Brief History of St. Andrew's School (Parañaque City, Philippines)

75th Foundation Anniversary of St. Andrew's School annual  (1992) 
Brief History of St. Andrew's School

(Data obtained from the 1961 SAS Alumni Homecoming Souvenir Program, church records, and reliable persons.)

The St. Andrew's School was founded on June 27, 1917 by a Belgian priest, Rev. Joseph Van Runkelen. A member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM) Missionaries, "Pare Jose" [1], as he is commonly called, became Parish Priest of Parañaque[2] in October, 1915. The school was established for the primary and intermediate levels for boys and girls. Funding came from the people of Belgium who donated and helped in putting up the Elementary School. Signing with him as fellow incorporators in this school were his colleagues in the CICM, namely: Rev. Adolphe Van Hocke, Rev. Jose Tahon, Rev. Godofredo Aldenhuyzen, and Rev. George Vromant. The school was first housed in the modest building located at the present site of the St. Paul's College of Parañaque. It was in 1938 when it transferred to the Parañaque convent building which is still the present site.

Among the first teachers in the earlier school were the late Eleuterio de Leon, who had been Mayor of Parañaque, Messrs. Primo Santos and Eugenio Espiritu. Among the early pupils were Felipe Marquez, Fortunato Leonardo, Bienvenido Nery, Arcadio Nicolas, Peregrino Pascual, Meliton de Leon, Padre Manuel Guerrero, Rev. Lucio Garcia, Dr. Emilio Nery, Dr. Casiano R. de Leon, Dr. Florentino de Leon, Iluminada Gurrerro, Rosario Bernabe Vda. de Monta, Salud G. de Leon, Nicomedes Tomas, Jovito Tomas, Raymundo Bautista, Amado Calinisan, Arturo Gatmaitan, Conrado Jimenez, Cornelio Cruz, Lorenza de Leon, and Arcadio Bautista, all from Parañaque.

In 1932, the enterprising Fr. Van Runkelen expanded the school by founding the high school department.

The first high school teachers on record were the charming and brilliant Miss Gloria Aspillera (later Mrs. Quintos) and young and able Miss Jovita Espiritu (later Mrs. Bautista). The school maintained its co-educational status up to the outbreak of World War II in 1941. The class of 1936, which started with 32 students (20 boys and 12 girls) in 1932 who were the first high school graduates. These "Magnificent Seven" whose names will forever be remembered, were the first heirs of a priceless heritages from their beloved Alma Mater, namely: Artemio B. Cruz, Jesus L. Santos, Leonardo Mecua, Maria Cruz, Gorgonia Isidro, Paz Rodriguez, and Natividad Santiago.

Rev. Antonio Van Overveld, CICM, then Assistant Parish Priest of Parañaque was high school principal from the date of its founding up to 1934. From 1934-1937, Miss Jovita Espiritu was the principal. Mrs. Gloria Aspillera-Quintos took over the principalship from 1938-1941 and then from 1947-1964. Mrs. Quintos has played a very significant role in the history of the school. A BSE Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Sto. Tomas, she proved to be the mainstay in the school faculty. Her loyalty, ability and leadership have guided the school throughout the years. Under her able guidance, the school continued to grow and improve its quality of instruction so that when the war broke out in 1941, it already enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best private secondary schools in the country.

After World War II, through the efforts of Rev. Adolfo Cansse, CICM, then Parish Priest of Parañaque, and with the help of Mrs. Jovita Espiritu Bautista, Miss Julia Cristobal, Mrs. Corazon Garcia Bautista, Josefa Rodriguez, and others, the school re-opened for the school year 1945-46, with only the first year class and exclusively for boys. The establishment of St. Paul's College of Parañaque, a Catholic school for girls, caused the school to be henceforth a school exclusively for boys. The first post-war graduates of the school earned their diploma in 1949.

Rev. Fr. Paul Foulon, another Belgian priest member of the CICM was the high school principal from 1964-1966. He resumed his service as Assistant Director in 1969 until 1977 when he was designated Parish Priest of St. Andrew and became the Director of the school until 1991. Fr. Joseph Gevaert, CICM is the present School Director and Parish Priest of St. Andrew Parish.[3]

Fr. John Slegers took over as the high school principal in 1966 until his assignment to St. Louis University in Baguio City in 1968. Fr. Mark Lesage took over until 1969 when he was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Las Piñas. Today, the high school department stands firm under the able leadership of Mrs. Ma. Anita Rodriguez who has been principal since 1976. She has been with the school for forty long years serving as assistant principal since 1961. The grade school is under the equally able Mrs. Lourdes de Leon who has been serving the school since 1950. She became principal of the elementary department since 1959 when she was still Miss Kalaw.

From the records of the school, it was learned that Fr. Joseph Van Runckelen assumed the directorship of the school from 1917-1934, Fr. Antonio Van Overveld from 1934-1937; Fr. Adolfo Cansse from 1937-1952; Fr. Louie Thys, from 1952-1977; Fr. Paul Foulon, from 1977-1991; Fr. Joseph Gevaert, from 1991 to present.[3]

Under the management of Rev. Adolfo Cansse, a civil engineer, the school underwent major expansions. The energetic Belgian stands in te school's history as one of those who made significant improvements in the school. In 1949, he built the SAS gymnasium and the provisional extension of eight classrooms at its back.

The longest so far to have served as Parish Priest of St. Andrew and director of the school is Rev. Louis Thys, also a CICM. During his 25 years of service as parish priest, great and significant changes have taken place. Helping him during his term run and improve the school were his able and hard working assistants at the time: Fr. Peter Van de Walle, Fr. Joseph Grieten, and Fr. Paul Foulon. In the fifties, the first new building was erected along the plaza to accommodate the transfer of the grades 1-4 boys from St. Paul's to St. Andrew's. In the early sixties, the high school building is finished in two phases. In 1967, demolition of the old stage started to give way for the construction of a new wing of the church which was completed in 1969 and houses the new library on the second floor. In 1971, the old gym, and the old office and convent buildings were demolished. In 1973, a new three-storey building was constructed and completed which shelter the school office on the first floor, while the rooms for the female faculty, the audio-visual, the projection, the typing and the CAT rooms are on the second floor. On the third floor are the Male Faculty room, BSP room and Grade 6 rooms. In 1976, fifty-five typewriters were acquired for the typing class. This project was realized through concerted efforts of the administration, parents council, and alumni. The inclusion of the bookkeeping subject in the third year and stenography and typing in the fourth year curricula took place also in 1976. In 1979, the annual publication of "The Andrean" started.

Today, the school has a total student population of about 1950. The total number of personnel is 57.[3]


  1. In other sources, he was called "Pari Jose".
  2. St. Andrew's Parish or the Cathedral Parish of St. Andrew at present
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The period refers to school year 1992-1993 since it is the same school year when this article was published.