Let us start talking about the remote origin. The Piarist Father, Fr. Basilio Sancho, Sch.P.; was serving the Court of the Kingdom of Spain in Madrid when he was designated by the King Charles III as Archbishop of Manila, in 1765. He was nominated in 1766, arriving to Manila in March 1767. Together with Fr. Sancho, came four Piarist Fathers. One of them, Fr. Martin Martinez, was nominated by the Piarist General Congregation as a Commissioner to found a Piarist School in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the Indias Council of Spain did not authorize such foundation. Therefore, the Fathers dedicated themselves to collaborate with the Archbishop, especially in the celebration of the First Synod or Provincial Council of Manila, and also in the direction of the Diocesan Seminary created by him, where the native Filipino priests were formed, and in San Jose School that the Jesuits had abandoned before. When Fr. Sancho died in 1787, the Piarist Fathers left Manila... If everything had been well, Manila would have been first foundation of the Piarist Fathers and not in Europe, long time before the first house in South America. The intention was there, and 200 years later, other Piarists were able to carry out what their predecessors could not.
The Immediate Origin
The immediate origin of the Philippines is in the mind of the Father General Fr. Joseph Maria Balcells, at the beginning of the years 90, trying to intensify the Piarist presence in Asia. After his election in 1985, he pushed with decision of new foundations in Africa. To his initiative is due the presence of Religious from the Spanish Province of Aragon and the Polish Province, in Cameroon, Africa and also some Italian Fathers in Ivory Coast. The coordination of the Piarist development in that zone was in the hands of the Missionary Delegate, Fr. Jesus Lecea, his successor as Superior General in 2003. After this presence was rather consolidated, with a great hope for the future, his attention went to Asia. He was rather worried about the problem of lack of vocations in Japan and he understood that it would be easier to support the Piarist Works in Japan from other countries of Asia than from far away countries. And he also thought that in Asia live more than half of the world peoples, with a minimum percentage of Christians. The Pious Schools, as many other Ecclesiastical Institutions, cannot turn a deaf ear to so many invitations of the Church to intensify their presence in Asia.
Having his foundation plan in mind, in 1992 Fr. General send a letter to all the Piarists with the intention of exploring, among other things, their readiness to go to Missions. Later on Fr. Lecea and Fr. German, Vicar of Japan, went for the first time to the Philippines where the Piarist Sisters were for 12 years, with their presence already consolidated and with some native vocations. He encouraged, at the same time, the Argentine Province, through Fr. Alfaro who has his eyes in India. Actually Fr. Alfaro arrived at the beginning of 1994 to Kerala, in the southern part of India, in order to start a foundation in Aroor City.
In 1994, he has already decided his first team: Fr. Rafael Buitrago, who goes to England to study English; Fr. Jesus Lacarra, who is in Yokkaichi, Japan, and Fr. Imanol Lasquibar, who before had been in Japan for 17 years. He has also been in contact with other Religious. But for the moment, the team is enough to open a road. He takes advantage of his visit in November to present his plan and to talk with the persons. Later on it will be necessary the consent of the Vicariate Chapter, in January 1995 and the consent of the Chapter of Vasconia Province, some months later, in order to complete the whole plan. Everything comes out as it was planned. After the Vicariate Chapter, at the beginning of February 1995, Frs. Jesus Lecea and German Lumbreras visit again to Cebu City, Philippines, as we have said before, and they see that everything is ready to send the first team. Our sisters Escolapias are also ready to receive them and to accompany them during the first steps.
During the Holy Week of that year, the three first missionaries meet in Rome with the General Congregation in order to reflect about the meaning of the new foundation in the Philippines, the aims, orientation criteria, organization and steps to follow in it. After the meetings, Fr. Imanol goes back to Spain, where he has to finish the school year, while Frs. Rafael and Lacarra leave for Japan on April 20 ('94). There, they have to solve the steps for the visa to enter Philippines and to have some meetings with the Piarist Sisters and with the members of the Vicariate, when Frs. German and Iraola come back from the Provincial Chapter. Mother Teresa Fernandez, Provincial of the Piarist Sisters, gives them different counsels about their future stay in that country. On May 14 ('94), at last, Frs. Rafael and Jesus go to Cebu City, Philippines.