Like many of God’s works, the Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. has very simple beginnings.
In point of history, on June 25, 1934 a group of ex-alumnae of Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion formed themselves into a “ Conferencias de San Vincente de Paul.” They aimed at founding an institution to house the poor or the abandoned of Cebu City. The group which included Señora Carmen de Sotto, Doña Felisa Villamor, Doña Felicisima Jerez, Doña Esperanza Velez and Doña Mena Escaño were guided and inspired y Rev. Fr. Jose Garcia, C.M. and two Daughters of Charity, Sor Concepcion Almenara and Sor Francisca de Toro. Pooling their personal resources, they were able to rent a building in P. Burgos Street just behind the Cebu Metro politan Catheral. When the institution opened its door for the first time, it admitted twelve paralytic and blind persons and later, some abandoned babies, orphans boys and girls.
Asilo de la Milagrosa, Incorporated
To acquire its legal existence, the founders deemed it wise to have the institution registered as provided for in the Corporation Law. The institution took the name Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. in honor of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the propagation of whose devotion is entrusted by Our Lady herself to the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The founders, together with the other benefactors who became the incorporators of the Asilo, met and elected the first officers and members of the Board of Directors. Señora Carmed de Sotto had the distinction of having been elected as the first president of Asilo with Doña Feliza Villamor as the secretary. The board members were Doña Felicisima Jerez, Doña Esperanza Velez, Doña Mena Escaño, Doña Anunciacion de Borromeo, Doña Pilar Vaño de Escaño, Doña Antonia Cui, Doña Julia de Martinez, Doña Fidela Pelaez and Doña Maria de Aboitiz. For the first two years the Asilo was under the administration of these generous ladies. In June 1936, the Daughters of Charity formally took over the administration with Sor Socorro Lavandera as the first Sister Superior.
Construction and World War II
After some years of its existence, the rented building proved too small for the many applicants who sought admission to the Asilo. There was a need for a new and bigger building to house the ever increasing number of the poor and needy. A fund raising campaign was launched throughout Cebu and Bohol and with the help of the prominent and generous families of Cebu among whom are the Aboitiz, Velez, Escaño, Vaño, Cuenco and many others whose generosity is well recorded in heaven. Enough funds were collected to enable the construction of a Php 100,000.00 building on a lot in San Jose de la Montana, Mabolo donated by the late Archbishop Gabriel Reyes. The building was inaugurated and occupied by the inmates on September 21, 1941. But then their occupancy was cut short by the war. On April 11, 1942 the invading Japanese armies forced the Sisters and wards out of Asilo and were made to occupy some houses in Bario Camputhaw. Said houses were owned by Señora Charing Gonzales who with her family had evacuated to a safer place. The Japanese Occupation was the darkest period in the history of Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. during that time the Sisters as well as the wards lived on Kangkong leaves, a little rice and corn. In spite of those hardships none of the wards died during those trying and gloomy years. Ill-clad, malnourished and sick, they all survived the ordeal.
When the American forces liberated Cebu, the Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. which was then turned to a Japanese garrison was burned on March 26, 1945. Thus the building which was constructed out the generosity of so many people and hardly occupied by the poor for whom it was intended was reduced to ashes. After peace was restored in Cebu, the family of Señora Charing Gonzales returned from evacuation. The Sisters and wards of the Asilo were again homeless. It was at this point when the ever generous Doña Maria Aboitiz offered a lot where the present Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. and the Miraculous Medal School stand. The Americans, under the leadership of Colonel Rattan, donated their construction materials. The Board of Directors and benefactors of Asilo mobilized the people of Cebu and a modest building was constructed in 1946 to house the wards. Later the war damage and reparation payment was also used in constructing some more needed buildings.
Funding of Projects
The need to have a school within the premises of Asilo surfaced when the children who were mere babies and toddlers at the outbreak of the war came of school age. The lot where the school stands was donated by Doña Mena Escaño. Permits to open the kindergarten class, followed by the primary, elementary and finally the secondary classes, were sought and obtained from the Bureau of Private Schools. Recognition of said classes was promptly given after the BPS officials saw the quality education being given at Asilo whose school is now known as Miraculous Medal School. However, due to financial constraints, the high school department started phasing out during the school year 1979-1980.
The Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. depends heavily on donations and some income generating projects of the wards. The greatest benefactor is the Aboitiz Family who give their regular financial support. There are also many notable families in Cebu who have continuously supported the Asilo. The Rotary and Lions Club, the national government through the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and foreign agencies like Christian Children Fund (CCF) and Holt International known as Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) are also among the benefactors of Asilo.
One of the income generating projects of Asilo which has gained a distinctive mark and favor from its patrons is the Embroidery and Handicraft. Under the tutelage of Sor Clotilde Lapidante, DC. the girls learn hem-stitching and cross-stitch as early as six years old. They are gradually trained in embroidery and the more intricate stages of the craft when they reach their teens.
The Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. as it is today caters to many different needs of our society. The nursery accommodates a maximum of 22 babies at a time, gradually placing out some for adoption to qualified foster families through the MSSD; the day care services which was given full government recognition through the Bureau of Family and Child Welfare to function as a child caring agency; the Miraculous Medal School which gives quality elementary education; the temporary residential care to abandoned orphaned and indigent children from birth up to 18 years of age or until such time that they are self reliant and capable of living in a larger community and lastly, the home of the aged a dream come true on 1984 through the continues and generous benefactors of Asilo.
Awards/Recognition and Contribution to Society
Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. has been the recipient of the following awards evidence of the quality services it renders to its clients – Most Outstanding Institution in Medical and Welfare Services and one of the Best Institution in the Philippines, an award given during the culminating of the International Year of the Child.
One very important contribution of the Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. to the Cebu Community is the semi public church of the Milagrosa which has become a center a religious worship and Marian devotion in Lahug and the surrounding areas, it had been a dream of the Rev. Julio Corres, C.M. then Chaplain of the Asilo and Sor Socorro Lavandera, D.C. to build a shrine to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and thereby spread her devotion.
Doña Esperanza Vda. De Velez donated a laot where the church now stands. There were no funds for the construction, but both Fr. Corres and Sor Socorro were undaunted. With their tenacity of purpose and the determination and the ever ready cooperation of the Cebu Community, donations and contributions trickled in rather slowly but surely, and miracles the church was finished in September 1954 as fulfillment of a dream.
As Asilo de la Milagrosa, Inc. celebrates her jubilee of golden service to the poor of Cebu, she invites all her benefactors, patrons and friends to join her in praise and thanksgiving for the countless benefits and providential care by the Father of the Poor of the wards and beneficiaries of the Asilo. May God reward her generous benefactors with the hundred fold promised to all those who share their goods and themselves with the less fortunate.