THE HISTORY of UST Simbahayan mirrors the history of community development in the University, a fulfillment of one of the Three C’s in Thomasian core values—compassion.

This is why Simbahayan has been heading the University in helping and guiding communities and institutions that are needed to be developed for a better livelihood, not only for them but for the entire community.

“The mission of the Simbahayan is to empower communities and institutions with the Thomasian students contributing towards social transformation,” said Mark Abenir, director of the UST Simbahayan.

Before Simbahayan was institutionalized in 1981, the University had already been involved in various extensions and community services. It mainly acted through the volunteer organizations within the University. It was in 1997 that a shift in the project was initiated—faculties and colleges were encouraged to identify and work with their own partner communities.

The outreach program “Hanapbuhay, Asal, Sikap, Isip, Kawanggawa” was the first institutionalized project aimed at aiding several communities towards development through the help of the University.

This project first began in Tondo, Manila, one of the most densely populated districts in the country and the location of the landfill called Smokey Mountain. It was soon followed by communities in Sampaloc, Manila and Sitio Layak Bamban, Tarlac.

For nearly 30 years, Simbahayan was able to work with their 37 partner communities from different parts of Luzon such as Tarlac, Bataan, Rizal, and Nueva Ecija.

Unending grace

In 2012, the year the University marked its Quadricentennial anniversary, 862 projects were done under the title UST SIMBAHAYAN 400. The SIMBAHAYAN 400 and the Office of Community Development (OCD) were then merged together to form the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office.

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The projects done by OCD, along with the projects of student organizations, are evaluated yearly so as to be able to prepare and plan new projects, as well as follow up projects for their partner communities.

“So from there, nagfoformulate yung mga colleges, based on the needs of the community,” Abenir added.

According to Jordan Nava, Community Development Coordinator in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences (CRS), Simbahayan chooses its partner communities by looking on what is needed by a certain community.

“We [Simbahayan] provide services to the community, at the same time, they need to match the services we give them,” Nava said.

Colleges in UST have different areas to focus on depending on the expertise of their college or faculty. In CRS, they focus on health and wellness and provide service such as therapy to the elderly in the communities.

“We provide needs such as exercises and assessments but at the same time, they have to do their part in the services we provide,” Nava said.

In 2013, Simbahayan was able to aid several communities through Tulong Tomasino in Leyte and Bohol, two of the provinces that were devastated by typhoon Yolanda.

In the case of Tulong Tomasino, colleges and faculties of the University worked together to aid the victims of calamities.

Tulong Tomasino started last 2013 when typhoon Yolanda struck most part of the Visayas region. With the huge amount of help received, this project provided to most of the needs of the community from Leyte and Bohol.

“Nagkakaroon tayo ng rehabilitation projects doon in terms of livelihood, yung perang nalikap doon para makapag-simula ulit ng buhay,” Abenir said.

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According to Abenir, there will be several program areas, with each area focusing on different units based on the people’s discipline and interest, that they will focus on for the second semester.

These program areas will be focusing on health and wellness, equitable and inclusive education, micro-economic employability and social enterprise, environmental sustainability and infrastructure development, heritage, culture and sports and development, leadership, organizational development and good governance, socio-pastoral ministry and evangelization, and on risk reduction and disaster management respectively.

“The ultimate goals of these areas are to enhance holistically,” Nava said. “In order to meet the needs of the community, we must focus on their concerns.” Mary Grace C. Esmaya and Maria Corazon A. Inay

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