Iligan City seemed to be awakening from slumber, stretching her arms to grapple for opportunities that could spark economic activity to jumpstart her newly bestowed cityhood. This was circa 1952. Iligan was barely two years from her conversion into a city in June 16, 1950 , and from being a “ municipio ” for quite a time, the whole populace was still in a trance and could not as yet get accustomed using the “City of Iligan” in their official communications.
On this backdrop, Miguel D. Paguio and his wife, Escolastica Punongbayan-Paguio came to Iligan and, on their own initiative and exploratory mission, founded St. Peter’s College in Iligan City on February 10, 1952, a significant, monumental gift to Escolastica on her 37th birth anniversary. SPC in Iligan City was actually the second school founded by couple Miguel and Escolastica as a branch of the first St. Peter’s College they have founded and started in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental on February 10, 1950.
Imbued with a brand of dynamism and conviction, fired up with a vision and mission of educating the youth of Iligan City and the undivided Lanao, SPC founding parents Miguel and Escolastica , both youthful educators, buckled down to work amidst the adversities of time and resources. The couple educators, rented a semi-concrete 2-storey structure along Mercado Street ( now Gen. Aguinaldo Street) near the old public market, to accommodate their pioneering 63 students who enrolled in Education, Liberal Arts, Commerce and Secretarial courses.
Miguel, a UP alumnus and Escolastica, an Education supervisor in Bulacan, themselves serving as School President and Vice President-Treasurer, respectively, also handled subjects to lead a handful of SPC teachers as they embarked on their novel quest of educating the youth of Lanao.
In two-year time from its founding, SPC virtually grew by leaps and bounds. The school opened its doors to Elementary pupils and High School students in 1954. It was situated in a make-shift wooden structure with concrete flooring at the couple’s property at Purok Bara-as, Tubod, Iligan City. By now, those seeking college education and training, upon hearing of the quality of teaching at SPC , continually flocked to its old school site along Mercado St. seeking enrolment. The students’ population had tremendously increased in the college department, prompting the couple to search for a bigger place or space to accommodate their ever-growing academic denizens. Miguel and Escolastica acquired a 2-hectare property along Sabayle Street and in 1956, they consolidated all courses-from Elementary to college - under one roof, for better supervision and management. Thus born the present site of SPC. About this time, SPC opened new courses in response to the clamor of the community. The College of Law and the College of Engineering started admitting enrollees, while enrollment in all other courses, including the Elementary and Secondary levels, boomed.
In 1962, exactly 10 years from its founding, founders Miguel and Escolastica, upon dictate of their business and academic acumen, decided to incorporate their endeavor for better protection and stability. It was the year when SPC was incorporated and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and listed some of Escolastica’s siblings to complete the minimum requirement of the law for the constitution of the board of trustees upon its registration. Miguel headed the SPC Board of Trustees as Chairman and President and Escolastica as Vice President and Treasurer, while Nicolas A. Punongbayan, Leonora A. Punongbayan and Perfecto G. Punongbayan, Jr. were listed as members of the board of trustees.
From then and onwards, SPC march to glory was unstoppable. While the board was already in place, albeit nominal in character, founders Miguel and Escolastica, virtually managed and supervised the school by themselves. By then, Danilo G. Punongbayan was already working with the school and trained in office and school works.
Danilo was trained to become the SPC man in the future. It was no easy preparation, though, for it was not on a silver platter that was handed to Danilo by Miguel and Escolastica but a broom to start cleaning their offices. And literally, Danilo swept the floors and thereafter immersed himself in practically all facets and functions of running a school.
St. Peter’s College has served the educational needs of the people of Iligan City and the nearby municipalities of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Sur since it opened its doors in 1952. Some came from some parts of Luzon and the Visayas.
SPC initially offered courses in Education in response to the clamor of the people of Iligan City and the neighboring towns for more teachers in both elementary and secondary schools. Cognizant of such acute need, the prophetic community leader in Mrs. Escolastica Paguio, crafted the academic agenda for St. Peter’s College which then set into motion SPC’s wheels towards its search for quality education.
The untimely death of Mrs. Punongbayan-Paguio on July 31, 1969 had momentarily stalled the school’s wheels to growth.
