Bacolor school back 25 yrs after eruptions
BACOLOR, Pampanga—The 25th anniversary of the 1991 eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo this June took an early, but happy twist, when religious leaders allowed Don Bosco Academy (DBA) to reestablish a campus that volcanic debris had buried 20 years ago.
Fr. Ditto Gueco, vice provincial of the North Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco in the Philippines, announced the good news during the homecoming of DBA Pampanga alumni at the campus gymnasium on Jan. 30, which was buried under 15-meter tall lahar in October 1995.
The eruptions had forced DBA to transfer its campus on a land donated by the late Tomas Dizon in Mabalacat City, also in Pampanga.
Bacolor, formerly the capital of Pampanga and briefly the Philippines, was almost erased from the map by lahar. The 1991 blasts, considered the world’s second worst eruptions in the 20th century, ended 40 years of DBA presence in Bacolor.
Fr. Carlo Braga helped establish the DBA in 1956 after his expulsion from China. He had been nominated for sainthood.
The Bacolor campus served as an evacuation center for hundreds of Aeta, indigenous peoples living around Mt. Pinatubo’s flanks in Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales provinces, following the blasts. Classes resumed after almost two months.
Following what local folk call the “Cabalantian tragedy,” the Bacolor campus was bought by the David family for its Mary the Queen Academy. The family, whose many scions were DBA alumni, sold back the property to the Salesians as a corporate social responsibility project.
“We are a grateful family. We owe it to the community,” said Teresa David-Carlos, president of the House of David.
Gueco said the return of DBA to the Bacolor campus was initiated by Batch 1984 through a signature campaign following the visit of the relic of St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian order, to the Philippines in 2010.
Appeal in Italy
“The provincial council of DBA Philippines expressed interest and, on Aug. 27, 2015, issued a resolution accepting the offer of the David family [for us] to reclaim the Bacolor campus,” Gueco said. DBA Batch 1966, led by businessman Levy Laus, raised the appeal to the Salesians in Turin, Italy, during the bicentennial of St. John Bosco’s birth last year.
After documents were submitted to the Vatican City, Archbishop Florentino Lavarias gave his consent on Jan. 15. The Salesian rector major, Fr. Angel Fernandez, approved the reestablishment of the Bacolor campus on Jan. 20.
Open in 2017
Gueco said the DBA campus will open in school year 2017-2018, ready to take in Kindergarten and Grades 1, 2, 3 and 7. High school classes will continue at the Mabalacat campus.
The giant image of Mary Help of Christians, which was carried by lahar toward the gate of the the Bacolor campus just as the Salesians were evacuating to safety, had also been transferred to Mabalacat. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon