Pius XII College: Molding molders anew

By Herman M. Lagon

In the ground zero of Jaro, Iloilo City, a respected institution is poised to breathe anew—Pius XII College of Iloilo, once known as the Pius XII Institute of Catechetics and Social Studies. As we approach the start of the 100-day countdown this May 4 to the resumption of classes this August 12, the air is thick with anticipation, not just for the rebirth of an educational facility but for the rekindling of a mission.

This is not just any academic endeavor. Pius XII College, founded in 1958 through of the imprimatur of the then Archbishop of Jaro Jose Ma. Cuenco, stands as a beacon for those drawn to the noble vocation of teaching, especially in the areas of spirituality and humanities. The college’s revival is timely, responding to a call from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Antiquum Ministerium,” urging a renaissance in catechism and values-based education. In a time and world where the compass of morality often wavers, the need for educators who can adeptly navigate the realms of ethics and social consciousness has never been more critical.

The choice to teach, to mold young minds, is not merely a career but a calling. Based on its legacy, those who walk through the gates of Pius XII are stepping into a tradition of transformational education, where the lessons extend beyond textbooks, touching students’ very souls. The Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Values Education and Bachelor of Secondary Education Social Studies programs offered are apparently crafted to deepen intellectual understanding and spiritual and moral depth, integrating the Catholic faith into learning and life. It is the needed response to the dearth of committed and competent values-laden mentors in the country.

Envision a classroom where students take an active role in learning about the world and local history, where discussions on the challenges faced by previous leaders are fueled by a desire to learn from the past and avoid making the same mistakes. Envision a class conversation on values that delves deeper than simple definitions, prompting students to consider their place in the community and their values’ impact on their identity and actions. Envision a school environment where students are nurtured to be self-directed critical thinkers and problem solvers fully driven and grounded with the truth, the just, the good, and the beautiful.

It is here that educators and catechists like my good friend Primo Escobañez, Vice President of the Pius XII Alumni Association and now Director of Formation at Ateneo de Iloilo, Dr. Teresita Torrico-Militar, retired principal of La Paz National High School and President of the Pambansang Samahan Para sa Edukasyon ng Pagpahalaga (Values Education), Fr. Dennis Galon, Team Leader of the Santa Maria Parish Ministry, Telespino Padernilla, Jr., Division of Passi City Principal and Regional Trainer for the GMRC/Values Education for DepEd Matatag Curriculum, and Dr. Linda Tacorda, the first Filipino lay woman to finish the catechetics degree from Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, were forged.

Also, some of the proud alumni of Pius XII are equally renowned and respected former and current principals, administrators, and leaders in the fields of law, school management, social studies, values education, and spiritual vocation, namely, Sr. Ninfa Escobañez, Alicia Catexterio Dalanangbayan, Milagros Almoceda Vencer, lawyer Veroncia Villadolid, Dr. Fe Angelic Fernandez Mercado, Sr. Ma. Lucila A. Narra, Dexter R. Tanaleon, Sofia Genive, Leonida Armada Abunto, Bonifacio Camilon, Sr. Ofelia Dondoyano, and Sr. Josephine Aldep. Their journey throughout the country and abroad underscores the transformative power of Pius XII education—a testament to the institution’s enduring legacy of shaping educators and leaders imbued with integrity and insight.

Yet, the path has not always been smooth. The college closed its doors in 2006, after offering Bachelor of Science in Education Major in Catechetics and Social Studies and laboratory high shool for 48 years, mainly due to dwindling enrolments and partly due to funding recalibration and directional fine-tuning, a sad reminder of the challenges faced by institutions specializing in faith-based education. But the seeds of resilience were sown deep. Today, as Pius XII reopens, it does so with a renewed spirit, ready to address the pressing needs of our time—needs that call for a deep-seated understanding of human values and social dynamics.

The curriculum is seemingly rigorous and holistic, designed to equip future educators with the skills to inspire and engage. Beyond the academic rigor, the college hopes to nurture a sense of community and commitment to love, service, and excellence. It desires to continue to embody the ethos of being agents of social change, a resonant chord for the Ilonggo soul.

Affordability is also key. With tuition set at a modest P19,625 per semester, Pius XII strives to be accessible to all who desire to pursue a career in education. Further easing the financial burden, the college offers scholarships and sponsorships through partnerships with parish communities and the generous support of the alumni network.

In this nurturing environment, students are not only taught but are also treasured as individuals with unique potentials to be evangelizers in their own right—whether in classrooms, in local communities, or beyond the seas in mission territories. They are prepared to be again the standard-bearers of a faith that does justice, educators who will go forth and teach values that uplift, unite, and, if possible, fight for what is decent and right.

However, to ensure the success and sustainability of the renewed Pius XII College under the leadership of Fr. Emmanuel Tuberada and guidance of Archbishop of Jaro Archdiocese Jose Romeo O. Lazo, the support of local churches, alumni, and the larger community will be essential. This is a collective endeavor, a shared journey toward nurturing a generation that values knowledge, kindness, integrity, and civic responsibility.

The re-emergence of Pius XII College after almost two decades of hiatus is a call to action for all who cherish education as a force for good. It is an invitation to partake in a mission that transcends the boundaries of classrooms, reaching out into the community and beyond, fostering a legacy of learning deeply rooted in faith and service.

So, to potential students pondering their future paths, consider this: to teach is to touch lives forever. The goal of education at Pius XII College goes beyond simply learning facts and figures; it also involves shaping the minds and personalities of future generations. Become a shaper for future generations, capable of meeting the problems of our day and improving them.

And to the community that holds this institution in its collective heart: let us rally, support, and pray. Let us witness the mass, foot parade, and ceremonial launching this May 4, 2 p.m., at the Jaro Cathedral, Jaro Plaza, and College grounds. In the success of Pius XII College, we find the affirmation of our values and the advancement of our society. This is our call to be part of something greater, a mission, an apostolate, a call to gift and to give in the spirit of true educational and spiritual renewal.

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Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.

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