Marciano A. Roxas Between the Lines of AUP’s Humble Beginnings
Synthesized by Samuel W. Berto, Ephraim S. Roxas, and Elmie Lynn V. Lagajino
Here is a brief history on the beginnings of PUC till Marciano A. Roxas takes center piece of this narrative.
The birth of the Philippine SDA Academy, forerunner of Philippine Junior College and later Philippine Union College, began as membership of the church in 1914; as enrollment reached to more than 300, majority of whom were young people, (Reyes, 1981, p.8). Emilio Manalaysay, one of the three assistant preachers of Elder Lewis Victor Finster, and former Public school teacher, saw the need of a school for the young people. This idea he suggested to Elder Finster who became sympathetic and favorable of the idea, (ibid).
In the visit of the General Conference President, A.G. Daniells and wife, to the Philippines in 1914, he was surprised and impressed to see more youthful converts to the gospel ministry of Elder Finster and his three able assistant preachers, than older people in the churches they visited (Daniells 1915). This gave a big boost to the idea of establishing a school and gave Elder Finster the opportunity to lay before him the need for a school of higher education where the young people could be trained for service in giving the message to their own people, (Flores, 1967; Fulton, 1916, p.10).
In a Sabbath School meeting in Manila where most of those present were young people, Finster (1917), wrote:
The Lord has blessed us with a large number of bright, active young people in this mission field who are anxious to work for Him. Many of these are fired with the desire to have some part in the closing, and the promise of being as successful as those who are now working. A good school is as great a necessity in the Philippines as in any other country, and from indications it seems to us the benefits of such a school will be as great there as anywhere else. From all that we saw we felt it our duty to urge that the money be secured for the establishment of a training school for the Philippines, (pp. 4-5).
The night before they left for the United States, the young people in Manila with the leadership of Emilio Manalaysay, gave them a farewell party. During the party, Manalaysay said,” My earnest request is for a school in which to prepare the scores of young people who have great desire to give their lives to His work.” This sentiment of the young people was reaffirmed when the first general meeting of the Central Southern Luzon Conference in 1916 recommended that a school be provided for the training of native workers, (Atiteo 1968, p. 151; Finster, 1917).
With the go signal to open the school a small amount was appropriated; and a search for a location had begun. A five -acre lot was purchased for P13, 000 ($6,500) at the corner of Donada and San Juan Streets, Pasay, Rizal, (PUC Catalogue 1933-34. p.14.). Elder L.V. Finster, at this time was the acting president of Philippine Union Mission, the President of the Central and Southern Luzon Conferences, and acted as the general overseer in the building program, while the construction of the combined two storey administration building was led by a foreman and some carpenters (Fulton, 2016).
Before the boys’ dormitory and the principals’ cottages were completed, Professor and Mrs. Irwin Steinel arrived on the later part of 1916 to lead on the Educational work. December of that year, he was voted on a general meeting in Manila to head the Young People’s Educational Department of the Union. In 1917 Professor Oliver Fish Sevrens arrived to connect with the Academy. (Flores, 1967, p.16; Atiteo 1968).
With the school plant ready, on that memorable day of June 12, 1917, the Philippine Seventh-day Adventist Academy opened its doors (Finster, 1917; Flores, 1967). There were 36 students enrolled, 12 of whom were girls. However, according to a field report by S.L. Frost (1917), there were 64 students, with fifty-two above the fifth grade and twelve in the primary department. Another enrollment figure, 75 beside 12 children in the elementary school was mentioned by Elder Frederick Griggs, Far Eastern Division President (Griggs, 1918). The seeming discrepancy could be explained by the enrollment during the second semester, considering that the November 22 report came out after the start of the second semester and the April 18 report came closely after the end of the first school term. The Faculty line-up for 1917:
- A. Steinel: Principal, and treasurer – English and Literature
- O. F. Sevrens: Preceptor – Bible, Science and Mathematics
- Marciano A. Roxas: Elementary School Principal
- Mrs. Ciriaca Neri Panis: Preceptress
Marciano A. Roxas was the first Filipino teacher when the Philippine Seventh-day Adventist Academy opened in 1917. Except for this information, there is a dearth of sources the researchers found about him. Disclosed, and clarified, however, through the kindness of Ephraim S. Roxas, his grandson, is a gold mine about this great man of God unknown to many.
One of the first to accept the truth in the Philippine Islands was a school teacher by the name of Marciano A. Roxas (Finster, 1915). The eldest of the 3 children of Mateo Roxas and Marcela Angel-Roxas, Marciano was born in Bulacan during the latter part of the 1800s. He was married to Cirila Silvestre Nicolas and they established their home in Taal, Bocaue, Bulacan. Not long after, they were both converted to Seventh-Day Adventism by Elder Finster and Elder Adams. Marciano and Cirila’s seven-bedroom home was often a haven to traveling Adventist evangelists and colporteurs (literature evangelists). Marciano was popularly known in his hometown as “Maestro’ng Anong” (Teacher Anong, short for Marciano) because he was an outstanding teacher during his time.
His new found faith as an Adventist became his passion and he was zealous in sharing his beliefs about God and the church with his family, relatives, friends and acquaintances. He used every minute as an opportunity to invite anyone he met to attend every Adventist tent effort done in Bulacan and neighboring provinces. One of his friends, a co-public school teacher, province mate, and fellow Methodist whom he invited to faithfully attend the evangelistic meeting every night was Mr. Emilio Manalaysay, (Reyes, 1981; Finster, 1915) the father of Dr. Ruben Manalaysay, former president of Philippine Union College (now, Adventist University of the Philippines).
