Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS, Part 3


RGS Sr Borbon NJ Viehland

Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS / NJ Viehland Photos

“It’s a matter of prioritizing, planning. The big resource is attitude. One cannot allow herself to get too bogged down by the many demands.”

Q & A Sr. Borbon continued from Part 2 : Religious life and vocation 

With all your assignments, where do you live?

When I’m in Manila, at night I stay in Ruhama. When I have a meeting that reaches until night time, I do not go there and sleep in RGS Provincial house. In a week I stay at Ruhama about 3-4 nights. But I find time within the week to stop by there. I also talk to the girls every now and then.

The past few weeks I was in the Visayas. We have a big project in Samar to provide boats to fishermen, houses, there is parish work to do and advocacy for ecological justice. This is not a ministry of our congregation but a special project in the sense that typhoon Yolanda suddenly came about and we had to respond.

I am the one coordinating it since the context of this action is within our ecological justice ministry. I am there at least five days a month. This last trip, I arrived here at the end of the month, so I rushed my report because if I don’t submit one for the month, I will not get my budget.

When you were in school work, did you ever imagine you would be doing these lines of work?

Before my graduation from my Masters in Educational Administration in 1996 in Ateneo, I was already in the Euphrasian residence as program coordinator for the youth services that we offered in the past. I was there for two years and I enjoyed it very much.

I had 24 girls with me who were behaviorally disturbed. It felt like there were a hundred! I was very energized by it because I think that’s a passion that I have as a Good Shepherd Sister.

The young women were from broken families and some youths who needed help in dealing with issues of being adopted as children. I found that my training in education and my own personal interest in this kind of work helped to prepare me – in terms of my way of managing, my way of handling and dealing with people, my way of listening, my way of networking with people. After that assignment I was asked to teach in our school in Batangas. I taught for several years and eventually I became the dean. I also studied for a PhD in Educational Leadership and Managment from DLSU. I graduated in 2008.

Did that interest in your younger days point you to RGS?

I graduated from college at 20 years old then at 22 I entered the congregation in 1989. I was in high school when I told myself I will become like one of the sisters of the Good Shepherd school I went to in Batangas. I watched the sisters. I was amused by the way they dealt with us and I wanted to be one of them. I told myself then that one of these days I will be like them.

Before then I taught for two years and as a classroom teacher I wanted so much to listen to the students and I acted on what they would tell me. For example, when they confided that their parents were quarreling, I called for the students and asked them more about their days.

I did not know then that that was already preparation or part of my vocation. I don’t know if that’s my personality at that time. I just wanted to listen more and assist more.

How do you manage all these tasks and look so unfazed?

It’s a matter of prioritizing, planning. The big resource is attitude. One cannot allow herself to get too bogged down by the many demands. There are many things I still have to do, like writing up funding proposal for Ruhama. But first, I am going on a five-day retreat. That helps me also.



Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS, Part 2

NJ Viehland Photos

Counseling room at Ruhama Womens Center renovated for free by UP Diliman Interior Design department graduates for a “healing atmosphere” / NJ Viehland Photos

Q & A Sr. Borbon continued from Part 1

Part 2 – Program set up, sustainability,

    “We believe that if God wants our program, he will be the one to help us” – Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS

How have referring groups helped with resources ?

Parenting Foundation is an NGO that referred to us a girl. She had her own psychotherapist. We asked them please continue it because we have no capacity for psychotherapy. That’s why I’m networking with CICM hoping they can give it to us for free because residents cannot do without psychotherapy. A lot of issues come out. Every now and then the group gives food, money. We assume the expenses for the girl’s living. There are also lay friends and our people from own network who come and give voluntary services, like value formation, health care, help from mothers.  

What’s your strategy for funding support?

My ambition is to get donations given by major benefactors. If I can just get one more regular substantial benefactor and then get psychotherapy for 15 people, that would be very sustainable. Our own Good Shepherd lay affiliates give food or host a Christmas party. Those help too. Eventually I would need to exert more effort to ensure sustainability of our program.

Do you rescue women and children from nightclubs, cybersex dens or abusive homes?

