Hundreds of excited young students, faculty members plus members of the PTA of the Dona Pilar Learning Center gathered in a Thanksgiving Mass and the Blessing of the newly renovated Fundacion Madrilena Covered Court. It was the first time after more than two years that a most jovial celebration, the 36th Anniversary of the institution of learning, was held once again at the Fundacion Madrilena Covered Court. October 21, 2023, also marked the 133rd birthday of Dona Pilar Bangoy Palma Gil-Rodriguez (1890-1962) after whom the school is named. Celebrated as well was the school’s Foundation Day and of course, a belated recognition of World Teachers’ Day in honouring teachers “who profess the noblest profession in their efforts in moulding young minds and giving the students the best education”
During the celebration of the mass which was officiated by Rev. Fr. Marjeo Delfin, the chaplain of the Philippine Navy in Camp Panacan, prayers were also offered for the eternal repose of the souls of the departed members of the school’s Board of Trustees namely Vicente Palma Gil Hizon, Jr., Stella Hizon-Imperial, Harriet Hizon, Sofia Hizon-Velez, Jose P. Hizon plus honorary members of the foundation namely Fr. Rodolfo Malasmas, SJ, Anatalio Manubag, Myles Leong Mascarina, Dominador Catalbas, among others still.
I still recall the admirable Archbishop Valles narrating the history that Dona Pilar Palma Gil Rodriguez was named after Nuestra Senora del Pilar of Zaragoza, Spain, whose feast day is celebrated on October 12. The former Archbishop of the Diocese of Zamboanga told the audience that in Zamboanga City, La Virgen del Pilar has been venerated for centuries as the Patroness of the City and in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. Her bas relief can be found at the 17th century El Fuerte Real de Nuestra Senora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza (Fort Pilar) which is now a Catholic Marian Shrine. “La Virgen del Pilar used to be the Patroness of Mindanao,” he said adding, “And I am happy to know that the Dona Pilar Learning Center of Davao City is a strong foundation, a pillar of strength and devotion, of the Roman Catholic faith especially among young children.”
“Young students at the Dona Pilar Learning Center are taught at their young age that they, indeed, can contribute to make things better in helping our political leaders accomplish goals for the benefit of the country and its people. The youth must serve as catalysts in providing a vehicle for the country’s much needed societal change. But first and foremost, each one must become productive and useful members starting in their own homes, in their own families, and they must be true to themselves as faithful disciples of Christ….,” said Dr. Julian Rodriguez, Jr., the President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, who founded this institution of learning as a tribute to his beloved mother and what she gloriously stood for.
The Dona Pilar Learning Center continues the mission to educate and serve the pupils and the community. As one faculty member reiterated, “We can only achieve our goals and ideals with the able support and cooperation of all the parents who have remained loyal and continue to trust the school through all these years….The ideals of the school are not limited solely to educate the pupils through academic subjects taught. The Dona Pilar Learning Center educates its pupils holistically. It aims to produce well-rounded individuals who will soon lead in their respective fields. That is why we persist in equipping them for the future. That they face the future with no fear.”
Dr. Julian Rodriguez, Jr. and his loving wife, Sra. Purification Calabuig-Rodriguez know too well that as far as schools and remarkable teachers are concerned, implanting in the hearts and minds of the youth of this country a desire to make something of themselves, a desire to build a stronger Philippines on this earth, and preparing them for happy homes and marriages later, justify all the hard work and money that are invested to help maintain institutions of learning like the Dona Pilar Learning Center.
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