By Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
A testimony of faith – Central Philippine University stand witness to 113 years of Baptist heritage and perseverance.
The birth of Central Philippine University is connected to the beginnings of the Baptist mission in the Philippines.
In 1898, Rev. Dr. Eric Lund, a Swedish Baptist missionary, baptized Braulio Manikan, a native of Aklan, Panay, in Barcelona, Spain. Manikan became the first Filipino Baptist. The two soon planned to undertake mission work in the Philippines. While waiting for that opportunity, they embarked on translating the Gospels and Acts into the Hiligaynon language.
Their opportunity was materialized when the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) commissioned and financed their mission work. They arrived in Iloilo City, Philippines in May 1900.
The Philippine Baptist pastors and American missionaries developed a three-pronged mission work, patterned from the ministry of Jesus Christ—preaching, healing and teaching. This pattern was developed as a means to minister to the “whole man” and not just his spiritual needs.
The preaching ministry resulted in organizing churches in Iloilo, Negros, and Capiz. For instance, Jaro Evangelical Church was organized in September 1900, Bacolod Evangelical Church in 1902, and Capiz Evangelical Church in 1908.
As to the healing ministry, the Philippine Baptist mission established two hospitals in the Panay Island. In Iloilo, the Baptists partnered with the Presbyterians in operating the Iloilo Mission Hospital (IMH) in 1901. Later, the IMH became an exclusive Baptist institution in 1925 when the Presbyterians turned over their mission work to the Baptists. In Capiz, a medical mission was started in 1902 which later became the Capiz Emmanuel Hospital in 1912.
The Philippine Baptist mission soon started a Baptist Home School in Capiz in 1904. Later, this became known as the Filamer Christian University. In Iloilo, a Bible School for women was established in 1904 through the leadership of Anna V. Johnson. This later became the Baptist Missionary Training School (BMTS).
In June 1905, the Bible School for men was also opened. A few months later, in October 1, 1905, another school was opened—the Jaro Industrial School. The Philippine Baptist mission commissioned Rev. Dr. William O. Valentine, a pastor and teacher, to head both schools.
CPU, in its core, is a product of the Baptist mission in the Philippines as can be seen in its history. This is the reason why the CPU Constitution and By-laws stipulates that 33 out of 65 of the members of the CPU Corporation and at least 10 out of 15 of the CPU Board of Trustees should come from member churches of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.