February 21, 2011
Centre of Hope
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—A sign at the Mountain Maid Training Centre are inscribed the words, “Every time you buy our products, you send a girl to college . . . build Christian communities . . . train them to acquire skills.”
The Centre is run by the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) and has turned into a primary one-stop-shop for most residents and visitors alike due to its delicious class A products. Foreigners are gratified no end that the money they part support the Centre’s pupils, runaways from problematic homes and ethnic youth from destitute communities.
RGS was founded in 1912 by Irish nuns.
During this writer’s visit, the youth busied themselves maintaining product quality of jams, pastries and other sweets as they expertly mixed ingredients of fruits, sugar, milk and honey. At the end of the day, they retired for spiritual formation and team-building.
Staff members I talked with revealed that in 1975, the Centre was just producing only three kinds of jam products made from rhubarb, strawberry and blueberry. Slowly but surely, they made headway by adjusting to the seasons whenever various fruits appear so there would be less waste in effort and time in production capacity. Now, it has expanded to producing various fruit jams and other sweet pastries that have become world-known.
Foreign dignitaries on working visits to the city wind up their functions by visiting the Centre.
The Centre was able to produce chutney with imported spices sent by other RGS nuns from around the world like Hongkong, Singapore and Ireland.
Talent of the nuns at concocting the correct amount of ingredients and timing of cooking is truly amazing, the fact that most of them never cooked during their pre-nunnery days although they did observe their parents cook and preserve food.
One thread that binds these nuns is that in their distinct calling, they have toiled with women in difficult circumstances. They have come across solo parents, teenage mothers, women in armed conflict situation, victims of domestic violence that their devotion to catechist movement is solid.
“Think positive” is the motto of RGS nuns who look hale and hearty — what with the highly nutritious food products churned out by the Centre.
Before the pupils repair for bed as darkness descends, they are heard to whisper this prayer, Thank You for the wonders of myself, thank You for the wonder of Your works.”
This provides explanation to their eternal patience and spunk in initiatives great or small — and the reality that they produce results.