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ONE MOMENTOUS DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE DWU JUBILEE FOUNDATION

By: Maria Luz C. Vilches, PRO, DWU Jubilee Foundation, Inc.


Saturday, July 1, 2000, marked the launch of the DWU Jubilee Foundation on Divine Word University campus in Tacloban City.  It was also a day of many other events whose gains, in the long term, will contribute to the fulfillment of the Foundation's vision. 

Let's Celebrate!

The Divine Word University campus bustled with life that day. About 200 people - DWU friends, former students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni, mostly from the DWU High School Class '75 who were culminating their silver jubilee homecoming celebration that day - came to join in the celebration.  Most of the members of the DWUJF Board of Directors from Manila also took time out of their usual busy professional lives to be present at this occasion.   For the first time in five years since the closure of the university, a joyful spirit filled the atmosphere on campus.  Thanks to the weekend clean-up drive by the Tacloban group, headed by Leo Rama and Imelda Nartea, the university grounds also shaped up for the occasion. 

As people entered the campus, they were ushered in to the registration desk, managed by Natividad Noel-Alejo, where they signed up for membership of the Foundation.  Near the registration desk was a photo exhibit - mementos of significant DWU events - set up by the Tacloban members of DWUJF and the DWU High School Silver Jubilarians.  Mounted on a stand beside the photo exhibit was a huge scroll on which was articulated the Foundation's declaration of intent, culled from its vision and mission statements.  Following is the text:

Everyone who registered that day was encouraged to sign below the Declaration of Intent on the scroll as a symbol of their support for the cause of the Foundation and in solidarity with the people of Leyte and Samar, especially those who have borne the brunt of the closure of DWU.

The Thanksgiving Mass

The ceremonies began with the 9:30 AM thanksgiving mass in the St. Therese Chapel of Divine Word University, concelebrated by Msgr. Ben Bacierra and Fr. Carlo Villaflor, CSsR, a member of the DWU High School batch í75 graduates.  July 1st was the Feast of Immaculate Heart of Mary, a fitting occasion for thanksgiving. The gospel reading (Matthew 8: 5-17) talked about Jesus expelling the bad spirits by a simple command and curing all who were afflicted.   With the intercession of Mary, we asked in this mass for the same power of Jesusí healing for Divine Word University and all it stands for.  At his homily, Fr. Bacierra affirmed the efforts of the Foundation to launch the campaign for the reopening of DWU at an opportune time within the churchís celebration of the Jubilee year and wished Godís blessings on these efforts.  Before Jesus, the Divine Word, the congregation acknowledged gratitude for the graces received through DWU and offered intercessory prayers for the intentions of all DWU alumni and friends and for the success of the mission of the Foundation.

After the mass, everyone headed for the DWU Administration Building to commence the formal launching ceremonies of the Foundation.  Meanwhile, as they moved out of the chapel towards the launching site, the crowd was singing the famous DWU hymn


This song signaled the spirit of bonding and celebration that everyone felt inside the university campus at that time. 

The Foundation Launch

At around 10:30 AM, the formal launching ceremonies began.  This took place in front of the DWU Administration Building, the façade of which is what is featured as the centerpiece of the DWUJF logo.  The ceremonies commenced with a public choral recitation of the DWU Jubilee prayer led by Ms. Sara Caballes, DWUJF Board Member.  The singing of the Philippine National Anthem followed this.  Then, Mrs. Fideliza Noel, Chairperson of the DWUJF Board of Trustees, warmly greeted and welcomed everybody.  It was also at this point when Mrs. Noel publicly explained the vision and mission of the DWU Jubilee Foundation, formally declared the Foundation launched, and finally encouraged everyone to support the movement. 

After this formal declaration, the President of the Foundation, Samuel Yap, and Board Member Sara Caballes released two doves into the air.  This was to symbolize peace and reconciliation among men and women of goodwill, especially those whose lives have been touched in one way or another by DWU alumni, former students, faculty, administrators. 

Then it was followed by the release of close to 100 colorful balloons, led by the Governor of the Province of Leyte, Honorable Remedios Petilla, and DWUJF-VP for Visayas and Mindanao, Leo Rama.  The balloons symbolized the thousands of graduates that DWU had produced over the years.  Some of these graduates had placed DWU in the limelight when they figured among the top 10 who passed board and bar examinations.  The formal launching rites culminated in a huge round of applause from all those who witnessed the event.

The Motorcade

It was close to mid-day when the launching ceremonies finished.  People then got ready to start the motorcade around town to reinforce spreading the good news about the Foundation to the entire Tacloban City populace.  Some of those who joined in the motorcade were wearing a DWU Jubilee Foundation shirt with the catch phrase REBIRTH 2001 written on the back.  Everyone looked geared up with pride and verve for the occasion.  The cars were 'dressed up' too with balloons and placards publicly announcing the birth of the Foundation.

