- By Marianne K. Basoyang
Easter College, more famously referred to as Easter School, takes pride in having been instrumental in strengthening the Anglican faith and promoting education, being the first private school to open in 1906 in the Cordilleras by the Rt. Rev. Charles Henry Brent, an Anglican Missionary from the United States of America. The first batch of 8 Igorot boys continues to be an inspiration among Easterites as their story exemplifying their passion for learning that made them hike for one week from Bontoc, Mountain Province to Baguio City to be educated became a classic example.
The teachers, originally composed of Americans, commented on the high intellectual capability of their students, who, indeed, as professionals, excelled in their respective fields. Hillary Clapp (Pitapit), one of the first eight boys, became a medical doctor and was also appointed a governor of Mountain Province.
In 1909, the school opened its doors to girls through the efforts of Deaconess Anne Hargreaves, a clear indication of respect for equal rights, at a time when gender equality was not a popular battlecry among women. The Easter Weaving Room, now famous for its world-class woven materials and souvenir items, served as training ground for girls for their vocational training.
During the Second World War, the Easter compound was used as a Japanese garrison leading to the temporary closure of the school. But even the ravages of war, leaving only 2 structures standing, did not stop the school from resuming its operation after the war. By the end of the American colonization, as the national and local administration was slowly filled with Filipinos, likewise, the administration of Easter was slowly handed over to Filipino administrators in 1956.
Being the first private school to be established, Easter rightfully claims to have educated not only sons and daughters of American missionaries, servicemen, and government officers. It also catered to neighboring provinces, most especially those coming from the Cordilleras. In fact, it has also produced the first Cordilleran to serve as city councilor in the person of Eugene Pucay,Sr., who aside from being a being a great softball player and philanthropist, also contributed to the establishment of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Baguio and helped established the Masons of Baguio.
After offering elementary education for 54 years, Easter opened its high school department in 1963. While Easter is known as a school mostly attended by ‘highlanders’ and Anglicans, it never closed its doors to students and employees coming from any part of the country and those belonging to different religious denominations. At present, it is a hodgepodge of cultures, beliefs and nationalities, after being granted the permit to accept foreign students in all levels.
Easter College’s basic education program, from its pre-school program to high school, has consistently proved its competency being accredited by the ACSCU- AAI (Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities Accrediting Agency, Incorporated). Year after year of its operation, it aims to surpass its current status and aims for autonomy by continuously improving and developing its programs and physical facilities. Under the administration of Dr. Marilyn Ngales, Easter College’s first president, a Special Education (SPED) program was also instituted to cater to children with special needs. This program, also known as SARAH (Special Action and Rehabilitation for the Handicapped provides education and care to children who are blind, deaf-mute, mentally handicapped and those with learning disabilities.
So that it can continue to educate its graduates, the college department was added in 1995 as a brainchild of Dr. Marilyn Ngales. Education Courses were the first to be offered along with the non-traditional courses such as Indigenous Studies, Legal Studies, Environmental Studies, Development Studies and Cooperative Studies. Such non-traditional courses, however, had to give way to courses that were dictated by the industry. In 2003, Bachelor of Science in Nursing course was offered, which has continuously placed Easter among the top three performing schools in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region I for its consistent good performance in all Nurse Licensure Examinations since it graduated its first batch in 2007. The Department of Nursing is the only school in Baguio City integrating Sign Language course in its curriculum.
In 2004, Dr. Benjamin R. Yngente, a professor from the Trinity University of Asia was installed second president of Easter College. Owing to his experiences, he introduced major reforms in the college in terms of organizational structure, infrastructure, and recommended for the opening of two new courses- Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The college department, on the other hand has also gained level II accreditation from the ACSCU-AAI for its Education courses during his term.
At present, Easter College is headed by Dr. Brigitt S. Santiago. As an alumni herself, Dr. Santiago is not new to Easter. She was a former librarian, instructor, dean, member of the Board of Trustees and Vice President for Academic Affairs before she was installed third president on January 21, 2010. While continuing the legacy of the past administrations, Dr. Santiago further instituted developments in the college. The SPED (Special EducationProgram) is now formally recognized as a separate department. The English as a Second Language (ESL) program started its operation, graduating two batches of Korean students as of the present. On the other hand, the Department of Hospitality and Business Management (DHBM) is eyeing the offering of Technical-Vocational Education under the ladderized program of the department in partnership with CHEd (Commission on Higher Education) and TESDA (Technical Skills Development Authority). The programs that will be offered are Associate of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management (2 years), Associate of Arts in Hotel and Restaurant Service (1 year) and the short courses (3-6 months) to be offered are National Certificate 2 in Food and Beverage, Housekeeping, Rooms Division, Banquet and Catering and Commercial Cooking. The administration is also currently working on the permit for the opening of a Criminology course.
Situated in the outskirts of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the central business district, Easter College offers an environment conducive to learning as it has maintained an environment-friendly atmosphere with its wide spaces and cool fresh air. Through the years, it has stood the test of time as it continues to stand by its vision statement as “An academic community rooted in the Holy Scriptures, strategically responsive to global and national realities, and significantly contributing to the transformation of its constituents into becoming responsible Christian stewards of industry and community.” It is a vision that is slowly being realized with the support from the members of the Board of Trustees and the alumni.