FOR ONCE we would take a short break from writing about the forthcoming May 2022 elections and those who are running at both the national and local levels. Instead, we will divert to one important event if the life and social engagement of Davao’s low-key philanthropic family of Don Julian Rodriguez Jr.
“Let us all be one in mind and hearts as we offer our struggles and aspirations to search the wisdom and the healing power of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This is the closing statement in the message of Don Julian Jr. in his prepared introduction today, October 21, on the start of the celebration of the 34th founding anniversary of the Dona Pilar Learning Center Foundation, Inc. (DPLCFi), a school Don Julian’s family built for the benefit of the young learners in the Sasa area right in the heart of Dona Pilar Village.
Indeed, a simple yet charitably-run learning institution came out as a major project of the Rodriguez’s family when it could afford to build even a huge university that can amass for its members huge profits and provide employment to many Davaoenos. But instead Don Julian Jr., a man who got his Doctorate’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of Madrid in Spain, chose to build a school that would cater mainly to the less fortunate young leaners. DPLCFI is located at Dona Pilar Village, the first government relocation site in Davao City located in the land offered by the family of Don Julian Jr. at almost give-away prices despite its being located in a prime area of the city for the purpose of relocating hundreds of informal settlers during that time.
With the influx of a good number of marginalized families in the newly opened relocation site, Don Julian Jr. saw the need to make education accessible and affordable to the young children of the relocated families. So, in 1988, after listening to the suggestion of one of the village residents, Mrs. Priscila Limbo, Don Julian Jr. established the school. He named it after his late mother Dona Pilar Palma Gil Y Bangoy. He found no other better way of honoring his late mother than by perpetuating her name in the school’s identity. In 1990 the school was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a foundation giving it the opportunity to expand its services even more.
Today, the learning institution’s 34th founding anniversary, Don Julian Jr., even at his age of 93, never seems to tire visiting the school located some five minute-drive from his house. And he has all the reasons to be proud of having founded the school. Over the last 34 years of existence, DPLCFI has been recipient of various awards and recognitions from both the government and private award-giving bodies. In 2018 the school was awarded by the SSS as the Balikat ng Bayan Top Employer of the Philippines. In 1994 it ranked first together with Ateneo de Davao Elementary Department in English subject in that year’s National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT). It placed second to the Chinese School in Davao in Mathematics. And the school, according to it management, has been consistently producing elementary graduates who made it to the Philippine Science High School – Davao Campus. These are only three of the many accomplishments of the school.
And according to Don Julian Jr. himself today as the school celebrates its 34th year of existence in the midst of a serious pandemic that has overturned the livelihood potentials of most families, the school still commemorates its founding “with pride and humility, and those who are behind the institution with grateful hearts, even as they seek to be resilient and innovative.”
We extend our heartfelt felicitations to the family of Don Julian Rodriguez Jr. and to the school management. How we wish to join you in celebrating today’s DPLCFI milestone.
And how we wish the Rodriguez family to have found solution to its struggle to have the still nebulous Davao-Samal connector bridge island side approach rerouted in order to have its pioneering tourist resort saved from destruction and the highly valued nearby underwater ecology be retained forever.
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