When the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing founded St. Scholastica’s College in Manila in 1906, they had just marked their Silver Anniversary as a religious congregation. In 1885, Pope Leo XIII gave his permission and blessing to the foundation of a Benedictine Missionary Congregation of Fathers and Sisters founded by Reverend Andres Armrhein of Beuron. Seeing the need for Sisters to help in the mission work of the Fathers, Father Armrhein started the Sisters congregation in Reichenbach in 1885, with four young women to spread the faith in other lands. When years later, the sisters had so increased in number, their congregation was made independent from that of the Fathers. The first Mother General elected was Mother M. Birgitta Korff, O.S.B.
Within 25 years that the Mother General held her position, the Motherhouse was transferred to Tutzing, Germany. In 1955, the Generalate was transferred to Rome but the convent of Tutzing remained the Motherhouse. During those 25 years, the congregation labored in Africa, inspite of repeated native insurrections which more than once resulted in the martyrdom of the Sisters. It likewise answered urgent needs and requests from the Bishops in Brazil and in the Philippines. In 1906, the first group of Sisters arrived from Tutzing and was welcomed by the Archbishop of Manila into his diocese. Since that time, the Sisters had established schools in most parts of the islands.
The Benedictine Sisters, as war evacuees came to Taal in 1945 and lived in a borrowed house.The Sisters with Sister Caridad Barrion, OSB, taught piano, Math and other subjects and ran a Kindergarten school. After the war, they were asked to return at the invitation of Bishop Alfredo Versoza, then Bishop of Lipa to run a school. After much consultation, the Mother Prioress and her councilors decided to accept the offer. Sister Superior Agnella Mayer, OSB, was asked to found the school with the help of Sister Caridad Barrion, OSB, and Sister Liboria Kampinan, OSB. The school was first named St. Martin’s Academy.
Bishop Versoza who was then staying at St. Bridget’s College, wanted the school to be named in honor of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Caysasay. Thus, renaming it as Our Lady of Caysasay Academy. The Good Shepherd Sisters of St. Bridget’s College delivered the books that were first used. They were also the ones who transported the Benedictine Sisters on April 15, 1945. Rev. Fr. Mariano Lasala, the parish priest of Taal that time was still in the convent which he generously vacated the next day for the use of the Sisters.
Cleaning the dilapidated convent and preparing for the opening of an elementary school were the first principal tasks of the pioneers who were later joined by a good number of Sisters. The kindergarten equipment and supplies of the erstwhile St. Scholastica’s convent became assets in the old convent. Despite poverty and other difficulties brought about by the war, the Sisters continued to carry on their apostolate. The concerned people of Taal, some of whom were relatives of the Sisters took care and helped the Sisters in times of need.
After several years, a high school building was erected under the administration of Sister Hyginia Peralta, OSB. This was later converted into the grade school building when a twelve-room high school building was constructed.A convent was also built for the Sisters who lived there while administering the school. With the student population increasing every year, several annex buildings were built. Through all those years, from OLCA’s founding in 1945, the Benedictine Spirit and Motto Ora et Labora served as the inspiration and guide to every child, parent, and teacher who entered its portals.
When the school celebrated her Silver Anniversary in 1970, she had the first two lay principals in the persons of Ms. Mercedes Anorico (HS 1958) for the grade school and Miss Tita M. Alcazar (HS 1961) for the high school department.
The grade school department was co-educational from the start while the high school was exclusive for girls. Starting 1983, boys were accepted in the high school department. The first batch of male graduates numbered only 28.
On its 48th year, on April 27, 1993, OLCA took a different course of history. The Benedictine Sisters through Mother Prioress, Sister Pia Lansang, OSB, turned over the school to the Archdiocese of Lipa in the presence of Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Salvador Q. Quizon, who represented Archbishop Mariano Gaviola. Sister Grace Ancheta, OSS, the Mother Superior of the Oblates of the Holy Spirit, the new community of sisters who teamed up with OLCA’s first Priest Director, Rev. Father Carlo Magno C. Ilagan, witnessed the turnover ceremony in a simple paraliturgical service. The Oblates of the Holy Spirit (OSS) assisted the Director from 1993 to 1996.
The Community of the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart (MCSH) was invited to assist in the school administration and religious formation in 1996. Sister Mary Regina Conti, MCSH was appointed Assistant Directress.
