January 3, 2019, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – The street children of San Fernando are gaining the literacy and numeracy skills that they need for a better life, thanks to the Adrian Dominican Sisters (ADS) School on Wheels program. The program, established in 2017, meets the specific needs of street children who, with other children, had benefited from the Sisters’ religious education and feeding program.
The ADS School on Wheels was established to develop a culture of acceptance and equality among children from disadvantaged environments, strengthen their social functioning potentials through basic education, and change the negative impressions of society toward street children. Basic literacy and numeracy are a priority of the program.
The School on Wheels transport van was named Esperanza, or HOPE (Help Overcome Poverty through Education) in honor of the late Sister Esperanza Bonifacio, OP, who initiated the first feeding and catechetical program for street children around the San Fernando marketplace.
Sister Zenaida S. Nacpil, OP, Director, and Sister Jolyn L. (Jules) Dungo, OP, a registered social worker, meet the children in the marketplace. “They have time for reading, writing, art appreciation and some basic catechetical instructions” as well as a hot lunch, Sister Jules said. On Saturdays, the Sisters and volunteers travel to the disadvantaged community to teach literacy and numeracy to the street children and other interested school children.
“The daily struggles of street children are challenging and really serious,” Sister Jules explained. The street children try to work through socially acceptable ways, such as selling eco-bags, flower garlands, fruit, and fish; working in parking lots; and washing cars. “Young as they are – 6 to 13 years old – they are forced to earn in order to survive.”
Sister Zenaida said that the street children have already learned the value of responsibility to their families, bringing to them the money that they have earned on the streets. They eat some of the food that they receive through the feeding program or other means, “but most of them will bring home half for a younger sibling or parents,” Sister Zenaida said. “What a beautiful attitude!”
Sister Jules added that ministering to the street children is very demanding. “It takes a lot of patience and endurance to survive the day-to-day encounter with them,” she said. At the same time, “living one’s passion for mission makes this ministry enjoyable.”
She also spoke of the vulnerability of the street children. “Many of them are emotionally broken but project a tough front as a means to survive,” Sister Jules said. “But they easily respond to acts of kindness and love. We want to protect lives from all forms of abuse: human trafficking, sexual and domestic violence … It is our responsibility as Christian adults to guide these children to discover what God has in store for them.”
Listening to the street children is easy and “could actually make them feel visible and accepted,” Sister Jules said. “Praising their little good deeds makes them believe in themselves and builds their self-confidence. They need to receive a lot of encouragement to enable them to pursue their dreams.”
Submitted by Sister Jules L. Dungo, OP
Feature photo: Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP, stops to talk to street children in San Fernando.
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.