The 2017 CEAP National Convention

[Closing Remarks in the 2017 CEAP National Convention]

CEAP Closing 2017

At the end of the 2017 National Convention, allow me to say:  In the CEAP we have over the years learned that to strengthen our Communio we must work together through a deeper appreciation of our Catholic identity in the communio of our schools, in the communio our regions, in our national communio.  Much of this work is managed by the National Board and National Secretariat, but it succeeds only through a shared mission binding us together in our Communio.  This is a shared mission to which we must all consent.  And so at this point, I would like to hear from you loud and clear:

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves anew to building and sustaining the Catholic Communio in our schools, our regions, our national CEAP, our national community, but now especially in Mindanao?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to be guided by the Philippine Catholic School Standards in Basic Education and help in the formulation of the PCSS for Higher Education?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves in all our vulnerability to a culture of peace in all our schools, to religious freedom, and to a deepening of our faith in dialogue with other faiths?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to work against war, to work against violent extremism, to work against discrimination and exclusion, and all forms of social injustice?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to contribute to the rebuilding of Marawi, but more urgently, to rebuilding the broken relations we have with Muslim Mindanao?  Do we commit ourselves in all our vulnerability – also in using the Mindanao Sulu Multi-Strand Timeline –  to healing our memories of conflict, hatred, killing, and death and to asking for forgiveness?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to volunteering for or supporting volunteers for service in the name of peace, education, compassion and reconciliation?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves before our God of Life to a culture of life, to the protection of life from all violations of life be this from international terrorism, international drug cartels, the misuse of police power by the State, our even through the misuse of power in our fraternities through hazing?

As a grace of  this 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves anew to support our Communio, but to support especially our 900 small and struggling schools through effective advocacy with our legislators and government officials, effective networking with our educational partners, but also through support of our new Kapatirang Kamagong.

We close this convention then in gratitude for the many graces we have acknowledged and which call us to building and sustaining true communities of life today in the Philippines, true Communio impelled by the Spirit of our Teacher, Jesus Christ.

We close this convention truly grateful for your active participation in it.

But are also truly grateful for all those from the City of Davao, the PNP, and from different schools in DACS Region XI.   During this Convention, we have been under the special protection not only of our God but of the Davao City Administration and PNP.  Thank you to all our speakers, leaders of our concurrent sessions, the Liturgical leaders, choir members, Mass servers, prayer leaders, sponsors, exhibitors, communications experts, nurses, doctors, secretaries, security agents, traffic enforcers, ushers, usherettes, drivers, teachers and administrators!  Of course our deep gratitude to our Executive Director, Allan Arrellano, Mary Ann Cruz and the other members of the CEAP National Secretariat for all the work they did to make this national convention a success.

Finally, special thanks and congratulations to the 180 gifted students from the University of the Immaculate Concepcion, Holy Cross College, and Ateneo de Davao University for the awesome opening salvo of ethnic dances in celebration of our Communio in Mindanao on Day One!  May the memory of their youthful energy and joy in dancing-communio inspire us as we work specially nationwide towards deepened Communio with Mindanao!


[President’s Report, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines]

CEAP Pres Report 2017After the successful celebration of our 75th anniversary last year in Cebu, when the Board elected me President, we decided to re-chart the direction of the CEAP through a strategic plan to  cover the next 5 years.  This would include marking of CEAP’s 80th year, but especially the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.

The Board decided to reaffirm the vision of CEAP, namely:

A world transformed, a Philippines renewed by people educated in the principles of Communio and Service as taught and lived by Our Lord Jesus Christ and shaped by the missionary mandate of the Catholic Church.

We nonetheless re-phrased our three-fold mission, namely:

First, to promote solidarity among member schools through Catholic EducationSecond, to foster inclusive and transformative  Catholic Education

Second, to foster inclusive and transformative  Catholic Education

Third, to serve as steadfast and effective catalyst of change through education in the differe­nt dimensions of human life.

Within the short period given to me, I would like to highlight some of our major activities and accomplishments during the year guided by this three-fold mission:

Mission 1 – To promote solidarity among member schools through Catholic Education

Mission 1 deals with promoting solidarity among member schools through Catholic education. We are schools.  We are Catholic schools.  We are Catholic schools together in Community

Guided by this mission, we have conducted a series of strategic planning sessions to realign the program of activities of the commissions through the regional representatives’ summits with those of the National Board. We have assisted the regions in conducting these planning sessions.

