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The saga of Pili Parochial School

By Jason B. Neola

CELEBRATING PROGRESS Pili Parochial School’s future soars with the rise of a magnificent four-level educational hub in its campus in Barangay San Antonio, Pili, Camarines Sur. Photo courtesy of RFWJST

PILI, Camarines Sur --- Pili Parochial School, an inspiration of academic excellence and Catholic values based in this capital town of Camarines Sur, gladly announces the start of its 30th foundation anniversary celebration.

The significant achievement will be marked with a week-long opening ceremony from February 19-24, with various events planned throughout the year to reflect on the school’s rich history, showcase achievements, and reaffirm its commitment to shaping future generations.

Since its establishment in 1994, the school has been dedicated to providing a holistic and Christ-centered education, empowering students academically, spiritually, and socially. This year-long celebration pays tribute to the unwavering dedication of the founders, faculty, staff, and alumni who have contributed to the school’s remarkable journey.

The week-long opening ceremony at Pili Parochial School grounds features a press conference on February 19, followed by the opening ceremony, Eucharistic Mass, and family day on February 20; Sportsfest and Mr. and Ms. Foundation Anniversary on Feb. 21; Zumba Trenta for a cause on Feb. 22; Championship games on Feb. 23, and Alumni Homecoming with an awarding ceremony on February 24.

Throughout the year, the celebration may include guest lectures, workshops, inter-school competitions, community outreach programs such as reading “along the riles,”othet service projects, historical exhibits, publications, and more.

Roots of Evangelization

Tracing back to the school’s origins, the very ground it stands on was once a swampy haven for resting carabaos on muddy pool. Over time, it evolved into a center of evangelization, becoming a terminal for carts ferrying parishioners to the church. In the midst of this field stood a concrete gazebo, where parishioners convened for “Catholic hours” after Holy Mass, engaging in catechesis led by leaders of religious organizations.

Reverend Father Wilmer Joseph Tria, the school director, reflects on the site’s historical significance, affirming that it was indeed a fertile ground for evangelization.

Leticia Postigo’s Legacy

Noteworthy is Leticia ‘Tya Leting’ Postigo, a dedicated teacher of ‘Caton,’ who played a pivotal role in educating young boys and girls in the art of reading. Father Tria proudly mentions that some Caton pupils later became priests.

In 1984, the parish established a nursery, signalling the end of Caton classes at the original site. Leticia Postigo then moved her teachings to a chapel in the neighboring barangay of San Juan. A decade later, in 1994, with approval from the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS), now the Department of Education, Pili Parochial School formally started its educational journey.

Seemingly “Insignificant”

Father Tria refers to the school as a seemingly insignificant institution, cautioning that it must be watched due to its potential to evolve into a university. Pili Parochial School made history as the first school owned by the Archdiocese of Caceres to offer a college department next year, marking a significant milestone in the region.

The Pili Parochial School will soon be renamed Colegio de San Raphael Arcángel as approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Rev. Fr. Enrico Julian Paglinawan underscores the school’s commitment to inclusivity by announcing the introduction of a college course focused on teaching and assisting Persons with Disability (PWDs).

Despite a survey revealing a preference for careers in teaching or law enforcement, the decision to prioritize a course aligned with the Church’s ministry and advocacy for PWDs is steadfast.

As Pili Parochial School ventures into its 30th year, the celebration becomes more than a commemoration; it becomes a testament to the school’s evolution, its dedication to education, and its forward-thinking commitment to shaping a compassionate and inclusive future.

In the face of unprecedented challenges triggered by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, Pili Parochial School not only weathered the storm but emerged stronger, showcasing resilience and innovative leadership.

Pandemic Woes

The year 2019 marked the beginning of testing times for the school, with the pandemic extending into 2020 and 2021. The institution grappled with various financial setbacks:

1. A drastic decline in enrolees, hitting a historic low of 118 students.

2. Accumulated unpaid dues, unsettled debts, and unpaid government-mandated benefits for teachers and personnel.

3. Unsettled textbook bills.

4. A growing debt burden owed to the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Dance of Hope

Rev. Fr. Rex Hidalgo and Rev. Fr. Tria, undeterred by the challenges, took innovative steps to rehabilitate the school’s finances:

The priests, in a symbolic gesture of hope, performed the pantomina to convey a message of solidarity and seek support from parents. The initiative aimed to encourage parents, especially those with graduating students, to fulfill financial obligations. However, its impact was hampered by the imposition of a national lockdown in 2020.

Remained unperturbed despite the pandemic, both priests, along with Rev. Fr. Enrico Paglinawan, the school principal, embraced unconventional solutions and remained firm in their pursuit of financial stability.

Outside-the-box solutions

The leadership implemented creative approaches to face the challenges:

o Graduation ceremonies were transformed into intimate household events, conveying a powerful message of resilience.

o Despite financial strains, the priests endorsed the addition of Grade 7 and 8, reaching out to newly graduated students directly at their homes to ensure continuity.

o House-to-house visitations, including services like house blessings and prayer meetings, were conducted to foster a sense of community and commitment to the school.

o The recruitment of altar boys and girls was expanded to a total of 100 to 150.

Remarkable Turnaround

The determined efforts began to bear fruit, with the school witnessing a remarkable turnaround in enrolment figures:

S/Y 2020: 118 students

2021: 176 students

2022: 246 students

2023: 587 students

2024: A current enrolment of more than 700 students.

Parental Trust

Rev. Fr. Paglinawan attributes the surge in enrolment to the school’s commitment to developing Catholic leaders. He emphasized the school’s focus on apostolic work, regular Mass attendance, involvement in altar serving, and community outreach.

A catechetical formation program for parents underscores the school’s belief that Catholic formation begins in the family. Furthermore, plans are in place to train teachers uniquely for parochial school settings, with a distinct curriculum to enhance their skills.

The introduction of the Bachelor of Education major in Special Education aligns with the school’s vision to become a missionary school, preparing educators to cater to students with diverse learning needs.

As Pili Parochial School moves forward, it stands as a testament to resilience, community engagement, and a commitment to providing holistic education in the face of adversity.


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