Who would say that a barren land would become, one day, a place to plant knowledges and skills to globally competitive educators? This is a story about a piece of land that turned young minds of Region 2 into renowned and remarkable individuals not only nationally but even in the international arena.

The Philippine Normal University North Luzon Campus had its humble beginnings in the bosom of Isabela. It was in 1962 when the idea of establishing Philippine Normal College (PNC) Isabela Branch was conceived by our national, provincial and municipal officials by communicating their intention of putting up a PNC Branch in Luzon to the PNC Manila authorities. Their concerted efforts lead to the approval of Republic Act 4242 on July 19, 1965 which was authored by Congressman Delfin D. Albano of Isabela and Congressman Salih Ututalum of Tawi-Tawi. The Act provided for the establishment of regional branches of PNC in the Jolo-Tawi-Tawi area, Marinduque, Agusan, Isabela, and Negros Occidental.

Later, Congressman Melanio T. Singson filed house Bill No. 170382 appropriating the amount of Php 100,000 for the establishment of the PNC Isabela branch as provided in R.A. 4242. The Honorable Mayor Celedonio Magbaleta and his municipal officials ushered the establishment of the branch college in meeting its requirements as imposed by the Department of Education and Culture (DEC) relative to its opening and enrollment of the first year collegiate classes in the municipality of Alicia, Isabela just after the approval of the PNC Board of Trustees in Manila on July 6, 1971.

Civic spirited residents of the town loaned Php 20,000 for the initial operational expenses of the branch. The Schools Division Superintendent Pedro M. Manaligod offered the Home Economics Building of Alicia Central School with its two upper floor rooms as the first classrooms of PNC and District Supervisor Mariano P. Jimenez and Principal Torquato S. Carreon had permitted the use of all the facilities and equipment of the school.

Having satisfied all the basic requirements of the DEC, Dr. Emigdio Egipto, the acting Vice-President of the PNC worked for the designation and appointment of Mrs. Thelma R. Gonzaga as the first Officer-In-Charge together with six other employees which constituted the first working force of the campus.

It was on July 26, 1971 that PNC Isabela Branch was formally inaugurated at the Alicia Central School. This momentous occasion was celebrated with the participation of pioneering officials which included the then President Gregorio C. Borlaza of PNC, Isabela Governor Samuel F. Reyes, Vice-Governor Eugenio S. Guillermo, Congressman Rodolfo B. Albano Jr., Division Schools Superintendent Pedro M. Manaligod, Mayor Lorenzo M. Dasig Sr., the municipal councilors, PNC and DEC officials, teachers, and students.

On February 14, 1972, a ground breaking ceremony for the PNC Isabela Branch new site took place with Governor Faustino N. Dy Sr. as the guest speaker. The new site was a five-hectare lot situated at Barangay Aurora, Alicia, Isabela, donated by Reverend and Mrs. Cornelio Tomas of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (4 hectares) and the Abuan family, headed by Mr. Irineo Abuan (1 hectare). Construction of the Dasig and Abuan buildings in the new site was the result of the pooled efforts of former Governor Samuel F. Reyes and Congressman Rodolfo B. Albano, Mayor Lorenzo M. Dasig Sr. and the Sanguniang Bayan Members of Alicia.

From here, various administrators took on the challenge of making the campus a renowned premier teacher education institution in Northern Luzon as it was originally conceived. Management of the newly-inaugurated campus started with Mrs. Thelma R. Gonzaga who served the branch from July 18, 1971 to July 1973. She was succeeded by Prof. Daniel S. Oreta, the head of the Science and Mathematics Department of PNC Manila Campus. He served as Officer-In-Charge and then Director of the Campus from July 1973 to February 1975. The college held its First Commencement Exercises with 15 graduates on March 22, 1975. Prof. Adelaida M. Andaya was designated OIC from February 1975 to July 1975 but the Prof. Oreta extended his service from July to August 1975. Just after the retirement of Prof. Oreta, Mr. Romeo D. Veniegas, a faculty of PNC Manila, ascend as the OIC of the campus from August 1975 to September 1979.

In September 1979, President Edilberto P. Dagot designated Prof. Serafina C. Rosal, a science professor of PNC Manila as the Campus Director. With her leadership, more infrastructure projects were constructed like the Guest House, Albano, Dy, Tomas, H.E., LRC, SS and Science buildings. It was during her time when the Philippine Normal College was conferred its university status by virtue of Republic Act 7168 on December 26, 1991 and celebrated its first University Day on January 11, 1992.

As the campus matures, it was able to establish its linkages with the community through its off-campus student teaching, extension and field study programs. The campus curriculum, operations and programs continually evolved . It had offered BSE with majors in English, Filipino, and Mathematics; BEEd, with specializations in Reading, English, Mathematics and General Science; and Master of Arts in Elementary Education. It had also honed students not just academically but also socially and emotionally as it enhanced its student development program producing for the first time a National Topnotcher in the person of Ms. Marites Asuncion, now Prof. Marites A. Balot, who ranked 10th in the then Philippine Board Examination for Teachers (PBET) in 1991. Student enrolment steadily increased from a hundred to thousand which spurred the need to increase the number of faculty members as well. New structures mushroomed to support the branch expanding academic and administrative needs. 

