Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How it was at Zambales High School in Iba on December 20, 1908 ...

It might have been in the news around this time last year, but we don't know really if there was a grand fiesta at the Zambales National High School (ZNHS) in the capital town of Iba.  As far as we know, 2008 was the school's one hundredth year.  And like any other centennial event, there would have gathered a huge crowd of homecoming alumni with a considerable number of seniors comprising silver, gold and diamond jubilarian classes.  

The Zambales High School (it was provincial until a few years ago) was in the most festive mood more than a century ago on December 20, 1908.  Earlier in July, Zambales governor Gabriel Alba  reported to the Secretary of War via the Governor-General and the Philippine Commission that the Iba high school, "a magnificent building, solid and modern," and the repair and alteration of the old provincial jail into offices of the provincial government were nearing completion.  Alba was saying too that a large quantity of "first-group timber, such as molave, vacal, narra, acle, etc." has been taken from the Zambales forests for construction of houses in the province, and "a greater part of the timber employed ... in the construction of the Zambales high school was cut in the mountains of the province."

We have no idea how the original ZHS was funded. While the Gabaldon law was enacted in 1907, the allocation of P1,000,000 was intended for barrio schools (elementary). It might have come from the 1904 provision of P350,000 for intermediate and high school building construction.

When it was set for inauguration, could it have looked like the one in the picture that we found in Carl Crow's America and the Philippines (1914)?

There's a written voice that tells us exactly what happened on that December day one hundred and one years ago.  He's a nameless "A Correspondent" of The Filipino Teacher, a two-year old tri-lingual monthly magazine of the Philippine Teachers' Association that year.  The excitement was in English, a language newly learned by one whose thoughts were previously expressed in his dialect and probably, Spanish.

Here is the very detailed account as it appeared in the January 1909 issue of the magazine --

"The scene of the 20th of December, 1908 on which the provincial high school building of Zambales is inaugurated, marks the golden era upon which the "Juventud Zambalena" is entering.  The event is historical considering the coming of the Governor General to Zambales, which is to set the foundation of the history of the building where the education of the youth is to be cherished and nourished in its cradle. Thus while overlooking the scenery of the day, let the writer ride in the vehicle of narration and display to the readers the festival of the inauguration.

"Boom! The cannon is fired at the signal of welcome.  The Governor General, Honorable Barretto, Dr Barrows, General Bandholtz, and many other distinguished guests are on the shore of Panibuatan.  After being greeted by the provincial authorities they get in the carriages and start for the town.  The parade movements of the municipal police, company of workmen, visitors, and constabulary are commanded and directed by the constabulary officers, and the High School cadets by their own officers. The land parade makes a long procession commencing at the beach and terminating at the pagoda near the government building.  The columns being maneuvered sa as to front simultaneously facing the Speaker's Stand, then halted under the almond trees along the shady street.

"The people are assembled in the plaza Taft to witness the solemn occasion and to listen to the speeches of the honorable visitors.  Mr. Juan Gonzalez, President of Iba cordially welcomes the Governor General and his party as they ascend the ladder of the Speaker's Stand, telling them that regarded from the point of view, not only three municipalities have come to the capital to meet them, but the respective representatives of the whole province are present to exchange greetings with the first executive officer of the islands, by whose presence the Zambales people are signally honored. Governor Alba steps forward introducing Hon. J.F. Smith to the public. Then he (Smith) bows to all the spectators and begins to utter his much appreciated address, "Alocusion al Pueblo," expressing his sincere wishes and thanks to the people of Zambales for the honor they confered upon him.  He, first of all, congratulates the people of Iba for having chosen the right kind of a man for their president, who he doubts not, has worked for the preparation of the inauguration in order to make it a success. Secondly, he felicitates the provincial governor upon his activities and energies, for making the celebration coincide with his arrival at the capital.  He says that the presidents are the right arms of the provincial governors, who are likewise the right arms of the Governor General; and if all work together, being the tools of the Insular Government work in harmony they may lift the burden of responsibilities on their shoulders and thus contribute to the interest and success of the islands.  He, having been repeatedly requested by the authorities of Zambales to work for its welfare, promises to come to the province in company with the Director of Public Works to see to the construction of the provincial roads to facilitate the land transportation through the old geographical territories of Zambales so as to have the northern towns now annexed to Pangasinan come back to Zambales whereby the province will preserve its former financial status.  Hon. Barretto begins to deliver his eloquent speech congratulating his countrymen upon their achievement, and task accomplished as is the pushing the high school building to its completion.  He, in conclusion, speaks of his work in the Philippine Assembly for his native province.

