THE HISTORY OF COLEGIO DEL STO. NIÑO
Philippine history writes that on April 27, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernan de Magalahes, a Portuguese navigator commanding a Spanish Fleet, was killed by a native chieftain, Lapulapu, in the shores of Mactan Island in Cebu. He came upon instructions of the Spanish Crown under King Philip II, with the “Sword and the Cross” to colonize and evangelize but he failed. History further relates that four other expeditions were sent by Spain to the Moluccas and to the islands discovered by Magellan. After the failure of the first three expeditions, the fourth one arrived in Cebu on April 27, 1565 under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Fray Andres de Urdaneta, OSA.
Five Augustinian Friars went with the Legaspi Expedition: Fray Andres de Urdaneta, OSA, Fray Andres de Aguirre, OSA, Fray Diego de Herrera, OSA, Fray Martin de Rada, OSA, and Fray Pedro de Gamboa, OSA. However, upon the order of King Philip II, Urdaneta and Aguirre left Cebu on June 1, 1565 for the purpose of discovering the return route or “Vuelta” to Europe.
Thus, only three missionaries were left in Cebu: Diego de Herrera, Martin de Rada, and Pedro de Gamboa. This number was reduced to two as Fr. Gamboa left for Mexico in July, 1567, leaving the task of evangelizing the Cebuanos to Fathers Herrera and de Rada.
Fr. Herrera and Fr. de Rada proceeded the noble task of not only evangelizing but also educating the Cebuanos by first learning Cebuano through sign language. Then the missionaries invited the children of leading families to the convent with their parents’ consent. The children then were taught the beginnings of reading and writing, and some elements of the customs of the Western world. This was a prelude to the hope of the missionaries that soon they would convert the children to Christianity and eventually, their parents. This was the beautiful beginning of the education process of the natives, pioneered and trailblazed by the Augustinian missionaries – the Order of St. Augustine (OSA).
The Spanish Augustinian friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, conscious of their responsibility as the Christian pioneers who made Cebu the cradle of Christianity in the Far East, awoke to the realization that theirs is the duty of playing a prominent role in shaping the spiritual life of the people. After more than three centuries of the Spanish rule in our country, the friars of the Order of St. Augustine (OSA) continued their pastoral and evangelizing presence in the country. They founded educational institutions and one of these is Colegio del Santo Niño in Cebu City.
Colegio del Sto. Niño came into existence when the Very Rev. Fr. Jose Lobo, who was then the Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus issued the Decree of 1902 mandating for the establishment and founding of the Colegio Elementaria del Sto. Niño de Cebu.
The school was finished and completed in 1903, and classes finally opened in 1904. Rev. Fr. Valerio Rodrigo, OSA, was the first Rector of the school. During his Administration, he opened:
(a) PRIMARIA SUPERIOR
(b) PRIMARIA MEDIA; and
(c) PRIMARIA INFERMA
These were the equivalents of the Intermediate, Primary and Kindergarten levels of education.
The school went on smoothly, increasing in vitality and in spirituality until at last came the sad interruption which was, in fact, the closing of its portals in the year 1928.
When the smoke of World War II had gone, the Philippines flew its tri-colored flag triumphantly when it was given its independence by the Americans in 1946. Thus, in 1947, the Spanish Augustinian Fathers reopened Colegio del Sto. Niño with government permit, with Fr. Alberto Medina as its Rector.
Fr. Medina began the construction of the massive concrete building now housing the offices, the Kinder classes, and the Grs. I & II classes. It was completed in 1948. It now stands proudly as one of Cebu’s landmarks, constructed along fine Spanish style.
The school admitted to its classrooms a potpourri of students from all walks of life and from all strata of society: children of the moneyed and the rich in Cebuano society, the children of affluent Spanish-Filipinos and Chinese-Filipinos from all over the Visayas and Mindanao regions, Cebuano working students and those students sponsored by Don Ramon Aboitiz, who all were given the same treatment of strictness imposed entirely by the Spanish friars and one Irish-American in the person of Fr. Arthur O’neal, OSA.
