History of St. Raphael Academy
Saint Raphael Parochial School, now St. Raphael Academy, is located in the heart of Legazpi City, a Catholic institution founded by Msgr. Nicanor Belleza in 1949. This institution started with only five hundred pupils from grades one to four with Msgr. Nicanor Belleza, the first director and Sr. Mercedes, OSB, the principal, Sr. Leonarda, OSB, the superior, of the Benedictine Congregation. When Msgr. Belleza was transferred to Naga, Camarines Sur in October of 1950, Msgr. Valentin Reamon became its director who was assisted by Msgr. Juan Cleofe with Mr. Osmundo Baldo as the assistant principal. Among the mentors who pioneered the instructions in the school were: Rev. Fr. Juan C. Cleofe, Rev. Fr. Eliseo Ricafort and eight lady teachers namely Gloria Quinto, Macaria de Lumen, Angelina Padilla, Milagros Lasala, Socorro Dy, Edita Marabel, Leonor Satuito, Wenceslada Regorgo (all joined the Dominican Congregation) and a male teacher, Mr. Antonio Salaria who also joined St. Paul the Charters. Later, with the addition of grades five and six, Saint Raphael Academy offered a complete Elementary education.
Striking resemblance to a fisherman who casts a net into the ocean of struggle, the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries responded and opened their arms to the call of Christian duty. Thus, in the year 1956, the A.R. Sisters took over the administration of the school with Sr. Isabel de Purisima Concepcion, ARM as Mother Superior and principal. From 1957-1959, Sr. Ma. Lourdes Tablizo, ARM took her place as Superior/Directress.
The increasing number of enrollees and pressing demand for Christian Education required the administration to construct another school building. In 1964 the school received the approval to open Secondary Education through the effort of Sr. Ma. Fe Luna, ARM.
In 1965-1966, Sr. Ma. Luz Nitura, ARM became the Superior/ Principal. After the term of Sr. Ma. Luz, Sr. Andrea Martinez, ARM took over and headed the school from 1966-1974. It was during her term and through the unselfish effort of the PTA and the genuine generosity of some benefactors that a three-story building, Mother Cecilia Bldg, was constructed to accommodate the increasing number of students. The third floor of this building was converted as the Sisters’ quarter. From 1974 to 1981, St. Raphael Academy had a population of eight hundred eighty six students. Sr. Ma. Lourdes Tablizo, AR was reassigned as the Superior /Directress, with Sr. Ma. Ruth Gulane, AR as the principal.
In 1981 to 1983, Sr. Ma. Emilia Gaspillo, AR became the Superior/Principal of the school. During her term, the Home Economics room was constructed and equipped with the necessary needed facilities. School year 1983 to 1985 when Sr. Leonora Mercado, AR became the Superior /Principal of the school. On this term, Sister Teresa Aurigue, AR was appointed as Treasurer where her office lasted for ten (10) years until 1995. The Catechetical work of the Sisters was extended and eventually became one of the parish activities.
In 1985 to 1988, Sr. Ma. Ruth Gulane, AR was reassigned to SRA, this time as Superior/Principal. She was succeeded by Sr. Irenea Vergara, AR in 1988 to 1989 as Superior/Directress with Sr. Pascualina Peral, AR as the Principal. In 1990 to 1998, Sr. Alfonsa Canon, AR was designated as the Superior/ Directress and it was during her term that the school’s adjacent lot was purchased as extension playground of the school. In 1997 Sr. Pascualina Peral, AR was replaced by Sr. Lourdes Tanoy, AR as principal with Sr. Aurora Baygan, AR as the assistant principal to the Elementary Department.
In that year, school population increased which made the number of classrooms inadequate. Thus, another four-story building was built. In this new building, the Science and Computer laboratories, and air-conditioned Library for both Elementary and High School were constructed. At the fourth floor the auditorium and the Home Economics room were also added.
In 1998, St. Raphael Academy obtained an increasing population of one thousand six hundred eighty three students with fifty strong faculty members. Heading the list of the administrative staff was Sr. Teresita Caberte, AR as directress/principal of the High School department and Sr. Aurora Baygan, AR for the Elementary department. In 1999, Sr. Herminia Billate, AR replaced Sr. Aurora Baygan, AR as the principal of the Elementary department. In that year, the school celebrated its Golden Jubilee. The sisters in the school community were: Sr. Teresita Caberte, directress/principal of the High School department; Sr. Herminia Billate, principal of the Elementary department; Sr. Alma Limotlimot, school treasurer; Sr. Leticia Cerdenio as the registrar; Sr. Benedicta Marco and Sr. Jesusa Pedrez, as members.
In November 25, 2000, Sr. Ma. Crisanta Armendez, AR was designated Principal while Sr. Suzanne Liwag, AR as the school treasurer. In Sister Armendez’s term, each department (Elementary and High School) has an Academic Coordinator to help the office of the principal in the academic executions. This was institutionalized to help the principal in her administration particularly on the academics. On that same year, the first Academic Coordinator was appointed. Mrs. Isabel Luzuriaga, a High School faculty member, was installed to oversee High School academics while the Elementary department was headed by its Principal Sr. Herminia Billate. The term of Mrs. Luzuriaga lasted for a year.
