St. Mary’s College is a Catholic School situated along the National Highway, Tagum, Davao del Norte. In 1948, Father Lionell Labelle, P.M.E. established the Tagum Catholic High School near the parish church. The school obtained government recognition the following year. Its name was changed to Holy Cross of Tagum and its Foundation Day was celebrated every September 14 in commemoration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.

Upon request of the PME priests in 1950, the RVM Sisters of the Immaculate Conception College, Davao City, administered the school with Mother Jesusa Andrada, RVM as the first Directress. The Grade School was opened in 1953.

In 1961, the Associate in Arts and the Collegiate Secretarial Science programs were offered. The school then attained its college status hence, the name Holy Cross College.

In 1963, the school started the Bachelor of Science in Commerce and in 1968, the Bachelor of Science in Education and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education were also offered. Additional classrooms were built. With these added curricular offerings and an increasing enrolment, a three-storey building was constructed with the school assuming the name St. Mary’s College.

The school year 1968 also marked the separation of the high school boys from the girls. The Maryknoll Fathers took the administration of the boys department.

There were other buildings put up in 1969 like the Sisters’ convent, school canteen and dormitory.

In June 1971, the school received a donation of P 10,000 worth of science laboratory equipment from the UNICEF.

In the 1972, St. Mary’s College celebrated its Silver Jubilee anniversary. Members of the academic community joyfully participated in the weeklong activities. Within this year, the Home Economics building was erected.

Three years later, a two-storey classroom science laboratory was built.

In the school year 1980-1981, six (6) classrooms were constructed to complete the main building. The whole roof garden of the administrative offices was renovated into a big library and the former DXCD station was also renovated into Instructional Multi-Media Center (IMMC).

School year 1981-1982, marked the beginning of the extension of the Ateneo de Davao University of its graduate courses namely Masters of Arts in Education major in Educational Administration, Masters in Business Management and Masters in Public Administration to St. Mary’s College.

The CPA Review Center was opened in May 1982.

The school was granted the approval of the major in Economics for the BSC and AB courses. Another significant enrichment of the curriculum was the offering of Computer Education with the initial purchase of five brand new microcomputers.

Program Heads for AB, Education and BSC programs were appointed in March 1982.

The applied Math and General Science majors for the BSE course were approved in 1983.

During the school year 1982-1983, Phase 1 of a separate three-storey building with nine (9) classrooms and administrative office for the elementary department was constructed.

The elementary , high school and college departments started the PAASCU preliminary self-survey in preparation for the school’s accreditation. The school applied for the offering of the Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and in school year 1983-1984, the school accepted the first year Civil Engineering.

In 1983, the school celebrated its Coral Jubilee. The celebration was highlighted by the presentation of the history of the school through a musical.

The old dormitory was reconstructed to accommodate the increasing number of borders and working students. Three additional kiosks were put-up for the use of the pupils and parents during lunch time.

This year’s program was focused on the enrichment of the curriculum, instruction, and the spiritual formation of the students, faculty and non-teaching personnel.

Mr. Bayani T. Escora, owner-manager of the BTE Steel Builders generously donated a beautiful chapel to the school and did the landscaping in front of the engineering laboratory and grade school building.

School year 1987-1988 was marred by ”strike” participated in by some full time faculty members of the grade school, high school and college together with some of the staff. The members stayed in the picket line for twenty days, starting December 2-21, 1987. In May 24, 1988, the union officers and administration signed the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) for three years.

St. Mary’s College celebrated the Ruby Jubilee in 1988.The parents association (HSDA) with the administration, faculty, staff and students sponsored the roofing of the gymnasium. Eight (8) additional kiosks near the new canteen were also built.

School year 1988-1989 marked the revival of the SMC Review Center offering reviews for the CPA, Teacher’s Board, Career Service and NCEE examinations.

The P.E., Music and Scouting Center for the use of the elementary and high school students was constructed. A new field of study was added in the Education Program, BSED major in Physical Education, Health and Music (PEHM).

The offering of piano lessons to interested pupils and students was also revived.