After Fr. Medina’s term of office in 1948, came the appointment of Rev. Fr. Restituto Suarez as second Rector of the school after its restoration. It was during Fr. Suarez’s term when all the courses offered in the school received the recognition of the government. The school offered the following courses: Kindergarten, Primary, Intermediate, High School, Fine Arts (vocational), and Spanish classes.
During its first two years of operation, the high school department offered day and night sessions. However, the night high school was short-lived and was phased out in line with the school’s policy to be more of quality than quantity.
One of the most outstanding social events that became uniquely a trademark of Colegio del Sto. Niño before was the PRIMROSE FESTIVAL. It was in this social affair that parents, teachers, and students found worthwhile outlet to relieve them of the boredom and daily routine in the classrooms and in the homes. The night of the coronation became the best of nights, the night of nights; well-attended and graced by prominent members of the city’s society.
During these times, too, the CSN high school varsity teams made a name for themselves in basketball and football, winning championship games in both local and national competitions.
The succeeding years recorded a fluctuating enrolment in the high school department, but an increase in the elementary department. The limited enrolment was preferred by the Spanish priest administrators to make CSN maintain its standards. Fr. Gregorio Pulgar, OSA, then the principal once remarked that “We are a small school but we make a lot of noise enough for other schools to notice our existence.” People began talking about the school’s graduates, and students from other provinces who came to Cebu to avail of elementary and secondary education were advised to enroll at CSN by then Bureau of Private School’s regional office. But then, they all could not be accommodated, for even the parents of the students who failed to enroll on time were rejected. The enrollment was limited as the Administration stuck to the policy of quality rather than quantity. Even up to the last year of existence of the high school department the same cry remained.
The first lay principal in high school was Dr. Julian Yballe. He was succeeded by Mr. Zacarias Saberon; while the previous lay principals in the grade school were Mrs. Edna Climaco, Miss Nicolasa Tan, Mrs. Josefina Bacalso, Sr. Mary Mathew Conejos, and Miss Clarrisa Antonio.
Mindful of their crucial role in the holistic formation of every individual who finds his roots in the school, the Spanish Augustinian administrators took the selfless and noble decision of specializing in the pre-elementary and elementary levels of education having in mind that Señor Santo Niño is a small child, hence the school with its name is also only for small children. It was in 1976 therefore that the school closed its doors to those in the secondary level. After 28 years of incomparable service, the high school department was phased-out.
The school then dedicated itself in the building of an essential educational foundation, creating for its students a second home. How much the school has succeeded in its endeavor can be very well peered from the many successful graduates who have found their own niche in life and in nation-building and who have been instruments of setting a difference in society. The likes of former Gov. Lito Osmeña, Congressman Raul del Mar, Gen. Ramon Montaño, and other notable persons were graduates of CSN.
In all the years since it opened its door to the Cebuano learners, CSN was run and operated by the Spanish Augustinian friars who at the same time managed the Basilica del Santo Niño. With the growing vocation of Filipino Augustinian friars in the 1970’s and 1980’s a need to create another Augustinian Province mainly for Filipinos was felt. On December 25, 1983 the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu Philippines was created and separated from the Spanish Province. It was officially inaugurated in the Basilica del Santo Niño on January 15, 1984. The creation was signed by Fr. Martin Nolan, OSA then the Prior General in Rome with Fr. Eusebio Berdon, OSA as the first Prior Provincial. The newly created Province took charge of the Basilica del Santo Niño, Colegio del Sto. Niño and the other Augustinian schools, while the Spanish Vicariate managed San Agustin Church in Intramuros and Colegio San Agustin in Makati City. The arrangement still holds true to the present.
CSN’s location is indeed significant and unique. It is right on the very threshold of Cebu City. It stands right next to the historic Basilica del Santo Niño and te Magellan’s Cross. It is near the center of the largest harbor in the Philippines. It is located a few blocks away from the North Reclamation Area of Cebu City leading to the industrial City of Mandaue. It is also a stone’s throw from the South Reclamation Project (SRP) leading to the City of Talisay.
