Many share the belief that providing access to a good education to the poor can help them build a better life for themselves, and this is the main reason why Western Colleges, Inc. was established. The school was founded by Atty. Mariano B. Villanueva and was formerly known as Western Cavite Institute. Atty. Villanueva originally planned on opening the school in Maragondon, Cavite, his hometown, in time for the school year 1942-43, but this did not materialize due to the outbreak of World War II on December 8, 1941.
Years passed but the dream remained in the heart of Atty. Villanueva. Having married the former Consuelo E. Papa of Naic, Cavite, he became an adoptive child of the town. He became concerned that there were no schools which offered high school nor college level education in Naic. Together with Atty. Alfredo Guevarra and Dr. Conrado N. Yuvienco, Atty. Villanueva decided to form a corporation with a capitalization of P50,000, Western Cavite Institute or W.C.I. was born on May 17, 1945.
The house of the parents of stockholder and member of Board of Trustees Dr. Angel Poblete in Balsahan St. in Naic served as the first location of W.C.I. After complying with the requirements of the Bureau of Private Schools headed by Acting Director Professor Sotero Sinco, W.C.I. became authorized to open its complete basic secondary education program (first year to fourth year high school). W.C.I. was the first high school to open in the Philippines after World War II. The pioneer members of the faculty included Ernesto Mangahis as Principal, Enriqueta Mangahas as Librarian, Purification O. Celestial as Language teacher, Rebecca C. Benitez as Music and English teacher, Eusebio Nazareno, and Mrs. Gatchalian, among others.
Due to the unexpected large number of enrollees, the Pioneer Board of Trustees, Atty. Mariano B. Villanueva – President, Dr. Petronilo Torres – Vice President, Pio T. Capili – Treasurer, Atty. Alfredo Guevarra – Secretary, Atty. Dionisio Guevarra – Adviser, and Gabriel Nazareno, Maximino Nazareno Sr., Simeon Tanega, Dr. Severino Rillo, Dr. Antonio Manalo, Adolfo Valenzuela, and Dr. Angel Poblete – Members, convened before the end of June 1945 and discussed the possibility of moving the school to a larger site. The Board chose the cockpit arena as the new location of W.C.I. and it is where the main building remains to this day. The original owners of the arene agreed to sell the property for the price of P16,000, which was a princely sum during those days. Doña Rosa Papa vda. De Garcia offered financial help which enabled W.C.I. to convert the cockpit into a dignified high school building the construction of which was under the supervision of Ricardo Arenas and Vicente Diosomito.
Western Cavite Institute had its first graduation in March 1945. The first guest of honor was Atty. Dewitt, an American school teacher assigned in Naic Elementary School. The ceremony was held at the roof deck of Major Gregorio Jocson’s home in Rizal St. Notable graduates included Eligia Mangahas-Gutierrez, Roberta Poblete and Diosa Miguelino.
After the Holy Week of 1946, the Board of Trustees was called to submit the proposal to open the College of Junior Normal, College of Education, and College of Liberal Arts. Through the efforts and good public relations of Atty. Mariano B. Villanueva, the application to offer these courses was approved for the school year 1946-47. Ernesto Mangahis served as the first dean of the college department of W.C.I. while remaining as the high school department’s principal. Owing to insufficient time to advertise the school’s new offerings, only four students enrolled in the college department that first school year. Juliana C. Stuart was one of these students. Ms. Stuart graduated from W.C.I. and eventually became the District Supervisor of Alfonso Elementary School.
On June 21, 1947, W.C.I. held its second commencement exercises which produced 19 high school graduates. W.C.I. continued its efforts to expand the school population by establishing branches in Tanza, Binakayan, Maragondon, Amadeo, Bailen, Indang, Ternate, Magallanes, Calumpang, and Malainen Luma. The first collegiate branch to open outside of Naic was in the home of Mariano Figueroa in Tanza. Dr. Januario Blancaflor served as its dean. The second branch was established at the junction of Binakayan and Imus under the supervision of then District Supervisor of Amadeo Elementary School Macario Foronda. The Indang branch was organized under the supervision of Guadalupe de las Alas and Macario Gonzales. The Bailen branch was created under the helm of Jose Salazar who also served as the principal of Bailen Elementary School while Judge Aurelio Icasiano and Pedro de Ocampo spearheaded the establishment of the Maragondon branch of W.C.I.
In 1950, just five years into its existence, W.C.I. changed its name to Western Colleges and Sister Schools as a nod to the establishment of these other branches. It was also in this year that the graduates of the high school and college departments of the different branches of the institution were featured in the commencement exercises souvenir program called “The Pioneers”. The student population continued to increase and the school became renowned in the province of Cavite for nurturing students who excelled in cultural meets, military and sports competitions. The principals of the different branches of W.C.I. played a very important role in driving these efforts, including Segundo P. Nazareno (Bailen), Pedro E. Papa (Indang), Napoleon Beratio (Magallanes), Gregorio Rielo (Maragondon), and Erlinda Huerto (Ternate).
