Sunday, February 17, 2008

Somascan Fathers Seminary - Lubao



















Like Watered GardenSomascan Fathers Seminary - Lubaoby Fr. John Valenzuela
It was in Las Piñas where the first Somascan Seminary in the Philippines was located. Eight seminarians lived together in one wing of Las Piñas General Hospital owned by Dr. Faustino L. Uy.
However, it was very necessary to spot for suitable land that would later be the future seminary. God is always providential. A certain Atty. Paz Capulong, who was helping the Fathers in transacting lands, introduced them to the heirs of the Dimson Family. The Family owned a broad land for sugarcane plantation. One of the wishes of their father was to donate a five hectare piece of land at Prado Saba, Lubao, Pampanga to a religious congregation for building a religious or charitable institution within five years. Mrs. Dayrit and Mrs. Madlambayan, the two daughters, were already very eager to give the land away.
This land was formerly offered to the Benedictine Sisters Reparatrix of the Sacred Heart who are now in Mexico, Pampanga. They did not claim anymore the right to the land and to the building they were not able to finish.
On July 21, 1984, the land at Lubao was visited by Fr. A. Lomazzi, who found it suitable for the construction of the seminary.
On September 8, 1984, the works of the new Minor Seminary started. On November 6, 1984, the formal blessing for laying of the cornerstone was done by Msgr. Celso Guevarra, then Bishop of Balanga, Bataan. The prayers were led by the Most. Rev. Fr. General Pierino Moreno.
All the seminarians with some teachers from Las Piñas College attended the celebration. On March 31, 1985, the last day for our seminary in Las Piñas, everybody has moved to Lubao, and everything has been transferred here. The works in Lubao were far from being finished; at least for the first months, it took a lot of sacrifices on the part of our religious and our seminarians to live there.
Rev. Fr. Bruno Schiavon, who had just arrived from Italy on October 27,1984, led the exodus. The day of transferring from the Las Piñas to Lubao became so memorable to the group, particularly to Fr. Schiavon because of the porcelain toilet bowl which fell right on his toe. Fr. Schiavon remained in the Philippines until 1992; during that time he was the rector of the seminary and superior of the religious house.
When the new school year started in 1985-1986, there were seventy four seminarians. Three buildings were only available for the use at that time. The school building and the dormitory were still without roofs. The same room was used as chapel, as classroom in the morning and dormitory in the evening. The finishing of the building was done by the seminarians. Sometimes classes were interrupted to transport more than four hundred sacks of cement from the actual gate to the stock room. Life was indeed hard during those times.
On February 26, 1986, the Seminary was inaugurated at the height of EDSA People Power Revolution. In the presence of Msgr. Paciano Aniceto, the Bishop of Zambales, and Archbishop Oscar Cruz blessed the buildings. Many people from Manila were advised to stay home due to political unrest happening all over the Philippines.

In addition to the fast development of the Seminary in all its aspects, the solemnity of Mary Mother of the Orphans, was celebrated September 27, 1987. The statue in her honor was erected in the seminary garden and blessed by Fr. Bruno Schiavon.
On September 26, 1988, we celebrated the so-called Family Reunion. It was the first time in the history of the seminary(at Lubao) that such affair was held. It was a different and extraordinary day the seminarians experienced. The celebration was done marvellously.
On the June 15, 1991, the Seminarians had another very exciting and frightening experience. At about 7:30 in the morning, the sky became dark and rain mixed with ashes descended from above. Sometimes they were shocked by the little earthquakes caused by Pinatubo's continuous eruptions. Around 6:00 pm., only dry sand started to descend from the sky and this happened until midnight. At 5:00 o'clock in the morning, the next day, the light could finally be seen. Everything was covered by sand, white sand mixed with little lava stones (more than 20 cm.thick). The seminarians started to clean the roofs. The following nights were sleepless for the continuous shaking of the ground.
Life inside the seminary went on, but it was not easy. In the school year 1993-1994, a good portion of the seminary's compound was turned into rice fields, through the initiative of Fr. Richard Germanetto, acting superior, and the works of the local farmers. The planting and harvesting, however, were done by the seminarians.
Frequent changes were done in the curriculum studiorum and in the planning of formation activities in order to ameliorate the school system under the guidance of Fr. Richard Germanetto, Fr. Luigi Brenna, and Fr. Lino Juta; and with the collaboration of other religious as spiritual directors: Fr. Giovanni Tarditi, Fr. Vittorio Veglio, Fr. Zavattin Lucio, Fr. Giovanni Borali and Fr. Javier San Jose.
Finally, what used to be the sea of tall cogon grasses and arid plains is now paved the fresh smelling fields of palay growing in the midst of lahar treated soil. The trees are taller now and bear much fruit in their seasons. Goats, sheep, pigs, dogs, carabaos, and cows roam around freely to their designated places. Ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, pigeons, are among the scenery of the place. We take care of them also.
It is estimated that from the year 1984, when the Minor Seminary was established in Lubao up to now, about 342 seminarians underwent this period of orienation in our Somascan Life. Fourteen priests were assigned here as clerics were prefects of the seminarians.
This is the life that we are living and the formation we are taking. We look ahead now for the future with St. Jerome Emiliani and Mary as our model and guide.
The religious assigned here at present are Fr. Melchor Umandal, rector and dean; Fr. Francisco Cabrera, Fr Santiago Santy Gonzales and Bro. Jessie Samson.

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