If the thousands of cars going in and out of Colegio San Agustin are any sign of its success as one of the prime education providers in Metro Manila, if not in the country, then CSA has achieved its goal - to provide basic quality education to children of all classes in society.
Colegio San Agustin, located in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City, is a basic education school run by the Order of St. Augustine, a religious institute which traces its origins back to its illustrious founder, St. Augustine.
The members of this Order, called Augustinians, are in over forty countries today, with educational institutions around the world. Recognized pioneers of Christianity in the Philippines, the Augustinians under Fray Andres de Urdaneta first set foot on its shores in 1565, and are now engaged in missionary, parish and educational work, with schools in Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Makati and Biñan.
The Order of Saint Augustine is divided into two provinces: the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines, which manages Colegio San Agustin, Makati, and the Province of the Santo Niño de Cebu, which takes ge of all the other schools in the country.
The Augustinians in the Philippines established more than three hundred towns and churches before they shifted to the field of education at the end of the 19th century. First, they offered vocational education in the orphanages of Mandaluyong and Guadalupe. Then, they built several schools: Colegio (now University of) San Agustin, Iloilo in 1904, Colegio del Santo Niño, Cebu in 1946 and Colegio San Agustin, Bacolod in 1962.
Due to the fast pace of growth of Manila and its environs the Augustinians, through their Superior, Fr. Santos Abia, O.S.A., had a school constructed in 1969, to “impart religious instruction along with the official education programs”. That school was Colegio San Agustin, Makati.
In 1967 the Augustinians purchased from Ayala Corporation eight (8) hectares of land in Dasmariñas Village, Makati, with an option to buy four (4) adjacent hectares within ten years. On November 24, 1976, nine years later, they received as donation from Ayala Corporation, two of the four (4) hectares stipulated in the option agreement. In turn, they released the last two (2) hectares of land to Ayala Corporation, for the latter to sell to other parties. By then, Colegio San Agustin already owned ten hectares: eight (8), through purchase and two (2), through donation.
THE CORPORATION AND ITS MANDATE
To organize a new corporation, the Augustinians used an existing organization, Colegio San Agustin (Bacolod), Inc. to acquire the land, agree to the option and make initial payments. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, O.S.A. of Colegio San Agustin (Bacolod), Inc. and Mr. Miguel Ortigas of Makati Development Corporation (now Ayala Corporation) signed the agreements in January 1967. The agreements stipulated that within six months the purchaser must submit a development plan to the owner that would include the setting up of elementary, high school and college facilities within the area, upon which detailed plans for the buildings to be constructed would be based.
When the new corporation emerged, the president, Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, O.S.A., transferred the rights from Colegio San Agustin (Bacolod) to San Agustin College (Makati), Inc. on 25 April 1967.
Auxiliary Bishop Bienvenido Lopez, D.D., blessed the cornerstone of the first CSA building on 1 September 1968. Ten months later, on 7 July 1969, the school opened its doors to the first enrollees, both male and female, numbering 652.
On 28 August 1969, Cardinal Rufino Santos blessed the first buildings constructed by well-known Architect Manuel T. Mañosa, Jr. - the administration building, which served as the priests’ residence, and the grade school building, phase 1, which temporarily housed kindergarten, preparatory, elementary and high school levels.
At the start, only two priests, Frs. Angel Rodriguez, O.S.A. and Horacio Rodriguez, O.S.A., ran the school with the help of twenty-four lady teachers. The levels offered then were kindergarten, preparatory, grades one to six, first and second year high school. The addition of grade seven, third and fourth year high school came in subsequent years. Today, there are six Augustinian priests and nearly four hundred employees in CSA. Classes from nursery to preparatory, grades one to seven, first to fourth year high school, serve a clientele of more than 6,100 students.
Due to great public demand, school enrollment increased by leaps and bounds, giving new impetus to rapid physical expansion in the early years: the bull-ring-shaped kindergarten building in 1972; the ultra-modern CSA chapel, phase 1 of the covered basketball courts, the grade school canteen and phase 2 of the grade school building in 1973, and the sports complex in 1974.
