The Franciscan Connection
Many parishioners and graduates of the Holy Trinity Academy of Balic-balic, Sampaloc, Manila recall proudly the contribution of the Salesian Sisters or the Daughters of Mary Help of Christian, the sister congregation of the Don Bosco Fathers, in the growth of the school. If fact, many still believe even today that the Salesians were the first female religious congregation to be associated with the Holy Trinity Academy. However, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Mother of God, has the distinction of being the first congregation to help the little school on the hills of Balic-balic.
In the beginning of school-year 1948-49, St. Joseph College along E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City, showed interest in the Holy Trinity Academy. Upon invitation of Fr. Bernardo Torres, Sister Agnes Encarnacion (who later became the first Filipina Regional Superior of the Franciscan sisters) and Sister Pudenciana (Ma. Carmen) Martinez were assigned to the school. Fr. Torres had the sisters fetch by a jeep at 7:00am and brought back to St. Joseph by around 3:00pm in the afternoon.
Sister Agnes was born on September 24, 1910 in Ilocos Sur. Her father, Hipolito Encarnacion, died when she was 1 1/2 years old. Her mother, Carlota Andaya, a weaver, lived to be 102 years old. Sister Agnes remembers her upbringing as being very strict. As early as 4:00am, she and her mother prayed the Rosary prior to attending the 5:00 am mass. She entered the convent in 1930 when she was 19 years old only. She found teaching and parish work very much thus she volunteered to help the parish of Balic-balic.
Image: Sister Francis and Mrs. Trinidad Alfiler Domingo standing beside her. Fr. Bernardo Torres and Mr. Acosta (seated right). Photo courtesy of Lucina Ramos-Reyes Family.
Sister Ma. Carmen Pudenciana Martinez also had a teaching background. She was a public school teacher for ten years before she entered the convent during the Japanese occupation of Manila. Sister Agnes was her novice mistress Agnes at the time Sister Pudenciana joined the congregation.
Aside from teaching, both sisters helped out in parish church affairs – sometimes, even administering baptism when the priests are not around. They would also conduct family visits as part of their educational mission. Unfortunately, the sisters left after school-year 1949-50 with Sister Agnes saying that their mission has ended. It would be seven years later when another female religious congregation would arrive and touch the hearts of the parishioners of Balic-balic.