By Mel V. Jovellanos
(This article was first published in the BVANHS Golden Jubilee souvenir program)
The Pozorrubio Junior High School was established in April 1946, barely seven months after the end of World War II. Before the school opened its doors, students from Pozorrubio attended various secondary schools in Lingayen, Dagupan or Baguio. But when the Manaoag High School was recognized in 1945, several influential and concerned citizens of Pozorrubio, led by Don Domingo M. Magno, Don Florentino Magno and Don Clario C. Quinto (the trio where former Mayors of the town) petitioned Education Department officials in Manila to put up also a secondary school in Pozorrubio. Dr. Daniel Magno Salcedo who was the Director of Public Schools, lost no time in convincing higher authorities in the Department of Education to help his townmates’ petition. Other concerned citizens went out of their way to give moral, financial and even vocal support to the call for the establishment of a local high school. Most prominent of said supporters were Dons Raymundo and Gerardo Buada, Beunaventura and Andres Aldana, Esteban Salcedo, Pedro Estaris, Juan Dimagan, German Lagera, Higinio Gomes, Sr., Gerardo Nabor, Sr. Enrique Posadas, Jorge Robles, Sr., Paulinio de Vera, Francisco and Alejandro Aldana Sr., Deogracias Estrada, Orestes and Andres Olarte.Senator Renato Osias made a promise to Don Domingo Magno to use the Senators pork barrel in the construction of the schools first buildings. He made good his promise in late 1947.
As approved by the Department of education, the Pozorrubio Junior High school was established in April 1946. Around 235 students enrolled and comprised the schools first-ever student body.
The provincial Governor at that time was the Hon. Enrique Braganza and the town Mayor was the Hon. Eligio V. Fernandez.
The first schoolrooms used were located in several sites in the town’s poblacion, using the vacant areas of the Don Andres Olarte residence (Sison Street), Gerardo Nabor, Sr. residence (Espiritu St.) Itliong-Estaris residence along Rizal St., Jovellanos-Venezuela ancestral House located along Sison St., Andres Aldana, Sr house (Espiritu St.) and the Orestes Olarte abode located along Calle Caballero. The main building however, was the Andres Olarte residence. No rentals were charged by the house owners.
The first school principal was the gangling Mr. Telesforo Enrique of Lingayen whom everyone nicknamed. “Mr. America” because of his striking physical resemblance of the then popular radio-movie hero of “Captain America” (There was no television yet).
The first batch of graduates, 37 strong, held their commencement exercise at the plaza Perogloa. Nelia Magno was the Valedictorian, Ador Salazar was the salutatorian with Carmen V. Jovellanos garnering the third honors. To mention some of the members of the pioneering class: Feliza Itliong, Feliza Buen, Guadalupe Estaris, Jesus Magno, Porfirio Buada, Marcelo Liqot, Metodio Estrada, Adolfo Cascolan and Florentino Guleng.
In the middle of 1947, the school was moved to its presents site in Barangay Cablong. Three hectares (thirty-thousand square meters) were donated by Mr. & Mrs Orestes and Cion Olarte. Later on two more hectares were added through purchase, the money of which was raised through contributions and fund-raisings initiates by the P.T.A.
The second batch of graduates, composed of 34 students (20 boys and 14 girls) was led by retired. Maj. Gen. Jose P. Magno, Jr. (former Presidential Military Adviser and now Chairman of the Board of the GSIS and close confidant of F.V.R.) The 1948 graduates has the distinction of holding their commencement exercise for the first time in the school quadrangle (the “Junior” in the schools name was already dropped). Pepe Magno’s salutatorian was Rosario Estrada. Among the graduates of Class 1948 were Teodulo Tampueco and Fe Itliong Fernandez (now Mrs. Fe F. Bautista, former Municipal Mayor of Pozorrubio); Arnulfo and Buenaventura Aldana, Jr., Saturnio Gavina, Sr. (Tampueco and Gavina later on, would serve the town as Muncipal Councilors and both are off and on USA residents); Victor Marinas, Manuel Cabanilla, Sofronio Arcangel, Juanito Venezuela, Ramon Magno (the first intercholastics basketball player produced by Pozorrubio), Alfonso Bustillo, Maria Gamboa, Josefa Estrada, Evilia Camagay, Adela Calputora and Maura Ucay.
