Grace circling around the World

This was a life long dream of one of the country’s most respected Filipino- Chinese Christian school of a slightly built young lady, Mrs. Julia L. Tan. This lady happened to be an underprivileged widow with five small children.

To some people, She was someone to be pitied and not to be taken in seriously. Yet the ambitious widow never gave up her dream, amidst many hardships, financial difficulties and other circumstances, She founded Grace Christian High School which is located within the Grace Village, the Grace Gospel Church and Grace Christian Church.

Modern Grace Christian College facade

60 years later, Grace Village occupies over 12 hectares of prime land in Quezon City and is a well-known center of education in the Northern part of Metro Manila. Grace Christian School now boasts of over 4,500 students and is considered as one of the largest Filipino- Chinese schools in the country.

artist sketch of the high school building

Life Story:

Mrs. Julia L. Tan finished her high school in Iok Tek Girls School in Amoy now in the Province of Fujian in China on 1926. She remained in that school to teach. Her fathers encouraged her to continue her studies in  Hwa Nam University in Foochow (Capital City) to study medicine. During those years, women in China seldom even went to pursue even high school much less even finishing a degree in college.

She was quite a unique woman, and took up medicine in 1927. But in her freshman class, each student was required to raise white mice, to observe and handle them. This was a major shock to her. Too embarrassed to tell at anyone, she got very sick. When her father knew about her illness, he contacted the college president, who eventually discovered the real reason for her illness.

She was allowed to transfer to another course that was her one true love – Education. This became her life long career, which became the pillars of the third biggest Christian school in the world.

In 1935 she married Mr. Henry Tan an Economics graduate of Saint John’s University in Shanghai . Together they went to the Philippines for their honeymoon. Fascinated and

Beholden by the unique charm of the country. The young couple finally settled in Manila.

Mr. Henry Tan opened business-selling pianos but Mrs. Julia Tan was unhappy with the set-up . She eventually applied for a substitute teacher at the Philippine Cultural High School (1936) . She also taught at the Saint Stephen High School, becoming a supervisor the following year (1936 to 1939).

Grace Christian Church within Grace Village

After the war, The largest Chinese church in Manila (United Evangelical Church) asked Mrs. Tan to start a new Filipino- Chinese school and to be its first principal, After much prayers and consultation. She accepted the position and started the Chia – Nan  School also known as Ka Lam School.

(Later renamed Hope Christian High School) She gave her full-time to this institution, often returning home past 8pm or 9pm. Her full dedication to teaching had led to the growth of the school. After four years of much dedication and tireless efforts, Chia- Nam was enrolling some 650 students.

In March 1949, Mr. Henry Tan aged 44 died, Leaving Mrs. Julia Tan with 5 small children. A few months after in 1950, Mrs. Julia Tan decided to leave her beloved Chia- Nam School, which was located in the heart of Chinatown district.

At that time, during one of her lowest time of her life, She met Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Spahr , the husband and wife tandem were strongly burden for a Christian school which had the support and vision of the Baptist church mission boards in Bloomfield , New Jersey to establish a Christian institution in the Philippines.

The union of the two families were gradually known as “ Sparhr-Tan Family” . Mrs. Tan opened her house which was then located on #349-A Tanduay Street, Quiapo for Sunday worship. This started the Grace Bible Church.

tarpaulin poster of the 60th founding anniversary of Grace Christian College

Founding of Grace School

The vision of founding a school was told to a small group of regular church worshippers.  Filipino- Chinese Christian businessman Don Alfonso Sycip and his sons John and Paul Sycip . The businessman allowed the school to be built on their land in Nagtahan Street.

With no collateral, Mrs. Juliet Tan went to China Banking Corporation and secured Php 90,000 loan to built a school. It was granted. “ Just sign here “, said the bank president, Mr. Dee Se Kiat , a long time family friend.

Even though the school was not yet constructed, a group of 185 students from Kindergarten to Junior High School was already enrolled. “ By seer faith “. As soon as the three story wooden building, with the capacity of 1,600 was finished for just a three-week period.

