Colegio San Jose
de Alaminos, Pangasinan
Sr. Julie Saguibo, SFIC
delivered by Sr. Ma. Aurora Aurora Simon, sfic.
Today, we are all gathered in the spirit of Thanksgiving! Yes, our hearts are filled with joy as we thank God for His faithful love to each one of us especially to the entire family of Colegio San Jose de Alaminos.
Today, we are also filled with remembrances. We cannot help but reflect on the past to see the ways God has been walking with us through the years.
We, the SFICs feel honored and humbled by this great gesture of recognition of our 40 years of presence in this noble institution. Yes, today, we are celebrating 40 great years of journeying together as collaborators in making God’s dreams for this school a reality.
With reminiscence, we ask, “For what can we give thanks?” At this point, I would like to borrow Joyce Rupp’s way of looking over our past with “ Exodus eyes” , the eyes of a pilgrim, one who is always on the way.
1. Let us remember our burning bush moments when our faith was affirmed and our works renewed. With gratitude, we recall our journey in this school. We remember with a smile in our hearts our humble beginnings. We are truly grateful for God’s tremendous guidance in those attempts to move forward and mature in our responses as religious educators. We have affirmed that indeed God has called us to minister to His people in this beautiful place.
2. Let us remember our companions who aided us in our wilderness times of doubt and confusion. Yes, it cannot be denied that trials and difficulties were part and parcel of our ministry as educators. However, God has never left us in those times in the desert. He has sent us people as our guide and light so that we can all journey together with our minds and hearts focused on seeking God’s will for this school. We praise God for all those breakthroughs in our journeying together.
3. Let us remember our manna and quail that sustained our desert hunger and nourished us. We acclaim that God is a God of surprises. He has provided us with the blessings we needed in realizing His dreams for this school. We recall the greatness of people in helping us out in our temporal and material needs. We appreciate all the concern and support extended to the Sisters especially when we needed them the most. In all those circumstances, we experienced God sending us “our fire and cloud of other’s steady fidelity that assured us of God’s nearness.” Thank you for making God’s love palpable to us.
4. Let us remember our hope in reaching the promised land of deeper peace, new-found joy, and a renewed sense of purpose. Today, we rejoice with you as we witness with awe and wonder the big innovations that have been done in this school! God’s Spirit is very much felt in and among the School community!
Today, we are recounting all the blessings bestowed in our journey. And we can simply pray that an abundance of gratitude may burst forth as we reflect upon all that we have received in all these 40 years: support, recognition, respect, love, care, faithfulness, kindness, goodness of each person who have become true to us, the harvest /fruits of our good actions and most importantly, of our humble presence in this school in helping out in the realization of God’s promise of fullness of life towards the transformation of society.
In solidarity with the entire family of Colegio San Jose de Alaminos, we want to express sentiments of deep appreciation to her and to all the dedicated men and women who devote their lives to teaching the young. Pope Benedict said: “You form new generations not only in knowledge of the faith, but in every aspect of what it means to live as mature and responsible citizens in today’s world.” He further said, “Education is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts.”
Thank you for allowing us to express our spirit and charism in this milieu. May we also be inspired by Pope Benedict’s message, “As the relative roles of Church and State in the field of education continue to evolve, never forget that religious have a unique contribution to offer to this apostolate, above all through lives consecrated to God and through faithful, loving witness to Christ, the supreme Teacher.”
We humbly ask you to continue praying for our Sisters, for their well being and for more effective and prophetic witnessing of the Gospel-values in their way of being, doing and relating. May they continue to contribute in the realization of the Mission-Vision of the school with an atmosphere of respect and affectionate trust. May they also be faithful in upholding the hallmark of a Catholic school in your respectable institution. May they always remember that one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! May they be true Franciscans, always bearing in mind the advice of Saint Francis of Assisi to his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. May they continually motivate our students to give an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones. Let us heed then to the call of Pope Francis on education. “Education is an act of love; it is like giving life.” May God continue to bless the works of our hands. Happy Foundation day!
