December 13, 2018, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – A visit to the Philippines brought two Adrian Dominican Sisters the opportunity to explore the many ministries of Sisters in the Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, time to cherish the renewal of friendships, and to bid farewell to a Sister who passed to the next life. The visit was hosted by Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies, and by the Sisters of the Chapter.
Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor, was accompanied on the trip by Sister Marcine Klemm, OP, who lived and ministered with the Sisters from 1968 to 1973 when their mission was first taking root in the Philippines. At the request of Bishop Emilio Cinense, Bishop of the then Diocese of San Fernando, Mother Gerald Barry in 1961 agreed to help in the formation of a group of Filipina women into religious life. Four young women completed the formation process in Adrian, Michigan, and in 1965 returned to their country to begin a new life. Sister Marcine later ministered and lived with the Sisters of the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies.
In December 1972, the Remedies Sisters became an independent Congregation. At their request, the relationship of the two Dominican Congregations came full circle, when in November 2011, the Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Marcine, always revered by the Sisters in the Philippines, was fêted on November 30 with a surprise 90th birthday party, about six months early, at the San Fernando Motherhouse of the Our Lady of Remedies Chapter. The celebration included the Sisters from the Chapter, as well as people whom Sister Marcine had known from the 1960s and 1970s: Archbishop Emeritus Paciano Aniceto, former students, and friends.
But the focus for much of the visit was on the present – on collaboration with the Dominican family in the Philippines and on the ministries in which the Sisters are engaged. The Sisters offer ministry, support, and presence to people who live in impoverished areas.
On December 1, Sister Elise participated with a number of the Sisters in the annual Dominican Family day in Manila, attended by more than 300 Dominican women and men from throughout the Philippines. “The focus was on strengthening collaboration and the two examples given of strong collaborative efforts involved our Sisters,” she said.
On the way back to San Fernando, the Sisters dropped off Sister May Cano, OP, who is now living in the Diocese of Caloocan in northern Manila, working closely with Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David in coordinating a diocesan-wide program to assist families of victims of extrajudicial killings. “While we were there, the bishop, who has publicly criticized the government’s war on drugs, was in the news as the subject of slanderous accusations by President Duterte,” Sister Elise recalled.
From left, Sister Lourdes Pamintuan, OP, addresses the children at Dominican School of Apalit. Students at Dominican School of Apalit welcome their visitors with dance.
In the two schools that the Sisters visited, they were welcomed with “song, dance, recitals, and gifts,” Sister Elise said. At Dominican School of Angeles City – which recently celebrated the addition of a new building to accommodate its growing enrollment of more than 200 students – Sisters shared lunch and toured the water purification site. Ministering at Dominican School of Angeles City are Sisters Meliza Arquillano, OP, Victoria Changcoco, OP, Liberty Mendoza, OP, Arsenia Puno, OP, and Michelle Salalila, OP.
Sisters Elise and Marcine also received a warm welcome from the Sisters ministering at Dominican School of Apalit, an elementary and high school founded by the Sisters more than 20 years ago. Administrators of the school are Sisters Rowena M. Cruz, OP, Ruby Lumanlan, OP, and Lourdes Pamintuan, OP.
Sisters Liza David, OP, Gudelia Kabigting, OP, and Ines Evangelista Manuel, OP, welcomed the North American Sisters to the rural communities of Villa Maria and Diaz. There, they minister with the indigenous Aeta people who have been displaced to the mountains from their farming homes since the 1992 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Ministries at Villa Maria include a school and a feeding program for 300 people.
Many other ministries also focus on serving people in need. At the Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, Sister Maria Socorro Garcia, OP, focuses on the needs of people living in poverty. Sisters Jules Dungo, OP, Zenaida Nacpil, OP, and Marifi Lugtu minister to street children with the aid of a School on Wheels and on the patio of their community house in San Fernando.
Sisters Elise and Marcine were also given a tour of the University of the Assumption in San Fernando by the Sisters who minister there: Sisters Marissa Figueroa, OP, Yolanda Manapsal, OP, and Abegail Santos, OP.
Even with touring the various ministries in the Philippines, Sister Elise said, “I also had time to visit with the women in formation – Sisters Michelle Salalila, Marifi Lugtu, Meliza Arquillano, and Novice Leizel Tiedra – as well as to meet with the Remedies Mission Council.”
