Naga Parochial School shines at 75!
By Kristian Sendon Cordero
In this most holy year of Saint Joseph and in celebration of the 500 years of the gift of faith in our country, the Naga Parochial School looks back at her humble beginning as a living proof of God’s merciful love to his people in this part of the world.
In this most challenging time of the pandemic, NPS remembers her distinct role in the pages of our history, where truly, one shall see the hands of God and Ina’s loving care through all these years nurturing us, preserving us and strengthening us in sharing the light of Catholic education.
Naga, the seat of the Diocese of Caceres, considered to be one of the first four Catholic dioceses in the Philippines, have suffered enormous destruction during the three terrible years of Japanese occupation. Many people died and suffered, particularly the children and the youth who are the soul of the nation, the future of the Church. But rise we must and forward we must go, so in July, 1947, after the most terrible war in the Pacific that has almost destroyed our spirits, armed with faith and love, Naga, like the mythical eagle of Saint John the Evangelist, our patron saint would soar high and rise above the ruins. Established by the Most Rev. Pedro P. Santos, DD, NPS joins the other Catholic schools he founded in the region. These educational institutions like the Naga Parochial School have become pioneering agents of social transformation and reforms. The post war years will be marked with renewed friendships and optimisms to bring a fallen nation back to its feet again.
In 1951, three years after the school’s establishment, the Diocese of Caceres was elevated into an archdiocese with the bishop-founder as the first archbishop of Caceres. With this recognition, the Naga Parochial School has to live up with the singular honor of being one of the strongholds of Catholic mission and education in this part of the world. Among the school administrators we remember how Msgr. Porfirio Ramin, our first Naga Parochial Director together with Mr. Benedicto Naz and Mr. Leoncio de la Torre, the first and second school principals nurture the seeds of quality Catholic Education that has to become the living legacy of our school.
In the same manner, NPS remembers the longest serving director in our continuing history, Msgr. Nicanor Belleza with his affable manners and a true pastoral care for the cathedral and for the parochial school, he guided a generation of parokyalistas born and educated during the period of peacetime and restoration of the 50’s and the 60’s up, the two succeeding decades marked by the fast changing technology and even the new reforms within the Catholic Church up to the crucial years of civic unrest of the 70’s up to the early part of the 80’s.
With Msgr. Belleza, we remember how he and the three school principals, Mr. Buenaventura C. Parco, Mr. Juan Badong, and Dr. Lydia Tomatorgo- Goingo, and the many teachers and staff have preserved the Catholic values and virtues and persevered the Naga Parochial School, an educational institution that is known for its high quality of education and integral formation of the children and the youth. In 1983 the Naga Parochial School was the first parochial school in the country to be given an accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities or the PAASCU. This accreditation serves as a barometer for everyone to continue to come up with the best educational practices that respond to the signs and calls of the times. With the coming of a new archbishop in 1983, in the person of Most Rev. Leonardo Z. Legazpi, OP, DD, the Naga Parochial School will gain her new school director, who like Msgr. Belleza will continue to make the school prosper and pave the way for new developments in education. Msgr. Jaime M. San Andres, a member of NPS Batch 1950, will be the school’s first alumnus school director and through his silent manner and fatherly care, NPS will continue to reap the fruits of the past labors. He was able to lead the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee years of the Naga Parochial School in 2007 marking the many significant events and recognizing the alumni and teachers who have reverberated and lived up with the call of Jesus, to let the little children come to Him.
After Msgr. San Andres, another alumnus, was appointed as the new school director, in Fr. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, NPS Batch 83, who served as secretary to Archbishop Legazpi, and the church historian of the Archdiocese of Caceres and a faculty of the Holy Rosary Minor and Major Seminaries led the Naga Parochial School from 2007- up to 2019, before he was appointed as the new bishop of the Diocese of Daet. Bishop Alarcon’s gift of the episcopacy is a living testimony of how the NPS continues to share in the mission of the Catholic Church alongside four other alumni who are now serving as church leaders namely Archbishop Adolfo Tito C. Yllana, newly appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Gilbert A. Garcera, Archbishop of Lipa, Bishop Jose R. Rojas, Bishop of Libmanan, and Most Rev. Jose Allan Dialogo, Bishop of Sorsogon and the many parokyalistas who have become priests and members of religious orders. The other outstanding alumni of the school are doctors, military personnel, lawyers, artists, writers, cultural workers, digital animators, businessmen, teachers, and public servants are considered as NPS’s share to our living and changing communities. The school that has taught them prayers and love for the church remains the same school that asks her students to be good and worthy citizens of a nation and of the world. The Naga Parochial School, the mother of their souls, the alma mater, is an ever-giving institution that shares her children to all of us. This call to share remains at the heart of the Naga Parochial School as it opens its doors to female students in 2012 both for the grade school and junior high school departments. This call to share remains at the heart of the Naga Parochial School as it opens its junior high school department concurrently opening its doors to female students in 2012. With the reforms of the K-12, and the mother tongue based language policy program, the Naga Parochial School with the present leadership of Fr. Dario I. Echipare and Ms. Rosario Bermundo-Olalia as school principal, it continues to live up to its mission.
Naga Parochial School has a Special Education Program and coupled with a state of the art and new facilities and roster of teaching faculties who are highly trained in their respective fields, devout in the mission of the Church and generous in their teaching vocation of ensuring a quality Catholic education to all the students. As we look back into our past and locate God’s living presence in our lives we remember the Naga Parochial School and her history. True enough, the school’s main building has always been integral to the cathedral, the mother church of the region. Symbolically, a school by the cathedral has enriched the meaning and experience of every parokyalista who passes through the gates of their beloved alma mater. We remember the school buildings, the quadri-centennial arch, the grotto, the stairs, and corridors, the nooks and little gardens all these make a a great difference now in the time of the pandemic, that we have moved from these physical spaces into the digital classrooms due to this emergency health situation. However, we will not waver in our faith and trust, we at 75, must come up with firmer resolve that we will continue to bring God’s kingdom and love to the children and young people entrusted to the care of Naga Parochial School.
NPS survived the war and the passing of years that have been marked with social unrest and upheavals, and economic and political distress, we will definitely come up stronger, humble and always grateful. The Naga Parochial School is one of the living testimonies of God’s continuing love to the Church of Bikol and the world. Nurtured by this same love, it nourishes, preserved by the church living traditions, it perseveres, and in sharing the gift of good Catholic Education it shines at 75!
This brief history of the Naga Parochial School was presented during the opening celebration of the 75th Foundation Anniversary last July 30, 2021 with Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, DD, Bishop of Date and former NPS School Director as guest of honor.