Friday, April 30, 2010

Who is Romulo Lumauig -- Elementary and High School Days in Kiangan

The proximity of the Catholic Church and convent as well as the mission school to our house, caused all the siblings to enroll in the Saint Joseph’s School, ran by the Belgian Missionaries (CICM).   The standard of education was at par with the standard Department of Education academic curriculum for grade school up to high school.   The faculty were well chosen, composed of graduates from Sto. Tomas University, Ateneo and other educational institutions of higher learning.   Of course, we had a full hour study of Catechism and Religion.   Being children of educators and with a good academic curriculum pursued in school, my two older brothers Crispin and Thomas graduated valedictorian, one after the other, successively in their respective classes.  

As a Catholic family, we were active in the church and enjoyed good rapport with the priests and the sisters.  The zeal and enthusiasm of the Belgian missionaries CICM, or the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in their work of evangelization, was something that has impressed me early in my childhood.  Father Jerome Moerman, who established the Catholic mission as per information, belongs to a well to do family back in Belgium.   He was fully supported in his mission work, not only in terms of finances but even in the materials and resources in building the church and his parish.   From a simple wooden building, he was able to build the first concrete church with a circular dome, though of lesser dimension, as compared to the Church of the Holy Sacrifice in the UP Campus in Diliman, Quezon City.  Not only that, he was able to electrify the whole premises of the church even before the Ambuklao and Binga Dam were built in Baguio.   He constructed a circular hydro dam where all the stream waters cascading down from the higher elevations of the town flowed and filled the dam with enough water stored, to start the turbine installed down the dam.  The church was lighted as well as the school building grounds and other structures within the church premises.  

Even all the accessories in the church for liturgical services, as well as, those used in the school operations were all modern, by the standards at that time.   The school operation, was almost subsidized by the parish.   We were really fortunate, that Kiangan had a parish priest, who was getting full support from his family and benefactors from Belgium.   I would say, that the missionaries were not only engaged purely in evangelization work, but also in other related community activities such as the basics of health consciousness like personal cleanliness and hygiene, good social relations that enhanced their acquisition of knowledge and skill, that leads to their Christian and material improvement.

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