In July 19, 1989, the school produced the first civil engineer. The school tendered a motorcade, program and dinner to the honoree, Engr. Wilfredo Bonghanoy.

In September of the same year, the HSDA Home School Development Association (HSDA) and the SAC (Special Action Committee) sponsored a raffle draw. Bleachers and stage were put up from the proceeds of the draw.

The faculty and staff had their first educational trip to Manila in November 1989. They held their retreat in Baguio City. That same month, the administration, purchased additional apparatus and equipment for Physics and Engineering laboratories.

To accommodate and serve the increasing number of pupils and students, the canteen built adjacent to the convent was renovated and expanded.

Year 1990 marked the establishment of the MIRDC-NFED (Mother Ignacia Research and Development Center Non-Formal Education Department) to link SMC with a community at a village level for the developmental assistance, to establish a research center to meet the needs of the business community, and to integrate these two linkages with the academic community of SMC.

In January 1990, the MIRDC core group organized a meeting with the barangay officials of Liboganon. By February of the same year, a seminar on cooperative was held which resulted in the establishment of the Mother Ignacia Liboganon Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. The cooperative started with 25 members. A social hall was constructed to house the cooperative and an income generating project the Cogon Grass Paper Making funded by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). From a very small capital build-up, the Mother Ignacia Liboganon Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. realized some profit in December 31, 1991 with a total membership of seventy-one. It services the needs of the residents of Liboganon and the nearby barangay by selling basic commodities needed in the homes. It was also able to get a permit from the National Food Authority to distribute and sell NFA rice.

The cogon paper making project has been going on ever since providing additional source of income for some marginal fishermen in the area. The pump which was installed in Liboganon as a source of drinking water with financial assistance from the government’s Tulong sa Tubigan (TST) was transferred to the Agan District in Magdum being considered as another community for which SMC can link for development assistance.

The RVM PAASCU team spearheaded by S. Ma. Lourdes Palacio, RVM visited the three departments on March 7-10, 1990 to the school in its endeavor to acquire PAASCU accreditation.

In October 1990, SMC produced its second Civil Engineer in the person of Engr. Domingo Belogulo.

In February 1991, the PAASCU team from Manila was invited to visit the three departments simultaneously.

In March 11, of the same year, SMC launched the Business Resource Center (BRC) funded the by Asia Foundation. The Center aims to facilitate growth and development of small scale business micro-enterprises in Tagum and other identified neighboring areas in the field of training research, consultancy and financial assistance.

The Business Resource Center (BRC) has been extending financial assistance to micro-entrepreneurs in Tagum since 1992. Projects with extended capital assistance include candy processing, leather-craft, metalcraft, meat processing, garments, candle-making, herbal and soap making, peanut processing, mat weaving, eatery, and sari-sari store.

In July of the same year, SMC initiated a meeting with the GKK leaders in Tagum and presented its pre-school program which was to be linked with interested GKK units. The number increased to 14 pre-schools as of March, 1992.

The Munting Paaralan ni Madre Ignacia scattered in Tagum has benefited pre-school children whose parents can hardly afford to send them to kindergarten schools. Practice teachers from the education department of the college have been actively involved in teaching these children.

In May 27, 1991, the Department if Education, Culture and Sports granted a Government Recognition to the Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE) course of St. Mary’s College.

Additional ten (10) units of IBM PC/XT computers were installed in the computer laboratory for the use of the students in the grade school (V & VI), high school (3rd & 4th years) and college. New computers were also installed in the offices of the grade school, high school and college registrar and MIRDC-NFED. Ten (10) typewriters were also added in the typing laboratory to accommodate the increasing number of high school (3rd & 4th years) and college students using the laboratory.

The College applied for the offering of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Course. Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) Course, and the Two-Year Computer Secretarial Course (CSC). The contract of affiliation was signed between SMC and the Davao Regional Hospital in December 1991 for the training of the nursing students.

In March 17, 1992, SMC launched the MIM (Mother Ignacia Movement) in Davao del Norte for the beatification of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. The launching started with a Mass at the Cathedral followed by a motorcade.

