Quezon City: Episcopal Institutions along E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard

01 Episcopal Seals
Episcopal Seals

At the center of E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard (E. Rod for short) are several institutions run by the Episcopal Church of the Philippines. Although these Episcopal institutions, such as the National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John , the Luke’s Medical Center, the St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary, and the Trinity University of Asia were all established along the road post-World War II (1938-1945), all of these have their  foundations with the establishment of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) in 1901, and the construction of these institutions soon after.

Episcopal priests had already arrived with the American soldiers, during the 1898 Battle of Manila, where American troops snatched the victory of the Filipino revolutionary uprising against the Spanish colonizers and claim the Philippines as a new territory of the USA. At that time, American episcopal military chaplain, Charles Pierce, was already saying mass for the American troops serving in the Philippines, and were later assisted by the arrival of Hugh Nethercott and James Smiley of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and Bishop to the China mission, Frederick R. Graves as bishop-in-charge, in 1899. In was only with the arrival of Bishop Charles Henry Brent (1862-1929) in 1902, when the Episcopal Church in the Philippines was formally established, and it being an Anglican Communion province.

Before the arrival of Bishop Brant and establishment of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, the missionary work of the Episcopal Church had already started with the conversion of 7 Filipinos by Bishops Graves in 1899, and 15 Chinoys (Chinese Filipinos) by the U.S. Army Chaplain John Marvine in 1900. The next major step was the founding Church of Saint Stephen Church along Calle Nueva (formerly Camino Real, and now Apolinario Maranan Mabini Street), in the Ermita District of Manila, in 1902. The church was later moved to the Santa Cruz District of Manila, with the present church structure completed in 1964, after the older church was demolished by the Japanese bombing of World War II. The Saint Stephen Church started as an Anglo-American Church, with Fr. Walter Clapp as the priest and Fr. Russell Talbot as his assistant, before it was declared an official Episcopal parish.

Upon his arrive in the Philippines, Brent was announced as the first bishop of the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands (1901–1917), and he proceeded to develop many Episcopal institutions throughout the Philippines, as to push their missions of evangelization towards non-Christian Filipinos. And the Manila home of the Episcopal Mission of St. Mary the Virgin started with the ground breaking of the Church of St. Mary and St. John, along the corner Engineer Isaac Caballero Peral Street (formerly Calle Cortafuegos, and now United Nations Avenue) and Calle Florida (formerly Calle San Antonio, and now Dr. María Ylagan Orosa Street) in 1903. Completed in 1907, tragedy befell the church, when it was first turned into an internment camp by the invading Japanese of World War II.  And during the 1945 Battle for the Liberation of Manila, 77 parishioners perished inside church during the bombings and the church was left to rubble. Due to such horrific experiences, the Episcopal Church refused to rebuild the edifice, opting to sell the land in 1947. At the old site of the church, now stands the Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino (formerly the Manila Hilton), which as designed and completed by Arch. Carlos Corcuera Arguelles (1917-2008) in 1968.

05 1960 John Van Wie Bergamini - National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John (1903-07)
1960 John Van Wie Bergamini – National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John (1903-07)

From the sale of the Manila property, the money gained by the Episcopal Church was used to purchase a new lot along the north lane of the España Boulevard Extension (now E. Rodriguez Boulevard) in 1947. With the new compound, the first institute to be erected was the St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary. This was later followed by the reconstruction of the National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John, in 1960 and consecrated in 1962. The new cathedral was designed by John Van Wei Bergamini (1888-1975), who was appointed as the official architect of the Episcopal Church in the Far East. When the church was completed, the Episcopal compound was now referred to as Cathedral Heights.

As the first Episcopal institution in Cathedral Heights, St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary was completed less than seven months after Bishop Norman Spencer Binsted (1890-1961) purchased the 15 hectare property in Quezon City. However, the history of the seminary goes further back into the early missions of the Episcopal Church. Since the bulk of the American period missions were for the conversion of non-Christian Filipinos, the Manila missions were focused on the Buddhist and Taoist Chinese communities, whereas many Episcopal missionaries would enter into the animistic etnoliguistic groups of the Cordilleras region of the northern part of the island of Luzon, and the Islamic Moro groups of the island of Mindanao. And in the small municipality of Sagada, in the Mountain Province, the missionaries started converting the local Kankanaey people, in 1904. As the Episcopal congregation began to grow in the area, and the new stone Church of St. Mary the Virgin was erected in 1921, replacing the 1904 wooden structure. This was followed by the St. Andrew’s Training School for lay and clergy ministry, in 1932.

Aside from preparing Filipino candidate for ordination in the Episcopal clergy, the Sagada St. Andrew’s Training School was also a reaction to the worldwide economic crisis called The Great Depression. Finding it too expensive to send students to study in America, opening a local school was a prudent choice. However, the operations of the school were halted by the war, and ceased operations afterward. Thus in September 1947, the Saint Andrew’s Theological Seminary opened to candidates for the ordained ministry, of both the Episcopal Church as well as members of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church, founded 1902). All the old buildings in the Saint Andrew’s compound were also designed by John Van Wei Bergamini, including the Horeb House guest house, where aging and ill Episcopal clergy stay to rest and retire.

