Looban Girls' Convent

Fine Needle Workers. Looban Convent, Paco, Manila, Philippines
Fine Needle Workers. Looban Convent, Paco, Manila, Philippines

The Looban convent also known as the Asilo de San Vicente de Paul (ASVP), was founded on 26 July 1885 by Sr. Asuncion Ventura. She donated an inheritance from her family to the Daughters of Charity and purchased a lot of 6 hectares of land for a building where she established the asylum for girls, making her the first Filipina to build an orphanage in the country.

girls of looban convent
Posing for a photo / John Tewell

ASVP started with only 33 wards, catering to girls who were orphans or homeless. Later on, it expanded its services into providing education and training to young girls, particularly on embroidery and needlework, which has become a distinction of the institution. The Spanish government provided a monthly supply of 20 cavans of rice to the orphanage, which was later continued by the Americans until government aid to charitable institutions was ceased due to the prohibition dictated by the Jones Law. Over time, ASVP has sold portions of land until today it retains two hectares for the institution.

Embroiderers at Looban Convent, Paco

In the early days, affluent families visited ASVP to purchase the embroideries of the girls. Others come to the institution to select wives for their sons. The mother of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, Remedios Trinidad, used to be a ward at the ASVP, also known then as Looban Convent, from where the mother of Orestes Romualdez found Trinidad and was introduced to Romualdez.

Looban convent girls

In 1942 during World War II Manila was bombed leading to the burning of the ASVP building, where according to ASVP, 200 people died. The structure was rebuilt in February 1945. One of the benefactors of ASVP in its rebuilding was Don Teodoro V. Santos (1915-1983), who was a devout Catholic and philanthropist.

For a time, ASVP also operated as an educational institution but the school was gradually closed between 1982 and 1999 and ASVP focused on its role in child care. It was also the temporary home of another institution, Tahanan Sta. Luisa, for the years 2000-2002.

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