With the emergence of the Community School Concept and its successful experimentation by Dr. Pedro Orata in his home province in Pangasinan during the late 60’s, the national leadership then took interest in adopting it as a means of solving the country’s educational problems on the secondary and tertiary levels. And to the credit of its godfather, Dr. Orata, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports mustered its forces from the top down to the bottom of the entire hierarchy to sell and popularize the idea to the provincial and countryside Community. As a result, the community high school mushroomed in the rural areas which later on, were called barangay high schools. To these progressive undertakings, the island province of Marinduque and more particularly, the municipality of Santa Cruz responded quite enthusiastically. It became very much a part of the community school movement when some barangays pioneered in the establishment of such schools in their own localities.
Before the onset of the barangay high school movement, the rural areas of Santa Cruz were underserved, educationally speaking. The less fortunate families could hardly send their children to the private school located in the town proper. It was this problem that nurtured the growth of the community high schools in the countryside areas. The barangays of Landy, Tagum, and Tambangan pioneered in this undertaking during the school year 1967 – 1968, followed by Ipil, Dolores, Polo, and Napo (Makapuyat) the following year 1968 – 1969. The movement further caught fire and more barangay put up their own high schools in Kasily, Punong, and Mongpong in 1969 – 1970; Alobo in 1970 – 1971; Hupi and Maniwaya 1971 – 1972, and lately, Matalaba in 1984 – 1985 making a total of 14 barangay high schools in the whole municipality with a total enrolment of close 2,650 and handled by about a hundred teachers as of the current school year 1988 – 1989. To start with, the said barangay high schools were allowed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports then to use the site and building facilities of the public elementary schools to minimize their use. Where this provided them with their own resources. Such was the community and for the community. And where these facilities were not available nor sufficient, the community provided them with their own resources. Such was the community School concept; it is a school of the community, by the community and for the community. And to this concept, the barangay folks responded quite well enough.
Years later, as a result of this growing community consciousness on educational matters, the number of secondary school graduates in the whole municipality increased considerably. The community schools even outpaced the old existing private secondary schools in the turnout of graduates. As it is now, out of the total output of close to 1,000 graduates of both the public and private high schools annually, about 700 came from the public or barangay high schools while the rests were from the private institutions in the locality.
Sensing the need for institutions of higher learning in the municipality to accommodate the increased output of graduates from the local high schools then-the Malindig Institute and the Santa Cruz Institute – secured permits to offer full degree courses. The keen rivalry between the two institutions, however, paid dearly for both of them as they closed shop after only a few years of operation. As a consequence thereof, the local youths became the losers once more. It took some time before any college was put up in town again.
It was in 1976, during the first term of Engr. Percival P. Morales as municipal mayor of Santa Cruz, that the Sangguniang Bayan seriously considered the problem of providing higher education in the locality. The good mayor’s first plan was to put up a new private college backed up by a group of civic-minded individuals in town. And so, with his secretary, Juanito P. Recio, they consulted Mr. Saturnino B. Rogelio, then a District Supervisor on the feasibility of their plan. The latter, however, appeared cool to the idea and even cited the dubious viability of private college to be subsidized by the municipal government. Mr. Rogelio tried to impress upon the Mayor that a government-supported community college would make a very lasting and memorable legacy of his administration to his constituents. While the Mayor was not averse to the suggestion, he made it an alternate plan and for sometime continued to pursue his own approach to the problem that of a private college. It was only after experiencing difficulty in acquiring an appropriate site for his college that he gave it up and adopted the community college concept as the last resort.
