99th Baguio Charter Day Anniversary Issue
     
Supplements
99 thoughts on Baguio's Centennial
Esther someone else like her?
A tribute to those who care for Baguio
A pasture of hope:
Good Shepherd Convent
Through the barriers of silence & isolation
They're loved because they care
The man called morris
Teacher volunteers:
Pathways to Higher Education
My best teacher
Indigenous women and a cooperative
Two Baguio families are local visionaries
Top 10 reasons why getting a Baguio education is worth it
Conversations with Gaia
Winning Photos
99th Baguio Charter Day Cartoon

When we happened to pass by the Good Shepherd Convent gate, as what the handbill indicated, curiosity filled me. I was nine years old then and we were tired of the whole day rove around Mines View Park.

I wondered what was in the opposite side of the gate. Does it also display horses for rent like that in Wright Park? The area is quiet and only a vehicle path with huge pine trees beside it could be seen.

Luckily, one day my cousins and auntie were visiting the place because there was a celebration and I was called to join them. It was when I came to know the story of the place and its purpose.

Within the area lays a pasture in God’s plan which was named Good Shepherd Sisters in 1952. The place was (and still is) administered by solicitous nuns. Their intense caring for Cordillerans, particularly poor kids, has driven their hearts to build a genuine foundation that would assist the poor in reaching their dreams. Organizationally, the Philippine Good Shepherd Sisters were part of the Los Angeles Foreign Mission Province with its base in the United States. At that time, the Provincial Superior was Mother Mary de Lourdes. The area was renovated and furnished to serve as a summer vacation and retreat house for all of the Sisters in the Philippines.

One of the foundation’s greatest contributions to society is education. Providing education would mean opening a window of opportunity for the unfortunate and hopeless children, thus, cementing their path for a better future.

Baguio historians related that the Good Shepherd property was once given to William Cameron Forbes, the former governor general of the Philippines. He was known as the father and one of the builders of Baguio for his countless contributions to the city’s development. He named the property Topside. After his term expired, the property was sold to the Gaches family. The nuns bought the property for P45,000 in 1948.

Three nuns, headed by Sr. Mary Victory Walsh with a thousand pesos in cash and a few cartons of canned goods, started their life-saving mission.

In December 1952, two months after the opening of the hill, six Igorot girls from Mines View came and confessed that they wanted their catechism. The Sisters wholeheartedly welcomed the girls and that was actually the start of catechism classes to the community of Mines View.

The Sisters were glad that the number of children joining the classes doubled though many came from poor and broken families or were neglected and abandoned. With the growing number of children in the foundation, food became a necessity. Despite the lack of food, the gate remained wide open for anyone who needed shelter. Aspirants recalled the times when Sr. Mary John Eudes Heredia went to market daily to beg for peelings and cuttings of vegetables. They relished and appreciated those rejected veggies in their meals. They enjoyed the spare ribs, bread from donated flour, and cheese from Catholic Relief Services. The people of Baguio lived poorly although they worked very hard in order to bring food to the table. Those donations nourished the children for a few months, however, it was not enough for their growing number.

The Sisters and those under their care worked harder to sustain their increasing needs and those of the other incoming homeless girls. They engaged in arts and crafts as well as in making chocolate candies. They soon included cooking ham and bacon, making flowers, and baking bread in their activities. In 1963 they tried out poultry, organic farming, and piggery. It did help increase their income and even bought food for their table. The Sisters’ and girls’ creativeness and skills have provided them their necessities. They were no longer running out of food and shelter as their number increased. The Sisters expanded the income-generating projects which included cooking various jams, oatmeal cookies, doughnuts, and even butter. Aside from those were handicrafts made by indigenous youth. With their hard work, education was never set aside. They still took classes such as piano lessons and catechism.

With the stable income, they were able to develop educational tools and teaching strategies at Pelletier Hills School located within the foundation. Elementary and high school classes shifted to a higher phase of education. Some buildings were built for the expansion of classrooms and residences with the help of generous benefactors but the hostels were exclusively for poor girls recommended by the Bishop.

In 1968, Pelletier Hills Training School for Girls was accredited as a child caring agency by the social welfare office.

In the late 1970s, the Baguio Sisters proclaimed they should have missions not only within the foundation but also in the outside community which needed serious attention. Together with their acquaintances, the Sisters served the poor in Pangasinan when severe floods struck. They supported movements and other foundations which had missions parallel to theirs. Their service has extended to the victims of disasters all over Luzon even with much sacrifice on their part.

In 1994, Mountain Maid Training Center was put up for student workers. The completion of the bakeshop created additional jobs for the students. Later, the employment of boys was also considered as the gender of those who are in need didn’t matter. The Sisters looked forward to the determination of the student to succeed. The store was definitely not created for mere business, as what Cordillera youth express on the product labels: “You help send us to college each time you buy our products.” It was meant to augment income for the continuously expanding family.

Owing to the students’ and Sisters’ hard work, and creativity and love for what they do, Good Shepherd Baguio has earned its reputation and the products became well known.

Some of my classmates shared how praiseworthy the Sisters are. “They are like a mother to a hundred children,” says one.

The Good Shepherd Convent has been producing hundreds of professionals as well as welcoming deserving aspirants in its 56 years of pasturing. And I am proud to say that my sister was one of those who made it with the help of the kindhearted Sisters. She graduated in 2002 and is currently one of the employees of the office department.

How could the Cordillera youth have gotten along without the warm-hearted and yet so self-sacrificing Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent? Truly, they have been fostering a culture of caring in Baguio City.

 
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