Aside from this, we undertook the bridge our small mission schools with potential benefactors by: 1. forming a Council of Advocates (COA) that will work with the CEAP Board as a consultative Committee; 2. undertaking fund-raising and networking activities. Later on, Br. Dennis will introduce to you the members of this council;  tomorrow, we will also formally launch the ‘Kapatirang Kamagong’ during the Opening Assembly.

As we assisted the different CEAP regions and our small struggling schools, we also worked together with our long standing partner, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) and our new partner, the Philipippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) towards educational reform. During the last eight months of CEAP’s leadership in COCOCPEA, we initiated three historic rounds of conversations between COCOPEA and PASUC to articulate and agree on a framework of cooperation between public and private HEIs. From these conversations, we pushed lawmakers hard to accept the constitutional complementarity between public and private schools. The result was the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education  (RA 10931) which recognizes this complementarity between public and private HEIs and so also provides funds for private schools through the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) and the Tertiary Education Loan Fund.  This is still very much a work in progress, and in the coming years we have yet to work hard to see that it is properly funded.  But with the lobbying that the different CEAP board members and superintendents did with their legislators in congress, we allowed public money to flow into our private schools and won representation for the private sector on the Unifast Board through COCOPEA.  In solidarity with each other we won a better future for Catholic education.

We are all aware that the Philippines is constantly harmed by natural and man-made calamities.  Through your graciousness, we were able to collect funds to assist those in badly hit areas.

We wrote to you for support of those affected by the typhoons in Northern Luzon and the earthquake in Northern Mindanao. The funds collected from your response reached more than Php 700,000. CEAP disbursed Php 1.3 Million to many affected schools.

The armed conflict in Mindanao specifically in Marawi shocked us all and to date is still on-going. We participated in the multi-sectoral consultation for Bangon Marawi convened by the Bishops Ulama Conference.  In this context the National Advocacy Commission initiated a drive for prayer and reflection based on the prayer of St. Francis,  and with it a fund-drive to help the evacuees from Marawi. To date, we were able to collect Php 1.2 Million from our member schools and have disbursed portions of these to a program of feeding and caring for children evacuees in Marawi schools. This program is managed personally by Fr. Ben Nebres, with several other groups contributing manpower and resources.

On a lighter note, we have been existing for 76 years now and our member schools have never celebrated a day especially dedicated to CEAP. The Board, during the strategic planning decided that this year, we resolved to promote our solidarity by celebrating CEAP Day every first Monday of February.

Mission 2 – To foster inclusive and transformative Catholic education. For education to be inclusive, it must be able to bring in students who would normally be excluded from education through poverty, discrimination, race, gender, and the like. To be transformative, Catholic education transform, first, the school community and, second, the community that the school serves.

In CEAP, we do not want any member school sidelined. We believe in the ripple effect of delivering quality education irrespective of culture, race, religion and the like. Thus, we have embarked on programs and activities that promote deeper understanding of the curriculum as transformative.

We held NBEC K to 12 summits across the archipelago. These summits were well attended by school heads and administrators; they addressed opportunities, concerns and challenges of private schools in implementing the senior high school program.

Moreover, ReTEACH was carried out to equip teachers with classroom-based research and formative assessment tools. Unto a wider range of training coverage, CEAP-NBEC is partnering with the Private Educational Assistance Committee (PEAC) for a fortified regional roll-out of Re-TEACH. During this National Convention, we will sign a MOA with PEAC, represented by its Executive Director, Ms. Doris Ferrer, to systematize the implementation of RETEACH in all the regions this coming summer.

We are schools.  But we are Catholic schools.  We should not forget the Catholic education component of our second mission, which is at the heart of their being transformative. The Philippine Catholic Schools Standards Coordinating Council (PCSS) conducted trainings to ensure that our member schools have a good grasp of the standards as the PCSS was formally implemented this year in basic education.

Meanwhile, hard work is has commenced on the PCSS for Higher Education.  Today, we will have the commissioning program for the PCSS Higher Education Technical Working Group.

There is also the Philippine Conference for New Evangelization (PCNE).  The CEAP-National Christian Formation Commission has accepted the request of Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to work with the Office for the Promotion on New Evangelization in organizing the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization.  New Evangelization is at the core of Catholic transformative education.

We now go to Mission 3 –  To serve as steadfast and effective catalysts of change through education in the different dimensions of human life Pursuant to this mission, we have the JEEPGY programs – Justice and Peace, Ecological Integrity, Engaged Citizenship, Poverty Reduction, Gender Equality and Youth Empowerment – as our platform for engagement.

Given the very challenging peace and order situation in Mindanao this last year,

Justice and Peace, involving inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, took the forefront of the JEEPGY programs. Because of the Marawi Crisis, the National Convention itself was re-worked to insure that we meet our responsibilities in our Communio with our Muslim sisters and brothers beset by terrorism, violent extremism and war.