The Day’s Events
That was a very touching moment,
the WARM WELCOME !
Being one of the Pioneer Sisters in Alaminos and a native of Pangasinan, Sr. Alphonse Casambre,sfic, together with the other Sisters who were assigned in Alaminos gladly responded to the invitation of Colegio San Jose for the Grand Alumni Homecoming on March 13, 2015 and of course to relive once again their pleasant and memorable presence as SFICs. Indeed, FORTY YEARS of presence, THE RUBY ANNIVERSARY is worth celebrating!
With the able leadership of Sr. Esperanza Vistro, sfic, the Vice President, and the loving support of her co-sisters, Sr. Elizabeth Cipriano,sfic, and Sr. Ma. Alma Mijares, sfic, together with her fellow Administrators, Faculty and staff, the Sisters felt the warm hospitality and friendly atmosphere!
Indeed, it was really a day to remember! At this point in time, it is but proper to pause and reckon the humble beginnings of Colegio San Jose de Alaminos, the then Royal Carpenter Academy as fondly remembered.
Sr. Alphonse Casambre, sfic, recounts thus,
The History of the SFIC
Community in Alaminos
In 1975, after the DC (Daughters of Charity) Sisters had left their school ministry at the Royal Carpenter Academy in Alaminos, Pangasinan, the SFICs (Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception) took over the administrative work in the school.
Below is a write up culled from the book written by Sister Marie Teresite Bravo, SFIC, ROOTS AND WINGS , History of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Mother of God in the Philippines. Page 103 of the book shows the early beginnings of the Royal Carpenter Academy, (now Collegio de San Jose de Alaminos) under the Directorship of Msgr. Oscar Aquino,JCD, then Vicar General of the Lingayen- Dagupan Diocese and Sister Alphonse Casambre, SFIC as Principal of the school. It also shows the foundation of the SFIC Community in Alaminos, Pangasinan.
To mobilize the Congregation for greater and more creative participation in building the People of God, new communities were established.
The Regional Board accepted the invitation to take over the school administration of the Royal Carpenter Academy in Alaminos, Pangasinan on May 20, 1975. The acceptance came after a long process. The request had come as early as 1969 but the incumbent Regional Board could not respond to it due to lack of personnel. Monsignor Oscar Aquino was not discouraged. His persistent entreaty brought Him Sister Aphonse Casambre who was willing to defer writing her thesis to help at the Royal Carpenter Academy. Sister Gregory was assigned to stay with her and do pastoral work in the community.
Msgr. Gotoc., the parish priest, was willing to accommodate the Sisters in his house but the Sisters preferred to have their own home in the school , the old rectory of the Fathers. Since the place needed repair, the Sisters had to commute daily from Mangaldan where they were based. This lasted for two weeks because the Sisters decided to reside in Alaminos while the repair was nearing completion and occupied an improvised living space in the school utility room adjacent to the Principal’s Office.
The Sisters’ convent was blessed on August 19, 1975 by His Excellency Archbishop Federico Limon.The occasion was graced by the presence of Msgr, Gotoc, Msgr. Aquino, Father Vicente Marteja and some other priests in the archdiocese. Sister Giovvanni Fasitino, Sister Franciisca Molano, Sister Severina Aquino,, Sister Bonaventure Tanjuakio from the Regional Board and Sisters from Quezon City, Baguio City, San Carlos and Mangaldan. Although the Sisters had their own residence they were affiliated to the community of Mangaldan for a cannonical community requires at least three members.
Sister Alphonse stayed there for only a year as agreed upon. In the new schoolyear 1976-1977 a new community was installed in Alaminos Pangasinan with Sister Francini Posadas as leader and Principl of the school and Sister Josefina Moran, Sister Fredelina Rivera, Sister Veronica Florentino, Sister Gregory Salvador as members.
