Monday, June 21, 2010

Your mom or grandma could have been a girl basket ball player!

Two sporting events were of world-wide interest lately:  the opening of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, still ongoing with favorite football teams still being frenziedly cheered on by rabid fans with the noisy vuvuzelas, and the NBA championship confrontation between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, which lasted up to Game 7 with the Celtics falling with a loud thud heard around the world while Kobe Bryant was hugging his MVP trophy.

Futbol is not in the popular vocabulary of the Pinoy world, and football fans in our country who are in frenzy monitoring the Mundial 2010 group rounds so that they can figure out for the betting who's going to run away with the copa  probably number less than those who voted for wannabepresident JC Reyes or Nicky Perlas.

But that's not the case with the NBA where almost everyone in 'Pinas including the primary school kids got glued in front of TV sets cheering on the Lakers or the Celtics and their favorite iconic players. And that happens too when the PBA or the NCAA or the UAAP or the barangay summer youth leagues from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi go into the final rounds.

We understand why futbol is almost alien to Pinoys except where Don Bosco brothers put up schools or mission houses or around open spaces where Europeans and Asians from former Old World territories gather to roll and kick the ball in their leisure days.  It was never in the athletics program of the public school system that the Americans initially implemented in the early 1900s (they have another kind of football!).

However, basket ball (that was how it was spelled in the old days) took root in the Philippine Islands a few years after it was invented in 1900. It came with the Americans who put it into the organized athletics program of the public school system.  To the American education authorities, a balance curriculum consisted of academic instruction ('the three R's, geography, history, and certain cultural and professional branches'), industrial work ('clearly defined form of vocational training'), and physical training ('physical exercises to improve physique and health').  

Physical training involved general school games like group and play yard games, and organized athletics comprising baseball, indoor baseball, boys' and girls' basket ball, volleyball, track and field, and tennis, which were the areas of competition in amateur meets within school divisions, of inter-provincial organizations and the Philippine Carnival.  Many of the rules governing the athletic games were based on those used in the United States "with special adaptation to the needs of the country."  These were all gathered in a handbook issued as Bulletin No. 40 in 1911 (revised in 1913)  to all public school teachers for guidance.    

For boys' and girls' basket ball, the Spalding's Official Basket Ball Guide for Boys was used, but with some modifications for the girls. For example, a boys team for match games consisted of five players, while the girls had six players, the extra player being known as "side center."  A boys game consisted of halves of twenty minutes each with a rest of ten minutes in between, and basket change at the end of the first half.  On the other hand, a girls game had three periods, the first and third of ten minutes each, and the second of fifteen, with a rest of five minutes between the first and second and ten minutes between the second and third; and baskets changed after each period.

Girls' basket ball could have been greatly encouraged, and this is evidenced, for example, by twenty-six girls teams (see picture above) of the Central School of Laoag. The other pictures tell us that girls' basket ball was an interesting feature in the athletic meets. 

It's possible then that our parents or grandparents who went to the public schools before the second world war had several specialized athletic teams to join in, and we are not surprised if our mothers and grandmothers were in basket ball teams.

At this juncture, we do not know how long girls' basket ball remained in the meet events before the war, or when it was dropped from the organized athletics program for some reasons, say, because girls' interest did not get to be as frenzy as the boys'.  We post-war babies did not see our girl classmates get recruited to basket ball teams although some were into softball (not baseball); we never saw tennis rackets too.

There was a revival of girls' basketball (modern-day spelling) early in the millenium, and a national team had competed in the regional and world games.  Of recent memory is the inclusion of women's basketball in the UAAP or NCAA, and we're wondering if it's still there although the championships are not as madly watched as those of the [male] Blue Eagles, Green Archers, Tamaraws, Maroons, and the like.

Well, the only time we'll see women basketeers again will be in the next Olympics in London, I guess.


Bureau of Education. (1911, 1913). Bulletin Nos. 40-1911 & 40-1913.  Athletic Handbook for the Public Schools. Manila: Bureau of Printing.  Retrieved from[1913].040.

Bureau of Education. (1916). Sixteenth Annual Report of the Director of Education, January 1 to December 31, 1915. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

Government Publication. (1920). Facts and Figures about the Philippines. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Did your Parents or Grandparents pore through the Rizal Readers?

