BACOLOD CITY – Gracing the rite of blessing and inauguration of the newly constructed Integrated School (I.S.) Building of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) on February 26, Fray Miguel Miró, OAR, Prior General, has described this event as a moment of thanksgiving and of response to integral formation.
“Constructing a new building of a university that has been around for many years since 1962 … is a reason for gratitude,” he said in Spanish before an audience assembled at the façade of the brand new four-storey building. “Construir un nuevo edificio en UNO-Recoletos significa que hay vida, hay vitalidad.” (“Constructing a new edifice at UNO-R means that there is life, there is vitality.”)
Aside from the signs of growth, vitality and renewal, Father General also pointed out the Latin phrase “Caritas et Scientia” (“Love and Knowledge”) in the logo of the university saying that we do not only seek for academic excellence but also for the formation of the heart.
He stressed that the I.S. Building indicates the Recoletos friars’ commitment to integral formation not only of the students but also of the school personnel and other stakeholders. He was singling out the integration particularly of the Augustinian values that would steer everyone towards creating communion.
The building or hall is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health), whose first image was brought by the Recollect missionaries to the Philippines in 1634, and to whose devotion was revived only in 2017 after 72 years of “silence.”
Heritage Trees and Blessing Rite
Right after the 8:00 AM concelebrated mass presided by Fray Dionisio Selma, OAR, Prior Provincial, and held at the Oratory of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, everybody proceeded to the new building site for the inauguration program.
To put an ecological accent to it, two heritage trees were planted, one on each side of the new structure. Father General and Father Provincial did the planting as Fray William Emilito Villaflor, local prior of Recoletos de Bacolod community, and Fray Don Besana, university President, looked on.
The rite of blessing followed, and was officiated by the Prior Provincial. He was afterwards assisted by the attending deacons and priests in the sprinkling of the holy water throughout the building.
The Grade School choir opened the program by their rendition of the Philippine National Anthem. Father President, Fray Besana, gave his welcome address by first thanking everyone “for all forms of support in realizing this dream of building a home for our students at the Basic Education, now the Integrated School.”
He also reminded everyone that the I.S. Building “is not simply a structure but a house where persons are going to be molded in the Augustinian values of interiority, truth, freedom, community, friendship, and solidarity and justice.”
Along the same lines of Father General’s thought, he spoke of “UNO-R’s commitment to being a center of learning that shall serve as venue in breathing life” to St. Augustine’s words: “Teach that students may become their own teacher so that time will come when they will be able to provide for their own food.”
How true were the words of Fray Eduardo Celiz, OAR, immediate past president of UNO-R, who said in his message: “The decisions made then are achievements now; the aspirations yesterday are tangible developments today.” And those decisions or aspirations relative to the I.S. Building were formally recorded as resolutions both of the School Board and the Board of Trustees.
The School Board Resolutions approving the construction of the said edifice were read by Fray Persiuz Joseph Decena, School Board Secretary, while the BOT Resolution was read by Fray Jose Alden Alipin, Corporate Secretary.
The following key persons delivered their messages: Fray Miró, Prior General; Fray Raul Buhay, President of the General Secretariat of Apostolate; Fray Villaflor, local prior; and Fray Celiz, UNO-R President from 2015-2018.
Fray Buhay wished that this building be always “a living testimony of our commitment for the youth.” Speaking of commitment, he specified the “academic, cultural, social, and religious upliftment” of the people of the City of Smile and nearby towns and cities.
For his part, Fray Villaflor noted that the dream of constructing this school building started in partnership with lay people “who shared with us the passion for excellence” and its realization marks “another milestone in the history of UNO-R.”
Fray Celiz keenly observed that, in this celebration, the presence of the highest authority of the Order, in the person of the Father General who is making his “final tour” to visit communities in the Province, could mean that he is “open(ing) for us new horizons and opportunities to become promoters of communion” in a global scale. This he juxtaposed with the required 21st-century skills and competencies and the “tatak Rekoleto” (“Recoletos brand”) of education to be offered to students of Recoletos Schools.
Unveiling and Ribbon-Cutting
The Prior General and two General Councilors present (Fray Buhay and Fray Antonio Carrón) led the unveiling of the historical marker. They were assisted by the members of the UNO-R School Board and Board of Trustees.
The closing message of Fray Decena, I.S. Director, ensued. Immediately after, the ribbon-cutting ceremony punctuated the grand opening of the “new edifice of learning.”
A number of dignitaries representing the Diocese of Bacolod (among them was Bishop-emeritus Vicente Navarra), the local government, and the education sector came to witness the program. Also present were the Recoletos friars from different communities in the country, members of the Recoletos Family in Bacolod, and UNO-R students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests.