BEFORE February 2023 ended, a group of teachers broke the news of the proposed renaming of Davao City National High School (DCNHS) to Tomas M. Tionko National High School (TTNHS).
Jed Bete, DCNHS Araling Panlipunan Department Officer In Charge (OIC), said in an online message sent to SunStar Davao on February 22, 2023, that they are opposing such a move as they want to preserve the history of DCNHS.
On November 14, 2022, Tionko heirs sent a letter to the City Mayor’s Office appealing to rename DCNHS in honor of the man who donated the property. SunStar Davao was able to secure a copy of the letter after Cecil James Velasco posted it publicly on his Facebook account. The letter was also verified by Bete.
“A favorable decision on this appeal will undoubtedly enrich our City’s history, as it will etch in our collective memory, for posterity, and for generations to come, Tomas M. Tionko has contributed immensely to our city’s transformation into a burgeoning metropolis of the south,” the Tionko heirs said.
The heirs said DCNHS’ 28,804-square-meter prime land was donated on October 30, 1939, out of “pure generosity and benevolence” by Tionko, and another 6.2 hectares of land was donated in 1950.
According to the Department of Education (DepEd) revised guidelines on the naming and renaming of schools will only be allowed if the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) will push to rename it as well as recommended by the local school board (LSB) which was consulted by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
Davao historian Antonio V. Figueroa in a public post on his Facebook page said that “renaming DCNHS to TTNHS is within the functions of the local government unit if the purpose is to honor donors and to perpetuate the memory of generous people who, with a commitment towards community advancement, extend their resources without monetary returns.”
This news gained some negative reactions among Cityhighians (DCNHS community).
One Cityhighian, who wished not to be named, said changing DCNHS’ name, being one of the leading public schools in the region, would not do any good to the school.
Netizens also find the move unfitting, considering that the school recently celebrated its 100th year anniversary last November 2022. They said the proposed renaming would lose DCNHS’ crowning glory - carrying the Davao City name itself.
Although others also understood that this move is an act of honoring the donor and his family.
A day after the news was published on SunStar, the SP headed by the Committee on Education, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture Chairperson Pilar Braga conducted a committee hearing in order to discuss the appeal of the Tionko heirs.
Thankfully, it was peacefully addressed by the concerned parties – the School Administration, Alumni and other stakeholders, and the Tionko family – were able to reach an agreement. The family dropped the appeal to rename DCNHS, but with a condition.
Braga told SunStar that both parties agreed to retain the name of the school in exchange for putting up a monument in honor of Tionko; renaming of the school’s main building to Tomas Monteverde Tionko Building, and a commemorative day every 30th of October.
DCNHS truly owes Tionko a huge debt for his contribution in the school's history. Without his generosity, the school would have not been able to cater a large number of students ? who are the country's future hope, as what our hero Dr. Jose Rizal said.
To date, DCNHS has over 16,000 students in its numerous concrete buildings, making the institution the city's oldest and biggest public school.
Thus, the Tionko family's request deserved to be acknowledged.
A school's name is a reflection of its glory. Preserving its name is preserving the glory.
There are still many ways to honor people like Tionko and other notable Dabawenyos who significantly contributed to the city's history. It should not only be limited to naming them after schools, streets, infrastructures, or putting them on textbooks. This is where the academe must step in, by doing their share in imparting their historical contribution, and to pass it on to incoming generations.