For 70 years and more: Ladies making a difference

Jenara Regis-Newman

THERE’S a little 70-year-old school on P. Gomez St., Cebu City that is a venture of love by the Young Ladies Association of Charity (YLAC). YLAC was spearheaded by the late architect Imelda Borromeo Cancio, with Teresita Martinez Young as its first president of the Cebu City unit.

The school, started in 1949, was YLAC’s answer to “the most urgent need and problem of marginalized families in their inability to send their children to school.” It started as a free primary school, housed on the ground floor of the Alvarez residence on Zulueta St., Cebu City—in what is now a museum, the Jesuit 1760 house.

Two branches were opened in barangays Mabolo and San Nicolas but these had to close due to financial constraints. From the Zulueta house, the school moved to Martires St., Cebu City. But in 1953, the lot on which it stood was taken back by the Cebu Provincial government. At this point, Julia Cardinal Rosales came to the rescue and permitted the YLAC members to build their school beside the Metropolitan Cathedral along Legaspi St., Cebu City. In 1990, the school was moved to P. Gomez St., Cebu City, an interior location for the safety of the school children.

The Cebu City YLAC School Foundation is now an elementary school. Though it still has scholars, the YLAC ladies found out early on that the children would be enrolled, but some would be pulled out by their parents to peddle in the streets because, anyway, “the schooling is free.” So, the YLAC school board decided to give the parents some responsibility and commitment by making them pay a minimal tuition fee, which is just a little bit over the pupils’ school book needs that the school supplies.

To run the school, the YLAC ladies formed a foundation whose current president is lawyer Merle Cunanan, and its chairman emeritus, Lourdes Vilma C. Lee. These are the people in-charge of seeing to it that the school will stay funded.

For the association, the Cebu City unit has Erna Casals for its president, who is also involved in the school as head for academic affairs. She became a member of YLAC in the 1980s and her role is “to ensure that YLAC would continue to keep on being alive, and to recruit new members; to find new benefactors. Although some benefactors have died, there are children of some of the benefactors who have continued to support the school. We have some students on full scholarship and we carefully see to it that they are in real need.”

Josephine del Mar Abueva is head of administrative affairs. She has been with YLAC since 1958. She says her role is “to see what needs to be repaired would get repaired.” The building is, after all, 20 years old, and she sees to it that everything is in good shape. Anything the school needs, she has to approve. Lea M. Rebullido is coordinator of academic and administrative affairs and financial coordinator. Principal of the school is Sr. Catalina P. Superable, MCST (Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus).

The school now has 438 students from grades 1 to 6, with morning and afternoon sessions. It has graduated thousands of students over the years some of them very successful in their chosen careers, among them—Dr. Rio de la Pena, Fr. Russel Ruspecio and Max Rojan, YLAC’s music teacher.

For the YLAC ladies, the school is their way of being true to their mission and vision of “answering the call of God to do His will and bring to others His love as one family, as one community, and as one nation.”