By Winfred W., Felimon
presented on December 27, 2009
Grand Celebration of 50th Anniversary of the School
In 1565, the Spaniards succeeded in conquering most of the Philippine Islands and started to “Christianize” the natives of the land. However, for centuries, quality education was denied to the Filipino people for the Spanish political principle that ignorance will keep them subject to them. In 1905, the war between Americans and Filipinos ended and Filipino nationalism and rebellion pacified. Contrary to their predecessors, the new invaders look at education as a means of making the Country loyal to them and make the Filipinos think as they wish them to behave. Thus, the public education system was introduced in the Country which welcomed the arrival of the Thomasites or American soldiers as the first public school teachers under American rule. Education was both the Spaniards and Americans’ key to satisfy their political and economic self-interest.
By 1907, Christianity alongside with Catholic Education entered and started to be cultivated in the Mt. Provinces. But, these were not brought by the Spanish conquistadores nor the untrusted and unwanted Americans, but by the CICM Missionaries who identified themselves as Belgian priests, so to distinguish themselves as non-Spaniards or Americans. Since then, churches alongside with school buildings were constructed. And, like the previous foreigners, education played a great role in the attainment of their interest, and so did to the CICM. In contrast however, the interest of the Belgian guests could be noble and Godly in nature compared to the political and economic purpose of the previous two. This was because education was instrument to enlighten the Igorot people about true Chrstianity, introducing them the truth, way and the life.
In 1919, missionary in Sabangan was born when Fr. Jose Anseeuw built a small chapel made of cogon and at the same time was made into a school house for primary grades. Years following, it underwent significant imrovements which catered to the needs of the time, i.e. Faith, Hope, and Education. So from 1919 to 1958, elementary courses were offered in Sabangan. Through the effort of hardworking priests, sisters and catechists, education bloomed in the Place. Now, we remember the persons like Fr. Anseeuw, Fr. Andres who renovated the cogon into one with galvanized iron roofing (1931), Fr. Mauricio, Brother Sleegers (an architect), Mother Theresa, Fr. Jose de Haes, Fr. Henry Cornette, Sister Valerie, Fr. Renato Verlinden who initiated the building of concrete school-church, and many other people whose names we can’t remember. Without their labor, we are not gathered here today.
It was not until 1959, which is a very significant year for us all today, that Brother Alfonso Van Roey took charge of reconstructing the old convent of the priests. He detached it from the church so as to give space for the high school. At the basement of the church, six standard classrooms were prepared. True to expectations, the San Alfonso High School, so named as a sentimental memento to its architect Brother Alfonso and in honor to Saint Alfonso S. de Ligorio (the School was totally finished on August 1, 1959 which is the day of S. Alfonso de Ligorio - Catholic Calendar), was opened with 27 first year students. Second year was opened the following year but because of some problem in the curriculum and few enrollment, third year was not offered in 1962.
In 1960, Fr. Pablo de Middeleer became the director of both the complete elementary and high school. In six months time, a two- storey concrete school-church was built with three standard classrooms, and a social hall where the first year and second year occupied. The elementary building was remodeled into three storey high with an auditorium in the basement in 1962. Third year high school was offered in 1964. The basketball court was cemented with the help of the elementary and high school students by carrying gravels and sand from the river. At the same time, a three - storey girl’s dormitory building was built beside the sisters’ convent.
Unfortunately, the school-church was set on fire on September 9, 1965 so the high school was moved to the auditorium. On March 13, 1966, while the church is being reconstructed, diplomas were awarded to the 15 boys and 17 girls who are first graduates of San Alfonso High School. Father Wilfredo Daels succeeded Fr. Pablo. He was the parish priest and the director of the elementary and the high school.
Years following, the San Alfonso High School continued to function as the primary educational institution in the place under the leadership of succeeding personalities such as Sister Theresa (principal 1966), Fr. Prosper de Wilde (rector 1968), Sister Salvacion Vedar (principal, 1968), Rev. Omer Jonckheere CICM and Sr. Irenee Verfallie (rector and principal, respectively 1972), Sister Elnora Valmonte ICM (1973-1974), Sister Luisita Ymson ICM (1974-1975), Sister Amelia Melanes (1975-1977), Mr. Jose Bulahao (1977-1986), Mrs. Juliet Ofo-ob Palicos (1986), Mrs. Adelaida Pilit (1988), Mr. Rodolfo San Jose (1989-1998), Mrs. Teresita Zarate (1998-August1999), Sister Juanita Tindo (September 1999 – 2000) and Mr. Rodolfo M. Pepe, Jr. from 2000 till the present.
About the year 1995, the School was in the threat of closure because of declining population. Also recently in 2005, after the feasibility study conducted by the school heads which implied that school population by 2010 will be 120 and lesser, the administration insinuated the closure of the school if the trend continues. But since time immemorial, the undying support and concerted efforts of alumni parents and the concerned Sabangan community, the School has survived through the decades, which leads us now into celebrating the Golden Jubilee.
For now, it is worthwhile to note that from 1959 to 2009, this Institution has already produced a total of 1,811 graduates- 807 gentlemen and 1,004 females.
Now therefore, with the theme: Passages of the Decades, the quest for excellence continues, we celebrate with gladness!
Matagu-tago nan San Alfonso High School, matagu-tago nan Alumni, matagu-tago nan paryentes, matagu-tago nan eeskwela, matagu-tago tako am-in!