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One hundred years of existence of an educational institution is a momentous event not only to the people of Agusan del Sur but also, on its neighboring provinces as the service areas. Today, March 1, 2008, marks the centennial year of the Manobo Industrial School (MIS) now, the Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology (ASSCAT). Therefore, let us trace its history, its status and where it is leading to.
The history of Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology (ASSCAT) is a story of consistent growth with increasing standards. Sometimes in 1906, a group of Americans headed by the Honorable Dean C. Worcester visited Agusan province, surveyed the area and determined the needs of the people. The province of Agusan was a vast hinterland, populated by Manobos and few Christians. Realizing the need for educating the people to a better way of life, the Americans established the Manobo Industrial School (MIS) in June 1908. The school was for the sons of Manobo “datus” from the regions of Simulao, Adgawan, Umayam, Gibung, and Wawa-Ojot. Mr. Carlson Berger was the principal, with Mr. And Mrs. Joseph Kempt, Mr. Liberato Fortun, and Mr. Ciriaco Viajar as his faculty. MIS was located along the bank of the Simulao River, opposite the poblacion of Bunawan. On June 24, 1908, Executive Order No. 52 was issued by the Governor- General William Cameron Forbes and granted the school site with a reserved area of 41.9089 hectares (Parcel 1) and .1764 hectares (Parcel 2). Later, the Manobo Industrial School was converted into Manobo Farm School (MFS) to improve the farming practices of the natives. A Grade V class was opened in school year 1915 – 1916 with Mr. Ellsworth Maxwell as Principal. The other teachers were Mr. George L. Broxholm, Mr. Cornelio del Rosario, and Miss Dedicacion del Rosario. A limited number of boys coming from the municipal district schools of Cuevas, Trento, Libertad, Veruela, La Paz, Loreto, Prosperidad, Talacogon, San Luis, Esperanza and Lianga, Surigao were accommodated in the school dormitory with free clothing, beddings, and subsistence. The other pupils lived in Bunawan with their parents or relatives. By 1926, MFS was converted into Bunawan Agricultural School (BAS). First year High School was offered in school year 1927 – 1928; second year in school year 1928 – 1929; third year in school year 1929 – 1930; and fourth year in school year 1930 – 1931. The additional site of 280.8131 hectares was reserved for the BAS under Proclamation No. 677 issued by Governor-General Frank Murphy on April 2, 1934. BAS developed steadily until enrollment reached 400 students. Unfortunately, World War II intervened, and the school was temporarily closed. The Filipino Principals who worked for the school up to the outbreak of the World War II were the following:
After the World War II, the provincial government transferred the school to Ampayon, Butuan City, leaving Bunawan without a high School for three (3) years. Fortunately, the late Congressman Marcos M. Calo, a native of Agusan worked for the return of the Bunawan Agricultural School (BAS) and succeeded when Republic Act (R.A.) No. 301 was passed in Congress and approved by His Excellency Elpedio Quirino on June 17, 1948. It authorized the creation of Bunawan Junior Agricultural High School (BJAHS) and was formally opened in July 1948 at the former school site in Bunawan. With re-establishment of the high School in Bunawan, parents began to enroll their children at the Bunawan Junior Agricultural High School (BJAHS) instead of in Mampising, Davao or in Ampayon, Butuan City. It was Mr. Raymundo Curato, the Principal of Bunawan District, who was designated to open the school as Farm Manager by Mr. Mariano Manaligod, Division Superintendent of Schools for Agusan; and Mr. Enrique Paller, the Farm Manager of the School in Ampayon acted as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of BJAHS until Mr. Jose F. Luna came as Principal. Mr. Luna arrived in September, 1948 and immediately moved to provide facilities, books, equipment, working animals, food and other needs of the school until his replacement by Mr. Domingo C. Gabertan on August 4, 1949. Mr. Domingo C. Gabertan decided to relocate the school campus on higher ground due to the yearly flooding on the old site. The present site now along the Agusan-Davao National Highway (Daang Maharlika). RA.