In 1989, Rev. Fr. Rogelio B. Alarcon, O.P., then rector and president of letran, thought of introducing a program that makes use of a community as an educational resource. he initiated the practicum program (on-the-job-training) or application of what the letran collegiate students learned from their academic subjects like sociology, theology, marketing, accounting, etc.
The initial stage was an immersion of the students by bringing them to tala leprosarium community and matching the class with economically deprived families for learning-partnership. the program was intended to be a long-range plan that would establish a lasting relationship between the students and the community.
In 1992, the successor of Fr. Alarcon, Rev. Fr. Ramon Cercado, O.P., formalized the creation of the office which will be in-charge of the outreach program of Letran, the Extension Services Office. Fr. Cercado likewise believed that the academe must include a feature, which would enable the Letranites to connect with the community and to learn altruism.
In 1999, a new rector and president was elected, Rev. Fr. Edwin A. Lao, O.P. He shared the same dream as his predecessors. He envisioned of making Letran known for its “academic excellence with social relevance”, that is “to promote the importance of the extension services in realizing the Vision-Mission of the school.”
The community service area of the Colegio’s Extension Services was expanded to include not only the immediate residents of Intramuros where Letran is located, but also to other poor communities in Metro Manila and as far as the Babuyanes Group of Islands.
In the year 2004, as Letran played a vital role in social development, the name Extension Services was changed to Center for Community Development. The school is seen here as an institution committed to freely devoting its resources for the sake of others through its community involvement program directed towards the promotion of sustained improvement of the quality of life of the Filipino Poor. Through the leadership of Mr. Ronald Dugang, the first director of the Center for Community Development, the Letran BuildHOPE Program was formulated. It identified three modes of engagements to the community: PUNLAD, the colegio’s response to the development of partner urban communities PANDARAL, is the assistance to partner public schools and MISYON, the commitment of the Colegio to rural communities particularly to the mission areas of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.
In April 2007, Rev. Fr. Tamerlane R. Lana, O.P. was elected rector and president of Letran Intramuros and Abucay campuses. Community development was one of the important things he considered for the 12-year strategic plan in the attainment of university status and the preparation for the quadricentennial celebration in 2020.
In 2011, commencing the second term of Rev. Fr. Tamerlane R. Lana as rector and president, a challenge was posted to the Letran Community to live up a balanced Arriba Spirit, that is integrating Diakonia (Service) with Kerygma (Preaching) and Liturgia (Celebration). Consequently, it demanded a review of the existing community development program. Thus, the revision which gave birth to the Letran BuildHOPES Community Development Program.
In 2015, further revision to the said program is expected - the Letran's Build HOPES Community Development Program will be sustained and enhanced. To make it better, the CCD will always look into “Opportunities for Improvement” in the light of the concretization of the Vision-Mission of the Colegio.
Rev. Fr. Clarence Victor C. Marquez, O.P. (2015-2019), the 81st Rector and President of Letran Manila and Bataan, expects more from the Center of Community Development to take the lead in providing opportunities for the school community “to venture into new worlds in dialogue and solidarity with the forgotten, the poor, the victims of violence and oppression” in the process of renewal and in the spirit of gratitude following the Acts of the General Chapter of the Order (Trogir 2013) in view of the celebration of the Jubilee of the Order and the celebration of the 400th year anniversary of Letran in 2020.
Siempre Arriba! Siempre Letran!
The Center for Community Development is responsible for building community awareness, directing and motivating the students and employees of Letran toward community service. It is tasked to support the school’s aim of making Letranites dynamic builders and leaders and integrally formed individuals. It aims to contribute concretely to nation building through community involvement. Specifically, the Center aims to:
On- campus Community Education and Mobilization
On-site Community Building
Community Relations, Funding and Promotions
"Community Development" at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Manila is deeply rooted in the common ideals, shared mission, and strong friendship of her founders back in 1620.
The heart and soul of Community Development is the Word of God. Justice, love, mercy, and peace are key biblical words for community development. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah, for example, teaches that we “learn to do good; make justice our aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow” (Is.1:17 NABRE). In a similar way, the prophet Micah tells us about doing what is good and what the Lord requires from us: “Only to do justice, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8; NABRE). In the New Testament, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and of the early Christian community provide us examples and inspiration to carry out our mission to empower the Filipino poor through community education. Jesus said, “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28 NABRE). Community service is a way to love into perfection – “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).
Justice, as a moral virtue, is more than giving what is due to God, to others, and to one’s self. It is about establishing a right relationship and hoping what is right in a relationship. Development within a community is more than addressing the social, political, and economic concerns or unjust social realities. Community development speaks of the integral development of the human persons and the pursuit of peace in justice and love. It is part of the Dominican preaching which is aimed at the salvation of souls. Salvation is total and concrete. It touches all the dimensions or needs of human life. The primordial principle in bringing Christ’s salvation to humanity through community development efforts is to promote respect for the dignity of the human person who is a free and intelligent moral agent. Higit sa lahat ay ang tao at ang kaniyang pakikitungo sa Diyos, kapwa, bayan, at kalikasan.
The prophet Micah tells us to love goodness or kindness. It is called mercy. Under the Letran's Build HOPES Community Development Program, the umbrella of the Community Development Program of the Colegio, the Letran community is able to provide assistance to her partner schools and communities in simple corporal and spiritual acts of mercy through community service or active service learning activities.
During the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Philippines in January 15-19, 2015, he reminded the youth “to think well, to feel well, and to do well.” His message is a call for us to integrate “head-heart-hand” in community development efforts. Building a community, transforming people, and improving lives of the poor demand that we put together study (Kerygma), spirituality (Liturgia), and service (Diakonia). Hence, community development is not about “dole-outs,” but it is about carrying out a mission of mercy for the poor with humility. It is giving hope, building hope, and sustaining H.O.P.E.S. (Health and Wellbeing; Opportunities for Livelihood; Practical Skills and Literacy; Environment and Disaster Risk and Rescue Management; and Spirituality and Citizenship).
The ARRIBAYANIHAN and ARRIBAYANI spirits continue to linger at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, especially as she prepares for the 400th year anniversary in 2020. LINGAP ARRIBA is actually not just a one day celebration or annual festival of Letran Volunteerism and Community Service, but a year-long celebration. Every community service/ active service learning/ community extension service is a celebration of God’s mercy and a unique, loving encounter with a person or a community. It is seeing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ among the poor in humble action. With this kind of disposition and attitude, we are able to give God due honor and glory through our love of country and of Letran. That is the voice of our conscience, to serve Deus, Patria, Letran!
Siempre Arriba! Siempre Letran!
CENTER FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
151 Muralla St., Intramuros, Manila
Philipines 1002 www.letran.edu
(+632) 527 7693 to 97 loc 518
(+632) 310 5016
ASST. PROF. AURORA M. PEÑAFLOR, MA- INT.TH; MA - R.E.; REA.
JACKIELYN ILUSTRE, RSW
GRACE BERNADETTE TEE, RSW