Assumption College at 50
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez () - September 2, 2008 - 12:00am

Assumption College (AC) San Lorenzo is now 50 years old. Located in a serene campus in San Lorenzo Village, Makati City, it is regarded as the country’s pioneering progressive school for women.

Assumption San Lorenzo was once thought of as just an elite school for girls, where students would make “tusok-tusok” fishballs by the park after classes. But it has produced some of the country’s most socially responsible (okay, socially responsible as well as sosyal) women, involved not just in Cabinet meetings but also in moral and humanitarian crusades (Chosen Children and CRIBS, for instance, are led by Assumption alumnae.)

Assumption has produced such prominent women as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sen. Loren Legarda, Gina de Venecia, Marixi Rufino-Prieto and SM’s Tessie Sy-Coson and countless others who toil beyond the glow and the glare of the klieg lights.

Few know that Assumption started as a school for teachers in 1898, but closed down during the revolution. Among its first and only graduates were Rosa Sevilla de Alvero, foundress of the Instituto de Mujeres; Librada Avelino and Carmen de Luna, who founded Centro Escolar University. At the onset of the 1898 revolution, the school’s operations were abruptly stopped and the Sisters returned to Europe.

It re-opened in 1904 as a boarding school in Herran, Manila for girls in the elementary and high school. The sisters opened the Assumption Convent in Herran-Dakota, Malate, as an elementary and secondary school, adding a college department in 1940.

 During the Liberation of Manila in 1945, the whole school was nearly razed to the ground. Classes continued in huts and in a battered auditorium in Herran. Through Mother Rosa Maria’s courageous leadership, Assumption Manila got back on its feet and was relaunched with broader perspectives in mind. In 1947, reconstruction began and the College re-opened in 1948.

 The school then expanded to its San Lorenzo, Makati campus, welcoming 180 students into its preparatory and elementary levels in June 1958. The following year, Assumption College San Lorenzo opened its doors to college-bound young women.

After some time, the Herran site was sold as the area was becoming a commercial center in a tourist belt and was no longer conducive to learning. I remember the Herran campus, where I went to grade school in the ’70s. It was a beautiful campus with Gothic buildings and gardens shaded by acacia trees. In its place now stands Robinsons Manila.

In 1973-74, the Herran and San Lorenzo schools fused: the high school and the college were based in San Lorenzo while the preschool and grade school briefly occupied Herran, then temporarily moved to San Lorenzo in June, 1974. Finally the grade school settled in Antipolo along Sumulong Highway on Sept. 11, 1974. My batch was the first to graduate from Assumption Antipolo grade school in 1975.

Because of the distance between Antipolo and Manila, there was a persistent appeal of the alumnae and parents to re-open the elementary level in San Lorenzo, and it was heeded.

In response to the call of the Church, the Assumption in the Philippines has moved towards the rural areas and the under-privileged sector, without abandoning the education of the upper/middle classes. The majority of its schools, campus ministries, and community development works are now among farmers, tribal, and the urban poor.

Jubilee scholarships

 I have seen how Assumption College has become a force in Philippine education, producing strong and competent women who have not lost sight of their social responsibilities and are distinguished by their social graces. You will also see passionate Assumptionistas on both sides of the political fence. They are confident and eloquent, and they are movers and shakers.

The year 2008 continues to be a banner year for the girls in gold, white and blue of Assumption College. Encouraging the community to “Be a voice of Hope,” the pioneering progressive school for women recently gathered its best and brightest —alumnae, students, teachers, families and friends alike — in a special Mass and reception to celebrate Assumption San Lorenzo’s 50th year by granting the Jubilee Merit Scholarships.

In honor of this year’s FIAT (Fidelity to Duty, Integrity, Achievement and Transformation of Society) Awardees, 16 high school graduates from schools all over the Philippines, including four of AC’s mission schools in Bukidnon, San Simon, Mandaluyong and Malibay were given scholarships in their chosen Assumption College courses. The scholars were picked for their high AC college admissions test scores, excellent grades, contributions to extra-curricular activities including arts and athletics programs, and upon the recommendation of their high school administrators. Apart from these commemorative scholarship grants, AC also awards college scholarships to some 20 deserving young women every year.

The FIAT Awards, a jubilee year program, is a tribute to the institution’s best educators. The honorees were chosen based on their contributions to keep AC’s tradition of academic excellence and social involvement alive. Namely — Sisters Esperanza Maria Co Unjieng, Miriam Co, Rosario de Veyra, Ma. Luisa Locsin and Carmen Reyes all of the Religious of the Assumption, and Professors Justo Albert, Augusto Barcelon, Ernesto Escaler, Ariston Estrada, Teodoro Locsin Sr., Lourdes Padilla, Waldo Perfecto, Augusto Quirino, Emma Unson-Rotor, Lourdes de Veyra-Sevilla and Herminia Tay — the honorees were recognized for performing their duties, whether as teacher or administrator, with faith, grace, and love, opening the students’ minds to the fulfilling rewards of serving others with an open heart. The event also commemorated the first anniversary of school founder St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus’ canonization.

Much of what I am, and the inspirations for much of what I write, come from the seeds planted in me by my Assumption education.

Assumption taught me that the privilege of a good education came with power to make a difference and the responsibility to make that difference take place, and bear fruit.

I graduated from high school in the San Lorenzo campus and it has always been home to me, a beacon and an anchor when I ventured into the world outside.

* * *
(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com)

ACHIEVEMENT AND TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY ASSUMPTION ASSUMPTION COLLEGE ASSUMPTION SAN LORENZO COLLEGE HERRAN LORENZO SAN SAN LORENZO SCHOOL
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