Despite of what we’ve been told about the horrors committed (which were confined and isolated but magnified beyond their actual significance) by the religious during the Spanish era, there are good stories, inspiring ones that reaffirms some of the heroic efforts of the religious, that never got told. Things you won’t hear in your history class.
Stories of Beatas that has walked away from the trappings of sin in the world makes a great discovery. Their stories are often swept under the rag of Filipino historiography. These people’s sacrifice and compassion towards their fellowman had made me rethink the definition of a Filipino hero.
Founders of orphanages and educational institutions can teach us important lessons about our daily Christian lives . Especially when they come from the “Yndio” rank. Their pioneering ways are thought by many impossible today because the mere mention of religion during the Spanish era instantly evoke images of the Damaso’s [who Rizal defines as almost a physically perfect man!]. Stories of native sons, pioneering charitable and learning institutions, tells us of the extraordinary and necessary courage Filipinos had during those times.
Asilo de San Vicente de Paul of the Hermanas de Caridad is an example of such history and contribution. Asilo was not only an orphanage but also an institution dedicated to “educate poor girls”. Its founder, Sor Asuncion Ventura, is a Campampangan who belonged to a “noble” clan. Some of the greatest “beatas” in Philippine religious history are from prominent families. According to the book, “to love and to suffer”: “with her substantial inheritance, she established an orphanage with a school for poor girls… situated in a 6 hectare lot in Looban [San Fernando de Dilao en el barrio de Looban], Paco… she served and taught the poor children until her death…”
The first Filipino founder of an orphanage could have had a nice comfortable life in Bacoor but her spirituality shaped her character and the decisions she made for her future. She “took to the veil, forsook all worldly affairs and dedicated her life to the to the service of God”. She dreamt of “bringing up God’s creatures in the manner that is pleasing to him”, so she set this idea in motion by asking her superiors in a conference for the orphanage to be erected.
Campangpangan’s has had a rich contribution to Filipino Catholic history. The first ever nun, Martha de San Bernardo, defied Spanish prohibition and is now considered the first ever nun in our history. While the Talangpaz’s sister pioneered a non-contemplative community under the Recoletos. Then recently came, well, the first priest ever to be elected as provincial governor in the person of Panlilio. These are just some name in a long list of various contributions and first.
A blogger and descendant of the Venturas gave us the details of Sor Asuncion’s parents: “Don Honorio Ventura, Apung Maria told me that he never married. He had a mistress whose surname was Bautista but I forgot the first name. Apo told me that the mistress is not beautiful. They had a daughter, Sor Asuncion Ventura who was the founder of Asilo de San Vicente de Paul. It is located in United Nations Avenue, Manila. She donated her inheritance to the orphanage”.
I wonder if her background, having been born out of wedlock, had anything to do with the life she chose. But regardless of the reason, she lived by the highest example of service to her country.
Sor Asuncion is a true Filipino hero by all accounts.
To get in touch with the Asilo:
Sor Nieva C. Manzano, DC – Administrator
Tel/Fax Number: (02) 5233829 / 5231460, (02) 5228696