We do not go ourselves because we do not have personnel for this so we work with agencies that do this and provide the shelter and services for the victims they rescue. We also do not go into bars and nightclubs because of lack of personnel and because we do not have room for any more clients. If we did, we would probably go out and do this. 

Who comprise Ruhama’s staff ?

We have a live-in social worker, live-in house parent/cook and I’m acting as program coordinator. I have a consultant social worker also, and volunteers on a daily basis.

The only male volunteers I accepted are seminarians of Congregation of Jesus and Mary because it was founded by Jean Eudes -the same founder as ours, so they know our charism, they know our apostolate for the sexually abused.

It’s hard to accept just any volunteer especially the males. We have to watch against physical contact. I screen strictly who can be there as volunteers if they are male. I talk to their formators to make it clear that the girls are sexually abused and are sometimes longing for sex. I ask them if a girl embraces you, what would you do?

Contributed by Ed Gerlock

Woman keeps eyes on the street for possible customers outside her motel room in Manila – Contributed by Ed Gerlock contact:

How do you select your clients?

We have an intake procedure. When the girls and young women come, they are asked to fill out forms and our social worker interviews them. If she is referred and not a walk-in client, we ask the referring institution or person to give us a case study report. 

Where do the walk-in clients come from?

Priests, government agencies, and other people know us. One of our girls came to our center after a priest saw her wandering around outside their school. He was concerned that she could be trafficked so he called us. We couldn’t expect the priest to give us a case study so our own social worker interviewed her and researched her background, where she came from. We have many of such “at-risk” cases. We have 3 sisters in the group. Two of them were abused by the father. If we take the two sisters, the one left behind could be abused too.

Are relatives of clients allowed to visit?

Yes, but we make sure first that the contact with family members promotes the residents’ healing. If they will not help in the healing we don’t allow it. For example if the father is the perpetrator of abuse, of course we don’t allow him to visit. If the mother does not believe the girl’s report that the father is the perpetrator, we also do not allow the mother to visit.

We don’t immediately allow communication with family among clients who are referred to us. We research and validate information first and try to know as much as we can about their history, especially of their case. Our social worker goes to find out and puts in her recommendation.

What about spiritual formation programs?

We also have spiritual formation programs or catechism. Non-Catholics are not obliged to join, but in our experience, other Christian clients want to join. We welcome them into the classes and sessions. They’re not allowed to receive Communion, but if they say they want to be baptized, we assist in their preparation.

Do you accept donations from other faith groups?

Yes. We don’t accept from those who are giving funds from mining, gambling, of course we don’t want to accept from PDAF (pork barrel funds) because we have to be consistent in our stand. We have to be very clear about upholding our values and not sacrifice them just to carry out the program. We believe that if God wants our program, he will be the one to help us and we have proven that. We came up with that guideline on unacceptable funds only about three years ago. 

What more needs to be done in terms of managing the Province’s ministries?

We just finished our planning for the next six years and one of our thrusts is to consolidate the Province’s efforts in terms of trafficking, migration, and related ministries so that our response will be a corporate response based on stronger networking. 

We could also streamline all these existing projects and programs, maybe prioritize them in terms of our resources, especially human resources. We are strengthening our lay partners as we have fewer active nuns today.

Part 3 Religious Life


Remembering Good Shepherd Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian, “hero and martyr”

Remembering today on her birthday, Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian.

Born into an affluent family, May 4, 1937, Sr. Consuelo died in 1983 with three other RGS sisters on their way to a meeting in Cebu, Central Philippines, when their ship, the MV Cassandra, sank.

Wall of Remembrance Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani Foundation FB

She has since been honored by Bantayog ng mga Bayani [Monument of Heroes] , a foundation that honors people and their efforts to free the Philippines from the “dictatorship” of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Read why her name is etched on the Bantayog’s Wall of Remembrance when you click the link Bantayog ng Mga Bayani: Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian.

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (also known as Religious of the Good Shepherd or Good Shepherd Sisters) is an international congregation of religious women in the Roman Catholic Church, numbering almost 4,000, present in 70 countries in five continents .

Learn more about RGS in the Philippines, click Religious of the Good Shepherd – Philippines