The demand for structures to house the burgeoning school population and to service its escalating needs spurred CSA to embark on expansion projects under the helm of Architect Jose O. Dizon: the high school building in 1977, the theatre in 1980, the high school annex in 1985, and the grade school southeast wing in 1986.
The administration had the students’ physical wellness, health, nutrition and comfort in mind when in 1992, it pushed for the construction of the polysport and the cafetorium.
In 1992, the renovated administration and preschool buildings became architectural showcases due to their state-of-the-art design, materials and facilities. In 1995 the school equipped itself to handle computer systems.
The air-conditioning of classrooms at all levels was a treat the students began enjoying in 2002, the year the streetlight project was completed and the vertical extension of the grade school covered walk fence, added.
More recently in 2004, Architect Ireneo Jasareno conducted a major renovation of the CSA theatre, which was inaugurated on 25 November 2005, as well as, that of the Sta. Rita de Cascia Hall (grade school lecture room), which was blessed on 30 June 2006. He also was responsible for the technical supervision of the construction of La Pergola de Maria, Mary’s grotto, on 17 January 2008.
This infrastructure development is in keeping with the belief of the school that it should be able to provide its students with a learning environment conducive to both study, as well as, physical and spiritual wellbeing. By making available to these students the best facilities, the school would be able to motivate them to excel in their performance in the different disciplines.
Alongside its fast-paced physical facilities improvement, Colegio San Agustin gave equal importance to curriculum development. Since that initial spark of light, when the school’s vision-mission, philosophy and objectives were clarified through facilitator Dr. Belen de Jesus in the 1980s, CSA has been relentlessly reviewing, improving and implementing its programs. It has applied the unified learning continuum at all levels and has upgraded its curriculum on a regular basis.
Colegio San Agustin has also sought to address the individual needs of its students by conducting, aside from its regular academic programs, special classes in English and in Filipino to non-speakers of these languages. Enrichment programs in mathematics, in science and in art for the gifted are given. A remedial program that caters to students with difficulties in some subjects has been put in place. Its Arts and Sports Enrichment Program (ASEP) recognizes the students’ inclination towards music and the arts and their propensity for physical activities. Under the ASEP’s umbrella are the Special Interest Individual Guided Education (SIIGE) Program, taken during the music/PE period and the Professional Training for the Gifted Students (PTGS) Program, taken after class hours, meant to enhance the curricular offerings of the school in the performing arts and in sports.
The administration and faculty have always kept abreast of new trends in education and have continuously developed and improved curricular and co-curricular programs for the students. They are at the center of a rapidly evolving educational culture being boosted by technological innovations.
Since its launch at the accounting and registrar’s offices in the mid ‘80s, computerization has become the answer to many administrative and logistical concerns. The school’s accounting, finance management, guidance, registration and grading systems have largely relied on computerized processes. A school website, created in 2004, now exists to connect CSA with the world. Library and laboratory facilities have expanded to include the latest in media and computer technology for use in the school’s computer-aided instruction and media literacy programs.
Always responsive to the needs of an evolving educational milieu, the school abolished some offices and created new ones; namely, the Christian Formation Team Office, to be in ge of the spiritual formation of the Augustinian community, the Personnel Office to take care of personnel needs, the Public Relations and Communications Office to deal with internal and external communication linkages and publications, the Computer Services Center to attend to the information technology requirements of the school. It kept the five major directorships occupied by Augustinian priests unchanged, although it placed offices the different school functions under appropriate heads. It instituted faculty and staff re-classification, to properly categorize positions in the salary structure that would afford everybody a just and fair compensation.
Recently, the Office of the Arts and Sports Enrichment Program (ASEP), which includes the Special Interest Individual Guided Education (SIIGE) and the Professional Training for Gifted Students (PTGS) Programs, was put up to better monitor and to supervise the special programs being offered to students in the arts, culture and sports.
HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Believing that the heart of a good school is a well-trained and highly motivated faculty and staff, CSA has presented its employees with probably one of the best personnel development programs in the country. It has tried to ensure that both the personal and professional needs of personnel are satisfied.
