Dr. Preciosa S. Soliven completed her doctorate degree major in Educational Management at Centro Escolar University through its linkage with the University of Adelaide in Australia in 2002. She was conferred with the Doctor of Humanities Degree (Honoris Causa) by the University of the Visayas, Cebu City in 1998. She completed her Montessori Primary and Elementary courses at Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in Perugia and Bergamo, Italy on an Italian scholarship in 1964 and 1969 respectively. She also specialized in Montessori Language Arts in London, England.
In 1966, Dr. Soliven established the f rst O.B. Montessori School at the Syquia Apartments in Malate, Manila. To make people aware of the Montessori System of education, she became a TV producer, scriptwriter and host of the following programs: “Montessori for the Home”, and “Montessori for Everyone” in Channel 2, ABS-CBN in 1972-1973.
From 1986-1987, she was the Philippine representative to the UNESCO Paris Executive Board and eventually became an active member of the Education Committee of UNESCO Philippines from the 1990 to 2001.
In 1983, Dr. Soliven established the OB Montessori Child and Community Foundation, Inc. and established the Pagsasarili Preschools in laborers’ districts. She established the Mothercraft Training and Literacy Course for Village Mothers that won the 1993 UNESCO International Literacy Award in New Delhi, India. To date, there are more than 200 Pagsasarili Preschools in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Dr. Soliven has written several books: CONCEP Manual - Planning the Young Child’s Education in 1996; Half a Millennium of Philippine History in 1998; Pagsasarili Mothercraft Literacy Course for Local and Overseas Filipino Working Women in 2002; and How Well Do You Know the Wonders of Your Children. Since 1990, her Thursday column for the Philippine Star, “A Point of Awareness” has focused on education, travel and social behavior.
Oscar Arellano was a Filipino architect and president of the Manila Chapter of Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) in the early 50’s. He organized Operation Brotherhood – a humanitarian project that will address the medical needs of Indochinese refugees. Filipino volunteers joined the team of doctors and nurses who rendered medical services and community development assistance to the refugees.
In October 1954, aboard a Philippine Red Cross plane, seven Filipino doctors and three nurses flew to Saigon as part of the pioneering team of Operation Brotherhood.
After ending their work in Vietnam in 1956 and helping 730,000 people, Operation Brotherhood went to Laos. By 1975 they have treated close to a million Laotians and deployed a total of 450 Filipino volunteers.
The work of Operation Brotherhood became an inspiration to the rest of the world. Dr. Tom Dooley, a US Navy and American activist created the American and Japanese Peace Corps programs based on the Operation Brotherhood advocacy.
When Operation Brotherhood International (OBI) started operations in the Philippines in 1963, village projects became its priority including schools for the poor. OBI was responsible for the relocation of 3,000 families from Intramuros, Manila to Sapang Palay, Bulacan.
It was during this time that Oscar Arellano invited Dr. Preciosa Soliven to organize a nursery school for the children in the community to keep them busy while their parents are at work. Operation Brotherhood International became the mother organization of Operation Brotherhood Montessori Center or OB Montessori Center.
Dr. Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle in Ancona, Italy to Alessandro Montessori and Renilde Stoppani.
At the tender age of twelve, Maria became interested in mathematics. Later she shocked her friends, many who were chauvinistic male students who gibed her, by becoming the first woman to ever receive a medical degree from the University of Rome.
While working at the psychiatric clinic of the university, she studied children with learning disabilities and started experimenting with new ways of educating such children. From then, she developed the Montessori System of Education applying to all children and put into effect for the first time at her little slum school in Rome, “Casa Dei Bambini”.
To Montessori, while the ordinary school room had the students “nailed to their seats”, her class had one fundamental base: “The liberty of the pupils in their spontaneous manifestations.” She believes that the teacher’s primary task was to release the child’s natural individuality, to arouse their interest with special games and desires, and let them teach themselves. The classroom has to be especially furnished with “little low windows, little tables, little armchairs, and low cupboards within reach.
Over the years, Montessori stumped the nations of Europe by working and lecturing from eight in the morning until eight in the evening. However, during the 1930’s, Benito Mussolini closed her schools because of her anti-fascist teachings.
In her later years, Montessori continued to preach her theory. She wandered in Barcelona where she had to be rescued during the Spanish Civil War. In India, she was interned as an enemy alien. But finally settling in the Netherlands, she set up a new training center, and wherever she went, her message was always the same: “You must fight for the rights of the child.” This inspired hundreds of educators to take up the cry.