Sunday, February 28, 2016


PAMPANGA HIGH SCHOOL CLASS 1933 ALUMNI AND THEIR FAMILIES. Reunion. Brookside Swimming Pool, owned by Renato Tayag and family.  Dated April 13, 1952

Pampanga’s premiere high school was just a little over a decade old when it graduated its classes of over 240 senior students in 1933. Some two decades down the road, members of this batch gathered in a resort in Angeles to hold their grand reunion. By then, many had established careers that for some, would flourish even more in the near future.

 From this large 1933 class, we can single out a few distinguished alumni who are certainly worthy of a place in the school’s historic roll of honor.

 Leading the list is Renato "Katoks" Dayrit Tayag (b. 9 Oct. 1915/d.1985) who graduated as the class valedictorian (Rosalina Catap was the salutatorian). “Katoks” went to the University of the Philippines and earned a Law degree in 1939, where future president Ferdinand E. Marcos was a classmate. Tayag later joined his law firm as a partner. During World War II, he saw action in Bataan as a field artillery officer. He was sent off to the 1945 to study at the Judge’s Advocate School in Michigan. Tayag is well-known for his writings and journalistic feats. His most daring accomplishment was going on a forbidden journey to Red China in 1964. Tayag's books include The Angeles Story, Sinners of Angeles, Farewell to Irian, Odyssey in Southeast Asia, At Home and Abroad and Recollections and Digression, published in 1985 while a director of the Philippine National Bank. Angeles City, his birthplace, celebrated his birthday centennial in 2015.

 A batchmate who also embarked on a career in law was, Moises Sevilla Ocampo (b.27 Feb. 1916/d.1997) who gained national fame as a brilliant trial lawyer.Not only did he enjoy a long legal practice but he was also found success in politics, having been elected as a member of the Provincial Board of Pampanga. He spent the rest of his life in California.

 Choosing a different path was Diosdado F. Garcia. He pursued a career in the military, and as war clouds gather in the Pacific in 1941, Garcia worked as an instructor in the Infantry School at Camp Murphy under Gen. Mateo Capinpin, tasked with training new military graduates. Garcia rose to the rank of a Brigadier General Commanding General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 1962-1963, during the term of fellow PHS alumni, Pres. Diosdado P. Macapagal.

 Two classmates from the same batch became respected figures in Philippine media arts. The first, Jose Luna Castro (4 Mar. 1915/d.?), finished his English degree at the Union Theological Seminary before going to Syracuse University in New York for his Master in Journalism and Political Science. At one time, he was the press officer of the Philippine Embassy in Peking. Castro rose to become the Executive Editor of the Manila Times Publishing Company, which put out Taliba, Daily Mirror, Sunday Time Magazine. In 1966, he authored the Manila Times Handbook of Journalism, which has become an indispensable style guide for mass communication and journalism students today.

 On the other hand, Liborio “Gat” Gatbonton made a mark in the field of cartooning during the 1940s and 1950s. he did not proceed to college after graduating from PHS at age 17. Adept with drawing, the imaginative Candaba teen submitted his first cartoons which saw print on the newspaper, Tribune. Before long, he created the popular series "Jappy Days," a comic book that satirized the Japanese rule in the Philippines. “Gat” became the chief cartoonist and art director of the Manila Chronicle owned by the Lopezes. He illustrated covers, did editorial/political cartoons and was the first Filipino to win in international cartooning competitions, winning the Stanvac Journalism award for 7 times!

 On the distaff side, Dr. Evangelina Hilario-Lacson, who counts nationalists, patriots , writers and poets among her family, became the leading light of the province in the promotion of Kapampangan writing and language. She taught English and Literature at the Far Eastern University for over twenty year before joining the government as a regional manager for the SSS. After her retirement, she returned to the academe, and held  key positions at the Pampanga Agricultural College and Angeles University. Her book, “Kapampangan Writing; A Selected Compendium and Critique”, published by the National Historical Institute in 1984, has become a major reference of scholars of Kapampangan Literature. 

There have been others from this batch who may have taken different career paths, whose lives today may not be as high-profile as others. But regardless, all are bound by a common experience of being educated at Pampanga’s foremost institution of learning, proud graduates all of the Class of 1933.

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