#948 was approved on June 20, 1953 converting the school into Bunawan National Agricultural School (BUNAS). Five (5) ICA-NEC (FOA-Philcusa) Buildings were constructed: Vocational Agricultural Buildings, Homemaking Building, Farm Shop, Farm machineries, buildings, Granary and the Concrete Water tower. Mr. Gabertan, however, was transferred to Negros Occidental National Agricultural School in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental on August 16, 1956, after he was sent to the United States for one year advanced studies. The faculty and students held their classes in the new site but they continue to stay at the old site which was about 2 kilometers until the old Girls Dormitory was finished in 1958. Mr. Felipe C. Galeon succeeded Mr. Gabertan as Principal of BUNAS. It was also during his time that additional buildings were constructed like the Girl’s dormitory, Social Hall, and Practice House, until his promotion to the General Office, Manila in the later part of 1960. Following Mr. Galeon as Principal of BUNAS was Mr. Perfecto C. Boncato, who was transferred from Bilar Rural High School, Bilar, Bohol. For his part, Mr. Perfecto C. Boncato was able to construct the Related Subjects Building, a Home Management Building and laid out the school playground. When Mr. Boncato left in 1966, Mr. Arturo Cubangbang, Mr. Santiago T. Medrano and Mr. Federico S. Zamora were temporarily designated as schools’ Officers-in-Charge one at a time until the detail of Mr. Gregorio C. Alava, Principal of Davao National Regional Agricultural School to BUNAS in school year 1966-1967. Mr. Alava was later replaced by Mr. Felipe C.Badua who was finally promoted as Principal of the school effective on June 23, 1967, and eventually as Vocational School Administrator I on July 1, 1974 until his retirement on May 27, 1985. Republic Act No. 5917, sponsored by former Congressman Jose C. Aquino of Agusan, converted the Bunawan National Agricultural School (BUNAS) into Southern Agusan National Agricultural College (SANAC) on June 21, 1969. Congressman Democrito O. Plaza during SY 1969-70 included in the General Appropriations Act for the operation of SANAC.
Circular No. 8 issued by the defunct Bureau of Vocational Education (BVE) on October 4, 1974 authorized the school to offer the Revised Two-year Post-Secondary Agricultural Technician curriculum starting the second semester, school year 1974-1975. This was the result of the effort made by Gov. Valentina G. Plaza in inviting a team from BVE. One hundred thirty three (133) students graduated from this course in five (5) batches until it was phased out in school year 1986-1987.The CMU (Central Mindanao University) Off- Campus Institute at SANAC started offering the first year of the 4-year general collegiate academic course during the first semester of SY 1979-80 with selected members of the faculty who were trained at CMU, Musuan, Bukidnon, for two summers, acting as affiliate instructors. The following year, second year subjects were offered. After the second, the CMU- off Campus students were supposed to proceed o the CMU Main Campus for their third and fourth years, or to other collegesuniversities of their choice. This program was in operation in SANAC for four years until it was suspended at the beginning of SY 1983- 1984 because the number of students who wanted to enroll did not reach the desired number as required by university authorities. On June 23, 1987, DECS Order No. 66, series of 1987 was issued granting authority to the school to operate the ladder-type Bachelor of Agricultural Technology (B.A.T.) course. The first two years of this course admitted both NCEE and non-NCEE qualifiers, leading to the Diploma in Agricultural Technology (D.A.T.), but only NCEE qualifiers can proceed to the third and fourth years leading to the Bachelor of Agricultural Technology (B.A.T.) degree. Mr. Nicasio T. Domingo Jr., who replaced Mr. Badua as Vocational School Administrator, exerted efforts to increase students achievement thru upgrading the quality of instruction in different subjects, curriculum improvements, faculty and staff development; and acquisition of some needed field, laboratory, and library facilities. In school year 1989-1990., there was a 100% qualification in the NCEE among the fourth year students who took the examination and the school also produced its first batch of B.A.T. graduates, a significant milestone in the history of the college. Mr. Nicasio T. Domingo was detailed in the DECS Regional Office, Region X, Cagayan de Oro City effective September 17, 1990, and Mrs. Ramona S. Nono, Administrative Officer II, was designated Officer-in-Charge from September 1990 to February 5, 1991. Mr. Cristeto Ra. Abrea, Vocational School Principal I of Kinoguitan National Agricultural School (KNAS), Kinoguitan, Misamis Oriental, was designated Officer-in-Charge of SANAC effective February 6, 1991. Starting the Academic Year 1992-93, through DECS Order No. 88 s. 1992, two (2) academic programs were added: Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSEd) major in Technology and Home Economics, and the Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEEd) with concentration in Work Education and with the initial offering of Laboratory Grade School. On the same year, Congressman Ceferino S. Paredes Jr. sponsored Batas Pambansa House Bill No. 1432 and supported by the Senate |Bill No. 1690 of Senator