Baguio City National High School, the premier secondary school in the Cordilleras, is already 88 years old. In those 88 years, literally tens of thousands of students have entered and left its gates – forever changing their lives and, ultimately, changing everything around them.
It would be therefore apt for us to recall and share the history of this great institution – from its humble beginnings to its contributions to the world and its perpetually occurring facelift to maintain its contemporary educational status with the times.
The Early Days
In the 1930s, the need to create a secondary school to accommodate the growing number of elementary graduates in the City of Baguio became imminent, especially due to the influx of highland and lowland students. Thus, the Mountain Province High School was opened and classes were held at the Teacher’s Camp. Among the pioneering educators were Jesse Gains, principal Juan Balagot, Servillano Tumaneng, Pedro Balagot, Genoveva Llamas, Esperanza Ver, Donato Guerzon, Grace Miller, Petra Ramirez, and Pilar Tan.
The MPHS easily gained national popularity in both academics and athletics. For several years, it had the strongest baseball team in Northern Luzon. Coach Arthur McCann helped produce the likes of baseball champ pitcher Antonio Capulo; Juan Carantes rated as the second best baseman in the country during those days; Antonio Dimas, Eugene Pucay, Gilbert Songduan, Dibson Diwas, Braulio Caoili, and Chakchakn Cois, who became legends in their time. Meanwhile, the girls became famous for their excellent lace making and weaving skills, which were no doubt popular to tourists and vacationers. The graduates were also highly proficient in oral and written English.
Baguio City High School
In 1937, the national government transferred the financial responsibility of maintaining the school to the city go-vernment. This is why the name was changed to Baguio City High School. Students of the normal course were transferred to the La Trinidad Agricultural High School (later to become the Benguet State University), which became the responsibility of the Mountain Province. The general secondary curriculum transferred classes from Teacher’s Camp to the government center. In the same year, the school squatted at the present site of the Baguio government center until World War II broke out in 1941. Classes continued during the Japanese occupation at the Quezon Elementary School when despite the initial occupation and liberation battles. In 1945, BCHS admitted students at the Vallejo Hotel, moving back to Teacher’s Camp in the second semester of the year.
Several mayors worked for a permanent site of the BCHS building. Mayor Luis Torres succeeded in establishing the fact that ex-governor Antonio Maria Blanco’s place at Gov. Pack Road was that of the local government and not the national government. Mayor Gil B. Mallare made every effort for the approval of the site as the permanent house of BCHS. He secured a P180,000 loan from the Rehabilitation Financing Corporation to start the construction of the building on Sept. 20, 1953.
The Parent Teachers Association, headed by the principal Gregorio R. Ariz and PTA president Rufino Bueno, continued to ask for the permanent site of BCHS. The present site of the high school was segregated from the Burnham Park reservation on June 27, 1953 under Proclamation No. 401 that awarded BCHS 11,840 square meters of land. Construction began under mayor Benito Lopez in 1953 and finished during the term of mayor Alfonso Tabora in 1954 with additional expenses of P40,000 to finish the right wing of the main building. Inauguration rites were held on Oct. 24, 1954, the school’s Foundation Day.
Hall renovations were made over the years in the main building to accommodate the ever increasing population. In 1964, a Home Economics building was constructed, followed by the Vocational building. In 1985, the Economics Support Fund building was constructed under the financial support of United States Agency for International Development.
In 1972, the Science Section – geared towards producing science-oriented graduates – opened, but was discontinued after two years due to the implementation of the revised se-condary curriculum. It was reopened in 1984 with the effort of Class ‘58 Alumni, the school administration, and the city council. This was accomplished through the strong support and follow-up efforts of the late councilor Bert Floresca as member of the committee on education and that time president of the alumni association.
Subsequently in 2000, Special Programs for the Sports and Arts were instituted in order to help youngsters concentrate on their aspirations by assisting them in their specific fields of interest. Nevertheless, the core academic subjects are still present in order to maintain the holistic learning of the student.
The school has had several principals who served with dedication. They were Beula Head – 1936; Pablo Reyes – 1937-38; Anselmo Patacsil – 1938-39; Antonio Alba – 1939-40; Gregorio Ariz Sr. – 1949-69; Dr. Florencio Buen – 1969-74; Dolores Valdez – 1974-76; Feliciana Penera – 1976-79; Josefina Sarmenta – 1979-82; Dr. Lolita Florendo – 1982-91; Dr. Phillip Flores – 1991-February 1997; Priscilla Bautista – February - September 1997; and from October 1997 up to the present, Dr. Elma D. Donaal.
In the 1960s, annex high schools were opened for the first and second year levels to accommodate the increasing scholastic demand. In 1968, annexes were opened at Baguio Central School, Doña Aurora, Loakan, Bonifacio, and Rizal Elementary School. Other annexes were later opened at Quirino Elementary School in Irisan and later in Sto. Tomas and Quezon Hill. The number of students kept growing both in the BCHS main and its annexes that by 1980, it was imperative for Baguio Central School to be separated as another city-funded high school carrying the new name of Pines City High School. In 1981, four year levels in Loakan annex were created. This was soon implemented with the other annexes.
Baguio City High School is now known as Baguio City National High School. From the original main building, the ESF building, and the Science Laboratories I and II, numerous buildings were constructed such as the DepEd building, the DOST building and laboratory, Flavier I and II, and the Bagong Lipunan building. The school also has a BERKS center and an extensive library.
The school has an auditorium, a gymnasium, and an audio visual room. The school also utilizes the Athletic Bowl, which is adjacent to it. The school's facilities are also rented to out-siders to generate more funds.