Simple lunch was served to the visitors and members of the movement in the SMC gymnasium. Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz was a celebrant and preacher.

On the 21st of March 1992, the CBA was renewed for another five years. A new memorandum of agreement was signed to last till 1996.

Through the joint efforts of the HSDA officers and members, SAC members, the administration, faculty, staff and students, the development for the completion of the Gymnasium speeded up. A permanent stage was constructed. The simple blessing of the Gym was done on the 24th of March, 1992, few days before the scheduled graduation rites.

May 1992 marked the construction of the ground floor of the fifteen (15) classroom-college building facilitated by the engineering faculty team headed by Engr. Ismael Tabije. The ground floor of the building houses the nursing laboratories, lecture rooms and the office of the Associate Dean of Nursing.

By June 1992, the college accepted first year enrollees of the Nursing and the Two-Year Computer Secretarial courses. First and second year students were accepted in the BSA course.

In July 6 of the same year, the DECS Region XI granted a temporary permit to St. Mary’s College authorizing the school to operate First and Second Years of the Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) and the Two-Year Computer Secretarial Course (CSC).

In February 1993, SMC applied to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports for the offering of the Graduate Courses namely: Master of Arts in Elementary Education (MAEE) and Master of Arts in Education (MAED) with majors in English, Filipino, and Guidance and Counseling, the Two-Year Midwifery Course and Guidance and Counseling as additional major in Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED).

In May 1993, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports granted the Two-Year Computer Secretarial Course (CSC) of St. Mary’s College its government recognition. Temporary permit to operate the first year Midwifery Course and 3rd and 4th years of the Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) course was issued. The applied additional major in BSED, Guidance and Counseling was also approved.

School Year 1993-1994 was the Sapphire Jubilee (45 years) of St. Mary’s College. The celebration was held on September 24-26, 1994 with the theme: Onward SMC . . . to Year 2000 thru PEOPLE EMPOWERMENT.

The Grade School and High School departments successfully passed the formal PAASCU survey held in August this year and were granted initial accreditation for a period of three years.

The Graduate School Program accepted its first year enrollees in Master in Arts in Elementary Education (MAEE) and Master of Arts in Education (MAED) courses, Nursing I and II and Midwifery I in the undergraduate courses were offered.

The college applied for the offering of the following:

– Library Science, an added major in BSED

– HRM (Hotel Restaurant and Management), added major in Commerce

– Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Accounting (a 3-year and 2-summer non-board course)

The Basic Ecclessial Communities (BEC) was organized this school year and formally launched to the whole community.

The first candlelight ceremony of the Midwifery Program took place on July 30, 1993 at the SMC Chapel with Father Ariel Garcia, as the celebrant.

Thirty-two (32) Nursing students had their first Cap, Pin and Candlelight Ceremony on December 11, 1993 at the Christ the King Cathedral. Most Rev. Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz, D.D., D.D., S.T.D. was the reside.

Environmental Education was intensified this school year through the MEAW (Movement for Ecological Awareness) project in which students made SAVE THE EARTH pledges at the start of the school year.

On April 21, 1994, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports Issued a Government Recognition to the following title and courses, namely:

– Two- Year Midwifery Course

– First to Fourth Year Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA)

– Two- Year Master of Arts in Elementary Education (MAEE) and Two- Year Master of Arts in Education (MAEd)

In the following year the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program received its Government Recognition from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) dated May 12, 1995.

In November 27 of the same year, St. Mary’s College produced its first Midwifery Board passer in the person of Miss Bertilla Trajano.

A grand alumni homecoming of the institution was held on December 30, 1995 with the leadership of S. Ma. Anisia Bolano, RVM, the Alumni Coordinator.

St. Mary’s College hosted the Third Regional Assembly of the Mother Ignacia Movement (MIM) with His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila as the distinguished guest. Held on February 17-18, 1996 the assembly gathered 24 units of the seven MIM Chapters.

The RVM-Technical Vocational Education Training (RVM-TVET) which was launched on March 9, 1995 produced its first batch of trainees on March 19, 1996.

