St. Mary’s Academy, Pasay is a Filipino, Catholic and Ignacian Marian school.
Founded in 1922 as the Escuela Catolica de Pasay, it was situated in front of the Sta. Clara Parish Church and was managed by a parish priest, Rev. lgmidio Trinidad. It was housed in an old Spanish building which also served as the convent. Because the school lacked physical facilities and personnel, the Escuela offered only primary education to young children.
A turnover of parish priest prompted the parish to ask help in managing the school. Then Archbishop of Manila, Most Rev. Michael O'Doherty, requested for help from the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) the first pontifical congregation for women in the Philippines. In 1939, the RVM sisters took over and later changed the name to St. Mary’s Academy to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mo. Ma. Josefa Avendaño became the school's first Superior.
Like most schools which ceased to operate at the outbreak of World War Il on December 8, 1941, SMA was among the first schools to resume classes after the liberation on July 1, 1945. It saw the country’s need to rebuild a war-torn nation through education hence SMA had to admit hundreds of students eager to get back to school even with only six rooms and teachers available. With renewed peace, the school continued to grow. On March 1946, the Elementary course was granted government recognition followed by the General Secondary Course a year after. Ten (10) students became the first batch of high school graduates of SMA in 1947.
As the country celebrated its second year as a republic in 1948, SMA began a new era. Slowly the school was molded to the structure that we see today and a renewal of faith and purpose was very apparent in the decades of the 50's and 60's. This period was highlighted by building construction to meet the growing needs of the school population. The tremendous increase in the enrolment in the 60's resulted in the turnover of the Grade V and VI boys to the Sta. Clara Parochial School in 1962-1963 while the Sisters continued the supervision of the two levels as requested.
Government recognition for the Kindergarten Course followed in 1965. Three years after a big fire broke out near the school which nearly razed the buildings to the ground. Many of the students lost their homes. Classes were congested for some classrooms were made available to the poor fire victims. This disaster in 1968-1969 gave way to the construction of the earthquake proof five-storey building named after Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.
The events of the 70's have been crucial to the further development of the school as an institution. Spiritual formation of the students, faculty and non-teaching personnel was given priority by the Administration. In 1972 the first Faculty Club and the St. Mary's Academy Parents' Auxiliary (SMAPA) were organized. These two associations brought about a closer and harmonious relationship between the members of the school community. Pursuant to the enactment of PD No. 1139 (creation of Non-Formal school launched the Extension Service Program, now the Education) in 1979, the Mother Ignacia Skills Training Center. This is SMA's way of sharing the spirit of the RVM Foundress' concern for the less endowed, materially and spiritually. Free trainings are given in Dressmaking/Tailoring, Cosmetology, Typing and Computer and Speed Sewing. Hundreds of graduates of the Center are now gainfully employed in different offices in the community.
Another fire razed the school to the ground on the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption in 1975. From the ruins rose the Assumption, Sacred Heart and St. Therese Buildings. Housed in these edifices are additional classrooms and service facilities such as the computer room, the Instructional Media Center as well as its preview and stockrooms, H.E. Science Laboratories, Canteen and Fast Food Center.
After years of needed physical development, SMA found more time to focus in upgrading academic programs and its services to the community and the poor. Aware of the need for quality education it officially and voluntarily applied for accreditation by PAASCU in 1983. As a result, the High School and Grade School Departments were accredited in 1984 and 1986 respectively giving the school a level of autonomy and other privileges granted to institutions possessing standards of quality and excellence. The school consistently passed succeeding re-accreditations for the past thirty (30) years. It has also been a recipient of various awards in academic, religious and cultural fields through outstanding participation of students in civic and community reach out activities.
Significant changes and achievements highlighted the decade of the '90s. After seventy-two (72) years of operating exclusively for girls, the High School Department opened its doors for male students as a response to parents' request and the need of developing well balanced, educated Christian men and women in 1994.
To provide the students with excellent service facilities, the Holy Child building was constructed in 1997. This houses now the expanded GS Library, Guidance Center for both GS and HS Departments, GS Science laboratories, prayer room, Internet room, Personnel lounge and the spacious extension of the St. Therese canteen on the ground floor. A new layout of the Principal's offices was done to facilitate supervision and communication in the department.
