Wednesday, November 30, 2016


PAMPANGA COLLEGE STUDENTS. Attending an educational workshop in Baguio. 1920s.

 The Kapampangans, during the Spanish colonial period, were a favored lot, primarily for their ready assistance to Spain in their military exploits. The rewards of loyalty included the giving of privilege to children of Kapampangan principalia to study in exclusive Spanish schools in Manila.

 In the 17th century, schools such as the Colegio de San Jose and Colegio de San Felipe de San Asturias began admitting Kapampangan students. Secondary level education in Manila schools, like San Juan de Letran and Ateneo de Manila, were preferred by Pampanga’s elite in the 19th century, as they carried more prestige.

 A small number of Kapampangans went on from secondary schools to higher schools of learning for their college degrees. Local choices included University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo and the Dominican run-Letran. A few Kapampangans like Jose Alejandrino of Arayat, managed to study abroad; he went to school in the 1890s at the University of Barcelona in Madrid (along with Rizal, del Pilar and Luna) and finished chemical engineering in Belgium.

 With the coming of the Americans, education became an important concern of the colonial government. Significant reforms were instituted—three levels of education were established: . Elementary (four primary years and 3 intermediate years), Secondary (4-years of high school) and College. New schools—from vocational to business, agricultural to normal--were opened in cities and provinces. This paved the way for more educational opportunities for college-age students. Some of the most important colleges and universities were founded during the American rule.

 As Pampanga’s economy boomed, the province drew closer to the sphere of Manila and affluent Kapampangans adjusted by becoming more cosmopolitan in behavior and outlook—and a college degree became every parents’ dream for their children.

 Early on, Kapampangan showed a relatively high commitment to advanced education. Kapampangan students with teaching ambitions flocked to the Philippine Normal School when it opened in 1901. In the first decade of the founding of the University of the Philippines, a substantial number of Kapampangans enrolled in courses from Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Music, Law, Education with Liberal Arts and Fine Arts.

 Beginning in 1903, students who excelled academically, were given U.S. government scholarships, and were sent to America as “pensionados”, to specialize in their fields of studies. The first batch included 3 Kapampangans—Jose Sanvictores, Miguel Nicdao, and Joe Espiritu. In the 2nd batch of 18 scholars were future justice and hero Jose Abad Santos; future Pampanga governor and civil engineer Sotero Baluyot who studied in Iowa; future solon Fabian de la Paz of Macabebe, who was enrolled at the Western Illinois State Teachers’ College; and medical student Gervacio Santos Cuyugan, who would become one of Pres. Quezon’s personal physicians.

 As more colleges and universities were established in the capital city-- University of Manila (1914), Philippine Women's University (1919), Far Eastern University (1933)—local private schools also sprouted in Pampanga which would eventually become centers for tertiary education.

Guagua National Institute (now college), founded in 1919, offered first year subjects in Junior Normal and Associate in Arts beginning in 1939-40. Holy Angel Academy (1933 now Holy Angel University) became a college in 1948 when it opened its College of Commerce 1948, followed by Liberal Arts and Education.

 In the post-war years, Republic Academy (now Republic Central Colleges) was founded by the Lazatins and became a full-fledged college in 1947 with the opening of its Normal and Education programs. Meanwhile, University of the Philippines put up its Clark Field branch in the 1950s to serve both American and Filipino students wishing to earn college diplomas.

 Assumption College (now University) opened in 1963 with initial A.B. Arts, BS Commerce, and BS Education programs. Angeles Institute of Technology (now Angeles University Foundation), which began as a technological school in 1962, would achieve university status after just 9 years of operation.

 Schools with history-- like the Bacolor School of Arts and Trade (1861) and the Magalang Farm School (1885)-- have metamorphosed into full-service universities—now known as Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University and Pampanga Agricultural State University.

 Our local colleges and universities have also become more competitive with Manila schools. Premium courses like law, medicine and its allied sciences, and highly specialized courses in engineering, are available locally. Linkages with Manila and international corporate partners have made on-the-job training abroad possible. Their graduates have also been doing well in professional board exams, with consistently high passing rates.

But in the end, easier access to education means merely a foot in the door to the future. On the part of the college student, it takes a firm hold on one's dream and the will to succeed.

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