Saturday, December 17, 2011

Centro Escolar University: The Untold Origin

This is the untold origin of Centro Escolar University.

Here are some of my recent findings, not as a professional historian, but as a curious individual.

These findings are based on commercial and legal documents whose original purposes were for documentation as required by law and contracts.

Yet, such documents are a very important source of history.

After all, history is sourced from documents, not the other way around.

Now, let us proceed to the untold origin of Centro Escolar University.

From CEU's website you can find this entry:

"A Brief History

Centro Escolar University was established on June 3, 1907 by Doña Librada Avelino and Doña Carmen de Luna for the instruction and training of the youth in all branches of the arts and sciences. With some benches, a single blackboard and a few books, the two educators steadfastly nurtured a dream of establishing a nationalistic center of learning for Filipino women. The first college, that of Pharmacy, opened in 1921. The College of Liberal Arts, Education and Dentistry followed one after the other. Three years later, the College of Optometry was established."

What is Centro Escolar University's untold origin?

Here is what history books do not tell us. This origin is taken from a document. Remember, documents were not written for history. There were encoded and entered as transactions in the ordinary course of business on a day to day basis. Unlike history, documents do not make up angles or perspectives or interpretations.

One document, a certificate of land title, numbered OCT-01-4 which was created formally in 1764 (yes, it's that old), was preserved, and re-constituted, and re-created and re-registered whenever the land registration changed over the years, contains certain annotations at the back.

One such annotation is relevant to:

Centro Escolar University.

This annotation was dated January 20, 1904 and numbered CLRO 01122 S-1904

A Deed of Donation of 1 hectare lot in San Miguel, Manila has been executed by Don Esteban Benitez Tallano in favor of Doña Librada Avelino to locate finally the school, Centro Escolar de Senoritas (now Centro Escolar University), as a birthday gift to the lady that become his girlfriend for years.
Date of the Document:  January 18, 1904
(Sgd)  H. K. SLEEPER
Land Registration Officer
January 20, 1904

What does the above transactional annotation document in the land title OCT-01-4 tell us?

It tell us what history books have failed to capture.

1. Don Esteban Benitez Tallano considered Dona Librada Avelino as a long time girl friend.
2. He donated 1 hectare of land to her.
3. The donated land was located in San Miguel Manila.
4. The purpose was for the final location of a school named Centro Escolar de Senoritas
5. The school has been renamed Centro Escolar University later
6. The annotation was signed by H.K. Sleeper, the Land Registration Officer at the time (American occupation)
7. Three years after the donation, the construction of the school was finished and it opened on June 3, 1907.

As you have noticed, the annotations and the history accounts dovetail in agreement.

This is what the history books failed to capture, but in reality was documented not by a historian, but by an officer who was doing his work in the ordinary course of business on day to day basis.

And this is a validation, once again, of the existence and the authenticity of Torrens Title OCT-01-4 issued to the name of

"Prince Lacan Acuña Tallano Tagean (formerly Tagean Clan), married with
Princess Rowena Ma. Elizabeth Overbeck Macleod of Austria,
the owner in Fee simple of certain lands, known as HACIENDA FILIPINA"

History from original source documents! What a refreshing perspective.