The indispensable role CSN played in the formation of the early dreams of the grade school pupils can not be denied. Honed in the motto of Virtue and Science (Virtus et Scientia), CSN’s elementary pupils even in its pioneering years, were exposed to the best academic experience. From 1977-1985, the various administrations of Fr. Nicholas Echeveria, Fr. Ambrosio Galindez as School Directors, and with their lay counterparts as principals, made the school a consistent heightening of growth and development. Aside from subjects taught within the four walls of the classroom, the students’ sense of involvement and social awareness were always put on the rise by the various annual activities offered by the school.
From 1987 until 1992, the administrations of Fr. Melchor Mirador, Fr. Efren Naño, Fr. Roman Cañon and Fr. Jerome Mesina came in succession. Indeed, there was a pattern of stability and changes within the school but looking at where CSN is right now, it seems that every step was a part of a prearranged plan leading to the glory that is now CSN. Much credit therefore has to go to those due it – the countless men and women of the school whose efforts amount far beyond their number.
Fr. Berdon, OSA served as the Prior Provincial for two terms – from 1983-1991, during which the Provincialate was stationed at San Agustin Center of Studies (SACS) located in Quezon City. In the last two years of his term, the Provincialate was transferred to Cebu City at the Pilgrim Center. With Cebu as the seat of the Provincialate, the friars then decided that Colegio del Santo Niño be managed by the friars in the Provincialate instead of the friars in the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
Thus, CSN was run by the Provincialate since 1992 during the term of Fr. Medardo Durmiendo, OSA as the Director who was also the Provincial Treasurer, and Fr. Bernardino Ricafrente, OSA as the Chair of the Board of Trustees and Prior Provincial. Until the present, CSN is run by the Provincialate.It was in Fr. Medardo Durmiendo’s time that a new building named Sta. Monica Building was constructed for the growing population in the elementary level. Fr. Durmiendo had the desire in his heart to have CSN undergo accreditation. The construction of the new building was part of his plan. The last year of Fr. Durmiendo’s term was a witness to the dawn of a new CSN when Mrs. Emelita C. Velayo, was taken in as Principal in 1995. Major and beneficial changes were initiated. Additional activities were organized for individual growth and the students were empowered in almost all aspects of their being. From that time on, and until the present , Colegio del Sto. Niño School Community has been enjoying and bringing to realization certain traditional activities annually, such as: the Homeroom Values Program for moral development, where students are not only taught the rudiments of learning but also imparted with Augustinian virtues and molded in the Catholic way of life; the Family Day which is usually a day packed with fun and enjoyment that fosters community relationships between and among parents, teachers, staff, students and administration; the Personnel’s Day where the school staff are acknowledged for a year of laborious effort by the student body; the Personnel’s Recognition Night where loyalty service awardees are recognized by the school; the Feeding and Outreach Program, where the community is given the avenue by which the sense of sharing is felt and the spirit of generosity is best displayed; the Know Your Barangay Month Celebration in which the students and the Student Barangay Officials are made to see the value of social and civic awareness and being involved;
the Student Government Elections where the students are given the primary vehicle of exercising their rights and where leadership skills are honed; the religious observance of feasts and holy days; the Activity Clubs where the students are provided the opportunity to develop and make good in their line of interest; the Participation in Interschool Sports events such as the Milo Little Olympics, the CEAP-CEPA Sports Fest, the Cebu City Olympics. These and more, added with the well-planned year-long events of the school, make every Augustinian’s stay in the institution, memorable and worthwhile.
The passage of time has brought an incessant change of priest administrators every four years. But each, from their leaving, has made a mark which students can always look back. From Fr. Edgardo Lazo, OSA who succeeded Fr. Durmiendo and . whose 1st year as Director in 1997 coincided with his Silver Sacerdotal Anniversary; Fr. Agustin Ty, OSA whose term as School Director from 1998-2000 has been very fruitful. His term saw the upsurge of CSN population.
From the year 1996 to 2001, the Department of Education administered the National Elementary Assessment Test (NEAT) to all Grade VI pupils in the country. The NEAT was administered to assess the academic performance of the graduating class in the elementary department. CSN takes pride in the fact that in all the years when NEAT was administered until it was phased-out, the results always showed that CSN consistently ranked 5th or 6th among all the private and public elementary schools in the Division of Cebu City. Moreover, among the schools in the top ten rank, CSN had the most number of test takers with more or less150 Grade VI pupils, compared to other top ranking schools with a population of below 100 and even below 50.
