Divine Word University of Tacloban

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DWU Tacloban
Divine Word University of Tacloban logo.png
Established 1929
Type Private, Catholic University
Location Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines
Divine Word University, Tacloban City, Philippines

The Divine Word University or DWU was a private, Catholic, co-educational institution of higher learning run by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines. Founded in 1927, it was closed in June 1995 by the school administrators after a court ruling favoring the labor union which represents its faculty members and other employees. In 2007, DWU repoened its doors with a new administration and a new name, Liceo Del Verbo Divino

DWU was the biggest Catholic institution of higher learning in Leyte and Samar (Region VIII). At its peak, it had around 14,000 students, and a faculty complement of about 400 teachers. It offered courses in around 20 different fields including law and medicine, and pioneered in indigenous research in the region. Its students considered it a cost-effective alternative to more expensive private schools in Cebu and Manila for the students of Leyte and Samar. During the years it remained open DWU produced around 60,000 graduates, and was a major player in the educational, religious and economic picture of Region VIII. Its closure caused severe dislocation in these areas.


The Divine Word Missionaries or the Society of the Divine Word (known by their Latin initials as "SVD") had been active in the University since Frs. Eugene Stoll and Alois Paulsen began serving there in 1941. Founded by Bishop Sofronio Hacbang y Gaborni, it had been initially called Tacloban Catholic Institute. The missionary presence continued during and after World War II, while the school changed its name to St. Paul's College and later, Divine Word College. In the latter 1960s, the school received university status as it continued to welcome a growing number of students from the islands of Leyte and Samar. In 1973, college enrolment had risen to 5,300. Ten years later, this number had doubled to 10,600. The high school and elementary departments remained stable at 770 and 980 respectively. The university faculty numbered over 300, supplemented by administrative staff of 150. DWC was home to almost 13,000 faculty, staff and students in the first semester of the 1983-1984 school year.

Collective bargaining[edit]

In the latter months of 1984 and throughout 1985, the faculty and employees organized a labor union under the name of "Divine Word University Employees Union". Affiliated with the Associated Labor Union–Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), a national labor group, the union called for collective bargaining with the administration of the university. Two prolonged strikes followed in 1988 and in 1989. From the start the administrators were unwilling to negotiate with the union. Instead of accepting the union's right to represent the workers on the basis of signed memberships, they demanded a certification election. Union leaders were antagonized with this approach. In addition, the administration's lawyers advised them to attempt to form a parallel union of their own which would be more favorable to the administration, but the court considered this to be "union busting".

In 1990 the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled in favor of the labor union: "In Divine Word University of Tacloban vs. Secretary of Labor and Employment, petitioner therein, Divine Word University of Tacloban, refused to perform its duty to bargain collectively. Thus, we upheld the unilateral imposition on the university of the CBA proposed by the Divine Word University Employees Union. We said further: 'That being the said case, the petitioner may not validly assert that its consent should be a primordial consideration in the bargaining process. By its acts, no less than its action which bespeak its insincerity, it has forfeited whatever rights it could have asserted as an employer.' "[1]

The university administration still refused to negotiate. Fr. Margarito Alingasa had been the administrative officer of Divine Word University since June 1995 and had led the administration side in the dispute with the union. "Out of sheer necessity and deep regret," as he put it, "SVD administrators chose to close the university in June of 1995" instead of accepting the Supreme Court ruling. "The university will remain closed and will not reopen until all labor cases are resolved with finality to avoid uncertainties in cost and operations."

Following the sudden closure of the university, students, faculty and staff were left with no school and no employment. Many in the community were affected, including boarding houses, tricycle drivers and the Tacloban business community. Supporters of the university administration claim that the "selfishness of union members" led to the closure, and that faculty and staff had been promised "exorbitant amounts" if they joined the union.[2]

Liceo del Verbo Divino at DWU Tacloban campus

Recent Developments[edit]

In June 2000 the Divine Word Hospital opened St. Scholastica College of Tacloban, renting the Janssen Building of the University for classroom use and office space. Courses were offered in nursing, medical technology, biology and pharmacy.

On February 21, 2006, the SVD announced the reopening of the Divine Word University of Tacloban under a new school name: "Liceo del Verbo Divino," though still under the SVD management.[3] A signing ceremony was held at the Santo Niño Church after the Holy Mass held in celebration of the birthday of Most Rev. Archbishop Pedro Dean. This came ten years after the DWU shut down in 1995 after the dispute with faculty and other employees.


