In the school year 1978-1979, a La Salle Brother, desiring to provide an opportunity for experiential learning of Christian living to complement the intellectual knowledge of the Christian Faith disseminated through the Religion classes, started the Search-In Program in La Salle Green Hills. Then Brother, Emilio ‘Boy’ Villarosa initiated the Search-In Program by offering two Search-In weekend retreats to some interested third-year high school students during that year.
The Search-In Program, whose primary and principal activity is the psycho-spiritual weekend retreats offered to third-year high school students, continued and expanded its activities throughout the following school years. Aside from the essential Search-In retreats, follow-up activities, such as renewals and recollections, were offered to the student and alumni graduates of the program.
Brother Emilio Villarosa directed the program together with the active support of the search-inners until the end of the school year 1979-80. The program was continued in the following years by a Core-Group of responsible search-inners together with Brother Bernard S. Oca, FSC.
The Search-In developed and progressed through the years leading to a more expanded program of activities benefiting even alumni search-in members and other groups and organizations. Renewals, recollections, and seminars were offered to search-inners on an annual or bi-annual basis. Retreat and recollection services were provided to other groups by active members of the program.
During the school year 1984-1985, the Green Hills Search-In community expanded the Search-In program by offering the same program to the students of De La Salle Bacolod, St. Scholastica’s Bacolod, and De La Salle Zobel. The Search-In retreats in these schools were started and run by a team of alumni search-in members together with Brother Bernard S. Oca, FSC.
Attempting to foster unity, friendship, and camaraderie among the search-inners from the different alumni and high school year levels, the Search-In started an annual two-day summer sports fest starting the summer of 1983. This activity later expanded to include the alumni, alumnae and student search-inners from the different schools to provide an opportunity for fraternal interaction, understanding, and cooperation. This activity was held regularly until the mid-1990’s.
Brother Bernard S. Oca, FSC, was succeeded in his role as Search-In Green Hills Retreat Adviser by Brother Mawel Pajarillo, FSC, during the school year 1984-85. Brother Rolando Dizon, FSC, then succeeded Brother Mawel for the school year 1985-86. Working together with the Brother Advisers in directing and guiding the program, a La Salle Green Hills alumnus member of the Search-In, Louie Aguinaldo of Circle 8, had served as Search-In Moderator and had been running the program from 1984 to the mid 90’s.
By the school year 1984-85, an Advisory Council of active and responsible alumni and high school search-in members were formed to supervise and evaluate all the activities of the Search-In program. The Advisory Council is also responsible for creating and finding venues for Christian commitment renewal, re-strengthening, and expression for the members of the Search-In community.
Through the years, the Search-In, as a community, has involved itself in various activities that served as expressions of the Christian commitments of its members. A support program for the Adult Night High School, which included scholarship grants, began in the mid 80’s and lasted until the early 90’s. Civic activities such as relief operations during the 1990 earthquake and the Pinatubo eruption were also organized and run by the Search-In. Concern for clean elections was consistently demonstrated through consistent involvement with the NAMFREL Operation Quick Counts. Other activities such as fundraisings for worthy causes, visits to Tala Leprosarium, and other social concerns were held throughout various years of its existence.
From the late 80’s to the 90’s many Search-In communities were formed throughout the country. With the communities of La Salle Green Hills and the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod serving as mother communities, the Search-In was founded in St. Theresa’s Cebu, Assumption Iloilo, St. Mary of the Woods in Makati, and St. Benilde school Bacolod. In the late 1980’s the Search-In was resurrected in La Salle Academy Iligan, the site where it all began. Previous to ‘Boy’ Villarosa’s founding the program in Greenhills, he had already started the retreat in Iligan. Unfortunately, it did not last long, and it was only when it was started in Greenhills did the program mushroom into a community.
The Greenhills community initially served as mother community for the program. Facilitators from Greenhills went around the country to assist in the retreats and to offer training seminars and workshops to the various other communities. The Greenhills community also served as the primary resource for materials such as music, workshop modules, prayer services. Later on, the community in La Salle Bacolod, as it grew, shared the responsibility as mother community serving most of the communities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
In 1991, the Councils of the Search-In communities throughout the country sent representatives to the first National Congress of the Search-In. Present were most of the Brother Advisers who have been part of the Search-In and the leaders of the various communities. Through the Congress ties between communities were strengthened and guidelines for the running of the Search-In were established.
The Search-In community Celebrated 100 Circles in 1998. This was marked by a heartwarming reunion of nearly 400 search-inners visiting the Search-In and taking part in commemorative activities. In the same year, we also celebrated 20 years since Search-In’s founding.
After the mid 1990’s, a decrease in alumni involvement and community activities has been noted. In spite of this, the Search-In program is still very much alive continuing to touch the lives of numerous students.
Other people who served running the Search-In program either as Brother Adviser or as Moderator are Brother Kenneth Martinez, FSC; Brother Albert Entao, FSC (circle 5); Brother Danter Amisola, FSC; Brother Dodo Fernandez, FSC (circle 4); Mr. Jess Nemenzo (faculty); and J.R. Estrellado (circle 28). At present, Brother Ricky Laguda, FSC of circle 6 La Salle Bacolod, serves as Spiritual Adviser, while Carlo Carrascoso (circle 68) and Louie Aguinaldo circle 8) serve as Alumni Consultants.
The new millennium has begun with the Search-In still alive and strong. Through numerous ups and downs, it still survives by God’s grace. Even after over twenty years, it continues to have deep meaning for students and alumni alike. We look forward to the day that we celebrate 200 circles.