Holy rosary

Sister Ma. Alma Amancio, Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary: ​​Five pesos for “heaven”


Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Catholic Herald of Hawaii

It was my older sister who was to become a nun. However, my parents did not allow her to enter the convent. And then came my second sister who wished the same, but she was also not allowed to leave. My only brother wanted to join seminary, but my parents didn’t like the idea. So, at 16, I ran away from home. I had five pesos in my pocket.

I come from a family full of faith. My parents were very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every evening, my family recited the rosary. In the morning, we woke up at 4 a.m. to pray the Rosary again – this time with outstretched arms.

On the other hand, there was an established routine that I grew up with. Being the fourth child out of six girls and one boy, my mother was quite strict with us. We never ventured outside our barangay. We never attended parties, dances or other social activities. Our routine was: going to school; go home. On my way to school, I stopped at church to say a prayer. After school, on my way home, I stopped again at the church to kiss the large crucifix.

It wasn’t until sixth grade that I met a sister. The Dominican sisters were teaching at the Academy of Our Lady of Fatima in Dao and visited our house. After graduating from high school in March, I planned to run away from home in April with the help of my older sister. She had already arranged the plan with the Dominican sisters. Packing my birth certificate and a rosary into an empty streamer box, I had five pesos in my hand.

As it was election time, everyone was out of the house. Too young to vote, I left home and walked and walked where no one could see me. I finally caught a ride on a tricycle (a filipina motorcycle and a sidecar). The driver kept asking me where I was going. I kept looking for where to take the jeepney to the sisters convent in Dumalag.

“Eh?” the driver asked me: “Are you running away from home?

When we got there, he didn’t take my money. “You know, he said, my daughter is studying at the Saint-Martin de Dumalag Academy. When you become a sister, please pray for my family. He told the jeepney driver to take me to St. Maarten and he paid for my ride. From there, I finally made it to the Dominican sisters’ motherhouse in Molo, Iloilo, with the five pesos and an extra 20 donated by the sisters for the four-hour bus ride.

When I got home about a week later, after a series of upside down events from my panicked and heartbroken parents looking for me, everyone in my barangay treated me like I was the lost son/daughter who finally came home. People asked me, “How was it over there at the convent?” Remembering the sisters singing the Salve Regina on Saturday evening during the Compline prayers, I could only reply: “It’s heaven. My parents then gathered the necessities required by the convent to enter and gave me their blessing.

Sister Ma. Alma Amancio is a Dominican Sister of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines from Dao, Capiz. She has 40 years of profession. In Hawaii, she served at St. Elizabeth’s School in Aiea. Sister Amancio is principal of Holy Angels School in Colma, California.