On March 24, 1996, the College Department also produced its first batch of Nursing graduates who garnered a 100% passing rate in the nurse’s licensure examinations.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement was renewed for a period of five years, from June 3, 1996 up to June 3, 2001. The signing was made on July 29, 1996 by the school administration and the union officers.

The high school and the grade school departments were visited by the PAASCU Team on October 10-11, 1996 and January 30-31, 1997 respectively; and both departments got re-accreditation for the next five school years.

Below is the 1996-1997 performance of SMC graduates in the licensure exams:

Education – 55%
Accountancy – 7%
Engineering – 80%
Midwifery – 80%
Nursing – 100%
The administration as endorsed by its Board of Trustees, entered into a partnership with Net Curricula, Inc. to bring in information technology to the classroom. The Memorandum of Agreement was signed in January 6, 1998 with the agency’s Board Chairman, Mr. Francisco Colayco who came over to Tagum with Engr. Rodolfo Lozada, project officer and Raquel Dapito, NCI head of operation for Davao. This partnership enabled the faculty to move towards integrating information technology/multi-media with instruction. The students had ample access to the internet. A digital classroom for each department has been initiated to assure both students and faculty availability of facilities needed in the integration of information technology or multi-media.

In the graduate school, three students presented their research proposals within the school year 1998-1999.

This school year marked the separation of the high school library from that of the college department with two classrooms in the third floor (Rm. 309-310) converted into the high school library.

Additional testing materials have been acquired this year for the Guidance Service Center.

To provide some initial hands-on office experience, a business lab for secretarial students was put up in the first floor, located near the College Guidance Office.

All departments were provided with computer sets for the use of the faculty and the computers of the various offices have been upgraded. The school had acquired risograph for its growing printing needs.

Payphone stations have been made available for students’ use in partnership with a telephone company.

A revamp in the college department took place with the appointment of Dr. Dante Mamaril as College Dean, former Associate Dean of Education effective January 15, 1999. Mrs. Enriqueta Decena, MA in Teaching Language was unanimously nominated by the education faculty and consequently appointed as associate dean of the program.

Two programs in the college department underwent the PAASCU preliminary survey in March 2 and 3 1999 namely, Education and Liberal Arts. A consultancy visit by PAASCU is scheduled no sooner than one year in the areas of Faculty and Instruction.

Improvement in the school’s drainage system had been made.

A waiting shed for the guardians was constructed located at the second gate. Construction of the covered walk from the college building passing through the front of the school chapel to the St. Joseph building beside the H.E. Practical House.

Ciara Isabel Uy, a fourth year High School Student went to London as one of the eight (8) delegates to the Philippine Girl Scouts representing the country.

Construction of the restrooms of the Mother Ignacia Multi-Purpose Hall had been completed.

The four-year contract with Net Curricula was pre-terminated. A board resolution allowing Net Curricula to put up a Learning Resource Unit (LRU) within the school (free of charge for 3 years) took effect last January 24, 2000. The said LRU services included internet access, and Britannica on line.

Local electronic area network installations have been completed.

The MIRDC-BRC hosted the year-end evaluation and planning of the RVM Technical Skills Training Program last April 1-15, 2000.

In March 2000, SMC produced its first Masteral graduates, Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) major in Guidance and Counseling in the persons of Mr. Isagani Batiao and Mrs. Elma Latoza.

Renovation of the drainage system was completed in summer 2000.

The school hosted the one-month long Centennial Traveling Exhibit in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Commission on Higher Education. The exposition opened July 12, 2000 with the provincial governor and city mayor present and Dr. Rose Bustamante of CHD XI giving the rationale of the exhibit. Students and teachers coming from the different schools in the province came over and viewed the exhibit.

On September 19, 2000 the school signed up for Internet leased line connection with Net Curricula , the latter giving up its LRU-Klick Station.

