HISTORY OF WEST VISAYAN ACADEMY
A coeducational boarding school by the West Visayan Conference. It holds the position as the cradle of Seventh-day Adventist education on the west side of the Philippine archipelago.WVA claims to be the oldest Seventh - Day Adventist school in the Philippines. It opened a year before Pasay Church School (1917).
In 1912, Elder Adams arrived in Iloilo. They had the cottage meeting in the house of the Savedia family. At the end of the series of cottage meeting, Juana, a public school teacher, and several other members of the family accepted the Adventist faith.
“Miss Savedia,” Elder Adams said one day,” there are so many bright, able young people in this area that I am impressed that they should be gathered and educated, and prepared for God’s service...And I prophesy that if we make a good beginning here in Iloilo, someday there will be hundreds and hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist schools scattered from one end of the Philippines to the other.”
On July 31, 1916, the first Seventh-day Adventist school was opened in Iloilo. Twenty-two children were enrolled in grades 1-6. Classes were held on the ground floor of the Savedia home. Later the school was moved to Jaro.
The forerunners of the academy were the Jaro, Iloilo, church school (opened in 1916 with Juana Savedia as teacher) and the Sido,Sibalom, Antique church school, opened in 1920.They merged together in 1926 and added the first year high school (eighth grade) to the curriculum.P.R.Diaz became the school’s first acting principal.
With the purchase of 108 acres (44 hectares) for a school site at Buenavista, Guimaras Island, by the West Visayan Mission now WV Conference, the school was transferred, and in 1930 the second year of high school was offered. In 1935, with almost 150 students and 10 teachers, the school became a four-year academy. During this time the much-needed school road and water systems were acquired.
During World War II the school plant was totally destroyed, and the difficulty in crossing Guimaras Strait at that time influenced the West Visayan Conference to sell the school property for 8,000 pesos then $4000. WVA operated without interruption until the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In 1945, after being closed for three years, West Visayan Academy was reopened at Molo in an apartment leased for one year, with approximately 250 students, under Serafin Flores, principal, and Romulo Ferrer, treasurer. That year negotiations to purchase a 14-hectare site in Zarraga were made in anticipation of the transfer.
During the school year 1946–1947 the academy, with about 200 students, operated at Zarraga in an improvised nipa-roofed building and an army tent. After an attempt to purchase a school site at Zarraga failed, land was secured from Tirso Jamandre, Sr., an SDA from the La Paz church, who sold 24.7 acres (10 hectares) located 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Iloilo City. Jamandre also donated some land.
During 1948–1949 there were 380 students and 12 staff members. Despite the problems posed by lack of potable water, by a muddy campus and floods during the rainy season, and, in general, by the unsettled conditions in the postwar period, the school operated successfully. From the sum originally appropriated by the General Conference and the Far Eastern Division, an administration building, a dining hall, and two teachers’ cottages were erected under the supervision of Romulo Ferrer. Later other buildings were added and other improvements were made.
In 1949–1950 the enrollment was nearly 500 from elementary to high school and the school showed an operating gain of 9,000 pesos. Farm and gardens provided training and employment to students.
In 1971 a new two-storey concrete administration building was built to take the place of the old building. Funds for its construction were provided from special Far Eastern Division appropriations and from the local membership. West Visayan Academy, the forerunner of Philippine SDA academies, has proven its worth to the people it has served. Many of those who entered its portals and were trained by dedicated Christian teachers have become pillars of the remnant church.
In grateful recognition for what WVA had done for its students, the United States-based Alumni Association decided to sponsor a huge project that would benefit the school. Through the initiative of Dr. Rudy Hilado, Alumni Association president, the construction of a new boys’ dormitory was begun in 1989. The new edifice cost the WVA Alumni Association 2.5 million pesos.
In 1991 the enrollment totaled 300. The construction of the new cafeteria was started, but because of financial constraints, construction of the building was temporarily suspended.
A new girls dormitory and a food factory was also sponsored by the AFWVA.
Principals: D. L. Millam, 1931–1932; Mrs. W. J. Blake, 1932–1934; C. E. Thurston, 1934–1938; Miss D. Stoelting, 1938–1939; William C. Williams, 1939–1941; James M. Lee, 1941–1942; 1943–1945, war years; S. S. Flores, 1946–1949; B. B. Alsaybar, 1949–1952; U. M. Oliva, 1953–1959; N. R. Arit, 1959–1962; A. C. Segovia, 1962–1963; S. G. Miraflores, 1963–1965; A. C. Segovia, 1965–1966; E. N. Jornada, 1966–1969; N. F. Fadri, 1969–1970; B. V. Lobitana, 1970–1973; C. O. Gravino, 1973–1974; B. V. Lobitana, 1975–1978; E. M. Jucaban, 1978–1979; E. F. Palma, 1980–1982; B. V. Lobitana, 1982–1985; J. B. Alsaybar, 1985–1987; E. M. Jucaban, 1987–1992; E. V. Galve, 1992–1994; Mergy G. Ibanez, 1994–95 ; E.M. Jucaban 1995-1998; Erlinda R. Tecson, 1998, -2005; Kerry C. Estrebilla, 2005-2011.
(Sources: SDA Encyclopedia, “West Visayan Academy ; “Fausto Lights A Flame” by Elbridge M. Adams in Follow the Dream,DayStar Reader 6)