By school year 1961, the school student population had already reached 1, 400 capacity. Mrs. Tan had eventually gone to search of a land for the school eventual expansion. It took over 5 years. Finally a large tract of land, formerly rice and vegetable fields, was finally been purchased.

Mrs. Julia L. Tan negotiated for the purchase of the rice field from several owners. She then invited five Christian businessmen friends to form the March Development Corporation for the sale of residential lots to school parents and community friends. Samuel Dee was its president and the members were Meritto Lim, Wang Ta Peng, Johnny Liuson, and Paul Sycip.

For the continuation of the Lord’s work in the Manila area, Grace Christian Board of Trustees voted favorably on the recommendation of Mrs. Tan and Dr. & Mrs. Spahr to donate in its entirety the Nagtahan school buildings to the Grace Bible Church for the opening of a Filipino Christian School. Thus  the Christian Academy of Manila coming into existence in our former premises in August, 1967.

part of the original school facade built in the mid- 1970’s – this was featured in the stamp

In July 1968, Mr. Johnny Cheng,  donated the school gymnasium on behalf of his beloved mother, Mrs. Cheng Tsai-Jun, on the occasion of her 60th birthday anniversary. The third building project – Gymnasium – was again completed in August, 1969.

The fourth project, the Kindergarten complex, was completed in September 1973. It now enrolls more than 700 pre-school students. The fifth project was the completion of the Elementary Annex in 1980.

Grace Christian Church

Under the leadership of the Principal, Mrs. Tan, and with the help of interested parents, alumni and friends, the new location in Sto. Domingo Street in Quezon City was developed into a quiet, beautiful community, now known as Grace Village, with the school and church as its center. At present, the school has an administration building, a four-storey High School wing, three-storey Elementary buildings, Kindergarten complex and related educational facilities. Modern 1,500-seat Grace Christian Church ministers to the school’s students, parents, and friends in the Grace Village.

koi pond inside the school  is a haven for students and faculties

Now, Grace Christian High School started it expansion  in 2007  and  had a tertiary level . From humble beginning in 1950 , Hired faculty and staff increased from 30 to 300. The school is considered as one of the largest Christian schools not only in the country but also the world. With thousands of alumni scattered all over the world .

Start of Grace Village

“Three church were started through the ministry of Grace Christian High School. The Grace Bible Church (in 1949) in the school’s original site in Nagtahan St.,, Manila, the Grace Gospel Church (in 1952) also in Nagtahan ST., but later located at nearby Piña St., and the Grace Christian Church (in 1966) with its location inside Grace Village, continue to shine as beacon for Jesus Christ.

“Founder Mrs. Tan’s original and continuing vision was that the “The GCHS school’s spiritual home (for students, parents, and alumni) should be the church, and the GCC church’s missions field to be the school.” The school desires the spreading of the Gospel to Grace Village residents, students, alumni, parents – in connection with the outreaches of Grace Christian Church

“In 1986, the school had a big boost in the coming of Dr. & Mrs. James L. Tan to reinforce the school administration. Dr. Tan, who is a Department of Science and Technology “Balik Scientist Awardee,” possesses a Doctor of Science degree with a minor in Education from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He started what is now the GCHS Computer Center, the Kumon Math Center, the Discovery Learning Center, and the Multi-Media Resource Center, which provide Computer Studies and other Sciences and Math support programs for our students and also our faculty and most recently, the Robotics Program which is now one of the highlights of our school.

“Each school year hundreds of students come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. A good number of alumni have given their lives to full time Christian service, and many have returned to work at their Alma Mater and had become valuable assets to the teaching and non-teaching force.

GRACE VILLAGE, with the school as its educational center and first resident came to be. On August 2, 1996 the main door of the new school building was officially opened.

tarpaulin poster of the stamp launch

Stamp Launching

red colored cloth covered the stamp issue before the unveiling ceremonies

Four stamps including a souvenir sheet which commemorates Grace Christian College  Traditional Chinese 繁體字:菲律賓基督教靈惠學院 /Simplified 简体字:菲律浜基督教灵惠学院 60th anniversary ( Diamond Jubilee) were launch last December 16, 2010 at the school audio-visual room inside campus , while a second presentation was made to the students on the Grace Christian Church were Dr. James L. Tan ( President ) were on hand to present the framed stamps to the students, faculties and members of the community .

