By Jayson B. Arcamo
The author, who is based in Bacolod City, works full-time with the Columban Mission Office.
Victoria Malacapay Andas was born on 30 September 1929 in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, and died on 11 August 2012. She was eighth among the ten children of Justina Rojas Malacapay and Remegio Libo-on Andas who were both public school teachers during the time of Maestro Emong (Geronimo Abada Sr.), the first district supervisor of Kabankalan.
Victoria, while still in high school, started helping her sister Milagros to teach catechism in the Flores de Mayo after World War II. Padre Juan Garcia was the parish priest at that time. She wanted to become a religious sister and joined the Sisters of Charity. After a year as a novice she had to leave for health reasons.
Through the help of the late Columban Fr Thomas Cronin, Victoria enrolled at the University of Negros Occidental and took the two-year Junior Normal General Course leading to the title of Elementary Teacher’s Certificate (ETC) and graduated in March 1962. (The Order of Augustinian Recollects bought UNO in 1962 and changed its name to ‘University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos’ or ‘UNO-R’.) In 1963 Victoria became a Kindergarten teacher and later a Grade One teacher at Kabankalan College (now Kabankalan Catholic College). Three years later she decided to be a full-time catechist in St Francis Xavier Parish.
When her sister Milagros died giving birth, Victoria, together with Flora, their youngest sister, took good care of her orphaned nieces, Ana Mae, Aileen, and Milagros Aurea, and of their sister’s stepson Edmundo. Despite the financial difficulties that she and Flora had to face, she never saw looking for ‘greener pastures’ to have a better income for the family as an option. Instead, she took more people in need under her care. Her nieces would often describe their home as the extension house of the parish convent. They recalled that every month, she would offer her home to the ‘novios y novias’ from far flung areas of the parish who had no place to stay the night before the pre-marriage seminar they were required to attend the following day. Her nieces recalled that they had to share their bedrooms on the second floor with the ‘novias’ while all the ‘novios’ slept on the ground floor. Her family remembered that there were even parishioners from Hinoba-an in the far south of the province, victims of land-grabbing, who stayed with them the night before their hearing at the Municipal Trial Court.