SMA re-affirmed its vision and mission as it celebrated 75 years of service and providing quality education during the Diamond Jubilee year in 1997. A week-long celebration was dedicated in thanksgiving and acknowledging God's abiding presence and outpouring of tremendous blessings.
The school believes that to be able to compete in a globalized educational environment and to meet the dynamically changing demands of its clients' continuous upgrading of academic programs, constant review of strategic plans and entry into the world of Information Technology is imperative.
One of the major concerns the school is currently involved in is its Information Technology Program. It started in 1994 when the Local Area Network that linked the Accounting, Registrar and other administrative offices was installed. Two years later the Library services were computerized linking both HS and GS libraries. The Guidance Services was added to the network in 1997. In 1998 the school created its Home Page in the world wide web for people from all over the world to learn more about the school system.
SMA marked its 60th year under the RVM administration in 1999. Motivated by the Ignacian Spirit of humble and dedicated service specially to the poor and under-privileged the Mother Ignacia Center for Human Development was constructed in the same year. This five-storey building now accommodates all the students of the former Mother Ignacia Skills Training Center. The Center offers free trainings in Dressmaking / Tailoring, Cosmetology, Typing and Computer, Hi-Speed Sewing, Electronics, Cooking & Home Management. To enable the Center to serve a wider community new course offerings have been introduced and day classes were organized. This is SMA's way of sharing the spirit of the RVM Foundress' concern for the less endowed, materially and spiritually. These are also part of the school's commitment to empower, liberate the less fortunate from all forms of enslavement, and allow them to live and experience the loving care of God.
Year 2000 was made more significant with the granting of another five-year clean accreditation to the High School Department using Form B by PAASCU — a result of the re-visit on October 1999.
Faithful to its pledge of total commitment to quality and responsive education and in its relentless pursuit for improvement SMA took a bolder step towards providing its customers with globally competitive, consistent high quality education with outstanding quality service. It formulated a new vision-mission, core values, quality policy, quality objectives and institutional and area goals. It also established and documented a quality management system using ISO 9001:2000 standard thus after 80 years of service, the school was ISO 9001 certified in April 11 & 12, 2002. As ISO 9001 certified school, St. Mary's Academy, Pasay became the first school in the Philippines offering Basic Education and the first school in Pasay City and among the RVM schools that passed the standards of ISO 9001:2000.
In 2006, after the 18th Ordinary General Chapter of the RVM Congregation, SMA-P adopted the Ignacian Marian description from the original Marian-Ignacian and incorporated Faith among its Core Values in harmony with the direction of the RVM Education Ministry Commission.
SMA-P integrated Arts across its curriculum along with the need to realize the school's curricular thrust towards the Active Learning Framework and the RVM Pedagogy in the daily learning experience of Marians starting 2008-2009.
With Ignacian earnestness, SMA-P continued its ascent to its goal for Faith, Commitment, Excellence and Service for social transformation. The Grade School Department responded to PAASCU's invitation to apply for Level Ill accreditation in September 2008 and was granted by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP) Level Ill status on January 31, 2009. The High School Department followed suit and was granted PAASCU level Ill status on April 29, 2011.
SMA-P widens the reach of its curricular innovations by offering Special Program for Foreign Students in school year 2011-2012, particularly for non-Filipino speakers. In line with the K to 12 Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum and to keep pace with the ASEAN 2015 and the demand for global competitiveness, SMA-P ventures into a new organizational structure having only one Basic Education Principal from Kindergarten, Grade School and High School in 2014.
The end goal of Ignacian Marian education is to lead all to the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. The school confidently moves on in its teaching apostolate strongly upholding the belief that Christians can provide the leadership to bear witness to sound moral values and principles in their lives. In the pursuit of its mission, Marians will be equipped with a solid foundation of Christian faith, academic competence and a deep sense of commitment to serve the Church and the Community.
VISION AND MISSION:
As an Ignacian Marian school, St. Mary's Academy's vision-mission is to provide quality Catholic education for the development of persons with a solid foundation in Christian faith and the readiness to serve the church and society.