Added Personal Account
‘The Sisters preferred to have their own home in the school, the old rectory of the Fathers…’ Roots and Wings,p103
Sister Ma. Aurora Quiros , then member of San Carlos community deserves to be commended for the selfless support she gave Sister Alphonse those construction days of the would- be residence. She was a constant untiring companion in supervising the construction and at the same time preparing for the upcoming school year 1975-1976. Both Sister Alphonse and Sister Auring lived in an improvised living space near the Principal’s Office.
Everyday both commuted from Mangaldan to Alaminos. They would sometimes stop at Dagupan City to purchase some portable construction materials and other necessities for this community . After three hectic weeks of experiencing the joys and pains of supervising the construction work and at the same time preparing for the coming school days, Sister Alphonse had to let go of Sister Auring who also had to continue her ministry in St Charles Academy.
Soon after , the residence was ready for occupancy. Whenever she was free from work in San Carlos, Sister Auring would come to make herself available wherever she was needed. She would stay over night to keep Sister Alphonse company in the convent.
During Schooldays Mrs. Anatolia Tugade, the RCA registrar graciously offered to help Sister Alphonse wherever and whenever she saw the need. Like Sister Auring she also kept Sister Alphonse company not only during the day time but also at night.
Sister Gregory came to Alaminos later to keep Sister Alphonse company. Sister Gregory concentrated on her pastoral ministry in the nearby barangays.
The Royal Carpenter Academy administration, faculty members and students warmly welcomed the new Director of RCA Msgr . Oscar Aquino , JCD, Vicar General of the Lingayen-Dagupan Diocese.
Upon the arrival of the Sisters at the CSJA grounds at around 11:00 o’clock they were warmly welcomed by the President of the school, the Sisters, the faculty and staff . Overwhelmed by the sight of the happy Sisters before them, the drum and lyre corps triumphantly and joyfully entertained the SFIC guests with their band musical exhibition. The Sisters were then escorted by the Faculty and Staff on stage.
Soon lunch was served for the Sisters who were joined by the CSJA administration, faculty and staff.
The FORMAL DINING with His Excellency,
Bishop Emeritus, Jesus A. Cabrera,
In the afternoon at 2:30 pm, the first part of the official celebration was held. It started with the entrance of the Sister - Honorees who marched to their places on the stage.
As the programme below shows , Rev. Fr. Melchor Joseph Braga, the School President warmly welcomed the Sisters to the special occasion. Awesome colorful dances and melodious choral and solo song renditions presented by elementary and high school students, the exhibition of the Drum and Lyre corps and the Dance numbers presented by the Alumni and CSJA Employees enhanced the colorful and joyful spirit of the occasion.
Furthermore, to recognize the varied contributions, the great efforts and sacrifices of the Sisters in this education- evangelization ministry in CSJA, a plaque of appreciation was awarded to the Congregation by Msgr. Jose Rey de Ragudos, Acting Chair of the CSJA Board of Trustees and Rev Fr. Melchor Joseph Braga, School President. The plaque was received by Sister Ma. Aurora Simon, member of the SFIC Provincial Council, in the absence of Sister Julie Saguibo, SFIC Provincial Superior, who could not make it to the special occasion due to some unavoidable circumstances. Each Sister, too, was delighted to receive invaluable tokens from Mrs. Rosita Mendoza, BED Principal and Mrs. Florence C. Oniam, Assistant College Dean.
In response to the wonderful and thoughtful gesture of the School for all the generous gesture of appreciation bestowed on the Congregation and to the Sisters in particular, Sister Maria Aurora Simon read the speech prepared by Sister Julie Saguibo, SFIC Provincial Superior who was absent during the celebration due to some unavoidable circumstances.
At this point in time, Testimonies were also shared by the CSJA Administrators :
Ms. Digna Tugade
Ms. Josephine Satuito
Mrs. Rosita Mendoza
It’s heartwarming to hear them express their experiences with the Sisters as follows:
1. As Good Teachers like Priests,
· they have instilled the values of hard work and self-discipline,
which are the foundations of success,
· they have taught the simplicity of life and the value of
sharing with others,
· they have taught us to be good leaders and servants of God,
· they have taught us that learning never ends,
· they have helped us discover our skills and enhanced our
· they have opened our minds and hearts.