The school has canteens and home economics stores. All subject areas have a learning center and the school has eight computer laboratories.
Computers have indeed been instrumental for students and teachers in their learning and teaching process. With the world now steeped in high regard for technology, communication, and information sharing, it has been adamant for BCNHS to keep up with the times and promulgate the use of the computer.
It began 14 years ago, in 1993, when four DOS-based computer sets were introduced to the Science classes using application software and operating systems that were saved on 5 ¼ inch diskettes. Do Wordstar, Lotus 123, and Print Master ring a bell?
In 1995, the Department of Science and Technology donated 15 computer units to the school, which are now Windows-based. Teachers are now using computers as medium for teaching. Of course, the Science Department was the primary beneficiary of the technology. Biology and Research subjects spearheaded the use of computer integration with several software that were included in the DOST – Science Education Institute project.
In 1997, the Internet was made available and numerous Internet Services Providers have extended their services to the school. The first was Mozcom with only one unit connected to the Internet. However, as technological advances would have it, every computer soon gained access. Following Mozcom were the services of Viacomm, Digitel, and SkyInternet. From the year 2003 to the present, the school has been using PLDT’s myDSL as their ISP.
With the Department of Education’s meager finances to sustain the Revised Basic Education Curriculum’s computer education, BCNHS acquired the computer services of FOXRUN, Inc., the forerunner of computer education in this institution. It did not only provide four computer laboratories with 40 units per lab, it also gave computer training to the Technology and Livelihood Education teachers. The contract ended two years ago with FOXRUN, but the school is independently continuing its computer subjects.
In 2004, the Department of Trade and Industry donated 10 computer sets to the school – the use geared on commerce and entrepreneurship. The Special Program for the Arts also makes use of these computers for video and photograph editing as well as the Journalism classes who use them for their articles and pictures.
In 2005, BCNHS received numerous awards in line with the ICT world. BCNHS was awarded the Best ICT Integrated Learning Center, Best ICT Based Community Learning Center, and Best Computer Laboratory by the DTI. The school received a P5,000 incentive for every category.
Ever since the days of the MPHS, the school has produced exemplary graduates who excelled in every endeavor. Among the many alumni who have reached notable positions are:
In the armed forces we have have Gen. Simeon Ver (‘41), Gen. Samuel Sarmiento (‘41), Gen. Ernesto Bueno (‘44), Gen. Florendo Aquino (‘47), and Gen. Jose Balajadia (‘59) to name a few. Gen. Bueno also became a mayor of Baguio.
The school also had numerous alumni who were appointed to Department Secretary status; Health – Dr. Juan Flavier (‘52), Finance – Atty. Edgardo Espiritu (‘52), Foreign Affairs – Delia Domingo-Albert (‘58), Minister of Energy – Arthur Sali; and DENR Assistant Secretary (for Planning and Policies) – Sabado Batcagan. Espiritu and Albert have also been appointed as ambassadors to the United Kingdom, and Germany and Australia, respectively.
For those who became Regional Executive Directors, the school takes pride in Arthur Figueras (‘53) – NBI, Oscar Hamada (‘58) – DENR, Peter Cosalan (‘59) and Sean Dacanay Jr. (‘72) – NEDA, Isabelo Cosalan (‘54) – Telecommunications , and again Sabado Batcagan for the DENR.
In the realm of politics, the school boasts: for congressmen – Atty. Samuel Dangwa (‘55) and Atty. Rene Pilando (‘66); for governor – Ben Palispis (‘34) and Dr. Andres Bugnosen (‘49) for Benguet, and Tiburcio Edaño Jr. (‘50) for Zambales; Besides Gen. Bueno, there are two other Baguio mayors – Virginia de Guia (‘32) and Col. Francisco Paraan (‘34). For councilors we have Jose Buendo (‘41), Atty. Ricardo Paraan (‘44), Atty. Bert Fenesca (‘48), Gerry Evangelista (‘48), Atty. Leandro Cariño (‘49), and Atty. Daniel Fariñas (‘72).
Other alumni greats in Baguio are mesdames Cecile Afable, editor in chief of the Baguio Midland Courier, and Leonora San Agustin, curator of the Baguio – Mountain Provinces Museum.
Another notable alumna is Atty. Zoraida Andam (‘93) who was crowned Ms. Philippines in 2001.
In the Judiciary sector, we have Judges Andrew Belit Jr. (‘50), Edilberto Claravall (‘63), Evangeline Cortes-Cuilan (‘65), Maribelle Demot-Mariñas (‘78), and Maria Teresa Guadaña-Tano (‘82).
In the Education sector, we have numerous heads of colleges. We have deans Gabino Goroy (‘53) – Commerce, St. Louis University; Eufracio de los Reyes (‘57) – Commerce, SLU; Cesar Oracion (‘63) – Law, SLU; Sonia Dao-as – Education, Baguio Colleges Foundation/University of the Cordilleras; and Daniel Fariñas (‘72) – Law, University of Baguio. We also have Division Superintendents in the persons of Dr. Pat Boquiren (‘47) and Damaso Bangaoet Sr. (‘29).
Baguio City National High School has certainly a long, vibrant, and rich history. No doubt, her story will forever be lengthened for each year brings new blood to her veins in the form of freshmen and new faculty.
Let those who have graduated from this school leave a benevolent legacy to this world.
The author recently joined the long list of BCNHS alumni last month. He would like to thank Mrs. Zobel Epler, Mrs. Evelyn Lleva, Mrs. Zenaida Ruiz, Mrs. Bernardita Quela, Mr. Ernesto Gao-ay, Mr. Franklin Garlejo, and the Alumni Office of the school.