by Nitz E. Nicolas
(In celebration of the 67th Founding Anniversary of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), we are featuring several notable former dormitory residents in our blogsite. Dr. Marie Pearl Cabrera-Francisco’s 17 years stay in the dormitory is indeed notable. We are re-posting her story which was featured in the Second Semester 2015 issue of the Kapatiran Newsletter.
Who would want to stay in a dormitory for students for 17 long years? A student, might spend from four to six years tops,but 17 years?
Believe it or not, a young lady doctor stayed at the dorm of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) called the Hugh Wilson Hall once upon a time.Starting late 1970s, in fact. Actually, she stayed in KKFI a year longer than she did in her hometown, Olongapo City.
No wonder Dr. Marie Pearl Cabrera-Francisco called the Hugh Wilson Hall “my home.” She said sheenjoyed her stay at the dorm immensely all though out for almost two decades.
Dr. Marie Pearl said the canteen’s foodswere like those she her mother prepares at home.Even how the dorm’s house mothers took care of her reminded her of her own mother’s unwavering affection.
She remembered how the house mothers would encourage the dorm residents to study well. Though at times they were strict, the residents knew that it was their way of disciplining them.
She added that at the dorm, inter-rooming was prohibited to ensure privacy among students, especially during at night. The house mothers would always see to it that everybody was in their respective rooms during bed time.
Visiting hours lasts only for an hour starting at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. After that visitors were not allowed anymore.
She was a freshman Psychology student at Far Eastern University in 1978. She continued her studies, took up medicine proper and graduated in 1988. She could have transferred to a more expensive dormitory after finishing her medicine studies, but she decided to stay at KKFI Hugh Wilson Hall. She went on to earn her residency training on Family Medicine at the Far Eastern University (FEU)Hospital until 1995.
Dr. Marie narrated that during her time at Hugh Wilson Hall, all residents were required to eat breakfast at the huge dining hall. Before breakfast was served at 6 in the morning, a reading from the Upper Room was read. The Chaplain assigned each resident to read.
The huge hall had plenty of study tables with a piano. The sound of the piano, particularly to Dr. Marie who played the piano herself, helped them unwind from the school requirements.
Actually, that was something she was proud about, what she considered to be her greatest contributions to KKFI—that she became a pianist there for 17 years at the dorm during worship services and in every event conducted in the dorm.
Also as a medical student, she helped residents who were sick and ill. She found it fulfilling to do such acts of service to other people.
During her time, the Chaplain conducted various activities and ministries among students. Bible Study sessions, prayers, and vesper services every Wednesday and Sunday helped them grow spiritually. Dr. Marie said her relationship with God grew intimately during this time.
Other activities at Hugh Wilson Hall which they really enjoyed were the welcoming of students in mid-June, the organization of student council in July. September is the big sister and small sister (monito-monita). December was the traditional Christmas dinner wearing formal dresses. The month of February was a Valentine Day dance at the gym, while March was recognition day honoring graduates and awardees among the residents. These activities made the relationship of the residents closer and stronger.
“We are a family at KKFI, I was really at home!” she reminisced.
She fondly remembered the time when the Kapatiran management provided dormers with telephone lines. She was reviewing for the board examination at that point and access to other reviewees outside the dorm made life so much easier for her.
Truly, Kapatiran, she said, was a place where Christian values are formed compared with other dormitories around the University belt which are run in a business like.
“It’s nice to be home again! I missed this place. It has been 20 years now since I left KKFI,” said Dr. Marie.
She and her husband, Mabini Francisco,with their 15-year-old daughter, Katherine, came last June 16, 2015 from Stockton, California to visit KKFI. The Franciscos were with members of a medical mission team.
She came to know that Kapatiran has changed a lot since her dorm days. During a talk with Executive Director Nancy C. Nicolas, she learned about the expanded ministries of KKFI, especially to the disadvantaged children and youth. She said she was challenged to come back.
“Lord willing, our medical mission team will come back to help KKFI in one of its projects and ministries,” Dr. Marie said.
She said she would be thrilled to attend a reunion with old residents of Hugh Wilson Hall. She said that the KKFI dorm have produced so many doctors, dentists, lawyers and even a beauty queen.
“Her name is Lorna Legaspi of Centro Escolar University. She won the Mutyang Pilipinas for Miss Asia Quest in 1988-1999,” she recalled.
Her ultimate dream for Hugh Wilson Hall, a candidate for National Heritage Award, is its renovation. She was sure former residents like her would chip in to a renovation fund.
After all, who wouldn’t want “her home” to be renovated?