From 2000-2004 Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA adeptly led CSN as its Fr. Director with Fr. Candido Saladaga Jr., OSA ably assisting him as the School Treasurer. Fr. Harold initiated the Augustinian friars’ desire to have CSN undergo accreditation. In 2002, He laid out plans for the purpose. It was in his term that the Vision-Mission-Goals of the school were clearly reformulated. Curriculum offerings were reviewed, instructional program given more emphasis, and student services were looked into. Initial work for accreditation started during his term. Fr. Harold communicated with PAASCU office for the accreditation process and CSN was admitted to PAASCU as an applicant member. After four years, Fr. Harold turned over the reign of administration in 2004 to Fr. Wilson A. Capellan, OSA who served the school from 2004 to 2008 together with Fr. Nelson Zerda, OSA as the School Treasurer. It was during their term that work towards accreditation was in full blast. Committees for the different areas were put to work. Self-survey work was done in earnest.
Moreover, Fr. Capellan brought dynamism and vigor to the school. He brought with him activities of novelty intensifying different events and affairs. Such new activities were the Augustinian Camaraderie Week for Grade VI pupils, the Bequeathal Ceremony for Grades V & VI, the Agustinitos Days for Kindergarten and Gr. I pupils, the enhanced implementation of the Community Outreach Program, the annual stage production to showcase the talents of the pupils, teachers, parents and alumni dubbed as TATAK AGUSTINO (TAgisan ng TAlino at Kakayahan), the Educators’ Month, and the reformulating and strengthening of the institutional organizations like: the GALAW AGUSTINO (Dance Club), HIMIG AGUSTINO (Choir), TEATRO AGUSTINO (Theater) and RONDALLA AGUSTINO (Rondalla).
The CSN volleyball teams for both boys and girls have always been raking in medals and trophies for being champions in athletic meets like Milo Little Olympics, City Olympics, Unit Meet, CVIRAA and Palarong Pambansa, so much so that CSN is a name to reckon with in volleyball, that seemingly volleyball is synonymous to CSN. Aside from volleyball, table tennis is another sport where CSN excels. Very recently, our Gr. VI pupil champion in table tennis was invited to compete at the “Children’s Olympics” in California, U.S.A. This extraordinary feat happened in the past, is happening at present and will still happen in the years to come.
Aside from intensifying the different school activities, Fr. Capellan also initiated the holding of colloquia and fora for the CSN faculty where selected CSN teachers were assigned as speakers while the rest of the teachers were the participants themselves. In the process, professional upliftment is experienced and self-confidence of teachers is boosted. Likewise, camaraderie and oneness among teachers is fostered.
Fr. Capellan’s term also saw the various changes and renovations in the school – the improvement of the library and the conference room with installed air-conditioning units; the construction of the Audio-Visual Room and the Sports Room; and the renovation of the H.E. Room and the Instructional Materials Resource Center (IMRC) to hold all non-print materials and other teacher-made instructional materials for teachers to borrow and use in the classroom.
With the accreditation work in full swing, Fr. Capellan inquired from PAASCU Office regarding the visit, so on February 22-23, 2008, PAASCU office sent Ms. Myrna Abiog to CSN for a consultancy visit. With the recommendations she gave during her visit, working on their implementation was given priority, particularly during summer 2008.
Fr. Willy Capellan’s term ended before the preliminary visit was realized. A new set of priest administrators took over for SY 2008-2009 until SY 2011-2012. At the helm is Fr. Antolin N. Asor, OSA as the Director. He is ably assisted by Fr. Victor F. Gonzaga, OSA and Rev. Aladdin P. Luzon, OSA as the school treasurer and general services in-charge respectively.Presently, CSN gears itself for the coming preliminary survey visit. Fr. Antolin N. Asor, OSA as the present school director will have his hands full in leading CSN for the much awaited PAASCU visit on March 2-3, 2009. With everyone’s full support and cooperation, hopefully the accreditation of the school would finally put a niche to the quality education CSN offers its clientele.
@ 2010-2010 Colegio del Santo Nino, Magallanes St., Cebu Cty
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