school through grade 12.
The parents of most of the students are in business in the Philippines first and then in the the diplomatic core.
“Goodness and commonality in all religions is emphasized,” Hammett said. “Forgiveness, love and understanding are hallmarks of this education.
“Last year’s theme was, “What does it mean to be a peacemaker?” he said. “It was a joy to hear students [of 40 different nationalities and multiple faiths] discussing what it means to be a peacemaker.”
The student population is composed of about 20 percent Americans, 24 percent Philippinos, 30 percent Korean and a mixture of other nationalities.
In grades 11 and 12, students can opt to be in the International Baccalaureate Program which is recognized by some of the big universities
in the U.S. “Did he tell you about being in the middle of a revolt?” his brother asked.
“When I spoke with him on the phone, I could hear gunfire.” “My wife and I were hiding behind our retaining wall,” Hammett said.
“The wife of former President Fidel V. Ramos of the Philippines was my
school’s registrar,” he said.
“Whenever she needed to travel with her husband, the President, she would
dutifully write a request to be absent and I would sign it.”
Hammett has seen a lot of Philippino history up close and personal. He
has watched the government unfold from under President Ferdinand Marcos who was deposed in 1986, to the current leader, President “Noynoy” Aquino, the son of former President Corazon (Cory) Aquino. His eyes sparkle when he speaks of his adopted homeland.
“I have lived longer in the Philippines than in America,” said Hammett.
“My bones will be buried there.”
Hammett was visiting his father, Raymond (Duke) Hammett, and his brother and sisterin-law, Lee and Debbie Hammett, in Blackfoot.
Duke and his family celebrated his 92nd birthday last week.
Hammett left Blackfoot Wednesday.
After a side trip to San Francisco, he will rejoin his wife, Alexandra
Lacson Hammett, in the Philippines. His wife holds dual citizenship—
in the Philippines and in the U.S.