"Here is a short intermission allowing the visitors to go to the new building where Governor Alba after assuming his position in the platform of the assembly hall delivers his address on the history of Zambales, trying to draw a lesson from the visit of the Spanish Governor General Wyler to the province in 1888,--the work of Zambales during the past revolution and the status quo of the province.  Mr. O. Atkin, formerly Division Superintendent of the province, and now Division Superintendent of Benguet, follows with a very interesting history of the Zambales high school and the memory of the building that is being inaugurated.  Dr. Barrows speaks of the constant and patient efforts of the government authorities (of Zambales) in having the building erected; the work of the Bureau of Education that has been accomplished, and that the Philippines is now showing the best results in her educational work, but this result is common among the civilized nations, however, it will uphold the Philippines in the concert of oriental countries.  Then Mr. Bandholtz speaks of the peaceful condition of Zambales and says that his purpose is not to inspect the province but to attend the inauguration of the building. Governor General Smith, the last speaker in the program now begins his able address and says in part -- that the true meaning of patriotism is not only for a man to be ready to shed his blood and to throw some "pesetas" for his mother-land, but to sacrifice himself and be willing to perform lowly service for the liberty and prosperity of his country.  Patriotism and self-sacrifice explain themselves by the pyramids of Egypt and the monumental works of Greece in the past Centuries and before the era of Christ.  This high school building is the monumental work of the people, it is the temple of learning where the knowledge from the exhaustless fountain is poured into the Filipino youth.  He can not but commend the most noble work of mankind which is teaching, the work of millions of well-equiped soldiers can not be compared in nobility and worth with the labor performed by the American and Filipino teachers.

"Just after Hon. Smith's speech the chorus sings "America" accompanied by the orchestra.  Then the high school girls with the stars and stripes lead the whole audience downstairs.  While the flag was being raised up, the bands of music played the American national hymn.  All day the bands and the orchestra rendered music, playing the reproduction of Wagner's works in the plaza.

"The guests in the waiting room of the high school are offered refreshments and at one o'clock the official banquet begins. All enjoy the hearty meal.  The banquet closes with "brindis de homenage y gratitud."  The Governor General speaks again, that he will do all in his power to recommend the Philippine Assembly to appropriate certain amount of money for the construction of the provincial roads, and to enact laws by which the province may regain the former extention of her territories.

"At nine o'clock the inaugural dance in the new building takes place.  The Zambalenian ladies honor the visitors by their personal presence, and on account of their ideal of youthful strength and beauty the fete tends to be the most beautiful scene in Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

Doesn't the "A Correspondent" sound like any of today's TV broadcasters doing a real-time annotation of an ongoing event?  If there were pictures to accompany the story, we would be thinking of today's on-cam coverages too.

The English is quaint by today's standards but we can bet that the "A Correspondent" who was probably a Zambales teacher knows the language much better than most of today's high school tutors. And we're thrilled of the insight we get of the culture the high school kids were getting then; they had an orchestra that played Wagner and they were familiar with Shakespeare.

By the way, elsewhere in the province, the most important public works done in 1908 were "completion of 5 culverts with double openings ... 2 concrete culverts ...[and] 3 concrete bridges."   The promised roads were built, but Zambales never got back the towns that were ceded to Pangasinan.

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