The Pag-asa Social Center Foundation Inc. is a duly registered non-profit non-governmental organization based in Brgy. Iruhin Central, Tagaytay City, Philippines. It is one of the social expressions of the Focolare Movement, a catholic lay association present in 182 countries all over the world. Through this social center, the Movement extends educational, basic medical and nutritional assistance as well other services to 470 children from 275 indigent families (as of September 2011) from different barangays in Tagaytay. It also offers human and spiritual formation to its members with the end in view that they may be able to meaningfully and effectively contribute to their development in becoming self-sufficient, responsible and productive members of their family and the community. Through Pag-asa’s formation programs and the communitarian spirituality that the Focolare community tries to live and irradiate with and among them, it is hoped that each of these children and their families would find a closer relationship with God and with one another and in the process re-acquire their dignity as a humane person.
ABOUT PAG-ASA SOCIAL CENTER FOUNDATION, Inc.
The Pag-asa Social Center Foundation Inc., one of the social expressions of the Focolare Movement , is a non-stock, non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1997. as a response to the widespread poverty experienced by many people in Tagaytay. “Pag-asa” is a Filipino term which means “hope”.
HISTORY | Early Beginnings
The Pag-asa social center was born almost spontaneously as an expression of the Focolare’s commitment to love the neighbor. Through regular barrio visits in the surrounding communities of the verdant hills of Tagaytay, its members came face to face with the harsh realities that afflict the lives of the many families that live there. A particular case was that of a young boy, Ronald, who was at risk of becoming blind due to a progressive eye disease. It was a difficult situation for him. Not only did it threaten to eclipse his future hope to go to school but the possibility of losing his eyesight placed an even greater burden to an already meager income of the family. With the little he could see, at least he was able to help in the daily works either in the field and or in their household.
It was the situation in Manguiat household when about 10,290 kms away, in January 9, 1997, an Italian couple lost their young son, Silvio, after a car accident. It was a tragic loss of a loved one at the prime of his life at 24, one might say. But the couple saw also in this a moment of God’s grace as Natalina, the mother recounts:
“As God has given us our son, he also took him away from us. It was a big loss for our entire family…we miss a lot Silvio’s being energetic and happy! (But) God also had given us one grace. Instead remaining in this suffering, God had opened our hearts to the people who are in need of Love.”
Silvio’s departure continued to draw sympathy from many friends and relatives who wanted to be united with them extending spiritual as well as financial support. With what they received, they asked themselves: “What can be done with this money? How can this be useful to the others?” It was then that Natalina remembered her brother who was then in the Focolare’s small town called Mariapolis Peace in Tagaytay, Philippines. Aware of the situation of the many children in need around the Mariapolis Peace, she “understood that finally… (she has)… found a way to use the money…” they received after his death. This became then the Providence that would make possible the eye operation and eventually the schooling of Ronald and hundreds of others after him.
At almost the same time, the Focolare started supporting children of families in need of the area by providing them health, educational, and livelihood assistance along with human and spiritual formation for children and families—the local people who were to become the first members of the Pag-asa Social Center. Thanks to the assistance made available by the “Support-at-a-distance ” program of the Focolare’s New Families Movement and through the help of many friends local and foreign, these children and families of Pag-asa could now hope for a better future.
From its humble beginnings of handful volunteers, teachers and children, using the stockroom of a carpentry shop, the Pag-asa Social Center has grown. It now has 35 staff members and has acquired the entire building where it all started while a variety of facilities were added to serve the needs of its members better.
• At present (September 2011), the Pag-asa Center is taking care of 470 children ranging from 4-21 years of age, from 275 indigent families living in different barangays (villages) within Tagaytay City. They are sponsored by friends and members of the Focolare Movement and by other sponsors from all over the world.
• The staff of Pag-asa consists of local and foreign regular workers and volunteer youth and seminarians of the Focolare, including parents of our adoptions with some working full-time while others part time for a period of six months to a year.
• Also assisting the staff in its contact with the children and their families are some mothers who act as area coordinators for Pag-asa. Mothers also give their contributions as cooks, teachers’ assistants and maintenance workers on a voluntary basis.