With the conversion of PNC to Philippine Normal University, the concept of team management was implemented. The campus was administered by the following directors: Prof. Serafina C. Rosal for Graduate School, Prof. Carmelito D. Pang for Administrative Affairs and Prof. Pacita L. Samson for Academic Affairs. Upon the retirement of Prof. Rosal in 1992, Prof. Carmelito D. Pang and Prof. Pacita L. Samson served the campus as Director of Administrative and Director of Academic Affairs, rspectively, from June 1992 to June 1995. On June 14, 1995, Dr. Carmelito D. Pang assumed office as the campus’ first Executive Director. New infrastructure projects had flowed in the campus like the Gymnasium, Congressman Dy building, perimeter fence, guard house and the PNU Dormitory for Boys and Girls. His administration ended on October 2006.

Dr. Marites C. Geronimo took the helm of PNU Isabela Campus as the second Executive Director from November 2006 to April 2011. It was during her administration where the PNU Isabela submitted herself for Level 1 Accreditation to AACCUP and overwhelmingly passed it. She had also spearheaded the acquisition of the Isabelino building during the administration of Grace Padaca as Provincial Governor of Isabela.

From then on, Philippine Normal University Isabela Campus continued its commitment to quality education and excellence. Its curriculum improved as well as the physical structures of the university. Student development provided an avenue for individual and group development and recognition. This included the university’s ability to enhance student leadership and talents through its various student organizations, interest and department-based clubs. The campus also ranked first nationwide in the elementary level category and 3rd in the secondary level category in the 1998 LET. And once again produced national topnotchers in the 2007 LET with Mr. Virgo M. Gulan and Ms. Nympha Villanueva ranking 2nd in secondary education and 8th in elementary education, respectively.  From then on, topping the LET nationally became a tradition of PNU Isabela in the following years todate.

The continuing quest for a better university status lead to the coming in of a more aggressive and committed management team with Dr. Ester B. Ogena as the new President of the Philippine Normal University and Dr. Elena A. Navas as the Executive Director and Provost of PNU Isabela campus. The new set of managers were confronted with tougher challenges like the University’s adherence to GLOBAL COMPETETIVENESS and INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS. The branch university that time was threatened by the issue of amalgamation which dramatically made PNU Isabela campus with its new title and challenging role as The Indigenous Peoples Education Hub by virtue of BOR Resolution No. U-1865, s. 2012. Further, in response to the regional demands for teacher quality and to meet global standards, the campus was renamed as Philippine Normal University North Luzon (PNUNL) thru BOR Resolution No. U-2054, s. 2014.

The new administration of Dr. Navas overhauled the PNUNL by creating its new path in the international arena guided by its vision which states that Philippine Normal University North Luzon is an internationally recognized and nationally responsive teacher education university specializing in living traditions and indigenous education. It is propelled by its mission of nurturing innovative teachers and education leaders and bound by its strategic directions, namely: Shared Vision of Excellence, Quality Assurance, Systems-Based Solutions, Branding, Internationalization, Collaboration and Partnership, Product and Service Development, Responsiveness to Stakeholders, Sustainability, and Human Capital Development.

Academically, the university had introduced multifarious innovation like the implemented first-of-its kind Outcomes-Based Teacher Education Curriculum in the Philippines which started on June, 2014 to raise the status of our graduates in the international arena. In terms of its performance in the licensure examination, PNUNL garnered the eight, sixth and fourth spots in the national level in 2016, 2018 and 2019, respectively, for its secondary education program. Mr. Lyndon L. Lazaro and Mr. Jomar A. Felix, both mathematics majors, were Top 4 and Top 8 nationwide in the 2014 and 2017, respectively, in the secondary level of the Licensure Examination for Teachers while Ms. Maurice Yvonne P. Bonior was Top 6 in 2016 in the elementary level.

Overwhelming changes in administrative structure were also implemented like realigning the personnels’ assignments and offices of the faculty and administrative staff according to their area of specialization (verticalization), new positions and titles were created and the creation of a unique, ambitious and progressive PNUNL culture, an indigenized one. A landslide of physical developments had been seen around. Classroom buildings and offices had been repaired, upgraded and furnished with furniture and modern gadgets to cope with the demands of internationalization and accreditation. Covered walks and a panoramic PNUNL landmark had been constructed, an eye catching facade, that bears the metallic name of the university made it more conducive for students and employees to stay. At the heart of the university was a newly constructed PNUNL Cafeteria and students’ center buildings plus the “Balay ti Alumni” building beside the Gymnasium.

At present, the Innovation Hub is under construction and will soon be finished at the end of the academic year. This 4-storey building will house the majority of offices of the university and a conference area that can accommodate more that a hundred person. Another future project of the university is the installation of solar panels that will generate powers for the water system and other electrical appliances.

The continuation of the story of this campus is yet to be written with the challenge to continue the legacy the institution has initially established. This challenge of writing a better story is passed on from generation to generation. With the leadership of PNU President Bert J. Tuga and OIC Executive Director and Provost of PNUNL Dr. Lordinio A. Vergara serving also as the Vice President for University Relations and Advancement, the university will even be made greater in the years to come. MABUHAY ANG PAMANTASANG NORMAL NG PILIPINAS, MABUHAY TAYONG LAHAT!