Class 1948 was the first class to hold their graduations exercise in the new quadrangle. But the date of their graduation was moved because of the sudden death of President Manual Roxas.
Batch ’49 was the first class to have two sections. Section one with 28 boys and 24 girls and section two with an even number of boys and girls 26 all. Section one among others, had Heminio Yambao, Leopoldo de Vera, Avelino Venezuela, Pedro Torio, Jr., Teofilo Salcedo, Cresencio Ritualo, Cosme Quinto, Elpidio Naoe, Raymundo V. Jovellanos, Cesar Gomez, Cresencio Estaris, Rosendo Estebar, Julio F. Desamito, Willie and Fred Cascolan, Benjamin Canto, Paciano and Alejandro Aldana, Jr., Ana Yambao, Maxima Pedrosa, Carmen Magno, Benita Pasag, Melania Gramata, Concordia Flores, Margarita Espino, Lilia and Hiltrudez Aldana.
Some of the Section two stalwarts were Eulogio Perez, Jose Estrella, Felicisimo Dimagan, Jose Desamitio, Patricio Bustillo, Jose Arcangel, Ireneo Almeron, Jesusa Estrada, Loreta Moulic, Marcelina Obra, and Felicidad Camagay.
Class 1950’s batch according to Engr. Jovito M. Estaris who taught for a number of year during the early years, “was every magulo” although it produced “some of the most brilliant characters” the Pozorrubio High School is noted for. Some of these characters included: Ruperto “Ots” Estrada, Eusebio Naniong, Regino Cardines, Cesar Chavez, Pompeyo Estaris, Jaime Jude, Alfonso Perez, Emmanuel Salcedo, Benjamin Gramata, Bernardo and Francisco Gomez, Teofilo Marinas, Gerardo Nabor, Jr,. Ben Novido, Francisco Quinto, Raymundo Salazar, Nelly Tapia, Trinidad Itliong, Socorro Fernandez, Julia Fernandez, Regina Embesan, Willelma Aldana, Lucrecia Aldana, Angeles Buada, Sixta Caldito, Adoracion Estaris, Dolores Fabia, Consolacion Gamboa, Fernanda Magno, Milagros Magno, Lolita Marquez, Virginia Robeves, Maria Salcedo and Elsie Tolentino.
Juan Laguitan (now a lawyer) topped that class, followed by Dolores Fabia
The next class, following the colorful characters of Class ’50, was equally rich in producing equally colorful characters. Recent studies made by this writer however, has revealed that the more “characters” a particular class produced, the more successful that batch becomes. Class 1951 for instance, composed of only 85 graduates, has turned out successful lawyers, doctors engineers, accountants and load of other highly-regarded professionals. Included in the batch was the late Atty. (and CPA) Clements Calpotura who was elected as the number one Councilor of Baguio City. Many of the Graduates of Class ’51 have either gone abroad or gone overboard but for record purposes, here are some of them” Oscar Aldana (now a New Yorker), Toribio V. Jovellanos (a medical doctor who became the Surgeon-General of the defunct Philippine Constabulary); Gideon Eleno, Teofilo Flores, Alberto Mejia Jr., Herminio Yambao (in Hawaii), Winefreda Aldana, Concepcion Chan, Milagros Estrada, Corazon Estaris, Felisa Orinion, Marina delos Reyes, Violeta Sibucao, Filomena Sibuma, Dionisia I. Fernandes, Patrocinio Gomes, Adelaida Itliong, Gertudez Ochoada and Jesusa Siblag.
Filomena Sibuma and Felisa Orinion headed the class.
Class ’52 was also star-studded. Their topnotcher was Erlinda M. Mejia. Some of her classmates (due to lack of Space we can only mention a few names at random); Josefina Gomes, Maria Espino, Zolia Estaris, Vida Idos, Angelina P. Magno, Corazon Pondivida, Loreto Quinto, Salud Quinto, Zosima Ramos, Lilita Salazar, Josefina de Vera, Milagros de Vera, Feliciano Comagay, Sr., Napolean Castillo, Juanita Gavina, Jose Ligot, Fernando P. Magno, Abraham Millan, Cesar Molina, Rufo Nabor and Wilfredo Nicomedez.