Edgardo J. Angara, for the conversion of SANAC into a state college. On March 1, 1995, His Excellency President Fidel V.Ramos signed RA No 7932 transforming SANAC into Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology (ASSCAT). More degree programs were offered: Diploma in Inland Fishery Technology (DIFT) leading to Bachelor in Inland Fishery Technology (BIFT), Bachelor of Science in Agro-Forestry (BSAF), and Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness and Information Technology (BSAIT). Moreover, the DAT-BAT program was strengthened when ASSCAT was one of the four (4) identified institutions in Mindanao which availed the support and assistance from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and Education Development Projects Implementing Task Force (EDPITAF). The project gained bilateral funding from the Philippine-Australian Agricultural Technology Education Project (PA-AGRITECH) from 1996 to 2000. The 60 M pesos grant-in-aid for ASSCAT was in the form of refurbished theory room, library, farm mechanics shop, laboratories for science, crop and food processing, nursery, and Community Outreach Center (COC). Computers, typewriters, overhead-projector, photocopier, recent edition of library books, course materials and other references were also provided. The faculty, staff and technical support also availed in-service trainings and seminars. Mr. Cristeto Ra. Abrea served as OIC College President from 1995-1997 and became the first installed ASSCAT President on January 1997. Upon his retirement on January 2001, Dr. Roberto N. Padua, CHED Commissioner assumed as Chair of the Management Committee on January 13, 2001 to August 22, 2001 while, Mr. Bernardino Z. Ente Jr. M.P.A served as ASSCAT OIC President from August 22, 2001 to February 13, 2002. During the academic year 2001 – 2002, three (3) curricular programs were added: Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering (BSAE), Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering (BSECE) and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT).
Dr. Doroteo E. Jaquias’ appointment as ASSCAT President was on Feb.13, 2002. When Dr. Jaquias took the rein of the ASSCAT management, the college takes significant strides to pursue its four-fold functions: instruction, research, extension and production. Several structures are being put-up for the academic community, but now he includes many scandals like corupting some moneys in the said schools and also in the library, he purchased some books in Manila without any official receipt and he's not an authorized to buy with hiself because there are people in the supply office and these people are only the authorized to buy.
To upgrade quality of instruction, efforts were undertaken to scout for more students, faculty and staff scholarships. Measures were also made to generate more funds to provide greater opportunities for educational advancement through in service trainings, seminars, conferences, fora ,,,,,,and “lakbay-aral” to ensure competencies which must be par with other experts in other state colleges and universities in the country. Curricular programs were reviewed and enriched. The curricula reflected the CHED standards. The college continues to attune its baccalaureate programs offering to the country’s development needs by rationalizing and re-engineering the curricula emphasizing the development of nationalism, civic consciousness and democratic principles, entrepreneurship, innovativeness and advocacy. ASSCAT strengthens and focuses its agricultural programs to support the provincial and regional thrusts as spelled out in the CARAGA Medium Term Development Plan. Home and Food Technology and other allied courses are offered. Similarly, the two-year diploma in Inland Fishery Technology is strengthened to produce skilled manpower to improve the socio-economic condition of the people particularly, in the river towns. Short-term computer courses are also available to respond to the increasing demands on computer literacy from different sectors. Intensive trainings for faculty and staff are undertaken along this line to upgrade their skills. The college also intently pursues AACCUP accreditation on all degree programs to ensure quality assurance and excellence in higher education. At present, nine (9) degree programs are offered:
*Bachelor of Agricultural Technology (BAT)
*BS Agriculture major in Horticulture, Animal Science & Agronomy*BS Agroforestry *BS Agribusiness *BSE major in Biology, Mathematics and Technology and Livelihood Economics *BS Elementary Education *BS Agricultural Engineering *BS Electronics and Communication Engineering *BS Information Technology