Looming above all the Episcopal institutions on Cathedral Heights is the Saint Luke’s Medical Center, with started its Quezon City operations in 1961. Starting as a charity ward, called the Dispensary of St. Luke the Beloved Physician, at the Saint Stephen Church compound, along Calle Magdalena (now General Guillermo Masangkay Street), at the border of the Santa Cruz and Tondó-Binondo districts of Manila. In 1907, the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing, and the newly expanded facility was renamed the University Hospital, to encompass its training facilities. With the many missions to the Cordilleras and Mindanao, many of the students at the school hailed from the Igorot peoples of the Cordilleras and the Moro peoples of Mindanao. When the school joined the exodus to Quezon City, it was renamed as the St. Luke’s College of Nursing, and was incorporated into the Episcopal Trinity College.

By the 1920s the hospital was once more renamed into the Saint Luke’s Hospital, and opened the large St. Luke’s Chapel in its compound, to act as both the hospital and school chapel. During the 1945 Battle for Manila, all the Episcopal structures were severely damaged, and the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John was reduced to rubble. So the St. Luke’s Chapel was declared a pro-cathedral, to house the activities and services of the church in Manila. However, when the reconstruction of many Episcopal institutions began by the 1950s, of the Saint Luke hospital, school and pro-cathedral were turned over to Church of Saint Stephen, and was used for the rebuilding and expansion of the church, as well as the St. Stephen’s Girls’ School (now St. Stephen’s High School, established 1917).

1961 University Hospital, 1984 St. Luke's Medical Center
1961 University Hospital, 1984 St. Luke’s Medical Center

With the Saint Luke’s Hospital compound turned over in 1947, it would take 14 years before it would operate again. In 1961, the Saint Luke’s Hospital opened on Cathedral Heights, and has continued expanding from then on. In 1984, the hospital was rechristened as the Saint Luke’s Medical Center, noted for its state of the art medical and training facilities. Stepping up its educational programs of the St. Luke’s College of Nursing, in 1994, the St. Luke’s College of Medicine – William H. Quasha Memorial (SLCM-WHQM) was established. The school was named after the American military officer, lawyer and engineer, William Howard Quasha (1912-1996), who was also a lay reader of the Episcopal Church and president and chair of the St. Luke’s Medical Center. Aside from the new academic department, the St. Luke’s corporation opened its sister hospital, the St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City, 2010.

The St. Luke’s College of Nursing was integrated into the programs of the Episcopal Church’s Trinity College. However, the Trinity College of Quezon City was another development of many of the American colonial period educational forays of the Episcopal Church. In 1906, the Easter School (now Easter College) opened in Baguio Charter City, in the Mountain Province. This was followed by Bishop Brent’s Baguio Episcopal School (now the Brent International School Baguio), which had gained such a well-received reputation through the years, that two sister schools opened up in Pasig City (the Brent International School Manila, est. 1984, and is now in Biñan, Laguna Province) and in the Province of Zambales (Brent School Subic, est. 1994). Without forgetting the St. Stephen’s Girls’ School in Manila, the Episcopal Church has opened has opened 18 more schools throughout the archipelago, for the past century.

The part of the lot of the Trinity College of Quezon City was never a part of the Cathedral Heights compound, and located a few meters across E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard, on the south lane. The property was purchased using the donation of 160 shares of Procter and Gamble stock from the family of Bishop Lyman Cunningham Ogilby (1922-1990), and it was owned by Capitol City College. Upon its opening in 1961, the school still retained its old name of Capitol City College, and offered courses on Liberal Arts, Commerce and Teacher Education. The name was finally changed to the Trinity College of Quezon City in 1963, and the St. Luke’s College of Nursing was incorporated into the Trinity College programs in the following year. However, as the student population grew, as well as more courses were demanded, the one building school began to erect new buildings, by and 1968 campus expansion to a parcel of the Cathedral Height compound, on the north lane. The south campus was now the home for the elementary and high school course, while the collegiate programs were house at the north campus. Among the new developments in the north campus are the 1968 Bishop Lyman C. Ogilby Hall science building, the 1973 Thomas Tertius Noble Gym, the 1982 Wayland S. Mandell main library, the 1990s Bishop Benito C. Cabanban Memorial Hall for basic education computer center, the 1995 Center for Community and Extension Services, the 2002 Human Kinetics swimming pool, the 2003 canteen and Ann Keim Barsam Hall for education and business administration, the 2004 Health Science Building, and the 2006 Mary Niven Alston Hostel for hospitality and tourism management; just to name a few. With all the developments, the school was finally rebranded as the Trinity University of Asia in 2006.

12 1903-1907 Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John Episcopal, Manila
1903-1907 Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John Episcopal, Manila

Other Episcopal structures within Cathedral Heights are the offices of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP), Bethany House ECP Mission Center, the ECP New Day Publishing House,  National Artist for Music Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano’s (1941-2014) Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music (est. 1980), and the Elysium Gardens Columbarium (established 2005) designed by Arch. Albert Gerona. And for the casual passersby along E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard, these many institutions of the Episcopal Church do not seem to have any connection to each other, as many do not know of the histories of each establishment.  And although the Episcopal Church as roughly 125,000 registered members, one cannot deny their influence in the history in the Philippines.

1903-07 National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John.PNG


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