On the 19th of June next year, the nation will be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of the national hero from Calamba, Laguna, who was schooled at home by his mother Teodora before he was sent to the public school in Binan, then to the Dominicans and the Jesuits in Intramuros before going to Europe for further studies and his patriotic mission.

If Pepe Rizal was seven when he went to the Binan school, he and the other first graders, and the public school system in the Philippines were just about of the same age. It was only in 1860 (150 years ago) that O'Donnell, the Spanish minister of war and colonies, established the public primary school system--one for boys and one for girls--in each town in the archipelago with Spanish as medium of instruction.  Since the schools were in the town center, education was forbidding to children from far-flung barrios; hence, it was a privilege that the children of the rich families enjoyed. 

An image that continues to illustrate the value of books, or the importance of teaching young children how to read, or the joy of reading, is that of Pepe listening to his mom read to him a story from a book.  The original drawing was done by Fernando Amorsolo for the Philippine Readers of Camilo Osias in the 1920s.

Reading was a major subject in the primary (Grades 1 to 4), intermediate (Grades 5 to 7) and secondary (first to fourth year high school) courses of study in the 11-year American public school system set up in the country in 1901.  

The primary schools aimed "to give children a knowledge of letters ... to make the common people literate in the English tongue" (Bureau of Education 1909) with four years of reading, language, writing and spelling, among other subjects. After Grade 4, the pupils could choose to go to any of three-year intermediate courses of study: general course, the course for teaching, the course in farming, the trade course, the course in housekeeping and household arts, and the course in business" (Education 1912).  Grammar and composition, and reading and spelling were major subjects in the intermediate grades.

Proficiency in English was the admission ticket to the secondary courses: the pupil's "written and spoken English [must be] approximately equivalent to that of an American school boy upon entering high school."

It was thus necessary for the public schools to have basal and supplementary reading materials.  At the start, all of these were brought from America, designed for the schools there but whose material and character contents were alien to Filipino children. Subsequently, calls were made for textbooks written especially for Filipinos and well adapted to local conditions, and American publishers responded with books by American and/or Filipino authors. By the 1920s, the primary and intermediate pupils were already reading "The Philippine Readers, Books 1 to 7" by Camilo Osias, "Rizal's Own Book" as translated by Agustin Craig, and "Rizal Readers, Primer to Book 7"  by various authors.

Of the Rizal materials, "Rizal's Own Book," published and adapted for use as supplementary reading in Grade 4 in 1918, had authentic local appeal since it was written by the hero himself about his experiences in life.

Starting in 1924, the  Primer and First Reader of  the "Rizal Readers" were textbooks in Grade 1. The Second up to Seventh Reader became supplementary readings correspondingly in Grades 2 to 7 in 1925.

The books' titles were misleading actually.  In his review of Philippine schoolbooks in 1930, Frederick Starr commented that the Primer of the "Rizal Readers" "contains little else that smack of the Philippines," while "the First Reader contains little folklore, a brief article upon Rizal, and some pictures with local color." 

Starr said that the color frontispieces of the two books are portraits of Jose Rizal. From the advertisement  (above) placed by John C. Winston Company in the September 1930 issue of Philippine Magazine, allusions to Rizal can be seen only in the cover decorations of the First Reader (his Luneta monument) and the Seventh (his portrait).  

In 1924-1925, authorship was attributed to Firman and others for the Primer, First Reader and Third Reader; and to Lewis and others for the rest of the Readers.  In 1927, the Primer and First Reader were attributed to Firman, Maltby, Marshall and Estrella; the Second and Third Readers to Lewis, Marshall and Estrella; and the Fourth to Seventh Readers to Lewis, Rowland, Marshall and Carreon.

Revisions in the book contents could have come from changes in authorship, which could be the case when these were advertised in 1930 as "adapted to the Philippine Islands," whatever that meant, by Elizabeth J. Marshall, Cesaria R. Estrella, Miguel L. Carreon and Gabino R. Tabunar, the last three being all Filipinos.

Our conjecture is that the "Rizal" in the book title and the portrait in the frontispiece were dedicatory in nature, and a brief article on the hero was a simple obligatory token.

When we entered the public elementary schools, "Pepe and Pilar" was our primer in Grade 1, the Rizal Readers were no longer in circulation but the Philippine Readers was still in our reading list.  

It's no wonder then that our parents spoke and wrote in English quite well; they were required to go through basal and supplementary readings, story telling and writing what they learned. 

