St. Mary's Academy of Pasay

Institutional History

St. Mary’s Academy, Pasay is a Filipino, Catholic and Ignacian Marian school. Founded in 1922 as the Escuela Catolica de Pasay. It was situated in front of the Sta. Clara Parish Church and was managed by a parish priest, Rev. lgmidio Trinidad. It was housed in an old Spanish building which also served as the convent. The Escuela offered only primary education to young children.

A turnover of parish priest prompted the parish to ask help in managing the school. Then Archbishop of Manila, Most Rev. Michael O’Doherty, requested for help from the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) the first pontifical congregation for women in the Philippines. In 1939, the RVM sisters took over the Escuela and later changed its name to St. Mary’s Academy to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mo. Ma. Josefa Avendaño became the school’s first Superior. Like most schools which ceased to operate at the outbreak of World War Il on December 8, 1941, St. Mary’s Academy in Pasay (SMA) was among the first schools to resume classes after the liberation on July 1, 1945. On March 1946, the Elementary course was granted government recognition followed by the General Secondary Course a year after. Ten (10) students became the first batch of high school graduates of SMA in 1947.

As the country celebrated its second year as a republic in 1948, SMA began a new era. Slowly the school was molded to the structure that we see today, and a renewal of faith and purpose was apparent in the decades of the 50’s and 60’s. This period was highlighted by building construction to meet the growing needs of the school population. The tremendous increase in the enrolment in the 60’s resulted in the turnover of the Grade V and VI boys to the Sta. Clara Parochial School in 1962-1963 while it maintained its offering of the High School exclusive for girls. Government recognition for the Kindergarten Course was granted in 1965. 

The events of the 70’s have been crucial to the further development of the school as an institution. Spiritual formation of the students, faculty and non-teaching personnel was given priority by the Administration. In 1972 the first Faculty Club and the St. Mary’s Academy Parents’ Auxiliary (SMAPA) were organized. These two associations brought about a closer and harmonious relationship between the members of the school community. Pursuant to the enactment of PD No. 1139, the creation of Non-Formal Education, the school launched in 1979 the Mother Ignacia Skills Training Center (MISTC). This is SMA’s way of sharing the spirit of the RVM Foundress’ concern for the less endowed, materially and spiritually. Free trainings are given in Dressmaking/Tailoring, Cosmetology, Typing and Computer and Speed Sewing. Hundreds of graduates of the Center are now gainfully employed in different offices in the community.

After years of needed physical development, SMA found more time to focus in upgrading academic programs and its services to the community. Aware of the need for quality education it officially and voluntarily applied for accreditation by PAASCU in 1983. The High School and Grade School Departments were accredited in 1984 and 1986 respectively, giving the school a level of autonomy and other privileges granted to institutions possessing standards of quality and excellence. The school consistently passed succeeding re-accreditations for the past thirty-five (35) years. It has also been a recipient of various awards in academic, religious and cultural fields through outstanding participation of students in civic and community outreach.

After seventy-two (72) years of operating exclusively for girls, the High School Department opened its doors for male students in 1994. In 1999, SMA marked its 60th year under the RVM administration and its 76th as a Catholic school. Motivated by the Ignacian Spirit of humble and dedicated service especially to the poor and underprivileged, the Mother Ignacia Center for Human Development (MICHD) was constructed in the same year. This five-story building accommodates all the students of the former Mother Ignacia Skills Training Center. The Center continued offering its free trainings in technology – vocational courses to the unemployed and out of school youths.

Faithful to its pledge of commitment to quality and responsive education; SMA took a bolder step towards providing its clients with globally competitive, consistent high-quality education and quality service. It formulated a new vision, mission, core values, quality policy, and quality objectives alongside its institutional and area goals. On its 80th year, the school’s management system was certified to ISO 9001 on April 12, 2002. As ISO 9001 certified school, St. Mary’s Academy, Pasay became the first school in the Philippines offering Basic Education and the first school in Pasay City and among the RVM schools that passed the standards of ISO 9001:2000.

After the 18th Ordinary General Chapter of the RVM Congregation, SMA adopted in 2006, theIgnacian Marian school identity from the originalMarian-Ignacian and incorporated Faith among its Core Values of Commitment, Excellence and Service. In 2018, SMA-P completely adopted the Ignacian values of Faith, Excellence, and Servicein harmony with the direction of the RVM Education Ministry Commission.

Starting 2008, SMA integrated the Arts across its curriculum to realize the school’s curricular thrust towards the Active Learning Framework and the RVM Pedagogy in the daily learning experiences of Marians. On tfollowing year, SMA was declared as the RVM Family and Life Education Center in the RVM Luzon region.

SMA continued its ascent to its goal for a Transformative Quality Ignacian Marian education and upgraded its Deregulated status. Starting 2009, the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP) granted the Grade School Department PAASCU Level III status in 2009 and the High School Department in 2011. The Level III Deregulated status is the highest level of confirmation of quality given to Basic Education program.

In 2011, SMA intensified its curricular innovations by offering Special Program for Foreign Students, particularly for non-Filipino speakers. In line with the K to 12 Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum and to keep pace with the ASEAN 2015 and the demand for global competitiveness; SMA ventured into a new organizational structure as Integrated Basic Education (IBEd) in 2014, having only one Basic Education Principal from Kindergarten, Grade School and High School. Under its K to 12 program, SMA graduated its first 150 senior high school Marians in 2018 under the STEM and ABM track programs.

 The goal of Ignacian Marian education is to lead all to the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. SMA is proud of its long-standing heritage as the oldest private quality Catholic school in Pasay City. The school has been true to its teaching apostolate of forming Christians who can provide the leadership to bear witness to sound moral values and principles in their lives as they serve the church and society.