The Batch of 1953 also had two sections (both with 37 members but the boys outnumbered the girls by two to one). The controversy-wracked quest for the valedictorian was broadcast for many weeks (Dagupan-based radio stations) but eventually the controversy was buried as time elapsed. Leonor Aldana was proclaimed as the valedictorian and Dimma de Guzman got the salutatorian’s plum. Some members of the class: Erlinda Aldana, Lilita Bambalan, Gloria Chan, Gloria Espiritu, Lilita Silaroy, Rebecca Torio, Lucia Buada, Amy Estrada, Milagros Estaris, Caridad Magno, Julita Matias, Norma Morales, Lydia Perez, Herminio Ancheta, Alberto Arciaga, Jr. Paulino Bambalan, Teofilo Cabrera, Teofilo Calpito, Lindy Ergino, Edilberto Gamboa, Alejandro Gruspe, Vicente Idos, Jr., Francisco Itliong, Thomas Laguitan, Termias Millan, Jacinto Perez, Andres Reyes, Mario Ritualo, Juanito Salcedo, Felipe de Vera, Rodolfo Amansec, Pacito Guillermo, Domingo Ibasn, Juan Ochoada and Joel Paco.
In the meanwhile Mr. Telesforo Enriques (“Captain America”), the first high school principal (from Lingayen) was replaced by Mr. Candelario C. Quinto in 1948. Tio Dayong served as the principal until the middle of 1952 (he was the principal at the height of Korean War) when Mr. Numeriano Mac. Vinluan was the PHS principal during the next 15 years. Mrs. Brigida Q. Magno succeeded him in 1967. She served until the year martial law was declared when she was replaced by the principal Orlando P. Perez.
Many changes took place in the campus of the Pozorrubio High School since those early years. The old cogon-talahib rooftops and sawale were gradually replaced. The campus now is considered as one of the best in the whole country. Mr. Perez, an agriculturist, has emphasized tree-planting and this has resulted in a campus that boasts of beautiful tree-lined lanes, flower gardens and even extensive herbal gardens.
In the meantime, the years continued to produce several more thousand graduates many of whom have since then been assets not only in the Philippines but practically all countries in the world. In one survey we conducted, we discovered that graduates of the PHS (later to be named in honor of the late Dr. Benigno V. Aldana, former Director of the Bureau fo Public Schools. The bill was sponsored by former Congressman Tony Villar through the initiative of then DECS Head Executive Assistant Lucio B. Fernandez) are doing pretty well wherever they are assigned or have decided to settle London, Australia, Africa, Middle East, Guam, Japan, Alaska, San Diego, New York, Los Angles, Chicago, Hong Kong or Sugcong and Imbalbalatong.
In 1954 another batch of 95 tangay-tangays graduated, led by Jessie Q. Magno (now an international lawyer and spokesperson of Sen. Leticia Shahani) and salutatorian, Vidal Castillo (now and Engineer residing in California). Picking at random again, here are some members of class 1954: Victorio T. Fernandez, Emiliano V. Jovellanos, Tomas Velasquez, Jeremias Torio, Antonio Santiago, Rodrigio Nocasa, Bonifacio Ferrer, Celso Fernandez, Jose Gamboa, Heriberto Bautista, Alfredo Aspiras, Rufino Buada, Esteban Caldito, Daniel Sta. Cruz, Nestor Estrada, Conrado Gavina, Javier Mejia, Maximo Mendoza, Ernesto Montemayor, Dominador Nabor, Romeo Pajarillo, Maximo Palisoc, Jesus Pasag, , Timoteo Siblag, Abraham Torio, Jr. Nuremeo O. Vinluan, Aurora Briones, Remedios del Ocampo, Lydia Estrada, Gertrudez Fernandez, Elena Galaus, Regina Idos, Luz Perez Teresita Quinto, Gloria Rodriguiez, Encarnacion Solomon, Apolonia Tamayo, Filomena de Vera, Virinia Arcangel, Remedios Ayson, Felipa Magno, Avelina Niturada, Paz Pasag and Elizabeth Rivera.