Extension and community-reach out has been sustained through the leadership of the MIRDC-BRC. Started with five centers on September 1991, the Munting Paaralan ni Madre Ignacia (MPMI) has grown 13 day care centers being served by the education program. Also in coordination with the MIRDC-BRC, the accounting program has been assisting BRC clients in bookkeeping and filing income tax return since 1995. The commerce program meanwhile does alternative banking, another joint project with BRC started this year 2000. Purok Timog, Visayan Village, Tagum City is the adopted community of the nursing program for which the latter provides free clinic and health classes for mothers. Purok Basakan and Nueva Fuerza are served by the Liberal Arts program through community organizing, livelihood training and health education.

Starting school year 2000-2001, Alumni Day is celebrated every third Saturday of September, with SMC Days moved to December due to too many activities in the first semester. Last September 16, 2000 golden, ruby, coral, pearl and silver jubilarians were honored by the school with Governor Rodolfo P. del Rosario as special guest speaker. Aside from the Alumni directory and yearbook were also launched. General alumni homecoming took place every three years.

The AB and Education Programs of the College Department was given a go-signal to prepare for the formal survey.

Formal phase-out of Midwifery course was done this school year.

The contract with Net-Curricula ended in March 2001. The administration entered into a contract with a new Internet Service Provider, Globenet by DCTech Davao. It uses Station Logger System where the software used provides control for time usage. A programmer was hired in summer as a consultant on a part-time basis.

SY 2001-2002 up to the Present

The Canteen was renovated in Summer 2001. A Soil Mechanics/Materials Testing Laboratory for the Engineering was also constructed.

Major renovations: Guest / HE House; Pag-asa building, Provision of comfort room in the high school faculty room. Complete replacement of the roofing and ceiling and repainting of the High School Building and repainting and repairs of the Grade School building.

For the first time, the appointment of full-time Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Deans for the AB-Education and BSA-BSC programs in the college department was made.

The BSA program did not accept first year students as per advice from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The MIRDC-BRC transferred to the IMMC building and the old MIRDC-BRC office was used as PE rooms.

The College Student’s Lounge funded by the students and school was constructed. The blessing took place in August 14, 2001.

The high school department successfully passed the 5-year PAASCU re-survey held on October 8 and 9, 2001. Likewise the AB and Education programs passed the formal survey held on February 18 and 19, 2002 and was given the Level II status. Level II status was granted for a period of three (3) years. The grade school department had its re-survey on October 25 and 26, 2002. It also successfully passed the 5-year re-accreditation period by PAASCU.

Construction of the College Library-Science Mini-Theater started. Land clearing was made in June 18, 2001.

On December 6, 2001, the Apostolic Nuncio of the Philippines, Most Rev. Antonio Franco, met the in-school and out-of school youth at the MIMPH Hall of the school.

In January 2002, the construction of the three storey high school building started.

School Year 2002-2003 marked the acceptance of boys from 1st to 3rd year in the high school department and with the appointment of a new lay principal, Miss Eleanor C. Aguillon. Enrolment in the department increased by 30%.

The College Department, particularly the nursing program has a marked increase in enrolment by four (4) sections in the first year level. The program was provided with delivery, anatomy and demonstration room aside from the existing skill laboratory.

The College Faculty Room and offices of the Dean of College and Associate Deans were renovated. Expansion was made, air-condition units were installed and complete set comfort rooms were provided and decent cubicles for each teacher.

The new College Library-Science Building and High School Building and the College faculty room and offices of the Dean of College and Associate Deans were blessed by Msgr. Ulysses Perandos, the Vicar General and Superintendent of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese assisted by Fr. Emerson B. de los Reyes, Rector of the Queen of the Apostles College Seminary, Fr. Edgar Tuling, Chancellor of the Diocese and Fr. Levi Mantica, the Chaplain of the School last July 28, 2002.

The construction of the new two (2) building paved the way for a big, wide playground within the 5.8 hectare campus.

The School entered into a contract with CBCP World, thus the installation of the VSAT (Very Small Apperture Teminal) for fast provision of Internet access directly connected to Clark Airbase satellite through the service of CBCP World was materialize last July 11, 2002. Eighty (80) new computer units were purchased and were distributed as follows:

40 units for the new Internet Laboratory 32 units for the College Computer Laboratory 4 units in the Registrar’s Office 2 units in the Finance Office 2 units in the President Office Initial work on the renovation of the parking area of the school started with the City Government working on them in exchange for a 2 meters by 140.72 meters lot donation from St. Mary’s College to the City Government.