2. As Franciscans,
· they were mothers who listened to problems, who saw the
bright future for our children, and who would surely say,
“God always provides.”
· they taught us FAITH and LOVE that would guide us through the
· they have given us the legacy of kindness, truth, commitment,
learning and finding inspiration in God.
Posing inside the Cathedral with Bishop Emeritus Jesus Cabrera, Rev. Fr. Melchor Joseph Braga, Rev. Msgr. Rey Jose Ragudos and other Priests in the Diocese were (left to right, front row,) Sisters Mary Grace de Guzman, Alma Mijares, Evelyn Ortiz, Remedios Garcia, Virginia Embuido, Aurora Quiroz , Aurora Samson , Theodora Reyes, Fredelina Rivera, Antonia Cabanig, Daisy Dayag , (left to right, second row) Esperanza Vistro , Eterna Manangan, Alphonse Casambre, Severina Aquino, Concepcion Ulanday , Luz Espiritu, Dionisia Mendoza, Eufemia Villegas, Leticia Quindara (third row, left to right), Elizabeth Cipriano, Eumelia Quindara, Teresita Alo, Ma. Aurora Simon, and one of the lay partners in CSJA.
At 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the Most Rev. Jesus A. Cabrera, D.D.Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Alaminos celebrated the Eucharist in honor of the SFICs on the occasion of their 40th anniversary of their presence in Alaminos. Msgr. Jose Rey Ragudos, Rev. Fathers Melchor Braga, and Fernando Castillo concelebrated with him.
After the post communion part of the Mass, as requested earlier by Sister Esperanza, Sister Alphonse gave a response to CSJA’ s very kind gesture of appreciation especially the meaningful Eucharistic celebration in honor of the Ruby Jubilee of the SFIC presence in Alaminos, Pangasinan.
Sister Alphonse choked as she started her talk saying “Gratitude is indeed the memory of the Heart”
First, she thanked the good Lord for having chosen the Congregation to work in His vineyard in Alaminos. She praised and thanked Him for his ever continuing and sustaining guidance as He leads the Sisters in their journey with the people in His vineyard.
Secondly, she thanked the Most Rev. Bishop and his concelebrators for the beautiful and grace-filled celebration of the Eucharist in honor of the SFIC on the 40th anniversary of their presence in CSJA.
Thirdly, she made effort to recognize the invaluable efforts, contributions and sacrifices of special people who were instrumental in brining the SFICs to Alaminos and who in their own capacities, assisted in the construction of the residence of the first SFIC who responded to the education-evangelization at the Royal Carpenter Academy now called Collegio San Jose de Alaminos.
Most specially remembered was Msgr Oscar Aquino, JCD, then Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, who persistently presented the need for SFICs to take over the administrative task vacated by he Daughters of Charity Sisters.
Also remembered were the Sisters Communities of Mangaldan and San Carlos led by the late Sisters Francis Sembrana and Bernadette Sison, respectively, for their all out support before and during the first year of the Sisters stay in Alaminos
Sister Aurora Quiros of San Carlos Community was also cited for her selfless support during the Construction days of the Sisters residence. For three weeks before classes started, she kept Sister Alphonse company in Alaminos while they temporarily slept in an improvised room while the would be residence was still under construction.
Mrs. Anatolia ‘Atchi Toling’ Tugade, the school registrar, also deserved mention. When Classes started and Sister Alphonse was now left alone, Atchi Toling made herself a constant companion and spent the nights in the new residence with Sister Alphonse .
She also expressed her heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the organizers of the Jubilee celebration for inviting the SFICs and to the guests, parents, teachers, alumni and friends who came to celebrate the milestone with them. She sincerely thanked them all for their support for the success of the SFIC ministry in Alaminos and wished them God’s abundant blessings all throughout their life.