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For 18 years, under the support program called Camiguin Misyon, the Colegio, through the Center for Community Development (CCD), and in partnership with Lyceum – Camiguin, has been involving itself in building the nation for good.
For the past years, the Letran volunteers visit Lyceum-Camiguin once every summer. However, according to CCD Director Asst. Prof. Leo Bernadas, the CCD scheduled two visits this academic year.
“We schedule it on times of nice weather for it to be safe to travel. We usually go there on Long summers – the period between April to May, but, this academic year, we planned a visit during September’s “Little Summer”, said Bernadas, explaining that it is essential to schedule the travel dates so as to prevent any weather disturbances.
Asst. Prof. Leo Bernadas, Junior High Prefect of Discipline Albert Rosarda, Registrar’s Liaison Officer Josephine Gayanilo, and Librarian Eunice Sison were accompanied by the Head of the Dominican Mission of the Philippines Rev. Jose Martin Sibug, O.P. for a week-long visit to Camiguin.
Bernadas also shared that the Colegio and Camiguin partnership shall continue to prove the test of time.
According to Bernadas, the 'Camiguin Misyon' support program was conceptualized in 1999 by the Dominican Friars. In the year 2000, the first mission took place. He explained, “Camiguin is one of the Dominican mission areas ever since. Since Letran is a Dominican institution, we have to have a participation there, that’s our commitment.”
“For the record, we already have 18 missions. Supposedly, 19, but one year, [the] weather was not favorable for travel. Kasi, pag pumunta ka sa Camiguin Island, 12 hours land to Apari, and then four hours on water, so one was cancelled, because coast guards in Apari did not permit the volunteers to cross the sea because of the weather,” he added.
“The motive of the mission is Love of neighbor. The Colegio’s love for its neighbor goes beyond the confines of Letran and neighboring places. Our love to our neighbor transcends geographical boundaries,” Bernadas said as he explained the core of the mission.
“Every year, we visit the Lyceum School at Camiguin, which is managed by a Dominican preacher, and also remote barangays within the island. When we visit there, we prepare activities that caters all- the teachers, the school, and activities for the residents,” Bernadas said.
For the past years, the Letran volunteers have conducted plenty of programs, naming medical and dental mission as their top requested missions. In fact, as per CCD head Bernadas, the residents really wait for them until summer for this program. They also conduct soft skills training for the teachers and sports trainings for the residents.
“Last summer, we focused on more on soft skills training on Lyceum school. We provided a soft skills training for the teachers and support staff of that particular school. We also conducted a community baseline survey to be informed on what are the specific needs of the residents. Hopefully, by next visit, we can already conduct an activity for the residents of the remote barangays,” he added.
More so, according to Bernadas, the recent visit was as ‘fruitful’ as the ones before.
Library works were done every morning of the first days of their stay. The volunteers sorted, classified and processed books that were donated from the CCD. The remaining days, on the other hand, were inclined on the sharing of knowledge of the volunteers’ fields of expertise- library maintenance, events management, registrar management, classroom management, student discipline, customer services and the basics on the application for accreditation.
Also, the CCD head added that the team made sure to collect ideas for possible projects for the next 'Misyon' on May 2018. With the guidance of Fr. Sibug and the CCD head himself, they conducted a ‘brainstorming’ activity. The ideas that were highlighted in the discussion were furthering the development of the school, ecological and waste management issues, medical programs, sports programs, and a sustainable livelihood program for the community in Camiguin.
“We prepare activities prior to the seminars, prior to the visits. We identify what are the specific concerns of the community. We open it to the Letran community, and then we look for volunteers fit for the programs,” he added.
On the other hand, Gayanilo said that she would be more than willing to repeat the experience.
“It was a new experience and it helped me as a person, as a teacher and as a father because it deepened my understanding about the different realities of life and society,” Rosarda, one of the volunteers, said as he shared his reflection on the recent 'Misyon' program.
Earlier this school year, a memorandum of understanding between Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Manila and the Lyceum of Camiguin was formally signed to recognize the importance of the joint.
The Colegio, through the Center for Community Development, (CCD) has and will continuously partake in the mission apostolate of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. With the partnership going rock-strong, the two learning institutions shall continue the provision and implementation of better programs through their educational cooperation.
Besides the Camiguin Misyon program, the Colegio, together with the CCD, intends to extend its ‘love for neighbors.’
The Colegio aims for every academic program to have a partner community.
However, factors like the program size, and the partner community population size will be taken into consideration.
“You can adopt a specific area in the community barangay, not the entire barangay, because if you look at the nearby barangays here, not all barangay residents are marginalized. Some are already well-off. So you have to identify areas which will be the recipient of the community development program,” Bernadas said. “We have the build HOPES program as the common community development program, which stands for Health, Opportunities and livelihood, practical skills and literacy, environment, spirituality, and citizenship,” Bernadas added.
Also, because Letran is an educational institution, the approach is different from the usual missions.
“The approach is empowering Filipino through community education, in form of seminars and the like,” he ended. “I believe that this is Holistic because all areas of development are present there.”
(First published on The LANCE's October Issue)