Their time was almost a century before this cut-and-paste and jejemon age, when the medium of instruction is Pilipino, and English is again a must to learn just like when the Americans were newly arrived with that language.  


Barrows, D. (1903, September). The aims of primary education in the Philippines. The Official Gazette. 2(4):58-67. Manila:Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

Bureau of Education. (1906 to 1928).  6th to 28th Annual Report of the Director of Education. Manila:Bureau of Printing.  Retrieved from

Starr. F. (1926). A review of Philippine School Books. The Philippine Republic. 3(10):12. Washington DC. Retrieved from

Copy of advertisement from Philippine Magazine (1930, September issue).  Retrieved from

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Art Discovery: Philippine Scenes 1929-30 by John Maynard

Two things struck us when we came upon twelve drawings of Philippine scenes (all reproduced here) that the Philippine Magazine published in series from June 1929 to May 1930:  first, they were done by "a well-known English artist", and second, the artist John Maynard is a namesake of John Maynard Keynes of the revolutionary Keynesian economics, already popular around that time, who also dabbled in the arts.

But there's nothing more in the magazine about the artist other than that descriptive note in the captions to the artworks, although he illustrated Frank Lewis Minton's "Indarapatra and Suleyman, An Epic of Magindanao" in the September 1929 issue, and also wrote of  and illustrated his "Impressions of the Manila Vaudeville Stage" and  "Impressions of the Manila Theater" in the October and November 1929 issues, respectively.   These "impressions" sound like Ricky Lo's (and before him, Joe Quirino's) take on showbiz characters today.

This John Maynard can't possibly be the British economist John Maynard Keynes whose revolutionary ideas were overturning classical economic thinking at around that time too.  Keynes was also interested in the fine arts, literature and the theater.  He collected works of modern artists like Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse; supported the Cambridge Arts Theater; and enjoyed the company of, and belonged to, the Bloomsbury Group of writers. 

Today's digital search engines do not yield anything about this Maynard either although there are plenty of references in the cyberworld on Keynes and some other namesakes.

Who was this John Maynard then? Where are the original twelve drawings? Who's keeping them?


Maynard, J. (1928, June to 1929, May). 'Wash-out' drawings of Philippine scenes in 12 series. Philippine Magazine.  26(1) to 27(12):Various pages. Manila: Phil. Education Company, Inc.  Retrieved from

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stopping by Hacienda San Benito, Double Happiness & SBMA

Unless they boarded a Yangco launch/boat for Olongapo, Subic, San Antonio, San Narciso and Iba on set days of the week, this was how it was for the pre-WW2 generation travelling from Manila to Zambales: bus to Dinalupihan, Bataan and then the mountain trail to Olongapo. 

In December 1928, Walter Robb, editor of The American Chamber of Commerce Journal before the war, wrote about making a "felicitous decision" with his friend to "motor to Dinalupihan, in Bataan, hike over a stiff mountain trail from there to Santa Rita, Zambales, get from Santa Rita into Olongapo either by carretela or motor car, and back from Olongapo to Manila by a comfortable night boat."  The experience, he said, "is not too ardous or too prolonged to anyone in good health; on the contrary, it is invigorating."

Long before he hinted on his presidential ambition, we asked Sen. Richard 'Dick' Gordon in a chance encounter if his paternal family owned a farm in Santa Rita, and he confirmed they did.  J.J. Gordon, an old-timer, according to Robb, and we surmise, from the American forces that came in the early 1900s, owned Gordon's Chicken Farm, the landing place of hikers from Hacienda San Benito.  He could be Dick's grandfather.

“We left Manila about 11 o’clock Saturday morning and motored to Dinalupihan at pleasant speed in three hours," Robb wrote.  They checked in at Hacienda San Benito, which could have been the quarters of the monks that tended the Dinalupihan Estate of the Archdiocese of Manila during that time. 

“Next morning at five, when we were ready to start, hot coffee and three-minute eggs waited us. The brother who presides over the kitchen served them graciously and waved us on our way. Who makes this trip should not fail of visiting Hacienda San Benito and its hospitable monks. The thing to do would be to start from Manila in time to reach Dinalupihan about 9 o’clock and the hacienda about ten, and, after lunch, to tramp across the mountains to Santa Rita during the afternoon ..."

Aetas served as their porters and mountain guides.