Its goal is to be an educational institution that efficiently and effectively:
- Produces academically competent graduates,
- Provides client focused services,
- Adopts quality management systems, and
- Advocates community and church services.
MOTHER IGNACIA DEL ESPIRITU
SANTO (1663-1748) AND HER LEGACY Source: RVM School Personnel: Norms and Policies 2008 Edition
Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo lived during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines. The precise date of her birth is not known but the record shows the date of her baptism on March 4, 1663. This confirms the statement of Pedro Murillo Velarde, biographer of Mother Ignacia, that she was 21 years old in 1684. Ignacia was the eldest and the sole surviving child of Maria Jeronima, an yndia, and Jusepe luco, a pure Chinese immigrant from Amoy, China. Her father was converted to Catholicism in 1652 and resided in Binondo, Manila.
When Ignacia was 21 years old, her parents wanted her to marry. Heeding a call deep within but not wanting to disappoint her parents, Ignacia sought counsel from Fr. Paul Klein, a Jesuit priest from Bohemia who arrived in Manila in 1682. The priest gave her the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. After this period of solitude and prayer, Ignacia decided to ('remain in the service of the Divine Majesty/' and to "live by the sweat of her brow." She left home and brought with her only a needle and a pair of scissors. She started to live alone in the house located at the back of the Jesuit College of Manila. Her life of prayer and labor attracted yndias who were also called to religious life but could not be admitted to existing beaterios at that time. Mother Ignacia accepted these women into her company and the first community was born. They became known as the Beatas de la Compafiia de Jesus because they frequently received the sacraments at the Church of St. Ignatius, performed many acts of devotion there and went to the Jesuit Fathers for spiritual direction and confession.
Mother Ignacia centered her life on the suffering Christ and tried to imitate Him through a life of service and humility. She prayed earnestly to God and performed penances to move God to have mercy on them. Her spirituality of humble service was expressed in her capacity to forgive, to bear wrongs patiently and to correct with gentleness and meekness. This spirituality was manifest in peace and harmony in the community, mutual love and union of wills, witnessing to the love of Jesus Christ and the maternal care of Mary our Blessed Mother.
This spirituality sustained the beatas in their moments of difficulties especially during times of extreme poverty, when they even had to beg for rice and salt and scour the streets for firewood. The beatas continued to support themselves by the labor of their hands and sometimes received some financial help from pious people. In all these, they did not cease to thank God and to trust in His divine providence.
The growing number of beatas called for a more stable lifestyle and a set of rules. A daily schedule was drawn up and community practices were defined. Following the spirit of St. Ignatius, Mother Ignacia exhorted her beatas to live always in the presence of God and to develop great purity of heart. She also emphasized charity in the community which was dedicated to the Blessed Mother. The spirit of Mary runs through the rules that were written for the guidance of the beatas. In defining her style of leadership, Mother Ignacia drew inspiration from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She strove to be the living image of Mary to her companions and exhorted them to take Mary as their model in following Jesus.
Mother Ignacia gradually realized that the Beaterio was called by God not only to a life of prayer and penance but also to apostolic service. The Beaterio admitted young girls and boarders who were taught Christian doctrine as well as works proper to them. Mother Ignacia did not make any distinction of color or race but accepted yndias, mestizas and Spaniards as recogidas. The beatas were also involved in retreat work and helped the Jesuit Fathers by preparing the retreatants to be disposed to the Spiritual Exercises.
Mother Ignacia submitted the 1726 Constitutions of the Beaterio to the Archdiocesan Officer for approval. After the approval was given in 1732 by the Fiscal Provisor of Manila, Mother Ignacia decided to give up her responsibility as Superior of the house. She lived as an ordinary member until her death on September 10, 1748. Pedro Murillo Velarde saw this as a great sign of humility. She had not desire to command and control. In his estimation, Mother Ignacia was a "true valiant woman who overcame the great difficulties which she met in the foundation from the beginning to the end." She was "mortified, patient, devout, spiritual, zealous for the good of souls."