Finally, at a casual meeting of municipal and school officials during a fiesta gathering in Barangay Mongpong on February 11, 1977, the community college project was brought up. Present at this meeting were the Provincial School Superintendent, Mr. Monico Monsod and his Assistant, Mr. Leovigildo Landicho; Mr. Saturnino B. Rogelio, then the District Supervisor of Santa Cruz East District; Mayor Morales and Vice Mayor Ildefonso de los Santos; some Sangguniang Bayan members, etc. Right then and there, the proposed project was unanimously accepted and agreed upon for implementation. Shortly after this casual meeting, the Sangguniang Bayan convened to formally ask then Minister Juan Manuel of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports through Resolution No. 18, dated February 22, 1977, to issue the corresponding permit to operate a community college in Santa Cruz, Marinduque. Fortunately, Minister Manuel paid Marinduque a sentimental visit, having earlier served in the province, and on his arrival at Santa Cruz early in March of the same year, Mayor Morales handed to him, before addressing the welcoming crowd, the Council’s resolution. Minister Manuel acted favorably on the request upon his return to Manila and on March 29, 1977, issued the much-sought permit. Thus, was born at Marinduque Community College. It started operation in June of the same year with Atty. Celso Zoleta, Jr. as Acting Administrator. The incorporators and original members of the College’s Board of Trustees were the following:
Atty. Celso Zoleta Jr. Chairman
Mayor Percival P. Morales Member
Vice Mayor Ildefonso de los Santos Member
Atty. Pedro Morales Member
Saturnino B. Rogelio Member
Paterno Constantino Member
Maimpok Ongchangco Member
Tomas Pacis Member
Luis Tan Member
Monico Monsod (Prov. Schools Sup’t) Member
Leovigildo Landicho (Assist. Sup’t) Member
While the aforementioned personalities played a major role in the incorporation and initial management of Marinduque Community College during its early years of operation, much of the credit for the actualization of the community’s dream for higher education institutions in the municipality should go to the Sangguniang Bayan whose membership then was made up of the following:
Engr. Percival P. Morales Mayor
Ildefonso de los Santos Vice Mayor
Norma Ricohermoso Councilor
Dr. Meynardo Vertucio Councilor
Fabian Palmiery Councilor
Dr. Antonio de Leon Councilor
Salvador Rey Councilor
Juan Max Lim Councilor
Rogato Lumawig Councilor
Angel Regalia Councilor
Other councilmen were the sectoral representatives namely:
Alfonso Belarmino Alfonso Rey
Dominador Parino Ildefonso Robles
Valerio Rolluqui Enrique Malelang
At the start, the key people manning the administrative staff were as follows:
Atty. Celso Zoleta Jr. Acting Administrator
Mrs. Angeles Valenzuela Acting Registrar
Mr. Briccio Matienzo Ex-Officio Treasurer
Mr. Juanito P. Recto Secretary, Board of Trustees
Mr. Saturnino B. Rogelio Acting Dean of Institution
As a matter of policy, the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports encouraged the establishment of community colleges to decentralize the higher education system and its institutions, which were then concentrated in the Metro Manila area and other urban centers, and to disperse them to the provincial areas where the less privileged youths can avail of their educational services. Following this policy, Marinduque Community College was allowed to use the school buildings and other facilities of the South Central School in the town proper until it could provide itself with its own site and classrooms.
After two years of operation, by reason of a strange twist in the local political developments, Mayor Percival P. Morales was relieved of his position as municipal mayor of Santa Cruz, as a result of which, Atty. Zoleta Jr. resigned as College Administrator in 1980. Forthwith, the Board of Trustees picked out Mr. Saturnino B. Rogelio, then acting Dean of Instruction, and a Public School Districts Supervisor, to succeed Atty. Zoleta Jr. as College Administrator and concurrently Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The same year, Marcopper made good its promise to construct and donate a school building to the College. Said building was constructed inside the Gabaldon School site. The original plan of 10 classrooms with office rooms and toilets was not however realized owing to prevailing inflation then. So that what was envisioned as a complete set of college facilities ended up with only half of them actually provided. The institution’s accommodation problem.
After almost four years at the helm of the institution, Mr. Rogelio resigned from his position in September 1983. Mayor Francisco M. Lecaros then took over as College Administrator. During his term in 1987, the college was allowed to expand its curricular offerings from General Education courses to a full degree course in AB and BEED, through the assistance of Dr. Nilo L. Rosas, a native Marinduqueño and Director of Bureau of Higher Education. Following the local elections early on January 18, 1989, there was a changeover in the administration of not only in the municipality but also the Marinduque Community College, with Mayor Lecaros bowing out to give way to Mayor-elect Percival P. Morales. With an assumption of the College Administratorship, the new mayor called on Mr. Rogelio to assist him in managing the college, being a member of the Board of Trustees. With this development, Mayor Morales and his staff were aglow with the satisfaction of presiding over the first graduation rites of the institution they founded. This much-cherished occasion took place last March 31, 1989.