Through its well administered health care plan, annual service awards program, improved retirement scheme, progressive administrative staff and maintenance personnel salary scale and motivational perks for good work, perfect attendance and length of service, the school has sought to offer its employees a benefits program that would increase their own self-worth and motivate them to work harder to realize its vision-mission.
Intent on reaching out to the whole school community, the school has given its employees periodically updated manuals that facilitate their understanding of institutional policies and procedures. Newsletters, such as the Interoffice Bulletin, the Kiddie Augustinian, the Augustinian Mirror, the Insight and the professional journal, Search, continue to circulate, to brief the readers with current activities and programs, to acquaint them with social niceties and norms of behavior and to feed their minds with various philosophies and trends of thought. The institutional bulletin board displays information on school activities, notices, policies, regulations and the like.
A noteworthy feature of CSA is the involvement of parents in important matters through their representation in administrative committees, including Christian formation, curriculum and personnel development, grievance, institutional activities, and promotion and tenure. The tapping of parent-professionals to be resource speakers is common practice. The Parent-Teachers’ Association of Colegio San Agustin keeps communication lines open between the school and the parents, in collaborative partnership with one another. It also plays an important role in the Home – School Partnership Program.
Meanwhile, the CSA Employees-Administration Council (EAC) serves as a forum for both administration and employees to bring up points for discussion and come to an agreement, thus improving employer-employee relationship.
PROOF OF EXCELLENCE
Foremost among CSA’s achievements has been the recognition from the Department of Education of its courses since July 1972, and the accreditation of its basic education programs. The Federation of Accrediting Associations of the Philippines (FAAP) and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) have granted the Grade School Department initial accreditation in 1983 for a period of three. The department was re-accredited in 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2007, managing to come up with a clean slate in all those accreditation visits - a mark of excellence by PAASCU standards. Similarly, the PAASCU has accredited the high school four times, with passing marks. Recently, it granted the CSA grade school the eligibility to apply for Level III re-accredited status.
The effectiveness of CSA’s academic programs may be gleaned from the brilliant performance of CSA students at national and international contests. These students have topped academic and co-curricular competitions. Take the following prestigious events: the International Math and Science Olympiad, the Math Kangaroo-USA Contest, the Hua Lou Geng Golden Cup Invitation Math Contest for the Youth, the Hua Bei Sai Math Competition, the Australian Mathematics Competition for the Westpac, the Wizard Mathematics International Competition (Wizmic), the China Primary and HS Math Olympiad, the National Quiz Bee (Math), MTAP DepEd Math Challenge, Sipnayan, the Annual Global Dimensions Olympiad, the Asian Inter-secondary School Debate Tournament, the Math/Physics Inter-elementary Math Competition, the ACP Sports and Speech Competitions, the Philippine Robotics Olympiad and the Healthy You Nutri-quiz Contest.
CSA students have also consistently excelled in oratory, extemporaneous speech, art, poster-making and sports competitions. They have occupied positions of leadership in both inter-school and national organizations (Ten Outstanding Students of Makati, Rotary Interact Club, etc.), and have gained entry to the most reputable colleges and universities here and abroad. They have also assumed responsible positions in broadcast media, business, education, government, music, theater and other professional fields.
CSA has been actively supporting the school community in its bid for international exposure. It has sent academic administrators, students and teachers to different countries, like Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sydney, Thailand and the United States, to participate in competitions, to head delegations, to present papers and to attend conventions. Examples of these are the Augustinian Pacific and Asia Conference and the Congress of Augustinian Educators. CSA itself is also making its presence felt in the international arena, as an active member of the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPNet), a global network of educational institutions working in support of quality education.
A globally attuned and progressive administration showing concern and service for all, a dedicated and innovative faculty and staff with a strong commitment to serve, and a dynamic and responsive student community with a heart for the poor and the needy and a mind in constant pursuit of truth and justice - these make up Colegio San Agustin, a school distinguished, not only, by its drive towards academic excellence, but also, by its desire to reach out and evangelize others for God’s greater honor and glory.