In this context, our Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) started three years ago in partnership with the Ateneo de Davao University and the PEAC, took special significance.  Teachers and students in the Madaris (Islamic schools) and their communities in Maguindanao, Cotabato and Basilan are deeply grateful to CEAP for the programs undertaken to assist student learning and teacher formation. This has included recently formation in Compassionate Leadership.

As Atty. Masuhud Alamia, Executive Director of the ARMM, will point out in her keynote address, we have also considered how we can help ARMM schools through a series of formal conversations between the CEAP and the DepED, the ARMM and the Bureau of Madrasah Education of the ARMM.  Being an organization of Catholic educators, CEAP can best help ARMM by helping it improve its educational delivery, still the most challenged in the country. We will ask you in this convention how your school might join in this effort.

There were other fora held towards promoting peace. In coordination with WE Act 1325, the Center for Peace Education of Miriam College and Pax Christi-Pilipinas, we conducted student fora on “Challenging War and Prejudice as Pathways to Peace” in Regions 1 and 8 with the objectives of giving an update on the current peace processes; describing how embracing diversity can aid the peace process in Mindanao; and sharing the teachings of the Catholic Church in relation to peace, solidarity and nonviolence.

In addition, a national seminar-workshop on Nonviolence dubbed, “Blessed are the Peacemakers: Re-committing to Jesus’ Nonviolence” was conducted on May 17, 2017 at the CEAP National Office. This seminar-workshop which we co-sponsored with the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, Pax Christi Pilipinas, and the Center for Peace Education of Miriam College, aimed to engage the faculty-participants in a conversation about Gospel Nonviolence and its relevance to our country and the world today. It also presented several nonviolent strategies available for us to use. 11 out of the 17 CEAP regions were represented in this seminar-workshop.

A very concrete contribution to the Peace Process that CEAP has undertaken this year with the generous funding of the World Bank and the Australian government is the Mindanao-Sulu Multi-Strand Timeline. This 1.5 X 6 meter infographic timeline aims to develop and promote a basic and common understanding of Mindanao history, politics, economy, culture and ecology, in the service of the struggle for a shared peace and development of Mindanao and the rest of the country.

Much of the conflict in Mindanao continues because of our lack of understanding of the different cultures, histories, problems, and aspirations of the diverse groups in Mindanao, and the persistence of mindsets that maintain colonial biases and discriminatory practices to a large extent committed by the Christian majority against the Muslim and indigenous peoples.

In this search for this shared reading of reality, our schools play a crucial role in shaping the minds and hearts of the young. We are challenged to seriously review and evaluate how far and to what extent our schools have been repositories of biases against marginalized groups by excluding them or misrepresenting them.

To address this, the CEAP through the inspiration of Project Director, Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, produced the Mindanao-Sulu Multi-strand Timeline (MSMT) in consultation with:

  • The National Historical Commission of the Philippines,
  • The National Commission for Culture and the Arts,
  • The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,
  • The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos,
  • The Bangsamoro Development Agency,
  • The Mindanews,
  • The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
  • And the Department of Education

Presentations of this Mindanao Sulu Timeline, ready for use this school year which can be readily downloaded from the CEAP website.

When news of the immanent change of the Philippine Constitution towards Federalism through a Constituent Assembly came last week in the context of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Board  decided to include a special session on this important topic after the concurrent sessions of this convention on Day 2.  You ae invited to register for this..

Finally,  to ensure that our CEAP member-schools are guided on how to integrate the JEEPGY themes in the whole school system, the Programs Committee of CEAP, headed by our Vice President, Fr. Elmer G. Dizon, gathered for a 2-day writeshop to draft the JEEPGY Manual. The JEEPGY Manual which contains the fundamentals of each pillar program and its biblical foundation, references to the PCSS standards and benchmarks, sample lessons and activities, a checklist of laws and policies to ascertain the school’s compliance with legally-required programs relating to JEEPGY will be subjected for validation on November 8-10this year at the JEEPGY National Congress at Miriam College.

It has been a rich and challenging year.  We have mentioned many activities undertaken under our three-fold mission.   The most important work, however, happens in your schools, day by day, where you work hard to keep your schools functioning and you lead the communio in your schools through education and personal witness to genuine self transformation and the transformation of the local and national community.  It is here where together we hope to truly bring about:

A world transformed, a Philippines renewed by people educated in the principles of Communio and Service as taught and lived by Our Lord Jesus Christ and shaped by the missionary mandate of the Catholic Church.

May this be our humble contribution to the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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