by Mrs. Arlene Tordecilla-Ferrolino
Successful doctors, pastors, teachers, businessmen and other professionals from all corners of the globe gathered at AUP on Thursday, February 28 through Sunday, March 3, 2019. Greeted by banners heralding their grand reunion, it was a special time set aside to remember, to reconnect and to revisit a time in their past, to experience again their years on this campus where they came together 40 years before to begin their college years.
Members of the first freshman class of then Philippine Union College descended on the campus for a weekend of reunion activities which included a Thursday evening banquet, a health and wellness seminar on Friday and full Sabbath services from Vespers through Sabbath School and the Hour of Worship, The group of nearly 60 alumni from the Pioneers Class participated in a special luncheon followed by a baptism of 4 precious souls which was the result of an evangelistic crusade also sponsored by the Pioneers. They spent the afternoon touring the campus which afforded them special photo opportunities as they were able to see the results of 40 years of progress. A solemn sundown service was then capped with a dinner and social time for this group of enthusiastic classmates now in their late 50’s and early 60’s.
Flashback to 40 years ago when this same set of young high school graduates arrived at the new, nearly desolate campus of PUC Silang, then a distant and provincial location. A bumpy jeepney ride on the narrow, dusty pothole-ridden main road to Santa Rosa or up the hill to Tagaytay were the only links to the civilization of a city. Only a few buildings existed in strategic points of the campus of this budding college—just a couple of classrooms, dormitories, the cafeteria and the graduate school, the motorpool and a few faculty homes. Sugarcane fields and pineapple plantations marked the rolling landscape with a few lush mango and coconut trees when a total of 110 students from educational institutions near and far came to the school to seek higher education.
They were bright-eyed and eager to begin their classes as new college students and little did they know that their existence would carry such great significance in the amazing history of this school. It was this group of young men and women who were the first occupants of the new Modulars and the newly erected and freshly painted Sampaguita Hall, the first to dine in the new cafeteria. Their feet were the first to traverse the sidewalks and, yes, even the unpaved trails that connected the motor pool to the cafeteria, the dorms to the gym and PIC which were both still under construction at the time.
What are now stately and mature ipil-ipil and acacia trees were mere saplings planted by the caring hands of the Pioneers who participated in two hours of work education every day before they began their classes. The work-study program yielded countless hours of valuable manpower which helped shape and construct the sprawling campus into what it is today. Where there are now concrete and asphalt roads were once dusty paths on sunny days or muddy dirt roads on rainy days for these Pioneers to plod. There were not many vehicles on campus 40 years ago. The modes of transportation back then were just a few cars and mopeds whose engines would break the stillness of the then quiet and tranquil rural atmosphere.
Undoubtedly, this unique, adventurous, trailblazing and historically special pioneering class was divinely placed at this specific time in PUC/AUP’s timeline. As young college freshman then and now, 40 years later, as leaders and solid workers in their chosen fields of ministry, medicine, education, business, nursing and allied health among others, it is clearly evident that the years they spent as Pioneers has contributed greatly to the solid foundation of character building, the tenacity to become high-achievers and the desire to be of greater service. On ever onward, the Pioneers have gloriously gone, as they have truly and most certainly exemplified the school’s motto.
Gratefully blessed, proudly inspired by their history and enthusiastically eager to continue their legacy, the Pioneers Class was responsible for the construction of Pioneers Hall and will soon announce their next project for the continuing advancement of their alma mater.