A new speech laboratory for the college was installed in August 2002 with 50 cubicles and complete set of the art gadgets for speech use. The old speech laboratory gadgets was transferred to the new high school building.

Along with this facility was the installation of sound systems in the Mini Theater, new Audio-Visual Room (AVR), High School building, administration and Mother Ignacia Multi-Purpose Hall (MIMPH) buildings.

The renovation of the Mother Ignacia Multi-Purpose Hall (MIMPH) was completed and was blessed last July 11, 2003 by His Excellency Wilfredo D. Manlapaz, D.D., Bishop of Tagum.

On October 9-10, 2003, the Commerce and Nursing Programs has its PAASCU preliminary visits. The Commerce passed the preliminary accreditation (Level 1) and the Nursing Program is recommended for a consultancy visit.

In October 2006 and January 2008 the High School and Grade School Department respectively, have separately passed their Re-accreditation and were granted clean five years for Level 2.

In December 2009, the Grade School Department was granted Level 3 PAASCU Re-accreditation while the High School Department was granted the same accreditation in May 2010.

In SY 2010-2011, the College of Law was opened for enrolment.

On March 4, 2011, the new administration building was inaugurated. Encased in it are the offices for the School President, Finance Officer, Cashier, Centralized Registrar, Support Services, Research Director, Alumni Coordinator. It also has a function and session room at the second floor. The said building also houses the first Museum in Davao del Norte named after Mother Foundress, Museo de Ignacia. It is now accredited with the National Commission of Culture and the Arts or NCCA.

On February 27, 2012, St. Mary’s College received a great honor for having produced a National Champion in the 2nd Voice of the Youth National Oratorical Competition held at RCBC Plaza, Makati City. Karl Ckristian A. Cruz, along with his coach and piece writer, Mrs. Joan D. Lanciola, MA, was declared Grand Champion in the said Oratorical Competition with the theme, Discovering Filipino Values: I see. I act. I Advocate. The prize totaled to Nine Hundred and Thirty Thousand Pesos (P930,000.00): P800,000 worth of Computer Laboratory Showcase, P100,000 for the student and P30,000 worth of DSLR Canon Camera for the coach.

In 2012, a new Student Services Building, housing the GS/HS clinic, GS/HS guidance office and Campus ministry office was put up, along with the College of Law Building.

On March 4-5, 2013 the Basic Education Department had their PAASCU re-accreditation as an integrated department. They were granted the five (5) year re-accreditation status last May 2013.

On July 31, 2013 the new College of Law and Graduate School building was inaugurated by Fr. Emerson B. de los Reyes and Fr. Arnulfo Tiplaca along with the blessing of the new covered walk and the covered court near the high school building. The building serves the Law and Graduate School students. In it are the facilities such as classrooms, library, faculty/conference room, moot court and the offices of both deans. The inauguration was attended by the RVM Regional Council headed by S. Ma. Corazon Agda, RVM, RVM School Administrators, RVM Sisters, HSDA, Alumni representatives, and the Academic Community of St. Mary’s College.

On the same day, the renovated school chapel was blessed by Bishop Wilfredo D. Manlapaz, STh. D., bishop of the Diocese of Tagum. The said chapel which is fully air-conditioned will serve both students and personnel in their different religious activities.

For some time now, St. Mary’s College has been the venue of government examinations. Among the religious organizations, the Couples for Christ, Singles for Christ and Handmaids for Christ also hold their activities in school. Big diocesan functions have also been held in St. Mary’s: so with provincial and city functions with the Mother Ignacia Multi-Purpose (MIMP) Hall as venue.

To date, St. Mary’s College has graduated enumerable scores of alumni who are occupying top and administrative positions in both private and public institutions of this locality and in other areas. With them they carry the brilliant name of their Alma Mater from whom they have earned what they are today sharing life and talents in the service of the community and the greater glory of HIS Name.