On the following year, Mr. Jayson Marcial was appointed as replacement of Mrs. Luzuriaga in the High School department while Ms. Lyra Ruth Placedes, now Mrs. Lyra Ruth Nasayao, was appointed Coordinator in the Elementary Department. That same year, a huge change in the administration was observed. From having two principals, now, centralized to one. The principal was already acting as Directress.
There were several renovations and improvements done. Some of them were AVR, prayer room, kinder play room and many others, but the major gift of the Congregation to SRA was the purchase of the 14,423 square meters of land in Taysan, Legazpi City last June 2005. This place was named Our Lady of Carmel Hills. A grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was erected to spread devotion to Our Lady, the patroness of the Congregation. Aside from such, it’s also in Sr. Armendez’s time that the scholarship program by the Department of Education was introduced. This is a government help to those parents who cannot afford the high amount of tuition fees in the private schools.
In 2011, the ten-year Sister Armendez’s principalship ended with lots of legacies to be remembered. It was also during that year when Sr. Querubina O. Cabillon, A.R. took the office of the principal in St. Raphael Academy. Sister Ma. Irma Castrodes,AR remained as Treasurer while Sister Marissa Tepora, AR was the Religion Coordinator. On the other hand, Sister Myrna Mianagua, A.R., a SAB member, was appointed Sister-Servant Leader.
Sister Cabillon’s administration focused genuinely on the students’ academic development where she sent lots of students to the different academic competitions carrying the name of the school. In her term, the birth of the new students school publication, with the help of Sr. Ma. Lirio Guillermo, A.R., and Rhyann L. Magdaong, a faculty member and Teacher-Servant as proponent, was established. From Belfry, the new school organ was named “The Crusaders’ Chronicle.” Sister Cabillon’s administration lasted for only a year. More so, it was during her term that the school first implemented the adoption of the K-12 program of the Department of Education.
In 2012, the school, once again, adjusted for the new administration. Sister Marilyn B. Gustilo, A.R. was appointed new school principal. With same sister-members, new faces in some offices changed. This year signaled the new face of St. Raphael Academy. Upon taking over, Sr. Marilyn reviewed the school culture based on its practices. Her findings were used to make some culture innovations in the school. Discipline was given emphasis since this is a very important element in the students’ way of life. English-speaking program was also highlighted so that students would be able to cope with the new trends of the society.
Sister Marilyn’s first year as principal was so remarkable. She introduced strange programs which the school had first experienced. In the future years, the school still expects for more new programs from this administrator.
In the mid 2014, after several year of continuous prayer and dialogue, the Diocese of Legazpi, under the shepherdhood of Most Rev. Joel Z. Baylon, D.D. granted AR’s request to donate the lot, 763 sq. meters adjacent to parish church which shall be used as extension of the school building in preparation for the adoption of the Senior High School in response to the requirement of the K-12 program/curriculum. On that same year, Mr. Rhyann L. Magdaong replaced Mr. Marcial upon the appointment of Sr. Marilyn in the High School department. Mrs Nasayao, on the other hand, remained in the position.
In June 2015, of same Sister Marilyn’s leadership, with con-tandem of Sr. Irma a 3-story building, intended for the Senior High School, was constructed. Major renovations were also done to secure preparedness in the said program/curriculum. The face of the school was physically, organizationally, and academically innovated. K-12 program was fully implemented in the High School Department. In April 2016, under the same of Sister Marilyn, the new building in honor of Mo. Dionisia Talangpaz, was inaugurated in the presence of the Superior General Mo. Maxima Pelaez, AR, Mother General of the Augustinian Recollect Congregation, and some councilors were present. The blessing of the new building and some new facilities was administered by Bishop Joel Z. Baylon, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Legazpi, Rev. Msgr. Ramon C. Tronqued, Parish Priest of St. Raphael the Archangel, and Rev. Fr. Tony Sial of St. Gregory the Great Cathedral.
In June 2016, the school officially pioneered its first batch of Senior High School with 101 enrollees divided into three academic strands namely: STEM; GAS and HUMSS. Some teachers of the Junior High School handled subjects in the department while others were taught by part-timers. Mr. Magdaong was designated by Sister Marilyn as Coordinator of the Senior High. This made him as the First SHS Coordinator-Designate.
In June 2017, after granting the successful application to the Regional Office of the Department of Education, the school already added and offered strand, the ABM, which is offered upon the request of the stakeholders and the students through a constant survey conducted by the Guidance Office.
St. Raphael Academy maybe small by nature but can proudly claim its praiseworthy accomplishments with paramount recognition. Through its various and balance activities, it had succeeded in developing the youth into what they are expected to be. There is indeed a great reason to rejoice and be happy that SRA surmounted every struggle that comes along its way with fervent prayers and steadfast trust in God’s providence.