Three Spanish Sisters and one Filipina of the SIERVAS DE SAN JOSE, Madres Anunciacion
Marco, Amancia Bautista , Milagros Sarmiento and Olvido Moreno guided by their zeal and
pioneering spirit ventured into the town of Silay, Negros Occidental. The town of Silay was
particularly sympathetic to the Sisters, even proposing to erect a school for them. The proposal
was followed by the citizens' financial contributions and arrangement of accommodations.
Silay's parish priest obtained the required Diocesan approval.
In due time, a committee headed by Don Jose (Pepe) Ledesma, Sr. was formed composed of the
following landowners : Generoso Gamboa, Roque Hofileña, Juan Valencia, Jose Ledesma, Jr.,
Jose Gaston, Cesar Ledesma, Felipe Tionko, Emilio Ledesma, Turing Gaston and Joaquin
Ledesma who successfully raised funds to help the SSJ with their mission that was to start a
school for the young boys and girls of the community. Hence, the beginning and birth of a
Catholic institution of learning in Silay on June 13, 1933 in a rented house - the COLEGIO DE
STA. TERESITA which is now St. Theresita's Academy.
Two years later, Don Jose Ledesma, a Siervas benefactor transferred the school to his house,
RENT-FREE. Another benefactor, Domingo Rodriguez offered to construct another school
building for the "Colegio" in his property in nearby Talisay.
At the break of World War II, the SIERVAS school in Talisay was among the many buildings
burned at the time. With what they firmly believed was ST. JOSEPH'S PROTECTION, the SSJ
survived many hardships of war including hunger, loss of belongings, an almost tragic crossing
by the sea to Iloilo, the seemingly endless evacuation. In close encounters with the Japanese,
however, the SSJ experienced nothing less than kindness and respect from the "enemy." In fact,
the school continued to function, teaching high school subjects. It was sporadic at best, as
bombings would send everyone home every now and then. At war's end, the "Colegio" re-
opened and resumed operations (kindergarten to high school) in Don Jose Ledesma's rent-free
A 2-hectare property was eventually procured. Partial funds for the school building were
obtained when the Colegio students and Silay residents headed by Silay-born opera singer,
Conchita Gaston, successfully mounted a stage presentation of the play "Snow White". Another
fund-raising joint community effort was a "Daigon" led by Conchita's brother, Antonio. Barely
17% of the building's estimated cost was on hand at the start of construction, but with what
could only be described as DIVINE PROVIDENCE, the building was completed in less than a
After the historic 03 October 1950 transfer to its own property, the Colegio settled into a quiet,
relatively uneventful existence attended by sons and daughters of Silay, as well as, from far north
and south of Negros Occidental.
For a few years thereafter, the school accepted out-of-town lady boarders ("internas") who
have fond memories of life with the Sisters. Boarder or not, all students were subjected to the
same massive doses of discipline and religiosity. Did the students mind? Absolutely, while
under the school's care. But once outside, they would perceive themselves especially fortunate
to have been taught strict morals, modesty, and diligence and with the help of the dreaded
"button", mighty good English, spoken and written. Graduates attribute their sense of integrity
and drive for excellence, in no small measure to their Sta. Teresita upbringing.
The Spanish Sisters in white billowing habits, rosary beads clicking have long been replaced by an all-Filipino college-educated community in uniform. STA kept pace with other needs of the time---a St. Joseph play court, the St. Bonifacia Hall, the Fr. Francisco Butiña and St. Therese Buildings and a Science Laboratory Building from the Alumni for STA's 75th, as well as, a separate house for the Sisters. And in the 80s after lengthy consideration and setting of stringent rules, boys were finally accepted in the high school. While much has changed, much remains the same. Emphasis on faith, character development and learning is as strong as ever. In a world increasingly addicted to "updating", STA's constancy is seen to echo the SIERVAS values of Simplicity and Humility.
In providing exemplary Christian education, the SIERVAS has not forgotten the apostolic mission of their FOUNDRESS, ST. BONIFACIA RODRIGUEZ de CASTRO and her co-founder, FR. FRANCISCO BUTIñA, SJ : helping the poor help themselves. The ST. BONIFACIA SKILLS TRAINING CENTER was established within the STA compound in the 1990s where out-of-school girls and unemployed mothers were taught typing and the basic use of computers. Positive results encouraged the Sisters to add classes in sewing, cooking, massage therapy and all around beautician. The Sisters do not stop at mere training: they provide human and Christian formation, market their trainees' skills, provide seed capital. Success of the TALLERES de NAZARET Program reached Spain, enabling the SSJ to access funds for their own 2-storey building. The TALLERES presence is a silent reminder to the STA studentry of the Dignity of Labor and self-reliance.
June 13, 2008, seventy-five (75) years of the Siervas presence has had a tremendous and long-lasting beneficial impact on Silay. On the other hand, the Congregation is quick to stress that without Silay's generosity and support, the SIERVAS story may have turned out differently. May the SIERVAS and SILAY with St. Joseph's and St. Therese's benevolent guidance, continue to join hands in the service of God and His people.