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Capital town’s Easter Angel Tower, Bikol’s new landmark

By Jason B. Neola

PILI, Camarines Sur --- A new landmark of Bicol was blessed in this capital town yesterday, April 19, with Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD, archbishop of Caceres, as the officiator of the ceremony.

Built within the compound of the St. Raphael the Archangel Parish church, the Easter Angel Tower, popularly called tontonan by parishioners, possesses the design that wows and impresses both the sightseers and the locals.

“What makes our tower a landmark is that it stands out as the conspicuous or prominent object in the landscape. The tower’s challenging design makes one thrilled not feeling iffy or doubting if will be happy with it eventually,” Rev. Fr. Wilmer Tria, the parish priest, said.

The blessing of the Station of the Cross and the newly constructed St. Martha’s Kitchen by Archbishop Tirona in the same gathering also made the huge crowd of parishioners and guests to feel jubilant.

THE new landmark of Bikol.

Tria’s transfer

From the Archdiocesan Shrine-Parish of St. Jude Thaddeus in Naga City, Fr. Tria was transferred to the St. Raphael the Archangel Parish before the time of pandemic to help address the long-standing problem besetting the Pili Parochial School.

He said the catholic school was facing financial challenges then due to its declining enrolment rate that greatly affected its operations, especially when it comes to paying the schoolteachers’ salaries.

“When I arrived at the parish in June 2019, the number of students was only 115. After three years, the student population rose to over 500 in spite of the pandemic. Another good news about the school today is that it now caters to senior high school students, a remarkable feat fulfilled after 27 years or from the time it was founded,” the priest said.

The parochial school’s senior high school has 4 strands, namely, the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL) track, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strand, the academic track Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), and the Arts and Design track.

Tria recalled that they adopted multiple approaches to save the school from its continuous losses and the first thing they did was to change the school’s leadership. He said that they even change the school’s brand mission and vision, and brand values.

The approach, according to him, include the adoption of a tagline that, in gist, tells the public that the school is seriously committed to train its students to become truly inspiring leaders, not as manipulative ones.

“We even involved ourselves in lively house-to-house visitations through which we conducted apostolic works or offered services that are part of our missionary duties. Our meeting with the families used to end up with a pleading from us to send their young ones to the parochial school. It was Fr. Enrico Paglinawan, the school principal, who personally relayed the request to the parents,” Tria said.

Back to the tower, it was learned from the parish priest that its design and construction, which costs around P4.5-M, was personally supervised by Architect Frederick Severo, a creative and environmentally-conscious builder who is a former classmate of Tria at the Naga Parochial School and at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary.

Tria said that the construction of the new tower was Tirona’s “marching order” after the archbishop observed that the old one situated at the frontage of the church that occupied a portion of Sanchez Street, a municipal road, should be removed as it put out of sight the church’s attractive façade.

Asked what will happen to the vacated site, Tria said that the LGU has already allocated funds to implement the approved plan of developing the site as a garden fountain that will offer promenaders a perfect serene ambience while the patio at the church’s front part will be expanded up to the site of the demolished tower.

Viewing deck

Unlike any other towers at the parishes, the newly built one in this town with an elevation of 43.18 feet is open not only during Easter Sundays but every day so that it can accommodate visitors who wish to marvel the area’s wonderful sights on an elevated sightseeing platform.

“We can expect that our Easter Angel Tower will function 365 days in a year given that everyone who wish to commune with trees, plants, and birds can use it as viewing deck. They can also stay on the tower while enjoying the foodstuffs bought from the coffee shop downstairs,” he said.

Tria said that a partnership with the Department of Tourism and the Department of Agriculture is needed for this project to be able to promote the religious-agriculture tourism in the area where an aviary, rabbitry, fishpond, poultry, exotic tropical fruits, and different native fruit-bearing trees are among the natural sites to behold.


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