Despite these victories, Western Colleges met its share of challenges. Because of these, the Board of Trustees approved the sale of its branches in the late 1970’s to concentrate on the operation of the main branch in Naic. The proceeds of the sale were used to acquire land in Latoria, Naic, construction of the new school building, renovation of the main building, procurement of school equipment of school equipment, and upgrading of existing school facilities.
When Atty. Mariano B. Villanueva passed away, Pio T. Capili stepped into his role as president of Western Colleges, Inc. Under Mr. Capili’s leadership, W.C.I. continued to produce graduates who excelled in the field of education and other disciplines as well. After his demise, the management of the institution fell into the hands of his daughter Fe N. Capili who served as Director and President of the Board of Trustees. She managed the school together with Leonida Miranda, the former Registrar who upon her retirement in 1995 was replaced by Corazon C. Pabiton. Dr. Stella Adanza retired, and the late Dr. Raquel Mendoza was replaced by Dr. Mercedes Paraan as the Dean of Graduate Studies.
There were many other changes and improvements during Ms. Capili’s administration. Dr. Evangelino Nigoza became the Dean of the graduate school. Angelita Dimayuga replaced the late Vicente Cuapiaco as the school’s accountant. Additional programs were offered by the institution, including two-year Hotel and Restaurant Management and Office Management with Computer courses, Bachelor in Elementary Education, Bachelor of Science in Commerce which became Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics.
The school’s population continued to grow and this necessitated the construction of a third floor in the main building to house the computer laboratory, MAED library, secretarial room, and additional classrooms. An extension building was started in Latoria in line with the Board of Trustees’ long term plan to transfer the high school department there. Unfortunately, Ms. Capili died in 1997 before its completion. Atty. Prescila T. Baylosis who was then the Vice President, took over the Presidency by rule of succession.
In order to continue the vision of the Board of Trustees, it engaged the service of Rev. Fr. George Morales as director of W.C.I. who implemented new rules and policies for the school. Dr. Ines S. Volante was appointed the Dean of the graduate school; Dr. Eduardo Ventura as the Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Dolores Abad as the college dean and Apolonio Alapan as the high school principal.
Fr. Morales had many plans for W.C.I. but in his second year as Director, on October 23, 1998, a catastrophe struck. The existing building in Latoria which housed the second and third year high school students of the school was razed by a fire. This left the Western Colleges’ administration with no choice but to stop the on-going construction of the new extension building and focus their attention on how the displaced high school students could be accommodated in the school’s main building.
In 2000, Fr. George Morales resigned to give priority to his pastoral activities as the parish priest of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Naic. He was replaced by Dr. Teresita Maaño who became the school’s acting director. During that time, high school principal Apolonio Alapan resigned and was replaced by Edna V. Ramirez, who was in turn succeeded by Elvira B. Boneo upon her retirement.
In 2006, after a few years as acting director, Dr. Teresita Maaño had a severe stroke and was advised to step down to get the rest she needed to facilitate her recovery. W.C.I. was fortunate to find a new Dean of the College and Graduate School in the person of Dr. Abner V. Pineda. He also became the first senior high school principal for W.C.I. in the School Year 2016-17 when the institution became the first school in Cavite District 7 to offer all academic and technical tracks, which includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM), Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), General Academic Strand (GAS), and Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL). Meanwhile, Mr. Darniell C. Balbuena who succeeded Mrs. Elvira B. Boneo is currently serving as junior high school principal and has played an active role in carrying out some of the school’s plans for expansion. Because of this, the school’s NKP (Nursery, Kinder and Prep) is now ready to accept enrollees for the School Year 2017-18. It is expected that W.C.I. would also be offering elementary school in the coming years.
At present, the college department is seeing many changes and improvements. New programs such as the Bachelor in Public Administration and Bachelor of Science in Criminology has already received its government recognition while the Bachelor in Public Administration is in the process of receiving its recognition soon.
In view of its dedication to provide quality education to its students, W.C.I. has continued to upgrade its facilities. The main building’s third floor currently houses fully air-conditioned classrooms, Audio-Visual Room, and Speech Laboratory. All the rooms in the first and second floors are also air-conditioned now and equipped with glass boards and 57-inch LCD screens that can be used to project PowerPoint presentations for class discussions. CCTV cameras have also been installed inside the building and industrial fans provide ventilation in the multi-purpose hall for the comfort of students, staff and visitors.
In Latoria, the campus stage a project of the Western Colleges Alumni Association has been completed. The new two-storey building for the senior high school is already in use. Construction of the administration building, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood strand facilities, and bigger canteen is in full swing and is expected to be completed by the School Year 2018-19, when the full operation of W.C.I. will be transferred to the Latoria Campus.
With the new Board of Trustees headed by Atty. Prescila T. Baylosis – President, Evelyn N. Estuar – Vice President, Nicasio D. Torres – Secretary / Auditor, Florencio B. Nazareno, Elvira B. Nazareno, Atty. Rolando A. Velasco, Frederick T. Baylosis, Emma Lara, and Melchora C. Capili. Western Colleges, Inc. is committed to prepare its students to become globally competitive and excel in this fast changing world. May the Lord Almighty continue to guide W.C.I. in its pursuit of excellence.