Cariño: Baguio Connections 53

Baguio Stories

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 extracurricular. 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 full-fledged 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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