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Western Philippines University: In its 100 Years of serving the Palaweños

From its humble beginnings in 1910, the Western Philippines University has been serving the Palaweños for 100 years as it celebrates its centennial founding on February 2010.

The institution was established by American Thomasites as a Farm Settlement School for Tagbanuas - a minority group in Aborlan, Palawan.  It was transformed into Aborlan Agricultural High School in 1928, and became Palawan National Regional Agricultural School in 1960 by virtue of RA 2619.  The school became Palawan National Agricultural School in 1962.  A year later, Republic Act 3648 converted the school into a college bearing the name Palawan National Agricultural College (PNAC).  Republic Act 8012 converted the college into a state polytechnic college to widen the institution's service area.  In 2004, the State Polytechnic College of Palawan (SPCP) was converted to Western Philippines University (WPU) through the Republic Act 9260.

The institution's contribution to the province's program is innumerable.  Its instruction, research, extension and production activities have made a positive difference in lives of many Palaweños.  Through the leadership of committed administrators, WPU had continuously built milestones and fostered development with excellence.

The world-famous Bayanihan School Program conceived by Dr. Miguel Ponce de Leon Palao, the president who had the longest term (1968-1993), brought education to the doorsteps of the countryside through the establishment of 24 Bayanihan Centers throughout Palawan from 1971-1995.  The program was collaborative endeavor between a community and the college offering formal and non-formal education.  It had benefited more than 10,000 out-of-shool youths and farmers and had gained international recognitions.

During Pres. Palao's term, the literacy program, as part of the college's extension programs and activities, has begun to bring changes in the lives of indigenous people particularly in the Southern part of Palawan.

The college has also established linkages to different organizations and agencies such as PCARRD, World Bank, USAID, and ADB which offered assistance and supported the institution's projects related to agriculture and fisheries.

Next to President Palao was Dr. Teresita Lardizabal Salva, in whose administration, PNAC was converted to the State Polytechnic College of Palawan (SPCP).  During her term, SPCP was adjudged as the Greenest School in the Philippines.

It was in July 1999 when Dr. Concepto Baclagon Magay became SPCP president.  In his administration, the college was awarded as the Most Outstanding Accounting Office.  He is also the prime mover of SPCP's conversion to universityhood.  Under Dr. Magay's leadership, WPU strongly advocated unconditional support and commitment to the protection and conservation of the environment, which was well appreciated by the local and provincial government, the region, the country and the international scene.

The university's new mandate in RA 9260 stipulates the offering of curricular program in the field of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, engineering, environment, education, arts and sciences, coastal resource management and other degrees/courses within its areas of specialization.

The different curricular programs offered by the university are submitted for accreditation to ensure quality and relevant education.

The performance of its graduates in licensure examination has been remarkable.  The Commission on Higher Education - MIS Report on State Colleges and Universities Performance in Licensure Examination for Teachers from 2001-2003 showed that SPCP (WPU) ranked 18 among the top 50 performing Teacher Education institutions in the Philippines.  It also topped the institutions with 10-20 examinees for Foresters and ranked third in the country in 2003.  Moreover, the university has produced graduates who become provincial topnotchers in the Licensure Examination for Teachers in 2007.

WPU is also the Center of Excellence in Fisheries in Region IV and the lead agency in Palawan for Cocozone Development Program of the Philippine Coconut Authority.  It has established a Farmer's Information Technology Services (FITS) which extends technical assistance to farmers from the different parts of the province.  Its Sanayan sa Kakayahang Agrikultura (SAKA) project, funded by Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., serves as good example to farmers.  In lieu of its Bayanihan Program, it has put up community colleges in 5 municipalities whose local government units expressed their desire to work with the university in providing tertiary education to the poor but deserving youth of Palawan.

Western Philippines University is indeed a pride of Palawan being its partner in molding its youth - the adult citizens of the future.

In its centennial founding celebration on February 2010, the university, situated in the southern part of Palawan, in the remote and quiet town of Aborlan, can happily look back to its humble beginnings and say that it has indeed travelled a long, long way.

 

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San Juan, Aborlan, Palawan, Philippines
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