Through Sacrifices to the Stars
The History of John Paul II College of Davao

Humble beginnings

“Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.” - Blessed John Paul II

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In these beautiful words of the late great pope, JOHN PAUL II COLLEGE OF DAVAO finds a concise yet very insightful synopsis of its humble beginnings and that of its owners.

Moving into the unknown, the newly-wed couple Ernesto and Mercedita Evangelista, armed only with great confidence, strong determination and deep faith in God, left family and friends in Luzon to settle down in Davao, which was then a booming city in 1969. Like Abraham who left his native land to settle in an unfamiliar place, Mr. Evangelista, in pursuit of his work assignment, brought his new family, embracing a life of total strangers, to what was known as the Land of Promise: Mindanao!


Moving into the unknown was also the decision of the Evangelista family to establish the Philippine College of Innovative Education (PHILCIE) in 2000. Only one thing is known and certain for the family then: the vision to establish an educational institution, to be a center for academic excellence that would cater to less fortunate but deserving students in Davao City.

PHILCIE started its operations in the Academic Year 2000-2001 with 12 courses offered. Its first enrollees, some 342 college freshmen, were housed in semi-concrete rooms, vacated by the school that previously occupied the property before it was acquired by the Evangelista’s.

What was once an intrepid move became a fearless step. In three years time, the top management decided to build a five-storey building to cater to the needs of the growing population, equipped with complete modern equipment and state-of the-art educational facilities. The new building could now readily cope with the demands of the owner’s vision to be globally competitive.

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Simply stepping out fearlessly and the couple’s profound piety coupled with their genuine fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church and their sincere adherence to the Roman Pontiff, the Vicarius Christi, prompted  them to rename the college to John Paul II College of Davao, upon the advice of Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, a close friend in honor of then Pope John Paul II.

On July 29, 2004 with an ardent desire to inculcate the teachings of the Holy Father on the young people of Davao, the College President endorsed by Archbishop Capalla, requested Pope John Paul II through the Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano, for special permission to name the college after the Roman Pontiff.

More than a month later His Holiness Pope John Paul II granted the request to use his name “with the condition that the college must observe the moral instructions imparted by the Church Magisterium” (Letter of Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, His Excellency Antonio Franco dated September 21, 2004).

Like the Good Shepherd giving his flock assurance of His enduring presence, the Holy Father also expressed his continued guidance over the college that bears his name as he requested the good Archbishop of Davao “to continue an attentive pastoral supervision upon the said institution to be sure that it remains coherent with the Church’s teachings.”

“Knowing that I am with you.” Truly, these words became a reality for JOHN PAUL II COLLEGE OF DAVAO in September 2004. Presently, it is the only college in the Philippines that bears that great name with special papal permission.

“...therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well.” Inspired by the person and teachings of this great pope, confident of his continued presence and assistance, the college faces the challenges that come in the pursuit of its noble vision and mission. Convinced that “no harm can befall” beyond what it can handle, its owners believe that sacrifices are the way to the stars, hence, ad astra per aspera became the school's motto.

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The couple has also these words of Blessed John Paul II to inspire them: “Do this in complete faith and confidence.” With total faith and confidence, the Evangelista family places the college in God’s hands, believing in the words of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI): “He who walks in the hands of God, should he fall, he falls in the hands of God.”

Providing quality education: An act of love

To respond to its growing clientele, the owners decided to construct a seven-storey building in 2007, complementing the existing one. The building boasts of its 98 classrooms, offices, laboratories and other educational facilities.

During its groundbreaking ceremony, September 28, 2007, the feast of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, its College President, Mr. Ernesto C. Evangelista remarked, “This groundbreaking ceremony symbolizes not only the strength of our school but also the vision of the owners, our family, that we would like to make this institution a center  for academic excellence.”

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 Archbishop Fernando Capalla of the Archdiocese of Davao, who presided over the Holy Eucharist prior to the groundbreaking rites, which he led, set the spiritual tone of the said activity. In his homily, the Archbishop, focusing on Christian charity, cited the example of St. Lorenzo Ruiz's martyrdom as the highest expression of the love of Christ.

“In this groundbreaking ceremony,” the Archbishop said, “the members of the administration and the Evangelista family want to give you quality Education. Giving quality education is one way of showing authentic love of neighbor.”

Charity begins at home

And home is JOHN PAUL II COLLEGE OF DAVAO to more than 1500 students enrolled this year, 4 times more than in 2000 and in just a matter of 10 years!

The college is strategically situated in the heart of the city, the booming Ecoland Drive, Matina, Davao City, and is just a few minutes away from important establishments: the San Pablo Church, Ecoland bus terminal, city malls like SM and NCCC, police stations, banks and hotels, to mention a few.

More than 50% of the college population comes from the city of Davao. The rest is from the province of Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and other regions. A noticeable increase in the enrollees of Muslim students could easily remind us one of the late Pope’s passion for inter-religious encounters.

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Presently, the college is composed of seven different departments, also called Colleges; the College of Business Administration, College of Education, College of Information and Communications Technology, College of Nursing, College of Engineering, College of Hospitality Management and College of Criminology. It boasts 30 administrative personnel, 40 clinical instructors, and 40 faculty members.


 Its flagship courses are BS in Nursing, BS Information Technology, BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management and BS in Geodetic Engineering. The College of Nursing is fortunate enough to have as its base-hospital with a category A affiliation, the prestigious Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) formerly Davao Medical Center (DMC), one of the trusted hospitals in Davao City known for its team of specialists and state-of- the- art medical facilities.

Indeed, charity begins at home, for very shortly, the college, in its desire to augment quality education and to provide its studentry ample opportunity to learn non scholae sed vitae (“not just for school but for life”), now offers ladderized courses.

Moreover, the institution opened the weekend college program for its flagship courses to accommodate interested students who are presently employed. Finally, to cater to the needs of the region the school is now offering BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Bachelor of Science in Travel Management and Bachelor of Science in Criminology.

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With great interest and in complete consonance with the spirit of its namesake, the College also devotes importance to the vision of the late Pope in promoting a peaceful environment between Muslim and Christian communities in the area.


The College is also a member of different academic organizations in the country. It is accredited with CISCO Networking Academy, which offers an edge to students having plans in working overseas.

As Blessed John Paul II has been, in the words of Cardinal Ratzinger in his homily during the funeral of the great pope, “a precious gift of God to the Catholic Church,” so is John Paul II College of Davao in the vision of its owners, “as a center for academic excellence,” an expression of their love for the Pope, the Church, God and His people.