THE HISTORY OF THE RETREAT HOUSE
WHY IT IS BUILT IN ALVENDA?
The dream to build a Diocesan Retreat House was originally started by Bishop Jose R. Manguiran, DD after the Presbyterium of the diocese held our annual retreat in the year 2000 in Tagum, at their diocesan retreat house located in the remotest area of their diocese. He then expressed his dream many times at the presbyterium meetings that followed after that retreat. Eventually a committee was created including myself, headed by the Bishop himself, to work on this project. The Bishop also requested the Clergy to look and ask for land donations for the said project.
There was a suggestion among the Clergy to build it in the Trinity Garden, at the back of the Seminary,but the Bishop strongly opposed it. Prophetically he figured that few years away, that place could no longer be suitable for that purpose. And he was right indeed. Today the Trinity Garden in not as tranquil as it was 5 years ago.
It was on the year 2004, one year before the reshuffling, when the committee most eagerly headed by the Bishop worked on finding the site. The first area we visited was Fr. Rico Montano’s place in Alvenda, Mutia, 4 kilometers away from today’s location. Fr. Rico pledged to donate 3 hectares of his property if the committee liked his place. But majority of the members did not favor his place for its lack of water source and its far distance from the last post of the electricity which was yet in Alvenda barangay site at that time.
The Uy couple, the Dipolog City Mayor Roberto and Evelyn did once also offer to donate a site. But only the Bishop and myself were able to see the place. Still, we did not like the place because of its distance and difficult terrain.
There was a time when few members of the committee excluding myself went to a prospected site in Sibutad but the Bishop did not favor it for political reason.
Year 2005, later after the reshuffling, the Bishop tasked me to look for a place back in Alvenda. With the help of the Mayor, the Municipal Assessor and a barangay councilman of Alvenda, after a month I found the present site. The owner named their price and we found it very cheap. Even without seeing the place, the Bishop ordered me to close the deal and immediately informed the Clergy that the site had been finally found. After the payment, I let the whole are cleaned then invited the committee to see for themselves and fortunately no one disliked it. The Bishop greatly favored it.
THE GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION OF THE PLACE
Anyone who happened to see the place where the retreat house is built can understand for themselves why the Bishop and the committee unanimously like the place. “This is a perfect site for a retreat house”, is their common remark.
The site is 2,000 feet above sea level. The temperature is cool, a bit cooler than Tagaytay nowadays. It has abundant cold and clean water and the electricity is available. The area is mostly covered with a second growth forest. It has two creeks. The dining hall is built near in one of the creek for us to hear the sound of the flowing water. On top of the highest hill where the view deck and sleeping cottages are built, facing west, the site is overlooking the vast plains of the cities of Dipolog and Dapitan and their neighboring municipalities. Then facing east, is the great and enormous Mount Malindang of Misamis Occidental.
At present, a larger part of Alvenda is already owned by some rich and famous people of Zamboanga del Norte, some of them are politicians. They like the place too. Some are starting to build their rest houses and farms. Thus vegetable and flower gardens cultivated with organic fertilizers are now flourishing the area.
Alvenda is 12 kilometers away from the town of Mutia and with the present situation of the road, it takes us 25 to 30 minutes travel. Then the town of Mutia is 31 kilometers away from Dipolog City and with the mostly concrete road except the portion from Piñan to Mutia, it takes us 45 minutes to 1 hour travel depending on the kind of vehicle we use.
Congresswoman Cely Carreon who own the larger portion of Alvenda and who planted plenty of Baguio (Benguet) pines in her area fro its fragrant aroma, told me not to worry about the road to Alvenda because it is now on its third reading for approval to become a national highway going to Pagadian City.
(SGD)REV. FR. WILSON T. LAGARE
Parish Priest of Piñan