Real Colegio de Santa Potenciana

Royal College of Santa Potenciana: The oldest school for young girls, its was established in 1589 by Philip II upon the urging of Manila bishop, Domingo de Salazar, OP and the Franciscans. In 1592, the school drew up its charter, citing the reason for its foundation: the lack of educational opportunity for girls in a land that need it. Two years later, the school opened its doors to students.

Capitán Luis de Vivanco donated the original site for the college, where wooden house was built as dwelling and school for orphaned girls. The college had apparently improved its buildings subsequently because it is reported that in 1645 an earthquake had destroyed the college, apparently made of stone. By the 17th century, the school had transferred to the corner of Cabildo and Sta. Potenciana; this is indicated in the Muñoz map of 1671. By the end of the 18th century, a new structure had to be constructed it was in ruins because according to Zuñiga it was poorly built in the first place.

By the 19th century, Sta. Potenciana had transferred its site to the corner of Real del Palacio and Sta. Potenciana. The exact year is uncertain, although a map of Manila published in Buzeta (1851) indicates the school still occupied its old site at this time. On the new site, a new structure may have been built by the first half of the 19th century because after the 1863 earthquake had destroyed the Palacio, government offices were moved to this building in 1866. By this time enrollment in the school had considerably dropped and the handful of student boarders were made to transfer to the Colegio de Sta. Isabel. Merging the two institutions of learning resulted in the dissolution of the Colegio de Sta. Potenciana.

The building of Sta. Potenciana became the official palace until the incoming governor decided to transfer to Malacañang. The building was then turned over to the Segundo Cabo, the second in command of the military after the governor. In it were housed the Subinspecciones de Infantería, Caballería, Carabineros and the Guardia Civil. This structure was destroyed by the 1880 earthquake and was rebuilt. In the building, the Spanish governor sought safety during the battle of Manila Bay. It was in this building that control over the city handed to the Americans.

Veterans Bank and the Red Cross building presently occupy the old site of Santa Potenciana and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts building the 19th-century site


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