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COVID casualty: Century-old College of the Holy Spirit Manila to close

By Bim Santos Published Nov 21, 2020 11:58 pm

The College of the Holy Spirit Manila (CHSM) have announced its closure after the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a host of challenges to the century-old institution that has affected its operational viability.

According to an October 28 letter from Sr. Carmelita Victoria, provincial leader, sent out to various stakeholders, the school will cease operations after the next school year.

“After consultation with representatives of our stakeholders, and a deep and prayerful process of discernment, we are now even more convinced that the Holy Spirit is speaking clearly to us through the signs of the times, compelling us to make this extremely difficult decision to close CHSM at the end of the academic year 2021-2022,” the letter said.

According to the letter, the school, an institution founded in 1913, has already been facing various issues for a decade.

“In the last 10 years… the challenges facing CHSM and the wider education sector have become increasingly complex, making it difficult for CHSM to attract new students and ramp up enrolment to make the school viable,” the letter stated.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the CHSM has been grappling with three challenges in particular.

“Private education has faced an increasingly challenging environment resulting from (i) government policies on K-12, (ii) free tuition in state colleges and universities, local universities and colleges, and state-run technical and vocational institutions; and (iii) the significant increase in public school teacher’s salaries compared to their private school counterparts,” the letter said.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation. The reduction or loss in family income, mobility restrictions and social distancing requirements, and the new demands of distance learning have adversely affected enrollment, not only in CHSM, but in most private schools as well,” the letter said.

The school said that the closure timeline will allow their current batch of Grade 11 and third year college students to graduate.

The letter also indicated a schedule of town hall meetings this month with faculty and staff, parents and teachers, and alumni to discuss the implementation of the closure.

CHSM is a Catholic institution being run by the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. Before its current site in Mendiola Street, the school was originally located in Legarda Street. The school was also previously called as the Holy Ghost College, hence the teasing moniker “mamaw” that its students were previously called. It was an exclusive female institution before it turned co-ed in 2005.

A few of the school’s distinguished alumnae include Filinvest Chairperson Emeritus Mercedes Gotamco Tan Gotianun, Unilab matriarch Beatrice Dee Campos, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, former Senator Tessie Oreta, ‘80s actress and fashion icon Elvira Ledesma Manahan, ‘80s actresses Mary Walter and Naty Fernandez, former Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Journalism and founder of the Philippine Daily Inquirer Eggie Apostol, and art historian Alice Guillermo among many others.

With the announcement, a number of school alumnae are now banding together to have the site declared as an important cultural property to protect it from demolition if it is resold and developed.

The Holy Spirit Sisters also has a campus in Tarlac, Bulacan, and Quezon City. The letter, however, did not indicate what will happen to the satellite campuses.