“These are my daughters and your daughters [says the Church]: love them with love with which I love them; whatever you do to any of them, you do it to me. I will be with you in the midst of them: educate them, teach them…” (Francisco Palau OCD, Letter 88)

It’s been already 7 years since, inspired by these words of Francisco Palau, the CMT Sisters in Pangantucan began the journey together with the young girls gathered in Fr. Palau Center of Pangantucan.

When our community arrived in Pangantucan (almost 11 years ago), the first apostolate we have been entrusted with was the pastoral work in San Isidro Labrador Parish. The sisters got involved in catechetical work, formation of the Church leaders, creation of communion through BECs, administration of Parochial School and many others small services for the good of the community. But soon the sisters started to feel another need of the Church: those young girls who cannot continue their education in high school level due to poverty factor. This is Bukidnon: mountainous place.
With all this in mind, the sisters came up with this project: creating a home, a shelter for the young girls who desired to continue their studies; a place where they can feel secure and be helped to go out of their situation of social marginalization.

Even though there are two high schools, but they are located in the central barangay. It’s of difficult accessibility for those living in far flung places, without means for transportation, house and lodging, school fees and projects. Result? Many young girls would rather go to work on the farm, get married in early age (14-15 years old) and just continue the life of poverty they inherited from their parents. While some of them felt OK with this situation, others were dreaming of a better life, alternative future.

On May 25, 2013, first batch of 16 residents arrived to the center. On June 2, our bishop Jose A. Cabantan DD officially blessed and opened the facilities of the Center. And we became mothers. It was not easy. Still is not. Striving to create a home for these girls, coming from different families, cultures, places… Sharing with them our lives, getting closer to them… Being second parents (sometimes the only parent they have) … The mutual adjustment is sometimes painful. From 16 girls who started that June 2013, only 6 graduated from high school. Others chose other life, found another support, moved to another place, got married and already have their own families. Still, we are very happy that we met them in one moment of their lives and, just maybe, gave them some hope for a better future.
It’s really inspiring to see them change. One of them during first interview shared, that she wants to enter in Palau Center to stop this life of poverty and misery. And it’s true, for many of them (if not all), being member of Palau is the only opportunity to finish school. As years pass by, they start dreaming more and more: not only high school, why not college? Out of 6 who graduated, 5 are continuing their studies in college level, hoping one day to find a good job, help their families, and in some way repay to the Center what they received by helping other young girls who are living in a similar situation.
And I can also say that forming one family with have also changed the life of the sisters, of each one of us who had the privilege to serve here in Pangantucan. It’s a different style of service: it’s not only 8 hours of office work, but a true mission of sharing one’s life 24/7. One can learn a lot about oneself, our own limits, our willingness to sacrifice our commodities, our openness to those who are different, our capacity to construct together with those, who are considered as nobody by our society. I think is a “vocation in vocation”, and a biggest opportunity to grow that I have received in my life.
After 7 years, we hope that the Center will continue growing, serving, building. We hope to welcome more young girls (hopefully 22 instead of 16, if only the pandemic will allow us). We hope to continue organizing professional courses for those who need more qualification to find better job. We hope to continue changing lives, giving hopes, sharing dreams of better future.


If you want to see some more pics and activities of the center, follow us on Facebook: Fr. Palau Center of Pangantucan