Dr. James L. Tan – President of Grace Christian College in his welcome address

The group went to the school several minutes before the stamp launch .  A power-point presentation were presented to the crowd and top school officials led by Dr. James Tan  and Mrs. Judith Tan , Dr. Zenaida Lumba – Dean of Grace Cristian College ,  Philpost stamp advisory committee member Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak , Mrs. Elenita San Diego ( Postage and Philatelic Department- Philpost ) Post Master General Atty. Antonio Z. De Guzman , Mr. Rey Ong de Jesus – board member Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club and the author .

ceremonial unveiling of the stamp

L-R Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak , Mrs. Judith Tan , Dr. James L. Tan, Atty. Antonio Z. De Guzman , Mrs. Elenita San Diego

The group was warmly received by the president of the college  , While various Christian hymns were accompanied during the stamp launch .  It is indeed a heart warming experience for all those people that were present during the momentous occasion.

students and faculties seated listening to the speech

Dr. James Tan during his speech said that ” He is an avid stamp collector and fondly recalled former names of countries like Siam ( now Thailand ) , Rhodesia ( now Zimbabwe )  and valued old stamp issues like those from China and Pre-war Philippine stamps .

presentation of framed stamps to Dr. James Tan and Mrs. Judith Tan led by Post Master General Atty. Antonio Z. De Guzman assisted by Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak, Mrs. Elenita San Diego , Mr. Rey Ong de Jesus  and the author

Atty. Antonio Z. De Guzman received a token gift  from President James L.Tan and Mrs. Tan

” It is interesting to note that collecting stamps is very informative and educational ” You learn a lot of things like the former names of other countries, It may also be an investment ! ” ” You can go to the Philpost and you can still buy stamps at their face value ” according to Dr. Tan.

After launch , the group also received token gifts,  free  campus tour  and pack lunch .

souvenir group photo led by Dr. James Tan, Atty. Antonio De Guzman ,  college dean , professors and school staffs

Note: This is the fifth Filipino- Chinese school to issue commemorative stamps on their  founding anniversary .

Technical Description of the Stamp

Kind of Issue: Commemorative

Denominations and Quantity: Php7.00 / 150,000 pieces

Date of Issue: December 16, 2010

Last date of Sale: December 15, 2011 (as stocks allow)

Sheet Composition: 40

Size: 40 mm x 30 mm

Souvenir Sheet: Php28.00 / 8,450 pieces

Size: 170 mm. x 80 mm

Perforation: 14

Printing: Litho offset (4 colors)

Paper: Imported Unwatermarked

Printer: Amstar Company, Inc.

Designer: Marie Jayzel Lim Te

Design Coordinator: Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak / Victorino Serevo

Grace Christian College commemorative stamp

Design: Stamp 1: (Upper left)
It shows the new building which is now known as the Grace Christian College, located at Grace Village, Quezon City, with the GCC’s official logo.

Stamp 2: (Lower left)
In July, 1966 the concrete and modern building of GCHS was built in the Balintawak area, North of Quezon City, on what used to be rice fields. This beautiful edifice rose to be the symbol of the integration of academic excellence
and Biblical truths in education.

Stamp 3: (Upper right)
It focuses on the Grace Christian College anniversary logo with the bible verse taken from Psalm 111:10. Backed up by its 60 years in existence, GCC, with more than 10,000 graduates scattered all over the Philippines and other parts of the world, they bring with them the Grace-an Spirit which is contained in the College logo : Grace and Truth.

Stamp 4: (Lower right)
It shows the new ramp building elementary wing of the Grace Christian High School, together with its founders, Ms. Julia L. Tan and Dr. and Mrs. Edward Spahr.

For more information :

Ms. Jen-Jen Hau at Tel. No. ( 02) 387-0237; Cellphone 0916-3026499; or e-mail  at:

Website link :



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