Class 1955 was the last class with just two sections. From thereon the student population of the school increased dramatically. The batch ’55 was as usual a cross-section of the cream of the crop from all barangays in Pozorrubio (sometimes also from Sison and Manaoag). Class 1955 was topped again by a lady valedictorian, Floria Espiritu who because of her name alone, could not be surpassed by any human being. At least Tomasito M. Matias the salutatorian, tried. Some of Floria and Tomy’s classmates were Rogelio Ancheta, Mesias Perez, Lolito Bambilla, Prudencio Caldito, Silvestre Castillo, Juanito Cendana, Ludovino Dulay, Napoleon Esperanza, Marcelino Gomez, Nario S. Idos, Ismael Salcedo, Amancio Sandoval, Manuel Tie, Guillermo Valdez, Andres Aldana, Jr., Jovito Camagy, Federico Colcol, Ignacio Jasmine, Geronimo Moulic, Jose Pondevida, Cipriano Quinto, Rosendo Ramirez, Felipe Salcedo, Fr., Felix Tiu, Lydia Caburian, Benita Fernandez, Emilinda Ritualo, Flora Urbino, Letecia Aldana, Floria Aquino, Erlinda and Loreta Arceo, Floria Buada, Floria Calongcagon, Letecia Desamito, Nora Ereso, Priscila Itliong, Violetta Pajarillo, Corazon delos Reyes and Lavinia Vinluan.
Class 56 was the first to have three sections. Some of the 56’era: Osita Estaris, Lydia Malbog, Norma Martinas, Andrea Nimer, Violeta Fores, Lilita Tamondong and Aurora Naniong, Jovino Buada, Manuel Gavinga, Raymundo Laguit, Francisco Laluan, Willie Packing, Saturnino Patao, Jr. Tulian Veloz, Wilfredo Songcuan, Federico Perez, Rodolfo Naniong, Agnes Estrada, Celestino Desamito, Jr. Alfonso Cruz, Eldefonso Camagay, Antonio Alvendia Jr.
Orlando dela Masa and Honorio Cabanilla headed class “56 as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Class 1957 was 119 strong, divided into three sections. It was again star studded. Examples: Baltazar Buentipo, Jose Arceo, Eusebio Cardines, Henry Costales, Alfonso and Salvador Idos, Perfecto Itliong, Jose Manaois, Camilo Chan Andres Sotelo, Jovito Cahn, Segundo Opena, Percival Tambot, Violeta Calpito, Marlyn David, Aida Ereso, Eutropia Esaris, Priscila Genese, Gracia Tiu, Ludivina Vinluan and Aurora Mendoza. Cecelia L. Quinto Topped the class, followed by Evangeline Esperanza.
Mary Go, now a successful businesswoman in Dagupan City, bested the 1958 field with Jorge Robles, now a practicing Certified Public Accountant in New York City, a close second. First honors went to Fuliana Buada, second honors to Erlinda Caldito and third honors was copped by Minda Tamondong.
Some of their classmates were: Corazon Itliong, Sofia Sibuma, Gilda Tambot, Salvacion Tambot, Dominador Antenor, Orlando Flores, Dominador Malbog, Rudy Pasag, Warnie Salcedo, Pablo Ritualo and Jose de Vera.
The next class surprisingly decreased in number. Class ’59 had Virgilio Salcedo as valedictorian, Buenaventura Gabuat as salutatorian and the next three: Presentacion Gomez, Samuel Pasag and Teodora Espino.
Some of the more notable members of Class ’59: Blesilda Buetipo, Teodora Espino, Corazaon Viernes, Isidro Bocauto, Rogelio Jasmin, Carlos Palisoc, Alfredo and Rodolfo Sinocruz, Lydia Garingan, Erlinda Eroles, Mila Buen, Faustino Colcol, Taime Marinas, Mario navota, Jovita Pasag, Rodolfo Songcuan and Bonifacio Solomon.
In the beginning the students of the Pozorrubio High school paid (mostly monthly installments) for their tuition, matriculation, library, medical-dental, athletics and fees totaling less than on-hundred pesos (P100-) for the whole school year. Through the years as the peso devalued and the national economy tumbled, the school fees also increased. Some students bitterest experiences in their high school lives dealt in their not being allowed to take their departmental or periodic test because they could not as yet pay their monthly dues. Some were given special exams but through the years there were students who dropped from the rolls because of this inability to pay. Later the Pozorrubio High School became a national high school and it received large subsidies from the government. Seven years ago, with the passage of the free tuition law, schooling became almost entirely fee. But this led to the sudden increase in the number of students. The student population jumped to more than 2,000 and during the last five commencement exercises graduates totaled almost five-hundred students each.