By: Orlando M. Gamilla, Jr. (Angelicum School Facilitator)

DOMINICAN Youth as Pilgrims of Hope—this is the theme of the Western Visayas Dominican Network (Domnet) regional assembly from Feb. 16 to 18, 2023, with Angelicum School Iloilo as the host institution.

The theme‘Dasig! Dominican Youth as Pilgrims of Hope’—was inspired from the official motto approved by Pope Francis for the celebration of the 2025 Jubilee Year. The inclusion of the Hiligaynon word, ‘Dasig’, on the other hand, was based on the biblical theme of the August 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal which describes how Mary responded with hastiness to Gabriel the Archangel’s announcement that she will bear the Savior of the world. 

And true to form, this three-day gathering of 12 Dominican schools from Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo is a response and a call to action that gave over 500 youth-delegates the opportunity to experience both fun and spirituality through activities like leadership formation, talent presentation, fellowship night, community singing, and game tournaments.

“This year’s theme is Pilgrims of Hope. We should bring Christ to other people. He is not just for ourselves, but for everyone. We have to act our hope to Jesus. Dahil si Hesus ay hindi paasa, si Hesus ay pag-asa,” said Fr. Paul Lovell Javier, OP, Angelicum School Iloilo treasurer, during the leadership formation program. 

Fr. Carlo Rey Canto, OP and Fr. Jessie Yap, OP also delivered a talk as resource speakers for the program. 

Moreover, delegates had the chance to be with Jaro Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo, DD when he presided over the Eucharistic Celebration during the first day of the Domnet Festival 2023 at the Angelicum School gymnasium. 

Host school admits being hesitant at first

Angelicum School Iloilo Principal Fr. John Stephen Besa, OP admitted that he initially thought this year is not yet the right time for Angelicum to host a regional event as big as Domnet given the circumstances the school had faced recently. 


“Tumanggi ako twice! Pasensiya na, angelicum, di ko akalaing kaya na natin! (I declined twice! My apologies, Angelicum, I never thought we can manage to pull it off),” said Fr. Besa. 

According to Fr. Besa, the Sisters are the ones who insisted for Angelicum to be the host because they want to promote the school and show to the region it is open. 

Thus, Fr. Besa thanked all the Dominican Schools in Western Visayas for their trust and emphasized the need for more collaboration to lift each other up. 

“Let’s make things easier for us by collaborating. Dati, masasabi mong matatag kayo, kapag maraming awards, pero ngayon, masasabi mong matatag ang school kapag marami kayong natutulungan,” said Fr. Besa. 

Domnet as a family, a home

In his closing speech, Fr. Besa highlighted that despite the atmosphere of being oponents during competitions and tournaments, sportmanship, brotherhood, and being one still prevail at the end of the day. 

“Domnet is not just a network, it is family. It is home. That is why our signature pose is like a house, a  home that you could always find good people and peace. Domnet is not just a tournament, it is a game played by brothers and sisters, that is why I am happy even tough, we have teams to win, we do not forget that we have brothers and sisters to take care,” underscored Fr. Besa.


The host school ensured that the activities prepared for the delegates are geared towards making them feel this kind of familial warmth and hospitality. 


“It’s my first time to join Domnet, but it’s quite memorable since people here in Angelicum are so hospitable. We also had the opportunity to make friends and we hope to come again,” shared Ivan Gabriel Benedicto, a delegate from Holy Rosary Academy Guimaras.


The 2023 Western Visayas Domnet Festival concluded with an awarding ceremony and  announcement that the 2024 regional assembly will be hosted by Holy Rosary Academy Molo. /END