Remembering CHSM: Century-old school in Manila closing its doors

November 25, 2020 - 2:55 PM
College of Holy Spirit Manila
Entrance gate of the College of Holy Spirit Manila. (Ramon FVelasquez via CC-BY-SA)

The 107-year-old College of the Holy Spirit Manila announced its permanent closure after the next academic year due to circumstances aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Catholic educational institution in a statement dated November 22 said that it will “voluntarily cease operations at the end of the AY (academic year) 2021-2022” but added that other schools run by the Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) will continue to operate.

It will let its current Grade 11 and third-year college students graduate but it won’t accept enrollees for Kinder to Grade 11 and first to third-year college students anymore.

The Mendiola-based school did not note its reasons for the closure but news reports quote Sr. Carmelita Victoria of the SSpS citing challenges that the institution has been facing for years, as seen in an October 28 letter to the school community.

“Private education has faced an increasingly challenging environment resulting from (i) government policies on K-12; (ii) free tuition in state colleges and universities, local universities and colleges, and state-run technical and vocational institutions; and (iii) the significant increase in public school teachers’ salaries compared to their private school counterparts,” she said.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation. The reduction or loss in family income, mobility restrictions and social distancing requirements, and the new demands of distance learning have adversely affected enrolment, not only in CHSM, but in most private schools as well,” Victoria added.

The CHSM is among other Catholic schools that have announced its closure due to the pandemic, according to the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.

Others have temporarily ceased operations but the century-old school was the only one that permanently closed its doors.

Jose Allan Arellano, executive director the group of Catholic schools, said other educational institutions are located in the regions, particularly in Central Luzon, some in Visayas and one in Mindanao.

“Malaking kinalaman ng pandemic sa kawalan ng enrollees ng maraming paaralan, maraming private schools, kasi nga walang hanapbuhay ang mga parents, walang pambayad ng tuition so ‘yun ang naging dahilan ng College of the Holy Spirit, among others,” he said on DZMM Teleradyo, according to a previous report.

“Pinili ng simbahan at ng mga pare’t madre na magsara muna sila,” Arellano added.

‘Second home’ 

Following the CHSM’s closure, Filipinos online remembered the century-old institution which made an impact on their lives and life decisions.

“College of the Holy Spirit Manila is my second home and family. CHSM helped and taught me all the knowledge that a well-rounded person should have (not the crazy one 😜) I love this school so much, I love and I respect all the staff, all the Filipino and German nuns, professors, Ms. Cheng, Ms. O, Ms. Belleza, Sir Ng, Sir Formalejo,” a Twitter user wrote.

“Nakakalungkot ito, bilang naging tahanan ko rin itong kolehiyong ito sa Mendiola ng minsang maging professor ako dito. Sa mga naging estudyante ko, sana mabuti ang inyong kalagayan at nawa’y malaki ang naging ambag ko sa inyong kamalayan. Sa CHSM, hindi rito nagtatapos ang lahat,” wrote another online user.

“Ohh, so sad na ‘yung school where I took my CPA (Certificate of Public Accountant) license is closing soon,” shared a different Twitter user in response to media reports of CHSM’s closure.

“So sad. As a young law student, I am amazed by the number of smart and beautiful students from this school, who would use the library under the Mendiola Consortium program. Also, the countless stories about the CHS German nuns who were able to help (and) save residents during WW2 (World War 2),” wrote another Filipino.

CHSM was established by the SSpS in 1913 in the American-era Philippines in response to the invitation of then-Manila Archbishop Jeremias Harty, according to its website.

It initially served as a primary school and started to offer secondary education in 1920. By 1926, it began to enter the tertiary level and accepted college students.

The school was renamed to its current name in 1965 and has continuously expanded its course offerings.

By 2013, its arts, sciences and business programs were granted level-three accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities.

Some of CHSM’s notable alumni include Ayala Foundation president Vicky Garchitorena, University of the Philippines’ VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Cynthia Banzon, investigative journalist Sheila Coronel and international fashion designer Josie Natori.