Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Manila: More on Xavier House and Sta. Ana

The Jesuit Philippine Province came out with a statement today on the sale of Xavier House which I quote in full below. I too was disappointed with the Inquirer article after I found out there was no truth to the rumor that SM had purchased it. SM was never in the picture when we discussed Xavier House. So I was surprised when the article came out yesterday claiming they had talked to someone from SM who confirmed the purchase. I thought they did their research properly.

SM confirms it purchased the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) property last year. Although they deny they had anything to do with the demolition, note that the demolition took place in December 2008 and was completed only last month.

Anyway, on Xavier House, the goal now is to move forward and find a win-win situation for all. As a result of the e-mail exchanges in the heritage community and the Inquirer article, concerned groups are trying to come up with proposals for the property, possibly raise funds to purchase it or propose something to the Jesuits to make it economically viable, thus producing a steady income stream. I will keep everyone updated since the the local community in Sta. Ana will be meeting over the weekend to discuss what to do next.

Statement of the Jesuit Philippine Province on the "Sale" of Xavier House
In its issue of 31 March 2009, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) ran a front page article on the ‘sale’ of Xavier House that demands some clarifications, not only because of its misstatements of fact but also on account of the innuendoes and implications it fosters.

1. The article falsely claims that a done deal has been made between the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus and the SM Group for the purchase of the Xavier House property. The Provincial and Province Treasurer are quoted as denying this; but a source from the SM Group (conveniently left unnamed) is produced to state the contrary. In no uncertain terms the article adopts the latter as the correct version. This is not true. The Province has had no contact with the SM Group, has not even gotten to the point of putting the Xavier House property up for sale.

2. The PDI article also tends to misrepresent the whole issue as if it were nothing more than a money-making scheme. It brushes aside the reality that the Province is in real financial straits, exacerbated by the ongoing world financial crisis. The rising costs of medical care for our senior and infirm Jesuits and formation for our younger men have taken a toll on province resources. These resources are dedicated to almost a third of Philippine Jesuits who are in formation, and an even bigger group of some 110 who are over 70 years of age, 61 of whom are 80 and above. Along with this, the Province also has to support other works that are not self-sufficient. It is unfortunate that people do not realize that the Province is not Ateneo de Manila or Xavier School, and that funds do not come out of one big pot that is commonly shared.

3. Fr. James Reuter, with whom I spoke this morning, is very much dismayed at and disturbed by the PDI article. He lamented the distortions it presented and the picture of him and of the Jesuits that the article unfairly painted. Father Reuter continues to affirm that the Society of Jesus he entered almost seventy-five years ago has always cared for him and will continue to do so to the end. He well knows that despite all difficulties, the Philippine Province remains committed to make sure that all our Jesuits in our different communities are provided for and attended to.


Part 1: Sta. Ana, Manila heritage lost to the malls too! Save Sta. Ana heritage!
Part 2: Camarin de la Virgen and more Sta. Ana treasures
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