These days, we hear of debates on graduation fees, and protests as well, and the Department of Education has repeatedly announced that collection of such fees are not allowed.
We do not know if graduation was an expensive rite in the early years of the public education system set up by the Americans in the 1900s. American teachers were all over the place; the first Filipino school principal got to be appointed only in 1915. The curricula were certainly different then; pupils could even qualify to teach once they finish fourth grade of the elementary school if they were enrolled in the normal curriculum.
How did they hold graduation ceremonies? Were their programs structured the way we are now familiar with--doxology, national anthems, valedictory and salutatory addresses, presentation of candidates for graduation and their confirmation, awarding of medals/diplomas, pledges of loyalty to alumni association and dear alma mater? Did distinguished persons and politicians vie to be guest speakers? Were graduates bedecked with leis of ilang-ilang, kamia and sampaguita --even everlasting garlands from Baguio's souvenir market--by friends and relatives after the ceremonies? When did kodakan start to become a must-do?
We got hold of an article in the monthly magazine Philippine Education (which later evolved into the Philippine Magazine) on the graduation exercises in Iba in 1915.
Compared to today's long and sometimes boring graduation rites, the Zambales correspondent was reporting of entertainment and dancing to honor graduates. He was so faithful in his coverage that he even had to denote where the speaker was interrupted with applause in his brief remarks.
Here's the full report (you'll be amused how different it was then) --
"The teachers of the Iba primary school gave an entertainment and dance in honor of the graduating class of the Iba central school in the Zambales high school March 31, 1915, 7:00 p. m. The program was of sufficient merit to attract an increasing number of visitors from among the parents. The music under the direction of Misses Anacleta Venzon and Marcelina Miclat; the selection and the recitations of seven small boys and eight small girls greatly added to the excellence of the performance. The success of the entertainment was due to the painstaking efforts of all the teachers and their active supervising teacher. Mr. Adam C. Derkum, the division superintendent of schools for Zambales, after awarding the certificates to the pupils concerned, addressed the graduating class, giving stimulating advice and pointing out to the young graduates the right path to follow. In his remarks, he said, in part: "The clear and distinct singing and speaking of the small boys and girls have won my heart. I believe that Zambales will be the first English speaking division of all the divisions in the Philippine Islands. (Applause.) Thus, it means that the larger part of the future young leaders and assembly men will be from Zambales. (Applause.) When you look at the official roster you will find that the greater number of the younger men working in any departmental office in Manila will be from Zambales. (Applause.) The only province in which all the supervising teachers are Filipinos, is Zambales." (Applause.)
"Mr. and Mrs. Adam C. Derkum, who requested a transfer from the division of Zambales to a more accessible division, have been succeeded by Mr. and Mrs. William S. Fickes, who were teachers of the provincial high school of' Albay. The teachers in Zambales express regret at the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Adam C. Derkum who are now stationed in the province of Tarlac.
"On the 23d of April a social gathering and dance was held in the house of Mr. Maximo Abrigo, under the direction of Mr. Raymundo de Castro, teacher of the provincial high school at Iba and Mr. Luis Ruanto, division chief clerk, in honor of the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Adam C. Derkum. Several prominent officials attended the dance.
"The director of education has approved the establishment of a third year secondary class at the Zambales high school. This class will probably have an attendance of 39 students at the opening on June 14th. The establishment of this class is largely due to the strong recommendation of Mr. Adam C. Derkum.
"On March 27, a farewell dance was given by the Zambales agricultural club in the hall of the high school in honor of the departure of Mr. Donald T. Sayre, principal of the Iba farm school.
"In the final corn report for corn-growing contest No. 2 of the 1914 corn campaign, the judges declared the winners as follows: First place, Demetrio Felix, Iba farm; second, Jacinto Esmele, Iba farm; third, Cesario Villanueva, Iba farm; fourth, Pedro Melchor, Cabangan central school; fifth, Ildefonso Fulgar, San Narciso central school.
"On Monday night, March 29, 1915, the "Excelsior Literary Society of 1915" rendered an unusually gratifying program. The musical portion of the program was a success in every respect. A solo by Miss Juana Felix was pleasing on Tuesday, March 30 a formal dance was given also by the same society in honor of the seventh grade graduating class in the hall of the high school. Prominent officials attended the dance.
"At the commencement exercises of the Iba farm school and the intermediate department of the high school, Wednesday evening, March 31st, an uncommonly pleasing program was rendered. The music under the direction of Mr. Raymundo de Castro was carried out to a high standard of excellence both in the orchstral selections and in the choruses of the graduating classes."
There were winners in the corn growing contest, but how come there were no top ten of the class to be honored?
Report. (1915, July). Zambales. The Philippine Education. Manila: Philippine Education Co., Inc. 12(1):36. Retrieved from http://name.umdl.umich.edu/acd5869.0001.012 of the University of Michigan collection "The United States and its Territories, 1870-1925: The Age of Imperialism."
Photo source: Fee, Mary H. (1912). A woman's impressions of the Philippines. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co. Retrieved from http://name.umdl.umich.edu/ABJ8365.0001.001 of the University of Michigan collection "The United States and its Territories, 1870-1925: The Age of Imperialism."