In 1908, twelve new seminarians entered the august halls of the Conciliar San Carlos, the first diocesan seminary founded in the Philippines. That time, the seminary was located along Arzobispo Street in Intramuros, beside the new San Ignacio Church. Three years earlier, the American Archbishop Jeremiah Harty had turned over the administration of the premiere seminary in the country to the Jesuits.
Of the 12 seminaristas, two were full-blooded Kapampangans and both from the town of Angeles—Felipe de Guzman and Teodoro Tantengco y Sanchez. Teodoro had entered just two months ahead of Felipe, on 1 July 1908. San Carlos had quite a substantial number of Kapampangan seminaristas enrolled even in those years, coming fromsuch towns as Betis (Victoriano Basco, Mariano Sunglao, Alberto Roque, Mateo Vitug); Sta. Rita (Anacleto David, Pablo Camilo, Eusebio Guanlao, Mariano Trifon Carlos, Prudencio David); Macabebe (Brigido Panlilio, Atanacio Hernandez, Maximo Manuguid, Pedro Jaime); Bacolor (Rodolfo Fajardo, Tomas Dimacali, Vicente Neri); Porac (Mariano Santos); Angeles (Pablo Tablante); Guagua (Laureano de los Reyes) and Candaba (Lucas de Ocampo).
Seminary life was conducted under the watchful eye of the Rector, Fr. Pio Pi and the Minister, Fr. Mariano Juan. Teodoro and his classmates were drilled in Liturgy, Music, English and Ascetics. Moral Theology and Philosophy were taught at santo Tomas while other courses like Math, Greek, French and even Gregorian Chants were also offered. Discipline was exact; some form of corporal punishment were meted out for acts of disobedience—like being put on silence and making public retractions of some kind.
Out of the classrooms, the Carlistas were employed in the Cathedral services and liturgical events, like in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Pius X as a priest. The seminaristas assisted in the altar services at the mass officiated at the Manila Cathedral. Similarly, the class were mobilized to attend to Archbishop Michael Kelly from Sydney, Australia who had come to Manila for a short visit.
There was no rest during their vacation as Teodoro took classes in Latin, English and Tagalog, even as the superiors organized trips to Sta. Rita, Angeles, Dolores, Porac and Guagua. There were all-day picnics and excursions in Cainta, Cavite, Malabon, San Pedro Makati, Sta. Ana and at the hacienda of a certain Captain Narciso in Orani. Regular “dias de campo” were scheduled in Pasay and Malabon, where the youths swam, played with their bands and refreshed themselves with tuba, melons and ‘agua fresca’.
On 10 April 1910, the Carlistas took part in a historic church event which saw the establishment of four dioceses by Pius X—Calbayog, Lipa, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga. The seminarians were in full attendance to mark this important occasion for the Philippine church. The next year, the seminaristas were allowed to attend the Manila Carnival from Feb. 21-28 at Luneta, where they thrilled to the sight of the aerial acrobatics performed by American pilot Mars.
Teodoro and his classmates were taken by surprise on 17 August 1911, when they received orders from Archbishop Harty to transfer all San Carlos seminarians to the Seminario de San Francisco Javier (the old Colegio de San Jose) located along Padre Faura St. Teodoro was one of 30 seminarians who moved to San Javier, a merger-transfer that would last for 2 years, until the seminary closed in 1913.
With the termination of the Jesuit administration, the seminarians made their final move to a refurbished building in Mandaluyong, which was constructed by Augustinians in 1716 and abandoned in 1900. The Vincentian fathers (Congregation of the Mission) took over the management of the new site of Seminario de San Carlos.
It was here that Teodoro Tantengco, finished his priestly studies which culminated in his ordination in 1916. He was assigned immediately back to his home province in Pampanga, first as assistant priest of Masantol, then as the cura parocco of San Simon which he served for many fruitful years. In 1947, he was in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz.
The accomplished and well-loved priest passed away in San Fernando in 1954. A nephew, Betis-born Teodulfo Tantengco followed in his footsteps, enrolling in his uncle’s alma mater and, after ordination, served various parishes like Arayat and Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga until his death in 1999.