Tarlac National High School celebrates 110th year today
(The Philippine Star) - September 8, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Tarlac National High School (TNHS) celebrates its 110th anniversary today as the seat of the oldest public school system established by the Thomasites in the Philippines in 1902. 

This first high school nurtured the minds of many great Filipino leaders, from prominent statesmen to business pioneers, to academic chancellors and international diplomats.

It was the learning ground where heroes walked, foremost among them the distinguished politician, spokesman, diplomat, journalist and author, and Foreign Secretary Carlos P. Romulo, signatory for the Philippines to the United Nations Charter when it was founded in 1946 and first Philippine President of the United Nations 4th Session General Assembly in 1949. Romulo was also aide-de-camp to General Douglas MacArthur. 

The TNHS roster of distinguished alumni includes UP president Onofre D. Corpus; and the late government officials, such as UP president Jorge Bocobo, Senator Jose Roy, Congressman Constancio Castañeda, Philippine National Bank president, Panfilo Domingo, founder of the old Osias Colleges in Tarlac Camilo Osias.

World-renowned architect and sculptor Lor Calma is also an alumnus. Calma continues to bring honor to his alma mater — and his country — with award-winning designs and works of art here and abroad.

Leading the school’s foundation day celebrations today is the Tarlac National High School General Alumni Association, Inc. (TNHS-GAAI), headed by president Ofelia “Offie” Mananquil-Bakker (Class 1959), who will deliver the keynote address. Bakker is a former member of the MTRCB Board, and an avid environmentalist who spearheads tree-planting activities in the Philippines. She also assisted in projects benefitting Filipino overseas workers while she was an expat based in Europe and Asia with her husband, businessman Jack Bakker. Their signature project, FEED (Fostering Education & Environment Development Inc.) holds a scholarship program with the UP Los Baños for deserving Filipino scholars pursuing agriculture, forestry, environment and science degrees.

The other alumni board officers are Servillano S. Santillan (Class 1959), vice president; Delia G. Grivas (1969), trustee-head of secretariat; Lydia Bugnot de Guzman (1959), trustee-auditor; Ilaya Magno-Gonzales (1959), trustee-treasurer;Noel Quirante (1991), trustee-treasurer; other trustees, Jesus B. David(1958);  Perseveranda O. Domingo ((1949); Agapito C. Abaya (1955); Alfredo D. Reyes (1958); Arturo Cunanan (1973); Napoleon P. Ferrer ((1977); Germarcel F. Guiao (1963); Rodrigo O. Yabut (1974); and Arturo Tabaquero (1973).

Advisers are Dr. Wilfredo Dungca (1958), Horace G. Yalung(1949), Rufino B. Antonio (1959) and TNHS principal Yolanda Gonzales. Judge Antonio Pangan (1974)is ex-officio member, while Engineer Nicanor C. Villasenor (1949), Chairman Emeritus.

A place for the arts and culture for the school with a history: The proposed Tarlac High School Alumni Building, which will house a hall and library named after alumnus Carlos P. Romulo, as well as a venue for TNHS alumni to reconnect with their past.

“The alumni association is the school’s link to its past, present and future,” Bakker says. “It is the school’s strongest ally in its development, thus I call on our school’s alumni to  get involved in our vision to rebuild our school to preserve its historic glory.”

Bakker cites the foreword of former Education Secretary Jesli Lapus in the book A Thomasite History of Tarlac Province 1901-1913 (in honor of Frank Russel White) by Prof. Lino Dizon: “Compared to present standards, the educational scene was rustic. Yet at that period, teachers from my town, especially from the public schools were highly regarded, respected, even revered — and feared. And Mr. White, together with pioneering Filipino teachers and their American counterparts — known as the Thomasites — have planted the legacy of honor, dedication and noble public service in my province of Tarlac.”

With the help of a revitalized alumni association, Bakker is spearheading the vision of rebuilding the once beautiful school which had been “desecrated and stripped of its solid foundations by people in search of the so-called Yamashita treasures. With the soil beneath the main building dug out in search of such treasures, its foundation was hallowed into its present weak condition, the main building is in need of drastic repairs to restore it to its former solid state. The former athletic track and field with the colonial Home Economics Building which was part of the school campus, were allegedly sold.”

“We have asked Tarlac Gov. Victor Yap to provide TNHS GAAI with the land to construct the proposed alumni building which will house, among others, the Carlos P. Romulo Hall and Library, a fully equipped language clinic and laboratory, a music and arts classrooms where students can learn art,  languages, and  another room devoted to the study of music, art and culture,” Bakker explains.This Alumni Bulding will likewise house memorabilia on the school’s history and its distinguished alumni.

    “Let us rebuild and restore the dignity of our school so that this generation and the next may fully appreciate and enjoy its historic facilities and values”, Bakker calls on alumni. The mission and vision of the TNHS-GAAI, along with the school’s history can be accessed at http://www.tnhsgaai.com/. The alumni are invited to log in, register and express their views at tnhsgaai@googlegroups.com and contact angela779@gmail.com for assistance.

A THOMASITE HISTORY OF TARLAC PROVINCE AGAPITO C ALFREDO D ALUMNI ARTURO CUNANAN BAKKER CARLOS P ROMULO SCHOOL
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