Also, because of Maestro’ng Anong’s new-found faith, he gladly accepted the call to teach in the first Philippine Adventist School in Pasay City (now AUP); became the principal of the elementary school, and the first Filipino Adventist teacher of the institution. Marciano’s burning desire to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, resulted into his whole clan and that of his wife becoming solid Adventists, including many within his sphere of influence.
Not only were Marciano and Cirila blessed spiritually and socially, they were endowed with material wealth. Cirila’s embroidery business prospered abundantly. They were also blessed with eleven children. And as a school teacher trains many students in the classroom for service in various fields, Maestro’ng Anong nurtured his children, as well as his grandchildren, to eventually become professionals who served and contributed significantly, to denominational work, government service, and the private sector both in the national, and international scenes. Following are the names of his children from the eldest to the youngest:
- Vicente N. Roxas, M.D. was one of the first graduates of the University of the Philippines School of Medicine, who became a Public Health Officer. (Deceased).
- Maximiano N. Roxas, D.M.D. (Feb.22, 1908–May 27, 1975), was a dentist. (Deceased).
- Virginia Roxas–Santos was a pharmacist. (Deceased).
One of her children, Cesar Santos, (Deceased), married Orfrancia Bayona.
4 .Eng. Benjamin N. Roxas (May 4, 1913–March 4, 1994), was a mining engineer (Deceased).
Benjamin taught for several years as a Physics and Math teacher at Northern Luzon Academy (NLA), now Northern Luzon Adventist College (NLAC) in Artacho, Sison, Pangasinan. He also became one of the pioneers of Mindanao Mission Academy (MMA), forerunner of Mountain View College (MVC), in Manticao, Misamis Oriental. Three of Benjamin’s children served in the Adventist denominational work—Ephraim S. Roxas, was an accountant at the Philippine Publishing House, who later became AUP alumni president of Pacific-Northwest Chapter, AWESNA; Bernicita Roxas-Ocbina, served as secretary in the treasurer’s office of Philippine Union College (now, AUP); Benaida Roxas-Rillera, served as Physics, Chemistry and Math teacher at PUC Academy in Baesa and as Chemistry and Math teacher at NLA. Later on, all of them continued to work and share their skills abroad.
- Eng. Eleazar N. Roxas was an electrical engineer, who was also known as the founder of the Technological University of the Philippines. (Deceased). He was an active leader in Sampaloc SDA Church in Quezon City.
- Elisa Roxas-Medina (July 2, 1918–May 17, 2005), served as a teacher in different Adventist
schools until her retirement. (Deceased). She was the wife of Pastor Jeremias Medina. Elisa worked hand-in hand with Pastor Medina when he served as president of several missions, namely, Northern Luzon Mission, Mountain Province Mission when Tirad View Academy (TVA) was established, and South Central Luzon Mission when Lipa Adventist Academy (LAA) was realized.
- Priscila Roxas-de Perio (August 25, 1920–June 7, 1986), was a business woman. (Deceased).
Her daughter, Vilma de Perio-Nepomuceno is a teacher and the wife of Pastor Rudy Nepomuceno of Pasay SDA Church. Another daughter, Wilhelmina, is married to an Adventist minister, Pastor Mike Sumera.
- Fortunato N. Roxas, M.D. (July 15, 1922–Dec. 1, 2002), was a surgeon and general practitioner. (Deceased). He was a practicing medical doctor, and was also a professor at the Far Eastern University School of Medicine. One of his students, Dr. Conrado Jimenez, became the school physician of PUC for many years.
- Lydia N. Roxas (June 18, 1924–June 21, 2010), was a teacher (Deceased). All her career life was spent as an elementary school teacher in different Adventist church schools.
- Uriel N. Roxas, C.P.A. (May 13, 1926–Sept. 6, 1993), was an accountant (Deceased). He was a regional officer at the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
- Gideon N. Roxas, he could have been the last among the long line of professionals in the family, but he died when he was only 5 years old. (Deceased)
Atiteo, B.M. (1968). Seventh-Day Adventist Church Expansion in the Philippines, 1905-1920.
Philippine Union College, M.A. Thesis.
Philippine Seventh-day Adventist Academy Catalogue, (1921-1922). pp. 151-155.
Daniells, A.G. (1915, July 1). “Some pressing needs in the Philippine Islands”. Review and Herald, XCI. pp. 9-10.
Finster, L.V. (1915, February 1). Baptism at Bukawe, Philippines. Asiatic Division Mission News, Shanghai, China. Vol.4.
Finster, L.V. (1917, August 15). Opening of Philippine Academy. Asiatic Division Outlook. Vol.6,No.17. pp. 4-5.
Fulton, J. E. (1919, July 20). “A year’s progress in the Philippines”. Review and Herald. p.10.
Fulton, J. E. (1917, February 8). “Organization of the Central-Southern Luzon Conference”. Review and Herald, XCIII. pp. 16, 17.
Reyes, H. L. (1981). Dr. Man, the man, Adventist University of the Philippines Press. (N.D.) p.8.
Flores, S. S. (1967). Brief history of the Philippine Union College. pp. 13-14.
Frost, S. L. (1917) “Our Training school in the Philippine Islands”, Asiatic Division Outlook. Vol.6, No.22.
Griggs, F. (1918). Philippines. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol 95, No.16, p.14. Adventist Archives, General Conference.