Divine Word College SJOM history
· Barrio Siete Central was the center of economic activity in Occidental Mindoro; the Philippine Milling Company, the first sugar mill in the country, was based in this place
· The war has just ended
· The Americans landed on the beaches of Pandurucan; overnight the town became a city; the presence of the Americans attracted many people from various places.
· Gabriel Fabella, lawyer-assemblyman from the province of Romblon and history professor at the University of the Philippines came to San Jose to give it a try; he stayed in the house of a relative, Crisanto Festin, the town’s municipal treasurer. He was introduced to the Americans who gave him work as a sanitary inspector at PhP 100 a month to take charge of the cleanliness and sanitation of Siete Central
· Fabella broached to his new friends the idea of opening a school in the place to provide private secondary education.
· The secured the permission of Mr Cecilio Jimenez, the manager of the company, use the company buildings.
· Metring de Mesa Festin, wife of Crisanto, suggested the name Southern Mindoro Academy (SMA). The original incorporators were: Raul T. Leuterio, Gabriel F. Fabella, Isabelo Abeleda Sr. Cipriano Liboro, and Cosme Tria.
· The SMA started operating in a big bunkhouse at the end of what was then called the “Transportation Camp.” There were about 80 freshmen and 20 sophomores.
· The first teachers were: Federico Castillo and Melicio Quinonez, Manuel Leano was the treasurer-registrar.
· The school started classes on August 8, 1945 but the permit to operate given by the Bureau of Private Schools was issued effective December 1, 1945.
· Meanwhile, the Americans constructed an airstrip in Pandurucan, which they used during the “liberation” period.
· They left Siete Central in 1946. People also started to transfer to Pandurucan. The owners of SMA also started transferring the school. They bought a portion of the land owned by the Soldevillas and applied for the other half which was a public land. They bought the quonset buildings used as hospital by the Americans. The whole compound with four quonset buildings was purchased for PhP 3,500. At first the people of Siete Central protested the transfer, because Pandurucan was too far (16 kms.) but they accepted later (why?)
· It began to offer a complete four-year high school education for boys and girls.
· Bright graduates: Benjamin Walata, valedictorian and honor student Pura Cabading (Ma’am Rayton?).
· Dr. Felix Gabriel, Board President, enjoined the two above to teach in the school, they did. Mr Walata became the SMA principal.
· A one-room first year high school for boys and girls was started in the church compound by the parish priest, Fr. Carlos Brendel, SVD. This became the parochial St. Joseph’s School that offered a full four-year high school education. It’s first principal was Ms. Magdalena Campos. The school grew until it offered two-year associated courses in the early 60s.
· SMA operated for approximately 14 years. Due to financial constraints, it’s owners decided to sell the school. In 1960, SMA was bought by the SVD. The sale was negotiated by Mr. Mena R. Quinto, the supervisor of PAL.
· SVD and SSpS (spell out) were both founded by Arnold Janssen.
· In 1960, SMA, under the SVD fathers, now named Divine World Academy, opened a high school exclusively for boys. First to be absorbed were the boys from St. Joseph’s School, which was converted into an exclusive high school for girls.
· The new school offered a four-year Bachelor of Science in Education course. It started with 12 young men and women. Other college courses offered were the one-year Secretarial Science and the two-year Associate in Commerce and Liberal Arts.
· Of the 12 who started the BSE course, two graduated in 1963: Ernesto Balestamon of Pawikan Ilin Island and Norma Pablo Necia of Sieta Central.
· In 1962, the construction of a three-storey building on Roxas corner Morente Streets was finished. This structure was referred to as the “Main Building.”
· Fr. George Koschinski, SVD replaced Fr. Carlos Brendel who found a new assignment in Mindoro Oriental. In 1964, St.Joseph School was formally turned over to the SSpS sisters for management.
· Thus the plan of the SVD in giving Occidental Mindoro quality Christian education was not well settled: Divine Word Academy to be run by the SVD priests and St. Joseph’s School to be managed by SSpS nuns.
· San Jose during these times had kalesa and de padyak tricycle as mode of transportation. To own a bicycle was a status symbol.
Source: Acebes, Rodolfo “Bisi”. 2000. [didn’t write the title of the article] DWCSJ 2000 Alumni Homecoming. (from the dwcsjom yahoo group site)