HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF HCDC
Every institution possesses a PAST which it fondly looks back to, a PRESENT which it carefully nurtures and develops and a FUTURE which it eagerly looks forward to.
Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc. is no exception.
In school year 1951-1952, the Religious of the Virgin Mary Sisters opened an annex of the Immaculate Conception College (now known as the University of the Immaculate Conception) at Sta. Ana Avenue, Davao City. The annex was built upon the request of parents living at Sta. Ana District, and with permission from the local bishop since the school building was erected on a land owned by the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao. The ICC annex provided kindergarten, elementary, and secondary courses for boys and girls, but by school year 1955-1956, it became a separate school and was named the “Holy Cross Academy of Davao.”
In April 1956, the RVM Sisters informed the Most Reverend Clovis Thibault, PME, the first Apostolic Administrator and Bishop of Davao, about the RVM General Council’s decision to transfer the ownership of the school. This decision was executed through a Deed of Absolute Sale in which the RVM Congregation, represented by Superior General Mother Maria Catalina Dychitan, sold the school building including “all that goes with the functioning of a school” to the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao.
Bishop Thibault then asked the Foreign Mission Society of Quebec ( PME Fathers ) to maintain “Holy Cross Academy of Davao” and to establish an exclusive school for boys. A land lease agreement was subsequently made between PME Regional Superior, Rev. Fr. Lionel Labelle and Bishop Clovis Thibault had asked the PME Fathers to establish a technical and industrial school.
The PME Fathers took over the school management in 1956-1957, with Rev. Fr. Jean Lalonde as the first school director and Rev. Fr. Leopold Charlesbois as assistant school director. The school was renamed “Holy Cross of Davao School, Inc.” When Fr. Lalonde left in 1959, Fr. Eloi Montambault, PME was appointed school director until Fr. Lalonde’s return in 1961. Fr. Lalonde served as school director until 1968.
In school year 1964-1965, the school allowed the admission of girls to the elementary department.
College courses were offered in school year 1966-1967, and the school was renamed “Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc.”
In 1968, Rev. Fr. Generoso C. Camiña ( the first Filipino PME and presently Bishop of Digos) was appointed Rector. He was succeeded by Mr. Emilio P. Palma Gil who was appointed school president on July 1, 1969. Due to the lack of Filipino personnel needed to operate the school, the PME Fathers decided to transfer the ownership of school buildings, including the CYO gymnasium, its furniture and equipment, and all the rights and privileges of operating a school, to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Davao. On July 10, 1976, a Canonical Deed of Donation was made between PME Regional Superior Rev. Fr. Roland Denies and Archbishop Antonio Ll. Mabutas, DD, J.C.D..
In 1984, the grade school department, officially named “Professor Hermann Gmeiner School”, found a new campus site at Bajada, Davao City. The grade school building and facilities were constructed and offered for the school’s perpetual use by SOS Kinderdorf International. On January 18, 1985, Archbishop Antonio Ll. Mabutas inaugurated the new campus and blessed its occupants, in the presence of Prof. Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Kinderdorf International. In August 29 of the same year, Mr. Helmut Kutin, President Of SOS Kinderdorf International, presented the speech laboratory, audio visual center, and sports center as additional facilities for the grade school department. The Professor Hermann Gmeiner School at Bajada Campus with its school buildings and modern facilities is a strong manifestation of the cooperative effort between Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc. and SOS Kinderdorf International in their common desire to give the best to the young pupils, particularly the SOS children-beneficiaries.
For many years, the high school department continued to be an exclusive school for boys. But, in school year 1985-1986, due to the persistent request of parents whose daughters were not allowed admission to the high school department, the school administration was finally convinced to change this policy and allowed the admission of female high school students.
Over the years, the school has become a dynamic academic community, primarily because of the PME Fathers. As a sign of gratitude, the school paid tribute to the PME Fathers and its 50 years of mission work in Davao provinces and in Mindanao. A two-hour theater documentary “Ang Misyonaryo: Bulawanong Tigpupugas” was presented to the people of Davao on November 30, December 10, 11 and 12, 1987 at the HCDC Gymnasium. To this day, the Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc. shares the PME motto: For us to live is to evangelize”, by participating in building basic ecclesial communities and by being a center of Catholic formation specially for the poor.
Since its foundation in 1951, the school had served thousands of students not only from Davao but from neighboring provinces and islands as well. Cognizant of the needs of those who wants to pursue graduate studies, the school opened the graduate school department. It was granted a government permit to operate masteral programs in education and economics on February 8, 1994.
The Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc. became one of the leading educational institutions in the City of Davao, also because of the unselfish work of a man who, for 25 years, guided the development of the institution. Mr. Emilio P. Palma Gil, a certified public accountant, ably handled the fiscal management of the school, as he continued the vision of the PME Fathers: to provide quality education especially to students from poor families. He was elevated to the Knighthood of St. Sylvester I by Pope Paul VI and solemnly invested by Archbishop Antonio Ll. Mabutas on May 24, 1978. He held the distinction of being the first layperson to head a catholic school. On May 31, 1994, Mr.Palma Gil retired as school president but he continues to share his management expertise as a member of the board of trustees.
“I will conserve your gains as I break new grounds to respond to the present needs” – these were the words of Ma. Iris A. Melliza, Ed.D., the second school president of Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc., during the installation ceremonies on September 14, 1994. Dr. Melliza who has had long years of experience as an accreditor is surely helpful in breaking a new ground of growth for the institution.
To be accredited by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Colleges, Schools and Universities has long been the desire of the institution. Significant accreditation-related work started in school year 1986-1987 when the school wrote its Vision-Mission Statement. In the later years, the college department continued the painstaking accreditation work that culminated on April 25, 1995, when PAASCU granted the liberal arts and education programs a level II status for 3 years.
Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc. has demonstrated that it can meet the demands of an increasing student population and new academic programs through the expansion and improvement of its physical facilities. At the main campus, a five-storey building named after Prof. Hermann Gmeiner was built in 1989. On February 6, 1996, Monsignor Mabutas blessed a new four-storey Archbishop Mabutas Hall which was constructed alongside a renovated four-storey Archbishop Thibault Hall. A new chapel was built in honor of the PME Fathers and was blessed on October 8, 1996. The school also acquired a 5-hectare shoreline property at Camudmud, Babak, Garden City of Samal, specifically for the requirements of the marine transportation programs.
The year 1996 was a year of thanksgiving and celebration. The Archdiocese of Davao commemorated its 25th anniversary and Archbishop Antonio Ll. Mabutas celebrated his golden jubilee as priest and 35th year as bishop prior to this retirement.
On November 28, 1996, Most Rev. Fernando R. Capalla, DD was installed as Archbishop of Davao and corporate president of HCDC.
The Holy Cross of Davao College, Inc. will continue to be a center of Catholic formation for young men and women as it lives out the commitment of its founders: the RVM Sisters, PME Fathers and the Archdiocese of Davao.