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NHCP gesture secures place in history of Bacolor institution

/ 12:01 AM December 12, 2014
FOUNDED in 1861 as a school that taught grammar and Latin to Filipinos, what is now the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University evolved into one of the oldest vocational schools in the Philippines, a stature that the government secured when it replaced a marker buried under 20 feet of lahar 19 years ago. TONETTE T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

FOUNDED in 1861 as a school that taught grammar and Latin to Filipinos, what is now the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University evolved into one of the oldest vocational schools in the Philippines, a stature that the government secured when it replaced a marker buried under 20 feet of lahar 19 years ago. TONETTE T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

BACOLOR, Pampanga—For 19 years, a 153-year-old vocational school here had been all but forgotten, buried in Mt. Pinatubo’s lahar.

On Wednesday, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) made sure the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University (DHVTSU) would remain etched in history, replacing a marker that recognizes the school as a historical landmark.

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The new marker replaced the one installed in the school in 1959, but which was all but erased when this town was buried in lahar from Mt. Pinatubo.

The school, founded by Filipino priest Juan Zita and Spanish businessman Felino Gil, first operated in 1861 as a grammar school on land donated by the Suarez family.

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Queen’s edict

In 1867, Spain’s Queen Isabel II approved its operation as a secondary school, along with five others—Ateneo Municipal, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Colegio Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Colegio de Manila —all in Manila, said Alvin Alcid, chief of the NHCP research, publication and heraldry division.

“In this league, you could say DHVTSU was a trailblazer [in education] in the province,” Alcid said.

The new marker was installed at the southern side of the adobe facade of the original administrative building, which was all that was left of the old structure.

It made DHVTSU a historical site again, said its president, Enrique Baking.

Ludovico Badoy, NHCP executive director, said in a message read by Alcid that the DHVTSU community now has the “sacred duty to take care of the monument.”

Badoy said it was easy for the NHCP board to confer the status because archival evidence supported it.

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The school was burned and closed in 1869, rebuilt in 1893 and reopened as the Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Bacolor in 1893.

Travails

It was burned during the 1898 Philippine Revolution against Spain. It reopened in 1907 as the Provincial Arts and Trades School of Pampanga, operated as an insular school from 1912 to 1914 and became headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army from 1942 to 1944.

It was burned for the third time in December 1944 until it was revived in 1946. In 1964, it was renamed after patriot and philanthropist, Don Honorio Ventura, whose scholars included the late President Diosdado Macapagal.

National university

It became a national university in 2009 with the support of Macapagal’s daughter, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative.

Bacolor Vice Mayor Ananias Canlas Jr., who was mayor when lahar from Mt. Pinatubo devastated the town on Oct. 1, 1995, said the building used to have two floors until lahar swamped the school.

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