Fr. Bert Ampil’s 80th Birthday Celebration

Photo by Ms. Cindy Lau, Administrative Assistant to the School President

Xavier School hosted an 80th birthday celebration for Fr Alberto V. Ampil, SJ, School Director from 1985 to 1991. Faculty and staff from that era joined the Board of Trustees, parents, alumni, and the Jesuit community to mark Fr. Bert’s milestone with a Thanksgiving Mass and a Chinese dinner. Fr. Bert served as the school’s first Filipino School Director and led the Xavier contingent at the EDSA People Power revolution in 1986. It was also during his 6-year term that jurisdiction over Xavier School was turned over from the Jesuits’ China Province to the Philippine Jesuits, a transition that was smooth thanks to the great respect Fr. Bert had for the history and unique identity of Xavier School. Fr. Bert capped his time at Xavier with groundbreaking rites for the present high school building. We love you Fr. Bert, and wish you good health and abundant blessings.

The following speech was delivered by Mr. Miguel Tan.

Good evening Teachers, Jesuits, Parents and Fellow Alumni! First of all, Happy Birthday dear Fr. Bert!

Fr. Bert’s nephew mentioned that the Ampils’ lineage may have come from Cambodia. But Fr. Bert grew up here in Manila. The Ampil family lived in Gagalangin, Tondo. They owned a soap factory in Tondo. Gagalangin was an area where nobles lived.

Incidentally, based on the South China Morning Post reported just a few days ago,  a typhoon in South China Sea may soon be called “Ampil” as nominated by Cambodia! Ampil being the word for tamarind in Cambodian.

Tonight, we are especially happy to celebrate the 80th birthday of our very own Fr. Ampil.

Fr. Bert came to Xavier following Fr. Zuloaga’s 20 years of directorship.

Fr. Bert came to Xavier with a passion like Matteo Ricci. He immersed himself into the community and tried to understand and learn as much as possible about Xavier, the Chinese and the Filipino-Chinese community, about our concerns and our strengths, our culture and our faith.

Amongst other initiatives and in his desire to continue the traditions of great teaching and excellence at Xavier, he approved the Fr. Pineau–Fr. Clifford Award for Outstanding teachers.

Fr. Bert had this gift of communicating with each level of the Xavier community. From Nursery to High School students, Alumni, Parents, and Teachers, he believed that all voices should be heard. He would tell us that he was able to do this well because he could stand eyeball to eyeball especially with the smaller students.

He is also very humble, very kind, and very “game”.  During the annual school fairs, in support of his students, he would allow himself to be dunked into the water when players would successfully throw balls which hit the bulls eye. Some of those who threw balls may be here tonight. A few elder alumni and parents were a little shocked, but he did it in the spirit of fun and being one with the community because that’s just how he is.

Fr. Bert is a teacher at heart. He would often share what he learnt with his students and teachers. One thing we fondly remember is how he would remind us of learning about “KISS” — Keeping It Short and Simple. But Fr. wanted to share as much as he could, so his messages would always take just a few minutes longer.

During those days,  parents would have meetings that would run into the night. While one by one we became sleepier, Fr. Ampil would still be all fired up and even more inspired–his questions and ideas would grow more challenging. His passion allowed us to dream for a better future through a better Xavier.

And after a planning session with the new Jesuit provincial, priorities for Xavier were set. And with the help of Fr. Papilla then and Fr. Mena, a new High School building became a reality in less than 2 years.

Fr. Bert is a man of faith. When at Xavier, Fr. Bert wore a metal cross around his neck. We believe that this cross was truly his source of strength and inspiration. His cross, which he lent to Fr. Calle, even took part in the rescue of a kidnapped Japanese national.

And last but not least, Fr. Bert is proud of Xavier. He led Xavier to EDSA during People Power in 1986. Xavier’s flag waved proudly — a symbol of our unity.

We are sure he is even prouder today of his students who have developed into men for others—students like Fr. Ari at Xavier and President Noynoy and Senator Pimentel at the Ateneo.

Fr. Bert, on behalf of the Xavier community – thank you for coming to Xavier.

Thank you for your love.

And, on your 80th, may we be allowed to call you Papa Bert or even Lolo Bert, as there are 3 generations of alumni here (tonight).

Happy birthday Papa Bert/ happy birthday Lolo Bert! Thank you!

View more photos at the Xavier FB site.

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