Pilar College was founded in Zamboanga City by the RVM Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) in 1894. It sits on a strategic spot along the stretch of scenic Cawa-Cawa Boulevard (now Justice Roseller T. Lim Boulevard) in the heart of the city of Zamboanga. In front of this historic school, lays Basilan Strait that lies between the City Zamboanga and Basilan Province, with Sta. Cruz islands, two panoramic islands within sight on the foreground.
The school humbly began as a Cartilla School, which offered Bible Study (Historia Sagrada). Christian Doctrine (Catecismo), Christian Manners (Urbanidad Cristiana), Spanish Grammar, (Grammatica Español), Arithmetic (Arithmetica), Geography (Geografia) and Home Arts. From the Cartilla lessons, the Sisters gradually worked to open the Primary and Elementary courses in 1914.
In 1920, the school was transferred from its original location in Plaza Pershing to the old “Hospital Señora del Pilar” in Cawa-Cawa Boulevard. The High School Department was opened exclusively for girls. The school was named Pilar Institution.
In 1940, a two-year Secretarial Course was offered. Classes, however, were disrupted when the World War II broke out in 1941. After the liberation in 1945, the Sisters resumed classes for the Elementary and High School levels. In 1946, Pilar Institution graduated its first batch of eleven (11) High School students. Two years later, the school graduated seven (7) young ladies in college from its Junior Normal Course.
Its school, then, consisted of a single structure made of sawali and nipa shingles was replaced by the semi-concrete-two storey building in 1949 which was blessed on September 24 of that year by Bishop Luis del Rosario, S.J.
In the ensuing years, more school buildings were constructed to accommodate the increasing populace of the school. Together with the construction of additional school buildings, academic, spiritual and moral growth continued to be the major thrust of the school.
And with its improved facilities and the increase in college courses, the Pilar Institution assumed College status and was eventually named Pilar College.
It offered courses in Education and Liberal Arts, Home Economics and Bachelor of Music. In 1947, Government recognition was given to the Education courses. However, due to the opening of nearby schools, the Zamboanga Normal School (which was later named Zamboanga State College, and which is now known as the Western Mindanao State University) in particular, the administration of Pilar College decided to phase out its college courses in 1972, concentrating on the Elementary and High School levels and the College of Music Education.
During the Marian Year of 1985, Pilar College presented an unforgettable 500 voice Marian Concert entitled “A Tribute to Mary”. The event was a fitting highlight of the year-long celebration of the Marian year commemorating the bimillenium (200th) birth anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Coincidentally, the year also marked the Diamond Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga.
From its austere birth and although dedicated and persistent determination, Pilar College has blossomed into one of the excellent private schools in this beautiful and blooming southern part of Mindanao. Ideally located in a friendly atmosphere, along the breakwaters of picturesque city’s romantic boulevard, Pilar College now depicts an educational institution fully-equipped with modern, state-of-the-art facilities backed up by the competent and efficient personnel. Its present status and prestige can be gauged by the ever increasing influx of students each school year.
In line with its thrust to update education, Pilar College submits to the meticulous evaluation of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). Its Grade School and High School Departments are both PAASCU Accredited, with the latter department getting its rarely-accorded Level III Accreditation in December 2008.
Pilar College’s growth can be modesty attributed to the school’s administrative ability and its far-reaching vision to address its needs in the modern times. Thus, in 1994, it has accommodated the admission of male students in the High School Department to enhance the school’s vision and mission to educate men and women of every race, condition, age and religious belief. During the same year, the Mother Ignacia Building was constructed to replace the old main building fronting the sea.
For more than a century now, Pilar College has consistently been providing quality education, much as it continually enriches and improves curricular offerings and instruction facilities geared towards its continued and sustained thrust to maintain its globally-competitive standard of education.
For Science-inclined secondary school students, the Science Curriculum has been offered since School Year 1999-2000.
To extend its services to a wider span to the ever-increasing populace of Zamboanga City and its neighboring cities and provinces, Pilar College realized the need to reach out and serve the youth who thirst to continue with their tertiary education. The College Department that was phased out in the early 70’s was re-opened in school Year 2000-2001. The courses offered included: BEED, BSED, BST, BSHRM. By the following school year, 2001-2002, more degree courses were offered- BSC and BSIM, and a two-year Associate in Computer Technology. Due to constant demands, Pilar College was granted CHED permit to offer the current much-demanded BSN course beginning School Year 2003-2004.
A new 3 storey building for the College Department houses a well-equipped Science Laboratories, a modern Speech laboratory, a well-furnished mini-hotel with the necessary hotel amenities, an HRM Kitchen Laboratory that is comparable to those seen in leading HRM schools, and a Nursing Laboratory that, by consensus, is the best among existing laboratories of local Nursing Schools. Another center to serve the students is a Computer Laboratory which has a total of 135 compuetr units all connected to the Internet.
New buildings have been constructed in the recent years. Modern structures now house the administration, conference room and projection rooms.
The Clinic, Guidance Center and the H.E. laboratory and the well-equipped Science laboratory were relocated to a place more accessible to pupils and students.
The newly-constructed Grade School building is equipped with Computer laboratory with 49 computer units all connected to the Internet.
S.Y. 2015-2016 starts the integration of the grade school and the high school department into Integrated Basic Education Department (IBED) with one principal.
The vision to effect an integral human and Christian formation for the transformation of society shall be the school’s guiding light in its unwavering quest for excellence in all its academic pursuits.