  • 1929 DWU began as the Tacloban Catholic Institute (TCI), founded by Bishop Sofronio Hacbang of the then Diocese of Leyte and Samar, Justice Norberto Romualdez, Sr., Gov. Bernardo Torres and Cong. Juan Pérez of Leyte, and educator Martin de Veyra. It was initially an elementary school with 78 students. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Vicente Figueroa was the first Director.
  • 1934 The High School Department was opened.
  • 1935 St. Therese of the Child Jesus was declared Patroness of TCI, and a chapel was dedicated in her honor.
  • 1940 Bishop Manuel Mascarinas of the Palo Diocese turned over the administration of TCI to the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Fr. Eugene Stoll, SVD, was the first SVD Director.
  • 1942 The College Department was established under Fr. Luis Paulsen, SVD, with the opening of the Secretarial Course.
  • 1944 TCI temporarily ceased operations when the Japanese Army occupied the school buildings.
  • 1946 The School reopened as St. Paul’s College of Tacloban (SPCT) with Fr. Alberto van Gansewinkel as the first Director.
  • 1958 The SVD acquired SPCT from the Diocese of Palo under Archbishop Leo Gonzaga.
  • 1965 Founding of St. Paul’s Hospital, a 100-bed general hospital, as the teaching hospital of SPCT, under the administration of the Benedictine Sisters (OSB). SPCT now became the Divine Word College of Tacloban (DWCT) with Fr. Ernest Hoerdemann, SVD, as the first college president.
  • 1966 DWCT achieved university status, and became Divine Word University of Tacloban (DWU), with Fr. Ernest Hoerdemann, SVD, as the first university president.
DWU Jubilee Foundation, Inc.
Type Alumni Association
Founded 2000, Philippines
Headquarters Tacloban City, Philippines
Key people Board of Directors:
Louis Ocana
Paul Bolaños
Jaime Bermejo
Sara Q. Caballes
Athena Cloma-Granados
Flerida Creencia
Wilfredo Garrido
Alberto Lamayo
Cesar Merin
Imelda Nartea
Fideliza Noel
Natividad Noel-Alejo
Leo Rama
Tarcelo Sabarre
Ma. Luz C. Vilches
Samuel J. Yap
Board of Trustees:
Fideliza G. Noel (Chairperson)
Samuel J. Yap
Athena C. Granados
Leo R. Rama
Natividad Noel-Alejo
Wilfredo Garrido
Flerida V. Creencia
Ma. Luz C. Vilches
  • 1995 DWU closed down due to a disagreement with its labor union, causing severe dislocation in its region.
  • 2006 The SVD announced the reopening of the campus under the name "Liceo del Verbo Divino".
  • 2007 Liceo del Verbo Divino reopened its doors to Grade 1 pupils and First Year High School students.

DWU Jubilee Foundation, Inc.[edit]

In the early months of 2000, a DWU Jubilee Association was established in Manila in an attempt to mobilize the alumni from the university and former students, staff and friends the world over to bring the Divine Word University back to life.[4] Local chapters of the association were planned for Tacloban City, the United States and Europe.[5]

Vision and Mission[edit]

The DWU Jubilee Foundation, Inc. (DJFI) is a community of students, alumni, employees and friends of Divine Word University of Tacloban (DWU), who declare that they "have always recognized the blessings received from the quality education and character formation provided by DWU. We have thus felt a deep sense of loss when DWU ceased to operate. We believe that the youth of Leyte and Samar should also be given a chance to avail [themselves] of this kind of Catholic education." The DJFI aims to promote and support the restoration of DWU as a Catholic university.[6]


  • To foster the Jubilee Year spirit of reconciliation among those whose lives at one time or another were touched by DWU;
  • To unite and bring together again the DWU community that once was;
  • To update DJFI members of developments regarding DWU, including projects and activities in which interested members may participate; and
  • To assist and support to DWU developmental projects such as faculty development, professorial chairs, student assistance, and facilities improvement.


  • Organize DJFI Chapters in key areas such as Tacloban, Metro Manila, USA and Europe, where potential members reside;
  • Implement projects and activities to carry out the mission of the Foundation;
  • Build a worldwide network of DWU students, alumni, employees and friends;
  • Utilize trimedia communications to disseminate information and obtain support for the projects and programs of the Foundation; and
  • Establish a DWU Jubilee Fund in support of such programs and projects.

Notable alumni and professors[edit]


  1. ^ 213 SCRA 759, 11 September 1992, Ruling of Supreme Court of the Philippines, cited in General Milling Corporation vs. Hon. Court of Appeals, General Milling Corporation Independent Labor Union (GMC-ILU), and Rito Mangubat
  2. ^ Cloma-Granados, Athena. Reanimating an Alma Mater (The Struggle to Reopen the Divine Word University of Tacloban)
  3. ^ Desacada, Miriam Granada, "DWUT to reopen next year under new name"
  4. ^ Heair, James, SVD, "Will the University Re-open?" Divine Word Missionaries, Volume XXXXIV No. 3, Summer 2000. Divine Word Missionaries, Mission Center, Techny, Illinois
  5. ^ Vilches, Maria Luz C. "One Momentous Day in the Life of the DWU Jubilee Foundation"
  6. ^ Vilches, Maria Luz C., "The DWU Jubilee Reunion: A Feel of Home"

External links[edit]