On the sweet and solemn morning of May 28, the Xavier Ateneo community has bid farewell to the XUGS Macasandig campus. 

Tributes and prayers were offered to the past and present faculty, staff, administrators, Jesuits, parents, guardians, and pupils of the XUGS Macasandig.

Members of the Xavier Ateneo community offer tributes and prayers to the XUGS Macasandig campus. Photo by Zerton Plaito Dagoc.

“For 50 years, this campus has been the home of the XU Grade School, particularly that of the Macasandig community,” said Dr Dulce Dawang, Xavier Ateneo’s VP for Basic Education in her welcome remarks.

“An important chapter of the XU Grade School is coming to an end,” she said, “however, there is also a whole new chapter that awaits it.”

Dr Dawang is hopeful for the future of the consolidated grade school or “One XUGS,” saying that “Our track record shows that Xavier has filled us with so much confidence that we can readily take on any challenge. … The GS community is indeed a great model of magis, grit, and resilience.

Memories and prayers

Five stations were set up around the XUGS campus and each has been dedicated to a particular group.

“XUGS Macasandig would not have reached Level 3 PAASCU Accreditation without the dedication, commitment, and perseverance of all the teachers it had throughout its 50 years of tireless service to our young learners,”  said Nico Calunia, Assistant Principal for Academics and XUGS alumnus, during his sharing at the first station dedicated to the members of the faculty and staff.

“As we close this campus’ gates, let us remember all the memories we have shared with these grounds,” he said. “XUGS Macasandig has been a trailblazer in its time and we, the teachers and staff, will continue its legacy as we move to our new home.”

While XU Grade School started operations in 1941, it was only in 1970 when it was transferred to Macasanding from the Corrales campus.

In honor of the past and present school administrators, Teacher Hilda Gumanit recounted her experiences under different GS leaderships.

“Let us not also forget the wisdom and spiritual guidance of Fr Leo Pabayo SJ and all other chaplains and Jesuits who inspired us and prompted us to always find God in all things,” Gumanit shared.

“All these were lessons and legacies from our administrators together with their key and middle-level team, which will forever be carved in our hearts and minds.”

The event also paid an homage to the Jesuits who led the XUGS Macasandig, namely, Fr Theodore Daigler SJ (founder), Fr Jorge “George” Hofileña SJ, Fr Leo Pabayo SJ, and Fr Bob Suchan, SJ as well as the lay leaders, namely past principals Flerida Neri, Fatima Paepke, Emmanuel Gomez, Eva Auxilio, and their lay colleagues for the past 50 years.

Messages for the pupils and parents

XUGS Guidance Counselor Jenny Ugat shared at the third station her heartfelt message to the alumni and current pupils of the grade school.

“As your educators and second parents, it is our joy to see our young Ateneans do spontaneous gestures of kindness, doing something good even when no one is watching or even when not being told to,” she said.

“This makes us feel fulfilled that you have inhibited our culture of being men and women for others.”

A thousand paper cranes with hopeful messages, submitted by pupils, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff have adorned the hallways.

“This may be a goodbye, but we are hoping that our children will have a better and new educational environment [in the Pueblo campus],” said Atty Johanna Lawrence Adaza, PTA President of XUGS-Macasandig.

“This move is toward the better and for the good of our children,” she added.  

XUGS Chaplain Fr Frank Savadera SJ gave the final blessings to the Macasandig campus.

“As we travel the roads together, may the good Lord hold us always in the palm of His hands,” Fr Frank shared, quoting an Irish prayer.

One in mind and heart

A statue of St Francis Xavier was uprooted from Macasandig and then installed at the XUGS Pueblo, marking the start of the consolidation of the two campuses.

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A statue of St Francis Xavier was uprooted from Macasandig and then installed at the XUGS Pueblo, marking the start of the consolidation of the two campuses. Photo by Zerton Plaito Dagoc.

Xavier, the university’s patron saint, lived “a life of many transitions” as he traveled to many foreign and unfamiliar shores carrying out the mission of the Society of Jesus.

A Eucharistic celebration capped the program, along with the symbolic transfer of XUGS memorabilia, such as the mace, PAASCU certificates, and trophies.

“For us, consolidation is not only a physical integration of two groups of grade school communities.” Fr Mars Tan SJ, University President, said during his homily.

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In his homily, XU President Fr Mars S Tan SJ hopes for the XU Grade School community to be “one in mind and heart” as the consolidation project starts. Photo by Zerton Plaito Dagoc.

“But more importantly, it is about being one in mind and heart as a grade school community, being inflamed by one Xavier Ateneo vision and mission, sustained by the same Ignatian values and ideals, and bonded together by the same love for our students and pupils.”

The #OneXUGS project forms part of the strategic plan of the university, in line with its educational mission and vision of “becoming a leading ASEAN university forming leaders of character by 2033.”

The consolidated XUGS is now integrated into the XU Basic Education Complex in Pueblo, along with the Preschool, Junior High, and Senior High School.

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