Let us start talking about the remote origin.
The Piarist Fr. Basilio Sancho was carrying out very good services in the Court of Madrid when he was proposed by the King Charles III as Archbishop of
Manila in 1765. He was nominated for the job in 1766, but he arrived in Manila in March 1767. Together with him there were
four Piarist Religious. One of them, Fr. Martin Martinez was nominated by the General Congregation as a Commissary to found
a Piarist School in the Philippines. Nevertheless, such a foundation was not authorized
by the Indian Council. Therefore, the Fathers were dedicated to collaborate with the Archbishop, especially in the
celebration of the First Provincial Synod (or Council) of Manila, and also in the direction of the Diocesan Seminary created
by him (where the first native diocesan priests were formed) and in Saint Joseph School the Jesuits had to leave (future Ateneo University of Manila). Moreover, when Fr. Sancho dies
in 1787, the Piarists did not remain in Manila since the rest went back to Spain. Had the trying been successful, Manila had
been the first Piarist foundation outside Europe, much earlier than the first house opened in America. The trying was there,
and 200 years later, others have been able to see what our ancestors dreamt.
THE IMMEDIATE ORIGIN
The immediate origin of the foundation in the
Philippines is in the intention of Fr. General Joseph Maria Balcells at the beginning of the years 90s, intensifying the Piarist
presence in Asia. After he was elected in 1985, he pushed in a decisive way the foundations of new works in Africa (thanks
to his initiative is the presence of Aragon (Spain) and Poland missionaries in Cameroon, and Italians in Ivory Coast), and
the co-ordination of the Piarist development in the zone, through the Missions Delegate, Fr. Jesus Lecea, who became his successor
in 2003. After this presence was consolidated, actually with great hope, his eyes go to Asia. On one hand, because he is worried
about the problem in Japan, and he understands that it is easier to help the Piarist works in that country from the same Asia
than from far away. And on the other hand, Asia is the place where live more than the half of the world population, with a
minimum percentage of Christians. The Pious Schools, as other ecclesiastical institutions, cannot turn deaf ears to the frequent
invitations of the Church to intensify the missionary presence in Asia.
With a plan of foundation in his mind, in 1992
he sends a questionnaire to all the Piarists with the intention of finding out, among other things, their availability in
going out to Missions. And in the month of December of that year, through Fr. Lecea and Fr German, Vicar of Japan, he goes
for the first time to the Philippines, where the Piarist Sisters are already there for 10 years, with a presence rather well
planted and with several native vocations. He will animate, at the same time, the Argentine Province, who through Fr. Joseph
Alfaro has his eyes in India. In reality, Fr. Alfaro arrives at the beginning of 1994 to the Kerala State, in the southern
part of India, in order to start a foundation in Aroor City.
In 1994, he has already the first team: he counts
with Fr. Rafael Buitrago, a young Colombian Father who in 1994 is sent to study English in England. He counts too with Fr.
Jesus Lacarra, wanting to come from Yokkaichi, Japan, to give impulse to the vocational work in the new foundation, and with
Fr. Imanol Lasquibar, who already before had been for 17 years in Japan and that he offered himself as a volunteer. He has
contacted too other Religious, but for the moment it is enough to form a first team that would open the road. He takes advantage
of his visit to Japan in November to present the plan; later on, it is necessary the approval of the Vicariate (January 1995)
and Vasconia Province Chapters (some months later) to complete the project. Everything happens as it was expected. After the
Vicariate Chapter at the beginning of February 1995. Frs. Jesus Lecea and Fr. Gterman Lumbreras visit again Cebu City and
they see that everything is ready to send the first team. Our Piarist Sisters are ready to welcome them and to guide them
during the first steps.
During the Holy Week of that year, the three missionaries
get together in Rome with the General Congregation in order to reflect about the meaning of the new foundation in the Philippines,
the objectives, orientation criteria, organization and the first steps to be taken in it. After the meeting, Fr. Imanol goes
back to Spain where he has to finish his school year, while Frs. Rafael and Lacarra go to Japan on April 20. There, they had
to solve the visa problems to enter the Philippines and they have different meetings with the Piarist Sisters (the Superior, Sister Teresa Fernandez gives them different advises about their future stay in the country)
and with the members of the Vicariate when they come back from the Provincial Chapter, Frs. German and Iraola. On May 14,
al last, they leave for Cebu City.