On the last day of their stay, a scheduled visit to another community of Sisters was canceled with the tragic death of Sister Amelia Sarmiento, OP, who had been ill. “We participated in a sacred time of mourning with the Sisters, joining them in the first day of the three-day waking of the body before the funeral Mass and burial on December 8,” Sister Elise said.
From left, Street children from the Dolores community pose with, from left, Sisters Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress; Elise Garcia, OP; and Marcine Klemm, OP. Sisters Elise García, OP, and Marcine Klemm, OP, toured the water purification system at Dominican School of Angeles City. Shown in the photo are Sisters Victoria Changcoco, OP, on the right and in the background, from left, Sisters Meliza Arquillano, OP, Rosita Yaya, OP, and Liberty Mendoza, OP.
Please enjoy this video created by our Sisters in the Philippines in honor of Sister Marcine Klemm's 90th birthday.
By Sister Liberty Mendoza, OP
Principal, Dominican School of Apalit
June 14, 2017, Pampanga, the Philippines – As the Dominican School of Apalit, located in the region of Pampanga in the Philippines, anticipates its 20th anniversary in 2018, Sister Liberty Mendoza, OP, reflects on how faculty members and staff have worked to form the students as young Dominicans.
The Dominican School of Apalit (DSA) will turn 20 in 2018. One of the lessons we have been impressing upon the hearts of our young pupils is “compatior” or compassion. The learning community, from the youngest 4-year-olds to those in the 12th grade, in collaboration with the parents and local government units, has been engaged in the process of learning what it means to give compassionate care for all of creation. It is presumed, however, that the seed of compassion was first seen, sown, and nurtured in the homes of our pupils.
To be a Dominican stakeholder means not just to acquire profitable competencies that prepare an individual for the “university of life,” but also to walk an extra mile, to be other-oriented. It means to share not just canned goods or a bowl of hot soup during disaster relief operations or peak sharing seasons, but to see, smell, and feel the holy presence of God in the people who are poor, in the faces of the indigenous Aetas, the indigent pupils in nearby government-run schools, or the out-of-school children residing at a nearby public cemetery.
The hope of the school staff is that these encounters would strike a chord in the hearts of our young Dominicans, urging them to forget themselves and change the small space where they stand. Compassion for all of creation is translated into concrete actions.
How has Dominican School of Apalit preached in terms of living out its stance on compassion for all of creation? Teatro Dominiko, the school club for students who have inclination and passion for stage-acting, has mounted well-attended plays dealing with social and ecological themes: Mommy Ko Nature in 2011, Balik-bayan Box in 2014, and Luzviminda in January 2017.
Mommy Ko Nature exhorts spectators to suffer with, weep, and even bleed for Mother Earth as she continues to experience wanton destruction. Every child of nature is awakened from its slumber caused by indifference and must pledge to nurse his Mother, named Nature.
Balik-bayan Box is a tribute to our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), in particular to the many Filipino parents who saw the heart-wrenching need to leave children behind, risk working on foreign shores, and remit crisp foreign currencies back to their families, with the hope that this will ensure a more secure and stable future for their loved ones.
Luzviminda, a contracted name for the three major islands in the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – aims to remind the audience about the current ecological state of the country. The play advocates respect for the dignity of all life forms – the marginalized tribal groups, plants, animals, fish, and everything else that breathes and lives.
Providentially, this preaching medium – theater – has been helping us to send the message about the urgency of taking part in rehabilitating and healing the planet Pope Francis calls “our common home” and of being more conscious of the social ills besetting the country and the world.
In partnership with Caritas Manila, DSA – and the other schools in which the Sisters in Our Lady of Remedies Chapter serve – recently drafted an Eco-Ministry Plan. We are acting on that plan in many ways.
DSA is situated near the Pampanga River and numerous coastal spots, which have been clogged by thriving water lilies that cause flooding during rains. Our School Head, Sister Rosita M. Yaya, OP, and the Parents-Teachers Association are working with the local government of Apalit, and Senator Cynthia Villar’s Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance Foundation to solve the problem by removing water lilies and turning them into materials for handicraft weaving.
We at DSA hope to care for the legacy of the Pampanga River and other local coastal bodies so our students will understand that the river has its own life. It is our duty to keep that life flowing.
Feature photo (top): Prep students from Dominican School of Apalit perform a welcoming dance.