Under financial constraints, ASSCAT undertakes great effort to focus whatever little resources to acquire equipment and facilities to support the aim for upgrading the quality of institution in order to meet the standard for accreditation. The college continues to improve its equipment and facilities. The new library is a donation from the Bunawan LGU through the effort of Honorable mayor Gilbert G. Elorde likewise, several books and electronic resources such as VHS, CDs and transparencies which amounted to 4.5M more or less were also donated by Congressman Rodolfo G. Plaza. He was also instrumental behind the installation of the College Speech Laboratory. The college also purchased several volumes of books which largely enriched and increased the library holdings. The college works out for a greater allocation of capital outlays to improve its equipment, facilities and services particularly on library, arts and culture and engineering facilities to meet the AACCUP Accreditation standards of its various programs. For Academic Year 2006-2007, ASSCAT as a chartered state institution of higher learning in Caraga Administrative Region, is determined to maximize its limited resources or to execute its efforts in augmenting the available resources and to develop the human assets to be efficient and effective in the implementation of the vision, mission and objectives.
Recognizing its vital role in countryside development, ASSCAT continues to pursue research activities in education, agriculture and engineering to improve teaching strategies and instruction. The college has put up Research and Development Journals for four (4) succeeding year beginning 2004. Research studies were refereed by senior research experts. Likewise, there is a vigorous generation and verification of technologies geared towards the improvement of the socio-economic condition of the rural folks. The college has a strong linkage with the Philippine Council for the Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Research and Development (PCARRD) and the Caraga Consortium for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Research and Development (CCARRD). ASSCAT is assigned to focus researches in timber, banana, durian and other agricultural crops which are considered as high valued commodities.The Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory is donated by Congressman Rodolfo G. Plaza from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The plant tissue laboratory is very functional for researches on horticultural crops. Organic and pesticide free farming is pursued through collaboration with Philippine Rice Research Institute and other agencies. Field trials on oil palm production are sustained to provide more opportunities to conduct studies to generate funds for the College as its flagship crop. The ASSCAT Farmers’ Information and Technology Service (FITS) Center was launched on March 1, 2004. FITS is one of the services of the Techno-Gabay Program designed as a delivery system to reach the greatest mass of farmer-clienteles in Agusan del Sur province. The farmers can avail the latest technology and have an easy access on significant data in Agriculture and Natural Resources to improve their livelihood and other benefits. Another way to assist the farming communities achieve greater agricultural productivity and profitability is through the Community Outreach Center (COC) Services. COC adopts a more coordinated and collaborative approach in order to determine the appropriate technology, training and information needs of farmer-clienteles through conducting consultative conferences and benchmark surveys and periodic review of priority technologies for funding and for sustainable development. Another accomplishment worth mentioning is the ASSCAT Loreto Extension situated at Sitio Manawe, Loreto, Agusan del Sur which continues to operate with the support of the local government officials of Loreto.
The proceeds from the different Income Generating Projects (IGP) have enormously augmented in the improvement of the services and facilities needed by the students and faculty. In particular, the amount for the total repair of the building which now becomes the Accreditation Center serving the three (3) institutes came from the IGP. The oil palm, coffee and rubber plantation projects income helped for the repair and renovation of the ceilings of some old and dilapidated buildings. Moreover, IGP proceeds were also utilized for the concrete pavement within the school premises. The amount use for the construction of the College Cafeteria was taken from IGP proceeds. The college cafeteria functions as an IGP however it has very limited income because nutritious foods were served at minimal costs. Besides, the cafeteria offers an avenue for the students exposure and practice in home technology and livelihood activities. Organic Rice farming and Corn Seed Production are still on the experimental stage. Vegetable growing is gaining popularity and prominence because of the use of organic fertilizer. Animal projects are on the break-even phase but being maintained as Students Instructional Units (SIUs) necessary for the agricultural programs.