Miguel continued to supervise the school with the assistance of nephews Perfecto Punongbayan, Jr. and Danilo. The political turbulence in the Dekada ‘ 70 somehow affected the school. Perfecto took over the school’s presidency from Miguel in 1973 but served only for one year until 1974 when he migrated to the United States of America and soon thereafter acquired his American citizenship. These developments virtually left alone Danilo, who now assumed the school presidency after he was elected by the members of the SPC Board of Trustees as Chairman and President of the institution, to confront all the odds going against the school. Danilo was confronted with a 3-prong “ battles ” so to speak: for one, a restive studentry and the dangerous, heightened and emotionally charged conflict between the Christian and Muslim students; secondly, there was a domestic problem among heirs contesting control of the school and thirdly, the specter of losingthe school and its campus at Sabayle Street through foreclosure by the bank due to its failure to pay a huge bank loan with the local bank, obtained by the late Mrs. Escolastica Paguio, which was used to acquire properties for the school. It took the courage, swiftness and self-sacrifice of the young school administrator in the person of Danilo who saved the school from an impending total loss.
Danilo was able to solve all the problems that confronted him: he has pacified the restive students; he has thwarted the domestic problem for school control and most importantly, he was able to redeem the school property from the bank and thus saved it from foreclosure proceedings, even beyond redemption period. The charismatic leadership in Danilo has truly served him well during those turbulent years.
On the academic side, Danilo, who was then deep
in his legal skirmishes to protect and enhance the school’s proprietary rights, was able to assemble the best among the learned educators hereabout to help him pursue and bring into fruition the academic dreams of Miguel and Escolastica. Mr. Prospero Villacrusis, Mr. Agustin Loberanes, Atty. Casimero Cabigon provided Danilo the much needed academic support.
The years thereafter saw the emergence of St.
Peter’s College as one of the growing and respected
academic institutions in this part of the country.
Imbued with the dynamism, pragmatism, and positive
foresight, President Danilo withstood the tests of time
and difficulties, took charge of the academic steering wheels of St. Peter’s College and continued on with the academic agenda which was crafted by his aunt, the school founder.
With the advent of Iligan City’s industrialization, St. Peter’s College, took the opportunity to venture into offering Engineering courses which have eventually become its flagship courses. The construction of a concrete 3-storey Engineering Building and its machine shop, a modern 3-storey Administration Building which also accommodates the Library, medical-dental clinic, speech laboratory, computer laboratories, were made possible under the able and dynamic leadership of then President, Danilo G. Punongbayan. With his positive prognosis, St. Peter’s College has shifted its gears to automation courses which are intended to prepare the students to the age of globalization in the coming century.
Very soon thereafter, SPC took pride in its graduates topping board examinations in the field of Engineering, alumni becoming heads of government offices and public schools and a lot others becoming leaders in their own right in entrepreneurial endeavors. Indeed, SPC graduates have gone a long way after leaving the portals of their alma mater, More determined to face the world after earning their degrees from SPC
At the turn of the century, the onset of the new millenium, St. Peter’s College again experienced some form of turbulence. With the death of the two members of the school’s board of trustees in the mid-90’s and the acquisition of Perfecto of his American citizenship, the SPC BOT was left with only two active members: Danilo, the Chairman and President of the institution and Sotero Punongbayan. This prompted the latter to petition the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1997, for the creation of the SPC Management Committee.
On November, 1998 SEC created the 5-man MANCOM with the following: Dr. Carmen Dormitorio, CHED Director as Chairperson, Mrs. Carmelita Punongbayan, Engr. Perfecto Punongbayan, Jr., Henie Punongbayan and Jose Zalsos, representing the SPC Faculty and Staff, as members. MANCOM then elected Mrs. Carmelita P. Punongbayan as the school’s Officer in Charge in March 10, 1999 as successor to Danilo who tendered his retirement as President effective March 9,
1999, Mrs. Punongbayan was later on appointed by SEC as the School’s Interim President. SEC’s appointment of Mrs. Punongbayan was based on the fact that among the members of the family, she has the better preparation to supervise the school considering her educational qualification and experience.
Then, in July, 2001, amid the legal battles contesting the control of the school, the second MANCOM elected Carmelita P. Punongbayan as Chief Executive Officer , Engr. Antonio Racho Jr. as Assistant Executive Officer for Administration, Marilou Visitacion as Assistant Executive Officer for Finance and Treasurer, Mr. Tito Mariquit as Assistant Executive Officer for Academic Affairs.
Under the leadership of Mrs. Carmelita P. Punongbayan, the school has been persistently crafting the blueprints for the school’s advancement to a new and larger horizon in educational leadership. However, the road to such an endeavor is not well-paved at the moment. Road blocks may have been positioned at every corner but the firm determination of Mrs. Punongbayan, as Chief Executive Officer, with the able assistance of her assistant executives and concerned faculty and staff, and a responsive student body, the future for SPC may yet be achieved very soon.