In 2004, the new Archbishop of Lipa, Most Rev. Ramon C. Arguelles, DD, STL, appointed Rev. Fr. Ricardo A. Panganiban as the new School Director. The following year, when the school celebrated its 60th founding anniversary, Rev. Fr. Ricardo A. Panganiban, Mrs. Tessie P. Hernandez, the Grade School Principal and Miss Gloria L. Reyes, the High School Principal, welcomed 512 pre-elementary, 1480 elementary and 1240 high school students.
Since then, OLCA has soared to new heights. The school has continuously provided opportunities to improve teachers’ competence and has upgraded facilities to ensure the quality of education. To date the school has fully air-conditioned classrooms equipped with built-in computers; audio system and Internet television units; Science, Computer and TLE Laboratories; Instructional Media Centers; Special Education Resource Center; gymnasium and a child-friendly playground.The Administrative Building (Presidencia) which currently houses the Boardroom (La Casa de Junta), Cashier’s Office (Oficina dela Cajera), The Grade School Principal’s Office (Oficina del Principal), Clinic (Clinica), Grade School Library (Bibleoteca) and the Director’s Office (Oficina del Director) was also renovated.
It was April 29, 2011 when OLCA was granted Candidate Status by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP) for having satisfactorily met the standards and fulfilled all the requirements of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) which conducted its preliminary visit of the Grade School on March 3-4, 2011 and March 7-8, 2011 for the High School. After one and a half years of working out the recommendations stipulated in the PAASCU reports for preliminary visit, the PAASCU team came back on September 13-14 2012 for the Grade School and September 17-18, 2012 for the High School for the formal visit. And on December 10, 2012, OLCA was granted Level I Accredited Status by the FAAP (Federation of Accrediting Associations of the Philippines) as recognized and backed up by the findings of PAASCU.
With an open and trusting relationship with parents and the community it serves, the school has earned the strong support and active participation of the School Home Association (SHA) and some concerned alumni.
With the ever -changing pace of the world, the need for more systematized educational systems continues to grow. To answer the call of the times, the Archdiocese of Lipa, through the efforts of His Eminence Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, tasked Fr. Ricardo A. Panganiban to convene the various schools of the archdiocese and place them all under one supervision.
After preparing the visionary program that would allow all archdiocesan schools be managed by one governing body, Fr. Richard presented the platform thus paving the way for a single governance of the Unified Schools of the Archdiocese of Lipa.
On May 18-20, 2015, the USAL principals convened for the first Strategic Planning facilitated by Dr. Roland Nino Agoncillo, Chairman of the Educational Leadership Management of the De La Salle University- Manila. The vision and mission of USAL as one educational system was drafted and approved by the attendees, and these serve not only as documents but as guiding lights in bringing USAL to greater heights. This endeavor of placing all members under one administration will allow the bigger schools to help the small and starting USAL schools in terms of sharing of capital and human resources.
Last June 8, 2015, in the presence of all administrative officers and employees, Rev. Fr. Ricardo A. Panganiban was installed as the first president of USAL, together with Rev. Fr. Miguel Samaniego as Vice President for Finance Administration, and Dr. Randy M. Baja, Ph.D. as Vice President for Academics. The team since then, has been continuously bringing new innovations to USAL with the goal to have all member schools soar to greater heights.
This endeavor of single governance will ensure that USAL is on the road to bringing not only quality, but excellence to every learner in this side of the region.
Teamwork is not only an ideal for OLCAn administrators. It has also become a habit worthy of emulation especially for and among students. The administrators underscored that achieving more lies on collaboration more than competition. As the school stakeholders welcomed another valuable change in AY 2015-2016, the convergence of the Grade school and the High School departments into one Basic Education Unit, the interconnectedness has become even more seamless. Sharing resources e.g., material, human and capital resources between the Upper Basic Education (High School) and Lower Basic Education (Grade School) has become more effective. In support of this, more points of integration have been ensured such as collaborative trainings of student leaders and faculty from both departments and more cooperative developmental activities between and among grade levels, etc. Mrs. Virginia I. Estacio, who has been the Grade School Principal since 2009 assumed the leadership as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) / Principal of OLCA Integrated School.
On June 13, 2016, the school welcomed the pioneer batch of the Grade 11 in its Senior High School taking academic tracks specifically STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and ABM (Accountancy, Business, Management).
Armed with dynamism and passionate commitment to TRUTH and LOVE, OLCA administrators, faculty, staff and maintenance personnel continuously aim to produce men and women of character in the service of the Church and the society.