The names of 18 schoolboys and their fathers from the
barangay of Don Clemente Jose in the 1846 petition.
(Source: Ereccion de Pueblos. SDS-14126. National
Archives of the Philippines)
We can say that the documented history of formal education in San Narciso started on 22 February 1846 when the fathers of 104 Alasiis schoolboys sent a petition to Fr. Nicolas Martinez, parish priest of Yba and Vicar Forane of Zambales, imploring that they be allowed to hire maestro Don Julian Dias Ronquillo of Subic.
The fathers wanted their sons to be taught their Christian duties-- ‘walang nalalaman unang-una sa katungkulan ng taong Christiano’—but they were worried about their safety as they walk the miles to the school in Cabangan. Hence, they wanted a maestro-in-residence.
Don Julian became the first teacher of Alasiis and of San Narciso town after its creation from the five Ilocano barrios between Cabangan and Uguit.
Education of the ‘Indians’ was a directive of the royal decree of 05 June 1574. This was iterated by the Raon Ordinance No. 93 of 26 February 1768: “it is strictly ordered that the [the provincial governors] request [the priests] … to establish schoolmasters in all villages, who shall teach the Indians to read and write in Spanish, and the Christian doctrine and other prayers.”
Almost a century later, the general system of primary schools in the country was established by the royal decree of 20 December 1863. The Normal School was founded; secondary schools and colleges followed.
The escuelas, separate for boys (niños) and girls (niñas), were under the control of the municipal government. There were no school infrastructures as we see today.
Teachers were appointed by the authorities in Manila. One of the early ‘maestros de escuela publica de instruccion primaria [teachers of the public school for primary education]’ of San Narciso was Don Jose Ferriols, a 23-years old Spanish mestizo from San Felipe who graduated from the Normal School. He had taught for three years when he was appointed to the post in San Narciso in August 1871.
Don Juan Posadas, another graduate of the Normal School, was appointed as the town school teacher in April 1874 with a monthly salary of sixty pesetas. He served uninterrupted for thirteen years, which was more than the mandatory ten for Normal graduates. In 1888, he asked permission to resign because of poor health: chronic anemia and palpitation of the heart.
There were women teachers for the girls like Dna. Anastacia Garcia (1870s) and Dna. Telesfora Calimlim (1880s).
In 1896, Don Simeon de Villanueva y Pobre, a native of San Narciso, proposed to establish a private school here. He spent five years of secondary education at the University of Sto. Tomas from 1880 to 1885.
“For many years,” he wrote to the Governor-General, “it was my constant desire to open in San Narciso, my own hometown, a private school for adults, teaching in it the rudimentary elements of primary education, but putting more interest in the teaching of the Spanish language.” His petition was endorsed by the parish priest Fr. Francisco Moreno and the principalia headed by Capitan Municipal Rufino Fernandez. Don Simeon’s dream was not realized.
The American occupation brought a new educational system with English as medium for instruction. In 1902, the department of public instruction was re-organized as the Bureau of Education. Teachers from America--collectively called 'Thomasites'--were spread throughout the archipelago to head school districts and to teach using primers and textbooks from America.
The Americans set up the prototype of Philippine schools designed by William Parsons. The Philippine Assembly Act 1801 in 1908 appropriated US1-million to construct the so-called Gabaldon schoolhouses named after Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon, author of that law.
|Gabaldon school building plan of West Central (San Rafael-Natividad) Elem. School.|
(Source: Bulletin No. 37-1912. School Buildings and Grounds. Bureau of Education)
The first public school building of San Narciso was for the ‘Central School’ built with an appropriation of P5,000 in 1912. It followed the bureau’s standard plan No. 10. This could be the Gabaldon building of West Central (now San Rafael-Natividad Elem. School), the first public school of the town according to oral and written accounts.
Construction begun on 03 April 1913 under a local foreman. “The building was completed inside of four calendar months at a total cost of P18,602.88,” the Bureau of Public Works reported, “including all surcharges, by administration, under a native foreman, the estimated cost being P21,000 and the appropriation P20,000.” Don Teodoro R. Yangco, a well-known philanthropist of that time, donated P5,000 as part of the cost.
The school was formally inaugurated on 28 November 1913. It was a big event, according to the Bureau of Public Works Bulletin: “It being school holidays from the 27th to the end of the month, all the students of the Iba high school, over 200 strong, the pupils from Yangco school, San Felipe, and Olongapo, and a big crowd of citizens from all over the province and some provincial officials, all came down to San Narciso to witness the grand dedication of the school. … The most notable events were the various athletic meets, in which the students showed no less school spirit in rooting and singing for their teams than in the [United] States, and the elder folks forgot their customary visits to the cockpits. “
Secondary education was offered later, and those who desired it initially went to the provincial high school in Iba.
|Alma mater of Pres. Ramon Magsaysay.|
The first private high school of the town—Zambales Academy—was established in 1922. This was brought about by the difficulty of transportation to Iba, the increasing number of students tending to crowd the provincial high school, and the inability of that high school to accommodate all those who want to get a secondary education.
After the Second World War, Zambales Academy opened a college department offering education and secretarial courses. Its education graduates taught at elementary schools in the town and province.
In the late 1960’s, the school was sold to the joint venture of the Philippine Episcopal Church and the Philippine Independent Church.
The enterprising couple--Luis Abiva and his wife Asuncion Quiray—put up the Abiva High School before the outbreak of World War II. After the war, according to reports, Mrs. Abiva allowed a group of prominent town citizens to operate the school, renamed San Narciso Cooperative Commercial High School. It became Zambales Commercial High School later, which was changed to Magsaysay Memorial Institute (MMI) in honor of Pres. Ramon Magsaysay after his death.
The Columbans acquired MMI in 1951. This was the first of the Catholic schools that the religious order established from Olongapo to Sta. Cruz. In 1962, the high school was incorporated into the Magsaysay Memorial College (MMC) with the addition of the elementary and college department.
The curricular structure of the elementary and secondary schools has transformed into the K-12 program, which added two years—the senior high school—to old system. These additional years provide pre-college tracks for the students to choose from: ABM (Accountancy, Business and Management), STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), HUMSS (Humanities and Social Science), and General Academic. Other tracks enable the students to work after graduation: Arts and Design, Sports and TVL.
Secondary education is offered by the private Zambales Academy and Magsaysay Memorial College and the public national high schools of La Paz and Namatacan.
While MMC provides viable collegiate courses like education for high school graduates, the Philippine Merchant Academy (PMMA) beckons to those who are inclined to pursue careers in marine transportation and marine engineering.
|Graduating cadet from San Narciso in PMMA Class 2017.|
PMMA, which relocated from Fort Bonifacio to San Narciso in 1998, dates back to 1820 when it was created as Escuela Nautica de Manila. Juan Luna, its most famous alumnus, was 17 years old when he graduated as Piloto de Altos Mares (Pilot of the High Seas) in 1874. Its transformation from Philippine Nautical School to PMMA in 1963 has produced midshipmen/women, and merchant marine officers in shipboard and offshore positions as shipping executives and technical consultants.
Today, there are fifteen public, and four private and sectarian, elementary schools. Three public national, and two private, schools offer secondary education. High school graduates of the town and other municipalities go to MMC for collegiate courses, or to PMMA (if they pass the rigid entrance examinations) for maritime studies.
Education has brought Narcisenians to prominence here in the country and in foreign lands. Their contribution, in many ways, have brought changes in the social, cultural and economic fabric of San Narciso.