San Pablo, a picturesque city in Southeastern Luzon, also known as the “City of Seven Lakes”, is blessed with breath-taking mountain peaks and seven scenic crater lakes. The enormous mountains of Makiling and Banahaw stand grandiosely over the country side. To the west is Mt. Makiling, said to be the home of the fairy named Mariang Makiling and to the east is the male counterpart Mt. Banahaw. The peaks of Laguna, Nagcarlan and Calauan rise beautifully in the north separating the region from Laguna de Bay. The splendor of Malepunio Summit soars in the south of nearby Batangas. The valleys and mountainsides are embellished with coconut groves, tropical forests and pineapple fields. This bounteous paradise that nurtures its satisfied dwellers is also a bustling city of trade and commerce. Most importantly, it is the center of learning with schools, colleges, and training institutions that hone its numerous inhabitants to intellectual perfection.
The city of seven lakes experienced the first surge of Spanish invasion when Captain Juan Salcedo arrived in the upland village of Sampaloc. It became a parish in 1856 and was renamed San Pablo de Los Montes, in honor of St. Paul, the First Hermit.
Access to education by Filipinos was later liberalized through the enactment of the Educational Decree of 1863.It provided the establishment of at least one primary school for boys and girls in each town under the responsibility of the municipal government. Eager learners were sheltered in the Escudero Building, the Catipon Building, and the Escuela Pia. The latter, was constructed to where the Red Cross is now situated. The buildings were the three landmarks of San Pablo Central School, which was eventually expanded through the construction of the Mabini Building, Rizal Building, Bonifacio Building and a grandstand. School development program was initiated by then Congressman Barreto. Later, more schools sprawled in the different barrios to address the needs of San Pableňos. All key officials of public schools held office in San Pablo Central School.
It was the beginning of a remarkable milestone in pedagogical journey of the tyro division. It continuously expanded until it became a full blast city division , boasting 63 public elementary schools which were strategically grouped into seven districts, namely: Ambray, Dapdapan,Del Remedio,Fule Almeda, Lakeside, Sto. Angel and San Francisco. Eighty Day Care Centers were also established in each barangay. After finishing Elementary the graduates can choose from any 14 private schools, 11 national public high schools and 2 annexes. Notably, the Division was able to establish 1 school for special children (Paaralang Pag-ibig at Pag-asa), which offer both elementary and secondary education.
These accomplishments can be attributed to the men and women with undying commitment and infallible dedication in their vocation- brilliant education administrators and conscientious government officials who offered their services for the advancement of education in the City of San Pablo.
Schools Division Superintendents
Mr. Francisco San Andres, then Academic Supervisor of Laguna served as the very first City Schools Division Superintendent from 1957-1962. He was succeeded by a distinguished educator, Mr. Antonio Jaramillo who after 3 years of being city’s top Education Official opted to retire. Upon his retirement at the middle part of school year 1965-1966, a woman with impeccable ability and credibility became the third administrator of the division, Superintendent Concepcion D. Licsi.
During her term, the first City High School was unanimously approved by the City Council and former City Mayor Cesar P. Dizon via city ordinance No. 20.In the school year 1969-1970, San Pablo City High School was opened to accommodate 6 sections in first year. A year after, the city Council decided to put up a barangay high school in San Cristobal to cater to the needs of the poor students in the said barangay and nearby barangays, which were a bit too far from the city high school.
In school year 1975-1976, another highly educated woman took over the top position, which was vacated due to the untimely demise of Ms. Licsi. She was Dr. Atanacia Dorado, the superintendent with the shortest term of office. When she unceremoniously left her office, Ms. Angelita Pulgado occupied the coveted position through Presidential Appointment. She stayed in the division for 12 years, from 1976 to 1988.Then, she was succeeded by a tough woman with no nonsense leadership, Dr. Milagros Tagle where she held the position for two years. Following her was Mr. Guillermo Becina who stayed in office from 1988 to 1991. When his term ended, another woman leader got the superintendent position in 1991-1993, Dr. Flora Sta. Teresa, a frail-looking woman but oozing with energy and enthusiasm when performing her role as an administrator. When Dr. Sta Teresa retired, Dr. Lydia Arguelles, a superintendent with a unique style of leading her people led the City division. She held the position for two years (1993-1995).
In school year 1995-1996, Dr. Felisa Tadique astounded the whole division with her ostentatious administration for two years. At the beginning of her term, the local government established four annexes in different barangays to accommodate the influx of high school enrollees, coming from 80 barangays of the city. These were Del Remedio Annex, Dolores Annex, Sto. Angel Annex , and Stmo. Rosario Annex. In the following year (1996-1997) another satellite school Annex V, was established through the initiative of then Mayor Vicente B. Amante.
Succeeding Dr. Tadique was Dr. Edelmira Libas, who accommodated the request of Congressman Danton Q. Bueser to build a school in Brgy. San Bartolome. It was San Bartolome High School, the 7th annex school. When Dr. Libas transferred to the Division of Laguna, a dynamic San Pableňa, Dr. Lilia Reyes was warmly welcomed not only by the teaching force but also by the whole city of San Pablo. She served for two years, then succeeded Dr. Libas in the province of Laguna.
Her equally competent Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Ester C. Lozada (another prominent San Pableňa) was duly appointed as the 13th superintendent on May 29, 2002. It was through her self-less dedication that she was able to pave the way for the establishment of 5 more regular public high schools- San Jose NHS, San Vicente NHS, San Isidro NHS, San Pablo City Science HS and Prudencia D. Fule MNHS.
Dr. Ester Lozada had brilliantly spearheaded the 7 districts and 13 public high schools. Because of her acclaimed exemplary leadership and competence in handling people and resources, she was transferred to a bigger division- the Division of Laguna.
Hence Dr. Mercelita L. Pormentilla, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent was designated as Officer-In-Charge of the vacated office. She continued to align her leadership with that left by her predecessor, that constant drive to improve the division’s performance through her unquestionable concern and determination.
Then, on January 2010 an OIC Schools Division Superintendent was assigned to San Pablo City, he was Dr. Enric Sanchez, a risk taker who stood up for his actions. He was popular not only to school heads, but also to teachers because of his down-to-earth style. When Dr. Sanchez died on August 2012, Mrs. Susan DL. Oribiana, the current OIC-SDS succeeded his leadership. Being an upright and disciplined leader, she is firm in her words and actions and always lives by the rules. She is a woman who has passion for creative ideas to make San Pablo City an excellent division.
The Division of San Pablo City has adhered to this principle. It continuously advocates the cornerstone of education which is the development of human personality and uplift of the “common tao”. It has lived up to its mission to provide quality education to thousands of young San Pableňos whose hunger for knowledge seems insatiable. The division remains “A Bastion of Education”, dedicated to serve the young people particularly those who have less in life.
“The essence of education is not to stuff you with facts but to help you discover your uniqueness to teach you how to develop it, and then to show you how to give it away.” - Leo Buscaglia