The motorcade went into town the commercial district of Tacloban then along Real Street down to Coca-cola and Marasbaras and back to DWU.   People came out of their houses and establishments to watch it wondering, skeptical, cynical, but perhaps, deep down in their hearts, also hopeful for the fulfillment of the Foundationís great vision.  It was a long motorcade, so long that while the lead vehicle was already turning around to go back to DWU on corner Veteranos St. and Real St., the last vehicle was still near Bethany Hospital.   It was reminiscent of motorcades that used to take place in honor of top-ranking board or bar examinees among DWU alumni, when the public was not just a spectator but also a joyful participant in the success of these graduates. 

Back to the DWU campus after the motorcade, everyone went off to lunch while the DWUJF Board of Trustees members first had a conference with the Leyte Press Corps before they had lunch.

The Press Conference

The press conference was held in the Board Room on the second floor of the DWU Administration Building.  It was attended by local press people (radio, TV, print), by the members of the DWUJF Board of Trustees (Fideliza Noel, Samuel Yap, Natividad Noel-Alejo, Alberto Lamayo, Wilfredo Garrido, Ma. Luz Vilches, Leo Rama, Imelda Nartea, Sara Caballes), as well as guests, among whom were Honorable Emil Ong, Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas; Atty. Buenaventura Go-Soco, NEDA Regional Executive Director; former Congresswoman Mrs. Luz Bacunawa; and Msgr. Ben Bacierra.

At this conference, the press people wanted clarification on the purposes and intentions of the Foundation about which Liza Noel and Sammi Yap confidently and simply articulated.  More importantly what they conveyed to the press was the sincerity with which the Foundation wants to carry out its mission and the Foundationís plea for cooperation and moral support from everybody, especially the press.  Liza Noel stressed that all the Foundation sought now in terms of publicity was that it wanted to carry out its objective to move significantly forward all efforts to reopen DWU.  Itís on this proactive spirit that the Foundation capitalizes.  At the end of the conference, the press expressed their vote of support for the aims of the Foundation.

Before the press conference finished, three among the guests delivered a speech, the gist of which was support for the Foundation.  Honorable Emil Ong brought to mind the denotative meaning of a foundation, being that which holds a building together.  He used this meaning as an analogy to what DWUJF can do to the entire move for the reopening of DWU.   Atty. Go-Soco expressed lament over the closure of DWU and wished to see it restored to the greatness that it used to be.  Fr. Bacierra, a former faculty member of DWU, talked about his personal concern and support for getting the university back on its feet again.

In general, through the press conference, the Foundation made public its intentions and dreams and opened itself more formally to a dialogue of minds as well as collaboration with other DWU interest groups.   After the conference, all those present enjoyed a hearty lunch.

The Board Meeting

 

After lunch, the DWUJF held its open Board of Trustees meeting in the same Board Room of the DWU Administration building. Chaired by Liza Noel, the meeting began with the recitation of the DWU Jubilee prayer by all those present.  Then the Board made into a resolution the Foundationís acknowledgement of deep appreciation for the self-less efforts of Samuel Yap in being the principal initiator of this movement.  Status reports followed. The first one had to do with the incorporation of the Foundation with the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 30, 2000.  The second report had to do with the

DWU Jubilee website, created and maintained in Chicago, Illinois by Engr. Felipe C. Vilches, Jr. DWU Alumnus (College of Engineering Batch '78).  The third report was about the finances of the Foundation which so far was a little over fifty thousand pesos, just enough to qualify the Foundation for registration with the SEC.

Action priorities were also discussed at the meeting.  Included as number one priority was drumming up membership for the Foundation.  Planning for the September Grand Reunion in Manila was also another.  Finally and most importantly, the Board also discussed the importance of moving ahead the dialogue between the group of Commissioner Ching Veloso and Atty. Cesar Merin to facilitate the settlement of legal cases related to DWU that will in turn help the SVD decide to reopen the University.  In view of this, Sammy Yap announced that Veloso and Merin would have another dialogue the following day on this matter and requested all present to pray for its success.

Fellowship Dinner

At the end of the Board meeting, everybody went home to freshen up and get ready for the annual Alumni Reunion hosted by the Silver Jubilarians, HS Class í75 in Baluarte, San Jose, Tacloban City.  Where in the past such gatherings had always been referred to as a "Homecoming", this time with the closure of DWU, the term was thought of as inappropriate since the graduates had no "Home" to return to as yet.  Hence, it was just a reunion.

HS Class í75 outdid itself in the preparation and program of the Reunion. More than 500 alumni and faculty members attended the occasion.  Rubber Band, the famous rock band, provided live music and made some alumni stay partying and dancing up to four oíclock dawn. Perennial favorite and native son of Waray-warayland, Nonoy Zuniega made many hearts - young and not so young swoon with nostalgia and memories of bygone years, with his soulful and artful rendition of classic and modern songs. Old familiar faces dotted the landscape, and it was a live trip down memory lane for many alumni and staff.

The joys of the occasion made many hearts express the wish that, please God, with the reopening of DWU, the next reunion become a Homecoming right on the grounds again of the dear Alma Mater!

Call it a Day!

Thus was a full day in the early life of the DWU Jubilee Foundation.  It was a good and happy start.  Now everyone is working together to build on what has been started - goodwill and sincere drive for fruitful action - as well as to refine the moral fiber that it has acquired in order to sustain what it has gained in terms of cooperation and support.