Introduction by Ana de Villa – Singson

Contribution from One Class ’70 by Nanette Aquino – Sison

In March 16, 2020, Covid 19 and the hastily-imposed ECQ caused the cessation of life as we knew it.  Gone were the busy throngs, the bustling streets.  With most businesses struggling to stay afloat, with restaurants and malls closing, with public transportation grinding to a halt,  many workers lost their livelihoods.  The fear of  sickness and contamination, the desperation of not knowing where the next meal would come from were palpable and rampant.  Hunger and desolation were everywhere.   

The Covid pandemic continues to rear its ugly head, resurging and evolving seemingly at will. These are the worst of times.  But in these dark times, there are many stories that burn bright against the darkness; stories of unquestioning love and extraordinary generosity.  One of those stories is proudly our own.  It is the story of the Mother Eugenie Community Pantry in San Juan de Nepomuceno Assumption Malibay.  It is a collaboration between our beloved R.A. nuns in Malibay and many alumnae, most especially the High School Class of 1970, a united group that hailed from Herran, Iloilo, San Lorenzo.  This story of love, selflessness, collaboration is told from the lenses of Sr. Lourdes Eugenia Roquino, R.A. of Malibay and the Class of 1970, through the voice of Nanette Aquino – Sison.

When asked about the birthing of the pantry, Sr Lourdes recounted seeing a poster for a nearby community pantry.  Inspired by that poster, the Malibay sisters hastily convened and decided to open a food pantry of their own.  As seed money, they used funds saved from their Solidarity and Charity Budget.  Assumption San Lorenzo pitched in too with Sr. Mary Joseph Conception R.A. sending rice, root crops, eggs and camote.  Sr Bernie Casas, R.A. (who was in Malibay then but is now assigned to Antipolo), beloved friend of many alumnae, worked the phone lines. On April 23, 2021, they opened  their first food pantry.  It stayed open for a breathtaking, heart-pounding 3 minutes!  Sr. Lourdes humorously recalled that the food pantry was completely wiped out even before she could finish her cup of coffee!  The next day saw some improvement, the pantry’s life span extended to 10 minutes!  At this point, the organization skills that our R.A. sisters are famous for, kicked into full gear.  They decided that they would open the gates of San Juan de Nepomuceno School and distribute food within their premises.  They created lines, stepping marks for social distancing, tables would now be manned by nuns and the pantry crew of manangs from the canteen. Barangay tanods were called in to help with peace and order.  To make sure that the bundles would be enjoyed by different people,  they provided entry tickets which were distributed among different barangays and even among  families who live in the  empty tombs in cementeries. Once that entry ticket was presented, the ticket holder could choose from several pre-packed bundles: a pinakbet bundle filled with fresh vegetables or a ginataang bundle  or sometimes, even bundles with dried pusit! The nuns were adamant about focusing on healthy, nutritional food and each basket filled would always have 3 kilos of rice, fresh produce and had an average cost of Php 500 per bundle.  Their gates were  open from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. and up to 400 people would pass through everyday. “The pantry became known, “ said Sr. Lourdes. “SJDN Malibay has a face now.” 

The pantry far outlived expectations.  Opening its doors on April 23, it closed only when the school had to prepare for the resumption of  classes on June 28.  Asked about the secret of their pantry’s longevity, Sr Lourdes, with her usual passion and energy replied, “ We call ourselves the DSWD:  Dedicated Sisters Willing to Dive In!”  Social media played its role too.  Videos and photos of the St Eugenie Community Pantry were posted on Facebook and alumnae from as far as Spain and the US answered the call for donations.  But the greatest reasons for success were the Assumption alumnae, most especially the Class of 1970.  Sr. Lourdes enthused :   “It all began when Sister Bernie texted Marina Magallanes of Class 70….Class 70 was the driving force behind the pantry from May 1- June 5. And even after June 5, the Class of 70 called in other batches, other donors …More than Php 1 million was raised.  We were supposed to end on St Marie Eugenie’s birthday on August 26, but donations are still coming in and the plan is to open up every Saturday until October 1.”

“I’m not an emotional person, but because of this pantry, I have a very  real experience of how God moves the hearts of our Assumption girls.”

Sr. Lourdes and SJDN Malibay express their deepest gratitude to all  alumnae who gave so generously and whole-heartedly. They are especially grateful to Class 70.  Here is their story!


By Nanette Aquino – Sison

Does half a century out of high school blur the lines of social responsibility, so deeply engraved in our hearts and minds by the spirit of our Assumption education; or does it burn with even greater fervor than ever before? 

Fortunately for us, this historic crisis of our time provided a definitive and clear answer to this question asked by the Golden Jubilarians of 2020. 

The answer came when we first heard the desperate cry for help from our Malibay Mission Community on April 2021. Families who lost work and wages due to the pandemic were going hungry. They, who used to barely get by with their limited income as construction workers, tricycle drivers, garbage collectors, jeepney drivers and street vendors came home empty handed as they bore the hunger they had no means to alleviate. The pandemic had ravaged their community with disease and desperation.

When we heard of the suffering so close to us, we acted as one and seized the opportunity to be the true bearers of light and hope. Without  pause, the sisterhoods from AC Herran, Iloilo and San Lorenzo emerged as One Class ‘70! Without hesitation, we each renewed  personal networks of family and friends to source much needed donations of cash and kind.  We prioritized fruits and vegetables sourced from farmers who needed buyers for their produce.  We purchased from rice dealers who lacked the means to sell their grain and egg farmers who welcomed a hand to keep themselves afloat ,  thereby casting a much larger support net to put basic necessities on the tables of families who have been our Assumption Mission Family for decades. 

For the next 39 days, the St. Marie Eugenie Community Pantry became the lifeline and the  main  food source of over 16,000 people in Malibay and its neighboring barangays.  As the need to feed the hungry became more apparent, One Class ‘70’s resolve strengthened.  Through the generosity of our classmates and friends and relatives, we raised a a staggering P1.4 Million  in cash and goods, directly supplying and extending the life of the food pantry.

The soul of Community Pantries that proliferated throughout the country at this time bore the mark of the innate generosity of our people. Countless volunteers came out to help. More importantly, they lived the idea of “taking only what they needed and sharing what they had” with others. On a daily basis we witnessed mothers sharing a can of sardines on the pantry tables as they took home a bag of powdered milk for their baby. As a society, we can only strive to learn from each other, in good times and more so in challenging times.

How fortunate we are that values imbibed in youth, drilled into us as young women, in the mold of Mother Mary and St. Marie Eugenie not only live in us as we age.  I truly believe they are strengthened by introspection, experience, maturity, action, prayer and love. 

The Golden Girls of 2020 , the ONE CLASS ’70. Hailing from Herran, Iloilo and San Lorenzo, these women of great love and generosity were the driving force behind the Marie Eugenie Community Pantry!
“The pantry is alive!” says Sr. Lourdes. Overflowing with healthy vegetables, fruits, rice, eggs, milk, bread, the pantry is testament fo the generosity that beats in the hearts of plaid!


  1. Riz Boncan Marsella

    It was wonderful to read and watch the video about the awesome collaboration between Class 70 and the Assumption Sisters at SJNS on getting the Malibay Community Pantry going and helping hundreds of families in the community.

    • Ana Singson

      Thanks so much, Riz. Glad you enjoyed that. That is such a powerful and inspiring story that truly shows the heart of Assumption alumnae and our RA sisters too! Stay posted for other stories…we update monthly! Stay safe and healthy!

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