NAGA City, July 13, 2016 – What’s the future of Philippine Catholic schools? This question and more were answered during the annual Bikol Association of Catholic Schools (BACS) General Assembly held on July 8, at the Basilica Hall, Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia with the presentation of the Philippine Catholic School Standards Project (PCSS) as a “roadmap for the future of Catholic schools [in the Philippines]“.
Through his discussion of the PCSS for Basic Education Project, CEAP Region IV Trustee and PCSS Technical Working Group member Fr. Alain Manalo presented a guide to the program, a brain child of CEAP, CEAP’s Superintendents Committee, Phoenix, and CEAP’s National Basic Education Commission.
‘Gift to schools’
Rooted in the Church’s teachings on Catholic education, the PCSS is a “tool for self-improvement”. However, said Manalo, the PCSS is “marked by rigor, [in its] pursuit of the Catholic identity” for it is a thorough examen of a school’s Catholic identity, defined by 8 characteristics and elaborated by 5 main standards.
According to the priest, “An excellent Catholic school is animated and driven by a philosophy, vision, mission, and core values that embrace and preserve its Catholic identity.” Schools are to be evaluated via the rubrics given and are to be compared with a benchmark. Hence, improvement will only stem from “an attitude of honesty and true criticism.”
Dubbed a “gift to schools”, the PCSS “is a common pathway to the realization of [the] essential identity and fulfillment of [the] mission [of] the Church”.
Christ, the Teacher
In addition, BACS, being CEAP’s Region 5 arm, is the first to be visited by and the first to launch CEAP’s patron traveling icon: Christ, the Teacher. The said icon, which shows the face of the divine, is of Jesus holding the Book of the Gospels – indicative of His teaching ministry and “Him being the embodied Word”. His traditional blue cloak represents divinity, while His red tunic expresses His sufferings, death, and resurrection: “His victory over life and death”. The Greek letters ‘Ho On’ means ‘Who Am’ and ‘lesous Kristos’ is [Christ’s] Greek name.
As Manalo emphasized in his presentation, the first defining characteristic of a Catholic school is its “being centered [on] the person and message of Jesus Christ”. Thus, the presence of the traveling icon in the assembly does not only connote unity among the 1,500 member-schools of CEAP in the evangelizing mission of schools, but more aptly, the icon serves as a reminder to “look to Christ, the Teacher as [one’s] model and [to] live out the true spirit of the Gospel [by] following His example”.
More than 200 participants attended the annual Regional Assembly hosted by CEACAL (Catholic Educational Association of Caceres and Libmanan) chaired by Fr. Rex Andrew Alarcon, Naga Parochial School Director and BACS president. (Natalie Hazel Quimlat / CBCPNews)