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PHILIPPINES: Three Salesian Schools Take Part in Sports Festival Highlighting Student Skills

(MissionNewswire) Three Salesian-run schools located in the Negros Island Region of the Philippines held a sports festival at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Victorias City January 8-10. Called “O.N.E. In Juan”, the three-day event brought together participants from the Don Bosco Technical Institute, the St. Louis-Don Bosco School in the City of Dumaguete and St. John’s Institute (Hua Ming) in the City of Bacolod.

According to statements made by Father Reechee Espiritu, a Salesian administrator, in a recent Sun Star newspaper article about the festival, the name of the event derived from an acronym for One Negros Encounter, a celebration of the unification of two Negros provinces through the establishment of the NIR (Negros Island Region) or Region 18. “Juan” refers to St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians.

Father Espiritu also noted that the festival was responsible for the recent partnership between St. John’s Institute in Bacolod and the Salesians of Don Bosco of the South Province. The sports festival worked to foster unity and camaraderie among the three Salesian educational institutions and showcased the talents and skills of participants through various sporting and recreational events. Games began shortly after the opening ceremonies and activities on January 8 and were followed by friendly sports competitions. The event closed with a Catholic mass and dinner for the athletes.

“Throughout the Philippines, Salesian missionaries offer a variety of educational and social development programs for youth, many with an emphasis on recreation and sports activities,” says Father Mark Hyde, the executive director of Salesians Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The goal is to provide the opportunities necessary to gain an education and skills training to break the cycle of poverty and retain long-term employment.”

Salesian missionaries across the Philippines incorporate sports programs into their traditional educational activities. The Madridejos Football Club of Cebu Province, Philippines, recently extended its programs to Bantayan Island and donated soccer balls to Salesian elementary and high school students and those attending Salesian youth programs there. The soccer program is part of the rehabilitation and rebuilding assistance provided by Salesian missionaries since typhoon Yolanda devastated much of the country in 2013. The football club has helped many young people remain in school, and for many players, their skills on the field have granted them access to scholarships that have allowed them to continue their studies at the university level.

“Sports programs teach youth both on and off the field,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Learning and playing team sports encourages leadership skills as well as teaches youth to work as part of a team. Students also learn important social skills and have opportunities for growth and maturity.”

More than one quarter of the population of the Philippines lives in poverty, according to UNICEF. Poverty is most severe and widespread in rural areas where 80 percent of the population–close to 88 million people–make their home. The poorest Filipinos are indigenous populations, small-scale farmers who cultivate land received through agrarian reform, landless workers and fisherman. In addition, poverty rates are higher for women than men.

Illiteracy and high levels of unemployment contribute to the elevated poverty rate. With more than 11 million out-of-school youth in the country and drop-out rates doubling as children reach secondary school, access to education becomes a critical step in breaking the cycle of poverty.



Sun Star – Salesian schools in NIR to hold sportsfest

UNICEF – Philippines