Baguio Con­nec­tions 53

Sun.Star Baguio - - Opinion -

THIS week, we pick up on the sug­ges­tion of a Manang from the UB Sci­ence High, Eve­lyn Oda, nee Erece (Class of 1973), and do a piece on the school, it­self. Yours truly wrote a Sci­ence High cre­ation story ti­tled “Like Sput­nik” some maybe 10 years ago for our grand re­union pro­gram. I dug it up some five years ago for col­umn pub­li­ca­tion, and we of­fer it up this week, with mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

“Pic­ture this: A young teacher named Rhey Bautista and his buddy, Damy Ban­gaoet, shoot­ing the breeze one smoky, ine­bri­ated Baguio night. It is the early 60s.

“Rus­sia and the U.S. are locked in the race to get man on the moon, or outer space, at least. The Philip­pines leads Asia so­cio-eco­nom­i­cally, agri­cul­tur­ally, ed­u­ca­tion­ally, and in other ways. Ed­u­ca­tion­ally, na­tions take stock of their sys­tems, and math, sci­ence, and tech­nol­ogy are the ma­jor buzz words. It is against this back­drop that the young Rhey and the young Damy, shoot­ing the prover­bial breeze, first con­cep­tu­al­ize a sci­ence high school, one night in 1962.

“Al­most 40 years since then, an older Rhey Bautista re­calls that his friend serves as his sound­ing board as they dis­cuss Sput­nik, the clas­sics, the modern world, sci­ence and math, and ed­u­ca­tion. Be­tween them, they man­age to con­cep­tu­al­ize a high school that would fo­cus on these key points, at­tract­ing the best stu­dents from the Baguio el­e­men­tary schools. Rhey’s spe­cial con­cern then is for the best stu­dents of the city’s pub­lic schools to grad­u­ate into the sci­ence high school, then an idea that re­fuses to stop buzzing around in his head.

“The idea that takes root as a spe­cial cur­ricu­lum for the fu­ture sci­ence high school is de­vel­oped. A qual­i­fy­ing exam for it is de­vised and sub­se­quently given to stu­dents in the Baguio el­e­men­tary schools. The forty who score high­est grad­u­ate from their re­spec­tive schools in 1963 are like­wise awarded schol­ar­ships to the first ever class of what is to be­come the Uni­ver­sity of Baguio Sci­ence High School, pre­dat­ing even the Philip­pine Sci­ence High School, which be­gins its op­er­a­tions in 1964.

“From the on­set, the sci­ence high is built around nur­tur­ing a cul­ture of ex­cel­lence. The best of Baguio Tech’s (U.B.’s old name) col­lege level pro­fes­sors are re­cruited to teach the schol­ars, who are en­rolled in an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram quite dif­fer­ent from that of reg­u­lar high schools. Said schol­ars are fed a school ex­is­tence that is heavy in Math, Sci­ence, and the Hu­man­i­ties. They be­come ver­sant with the Iliad, Latin, Trigonom­e­try, Solid Men­sura­tion, Physics, and Chem­istry. They are guided to and through se­ri­ous sci­en­tific re­search, sci­en­tific writ­ing, sci­en­tific think­ing. Yet they find they like­wise ex­cel in sports, foren­sics, mu­sic, and ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lars. To main­tain their schol­ar­ships, they must re­tain a grade point av­er­age of 85.

“The pi­o­neer­ing teach­ers who have charge of these schol­ars are them­selves spe­cial – ex­perts in their fields and ded­i­cated to mak­ing their young stu­dents ex­cel in the sub­ject mat­ters they teach. They never talk down to the young teen­ers lap­ping up what is ac­tu­ally col­lege level in­struc­tion.

“… The rest, as the say­ing goes and as the decades roll on, is his­tory.

“The Sci­ence High has evolved into a fullfledged school with an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram that con­tin­ues to strive for ex­cel­lence as it trains its young schol­ars. It’s like Sput­nik, that first-ever satel­lite that was suc­cess­fully launched. Like trail­blaz­ing Sput­nik, the Sci­ence High sets the trend, al­beit ed­u­ca­tion­ally, that many scram­ble to copy.”

Ask Manong Mon­dax (Ra­mon Da­cawi, Class of 1967), who is the only Sunstar Baguio colum­nist whose col­umn has been on longer than mine. Ask Manang Eve­lyn, too.

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