Educating the Silaynons: Convento Style-A A +A
By Ver Pacete
As I See It
Thursday, September 26, 2013
PUEBLO de Silay had its own parochial school as early as 1782. The parish priest and his coadjutor were conducting classes based also on the guidelines provided by the Spanish government. The lessons were on reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and religion. Religion played a dominant role –- catechism, mass attendance, Holy Communion and prayers.
The system of education was not formal but the children were provided the first book of learning, ‘katon’ (from the Spanish caton). This is a primer on the Roman alphabet, common prayers and basic Christian doctrines (one God with three Divine Persons, Seven Sacraments, Ten Commandments, etc.). Included in the book is the abecedario or the letters of the alphabet. In 1593, there was the first edition of ‘Doctrina Christiana’. This could have been the model of the earliest ‘katon’. This was used later in Silay.
I was once told by the old men in the village that when their grandparents were attending the parochial school, they did not actually learn to read and write. Religious instruction was recitation by rote. It was not explained and they did not understand what was being memorized. For the male children of the ‘buena familias’, convent education was a privilege. They were allowed to board at the parish residence. Their parents were sending sacks of rice and chicken to the priests.
The ‘buen hijos’ were given the opportunity to serve as sacristan and clean the altar. The priests gave them time to have additional training on Christian doctrine, the 4Rs, and even music in Spanish and Latin. The ‘buen hijos’ were prepared to become loyal intermediary between the Spanish officials and Silaynons.
There came a time also that some ‘katon’ classes were offered by the ‘maestros’ (private tutors) in their houses. These ‘maestros’ were once educated in the conventos also. Only the children of the ‘hacendados’ were sent to the private tutors. The female school children and the female teachers were not allowed to stay inside the convent. Spanish priests (some only) were noted as notorious when it comes to women. That was emphasized by Dr. Jose Rizal in his ‘Noli Me Tangere’.
The maestros were very strict (just like the priests). They used physical punishment to threaten the slow learners. They usually held ‘palmeta’ (wooden paddle) or ‘suplina’ (light whip) for striking the palms or the buttocks of those who committed mistakes. The kneeling on mongo beans or the pinching came later. Pieces of paper for tracing slanting lines and for the writing of the alphabets were known as ‘palotes’. One ‘palote’ would cost one centavo. That was very expensive.
The children of the sugarcane field workers and the fishermen had no school to go. They would be good if someone would teach them how to write their names. Names are important for payroll or job contract signing. The male children of the poor were told by their fathers to cut sugarcane, fish in the river, and build a house. The young ladies learned from their mothers how to cook, to sew, to do gardening, and to prepare themselves later to become obedient wives.
Ramon Tinsay, one of the first graduates of the Normal School in Manila, opened a school in Silay in 1878 but in January of 1889, he resigned. The salary of a teacher before was Ph22 a month. In 1894, private school in Guimbalaon opened under the management of Dolores Aguilar and Manuela Escanillo. Subjects taught are Christian doctrine, notions of morality and sacred history, reading, Spanish, writing, arithmetic, geography, Spanish history, agriculture, urbanity, and vocal music.
The parish priest was the guardian of the school. He wanted the children to pay taxes to the government when they grow up, and go to heaven when they die. Convent education did not free the mind. It tortured the soul and enslaved the body. The cross is always followed by the sword.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 26, 2013.