A few months before her death, the Archbishop initiated a process of securing royal protection for the Beaterio. Mother Ignacia died without knowing the response of the Spanish king but her long life in the Beaterio must have taught her to trust in the providence of God. Little did she expect that the Beaterio would become a congregation and continue to exist until today, more than 300 years after her death. The congregation, now known as the Religious of the Virgin Mary, is a living testimony to her life as God's handmaid who opened the door of religious life to native women in the Philippines. She proved that God is the God of all peoples, of whatever color or race.
The royal protection granted in 1755 guaranteed the safety of the beatas but it did not recognize the beaterio as a community of religious women. It was ordained to remain as a pious association. The beatas, faithful to the spirit of the foundress, M. Ignacia, lived the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as religious women even without being recognized as such. The expulsion of the Jesuits in 1768 was another blow to the beatas. They lost their spiritual guides but they continued to enjoy the solicitude of the Archbishop of Manila and other Church men. In the spirit of M. Ignacia, the beatas lived by the sweat of their brow and persevered in the service of God through education and retreat work. Despite attempts by the Governor-General to change the nature of the beaterio, the beatas remained faithful to the vision and charism of M. Ignacia and survived the dark years.
The growth of the beaterio into a Congregation and its response to the apostolic challenges of the times show the vitality of the spirit of M. Ignacia. Indeed, her lamp continues to shine as her daughters courageously strive to respond with zeal to the call of mission in different contexts. The story of the Congregation that has grown from the small Beaterio of Mother Ignacia continues to unfold. It bears witness to the enduring vitality and strength of the foundation, the spirituality of Mother Ignacia. The lamp she lit to guide the path of the native women aspiring to the religious life and the maturity of faith still shines. It remains undimmed. The life of this lowly yndia and the fruits of her spirituality proclaim the immense goodness and unbounded mercy of God.
An article of the weekly paper, La Illustracion Filipina, September 7, 1803 issue, described Mother Ignacia as "the genuine product of the highest order of the nation and a fitting model of womanhood...She was foundress of a religious institution that still lives its pristine spirit vigorously two centuries after its foundation." The Philippine National Historical Association gave recognition to Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo as the first Filipina to start the first Filipino congregation for women in the Philippines, the female organizer of retreat movements for women throughout the world and one of the pioneers of Christian education of youth in the Philippines.
Today, Mother Ignacia lives in the Spirit and heart of the RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY (RVM), a Religious Congregation of women which started from her humble foundation. The sisters are actively participating in God's mission of proclaiming the Good News through various apostolates: education, retreat movements, seminary, dormitory, and social ministries in the Philippines and overseas. Cardinal Pironio, on December 8, 1983 wrote the Superior General... "The present flourishing state of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary not only testifies to God's blessings on your Institute, but also a proof that the foundations were solidly laid, that the members of the Institute are giving witness of a truly religious life, as well as fulfilling the service to the Church intended by Ignacia."
Pope Benedict XVI, during a private audience on July 6, 2007 with Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, CMF, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorized the promulgation of decrees concerning 16 holy men and women who will be elevated to the altar. One of them was Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.
The promulgation of the DECRETUM SUPER VIRTUTIBUS (Decree on Virtues) which His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI accepted, ratified, and ordered to be published in the Acts of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints last July 6, 2007, states that the Servant of God "is found to possess to a heroic degree the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity toward God and neighbor, as well as, the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude.
On February 1, 2008, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales presided over the promulgation which officially accorded to Mother Ignacia the title "Venerable" at the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila.
SMA-P SCHOOL SEAL
Significance of Its Symbols
“A.M." stands for "Ave Maria" in praise of our Blessed Mother Mary, the Patroness of the RVM Congregation. The stars which surround the monogram (AM) represent the God-given prerogatives of Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church. The rays signify the light and wisdom from God through Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. The sampaguita beneath the book symbolizes the purity of heart of Mary and Mother Ignacia and the Filipino origin of the school. At the center of the seal is an open book which bears the Latin inscription "Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini." This means “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov 9:10). It expresses filial fear, a disposition of profound reverence, awe and love for God, the Source of all wisdom, grace and life.
THE RVM SCHOOL MOTTO
“Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini” (Latin)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (English)
THE RVM SCHOOL GREETING
Greeting: Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Response: Now and forever!
“A spirituality of Marian radical openness to the will of God that impels us to a humble and courageous, generous and creative service.”