In this paper, we analyse two important institutions in the modernising society of the Philippines: the Catholic Church and the educational system. If one is to follow conventional modernisation theories, religion can be seen as a backward institution founded on irrationality, whereas education is a critical institution that ushers in modern thinking. As a developing society, the Philippines and hence its institutions present responses to the contemporary modern condition that run counter to the above. In particular, we focus our attention on seeing certain crises within both the Catholic Church and the school system as indicative of what Blum has called an 'institutional panic'. Taking our cue from what is known about panic responses at the level of the individual, we perceive educational and Catholic religious institutions as exhibiting behaviours of hyper-vigilance as an answer to stress-related situations. At the same time, these entities also have periods during which they let down their institutional guard, and may appear as more passive and demoralised. This perspective allows us to look at the variable nature of panic at an institutional level, and investigate institutional patterns of response to situations of vulnerability.