“In going overland to Olongapo, the trail beginning at Hacienda San Benito winds westward over the mountains and debouches in the outskirts of the town of Santa Rita. The trail involves a hike of about five hours. Going up the mountains, the trail follows Crooked river; going down on the other side it follows the Santa Rita river and dispenses it in the shallows of the ford. As soon as one is up the opposite bank, he encounters a village road which leads him to the corner, turns him to the right and leaves him at Gordon’s place [Gordon's Chicken Farm]. At this cabaret the traveller may bathe, wet his parched whistle, lunch, and order a motor car in which to drive to Olongapo.

"After lunch we motored to Olongapo, spent Sunday afternoon and evening there, until it was time to go aboard the ss Masbate, which sailed for Manila at 10 p.m. and, affording a night’s sleep in clean cots on the upper deck, landed us back in town [Manila] at 6:30 o’clock Monday. ...”

Not very many people could have commuted to Zambales this way.  The Yangco launches could have been more convenient especially for tradesmen who transferred goods from Manila to some towns in Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales, and cheaper for the young who had the privilege to study in Manila.  There were daily trips to Pampanga and Bataan towns on the rim of Manila Bay, and to Zambales ports on Tuesdays (Olongapo and Subic), Thursdays (Olongapo, Subic, San Antonio, San Narciso and Iba), and Sundays (Olongapo, Subic and San Antonio).  The launches to Olongapo left Manila by day and returned at night, and the fare was P5.70 one-way.

That old mountain trail could have been widened and macadamized before the second world war--hence, the zig-zag and hair-pin curves of the concrete road--bringing the end of the Yangco transport by sea.  One war story we heard was of the bombardment of the zigzag while the Japanese were escaping from the liberation forces that landed on the beach in San Narciso, Zambales.

For post-war babies like us, it was a long Victory Liner bus ride along the Zambales provincial road, up the Zambales-Bataan mountain pass, then down to the Bataan provincial road until it connected to the McArthur Highway in San Fernando, Pampanga.  We knew we're half the journey once we passed through the Apalit-Calumpit bridge, and a needed break in Malolos was at hand.  Food was not a problem though; hawkers boarded so often between Guagua and Malolos.  We certainly had excellent bladder control and we knew relief was coming shortly after the air was cleared of the smell of tanning leather in Meycauayan and of brewing malt in Polo, and one saw Bonifacio with his flag and bolo in Balintawak. Disembarking was at Grace Park, which everybody now refer to as Monumento.

Then came the first stretch of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Balintawak to Tabang, a distance undisturbed by the trademark Meycauayan and Polo 'scents', then further north to San Simon and/or San Fernando, which some years later interconnected to the Olongapo-Gapan road. 

We were never aware that there was a Hacienda San Benito in Dinalupihan.  When we became a conscious traveller, the Victory Liner buses were already stopping by Cleluz, where the drivers and conductors enjoyed complementary meals for bringing busloads of paying restaurant and foodstall customers.  It had always been fifteen minutes for comfort food, leg-stretching and a trip to the wash/restrooms.

Cleluz later became Double Happiness. Pundits would say 'Triple' Happiness if they did something more to ease a body discomfort in the restroom aside from using the urinal.  We remember that Cleluz was fiesta-noisy when two busloads of us workers in the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant disembarked for the balut, the barbeques and the comfort rooms.

Recently, the Subic-Cubi-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) opened and became an alternative to the Olongapo-Gapan road.  This time, Victory Liner gives travellers a short relief break at the Dau central terminal, or they can wait until they reach the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area (SBMA) or Olongapo City within thirty minutes.

Travelling to Zambales certainly is no longer a problem, time and comfort-wise.  With the SCTEX, the hassle at the busy hub of Sta Cruz, Lubao, Pampanga is already a part of history.


P.S.  The picture shows fisherfolks of La Paz, San Narciso, Zambales hauling in the net, commonly called daklis, where they get and share among themselves one third of the catch; the owner gets the rest.


Kemlein, H. (1908). Kemlein & Johnson’s guide and map of Manila and vicinity; a handbook devoted to the interests of the travelling public. Manila:Kemlein &Johnson. Retrieved from

Robb, W. (1928, December). Olongapo: The Jewel of Subic Bay. The American Chamber of Commerce Journal. 8(12):5-7. Retrieved from

_______. (1928, December). Another Week-End Outing from Manila. The American Chamber of Commerce Journal. 8(12):7-8. Retrieved from