Monday, February 25, 2013

History of Manila High School - Intramuros - by a MHS Alumni

This version of  History of Manila High School was compiled and edited by Emmanuel S. Esber, Batch 64 in the year 2006 just a few months before the MHS Centennial Anniversary and Alumni Homecoming, however the manuscript was lost in the PC file and only yesterday I found it and now publishing it in my Em Esber Blog 2.

Manila High School is a public secondary school under the Division of City Schools – National Capital Region (NCR) of the Department of Education. It is located in Intramuros, Manila bounded by Muralla, Victoria, Recoletos and Escuela Streets. The school has a land area of Five thousands one hundred forty three decimal point fifty square meters. (5,143.5 sqm)


On the site of the present Manila High School building (more than a century ago), the Spanish government’s city council, called the “Ayuntamiento de Manila”, established the Escuela Municipal de Manila in the year 1892 for the children of Spanish residents.

According to the biography of Conrado F. Benitez and other illustrious alumni, Victoria Grammar School was the forerunner of the Manila High School and established at the onset of the American era.

The Manila High School was organized by the Director of Education David P. Barrows and acting Superintendent of City Schools, Mr. Charles H. Magee.   It was established on June 11, 1901 for the graduates of the Provincial and Manila Intermediate Schools.

In 1921 the city government later put up secondary schools in each the four districts, known as the Manila East, West, North and South High Schools. Manila High School was renamed as Manila South High School since its location is directly south of the mouth of Pasig River. Manila South High School was renamed Araullo High School in June 1930 in memory of Justice Manuel Araullo.

The school building of Araullo High School at Victoria Street in Intramuros was completely destroyed during World War II. After the war, Araullo High School opened classes in the compound of Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School in Paco.

In November 1947, the Division of City School acquired two Quonset Huts in Mehan Garden, formerly occupied by Surplus Property Commission. Mr. Victor Hernandez was chosen to organize the annex to accommodate the increasing enrolment of all public secondary schools in the city. The ever energetic Mr. Hernandez made the premises available for classroom after the clearing of the surroundings, planting shrubs and tamarind trees that helped very much in making the teachers and students like the place. Enrolment of first year students started with the teachers Mrs. Andal and Rizo Diaz, who were assigned to the Mehan Annex.

The classes opened on December 15, 1947 with an enrollment of 221 first year students. Mrs. Janelo and Rizo Diaz was in-charge with the English classes,  Mrs. Carmen Mercado as Home Economics and Chemistry teacher, and Mrs.  Andal as Teacher-Librarian.

By virtue of a City Ordinance No. 3122 approved on January 27, 1948, the Mehan Annex of the Araullo High School became the Manuel Roxas High School, the youngest city public secondary school honoring the memory of the first President of the Philippine Republic, President Manuel A. Roxas. The transfer of 242 second year students then at Lukban Elementary School was affected. The following school term, third and fourth year applicants were accommodated.

By virtue of Resolution No. 283  dated May 26, 1953 by Mayor Lacson reserving the vacant lot located at Victoria Street, Intramuros for the Manila High School site, in order to revive the historical significance of the old highs chool which was the alma mater of most of our great leaders and distinguished men  of the country..

 Opening of Annexes:
 1.     MacArthur Annex
The Division of City Schools leased fourteen (14)  rooms at the Feati University Building (which adjoined the McArthur Bridge ) in July 1949 to accommodate first and second year classes, leaving the third and fourth year classes and all vocational and physical education classes at the Mehan compounds. This new annex known, as the MacArthur Annex, had Mr. Honesto Valdez as the first head teacher with 21 sections and the Faculty numbering___ teacher. A good surprise to all in February 1950, a school band was organized under the charge of one-time member of the famous Philippine Constabulary Band.  In August 1951, Mr. Augusto Alzona,       the Assistant Principal of Torres High School, took over the Administration vacated  by Mr. Hernandez.

2.     Victoria Annex
The Quonset Hut across Hospital Street which was used as classroom for vocational classes in accordance with the city government’s plan to rehabilitate and revive the pre-war Mehan Garden was demolished.  The provision for additional classroom was necessary to accommodate the unprecedented increase of enrollment in the coming school year.

The Intramuros annex was opened with the transferred Quonset Hut from the Mehan Garden and additional shop classrooms were put up with the help of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA).  Mr. Divino was designated Head Teacher of the second annex of the Roxas High School. 

On October 9, 1958, this Victoria Annex together with the McArthur and Mehan Annexes became the new Manila High School.  The Pilot Science Classes, the brain of our science-minded Principal were located in this annex. A Library was provided for this annex with Miss Ignacio in-charge.
3.     National Radio School Annex 

On July 1953, a third annex consisting of 11 rooms was necessary to accommodate the applicants to the first year classes. This Annex at the National Radio School and Institute of Technology, along Ronquillo St. at Sales St, was leased for the academic subjects of first year classes. The home economics, vocational, and physical education classes were held at the main building at Mehan. Mr. Irlandez, Assistant head Teacher at the McArthur Annex, and Mrs. Asuncion Quinto, the Social Studies Department Head, were designated temporarily to take charge of the annex which only existed for a year. However, the same premises were leased again when school opened in July 1956 with a record breaking enrolment of 5,990 students thus making the school retain its rank as the fourth largest public high school.  [Mr. Jacob was appointed Head Teacher for Manila High School.]
4.     Canonigo Annex 

The acquisition of the Canonigo and the subsequent construction of the future permanent building of Manuel Roxas High School in 1953 made everybody happy. On October 9, 1958 the Canonigo Annex became the present Roxas High School.

By virtue of Ordinance 4067 approved on October 9, 1958 by the Manila Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson, the city government decided to split the Roxas High School. The Canonigo Annex became the present Roxas High School, while the Mehan, Victoria and MacArthur Annexes were combined and transformed into the new Manila High School.

Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson committed himself to rebuild the old Manila High School but not in Mehan Garden and neither at the old site at Victoria Street.  He envisioned putting up a “dream edifice”, a modern school complex with a gymnasium, an auditorium, wide campus, and other facilities.

The site of the Cuartel de Espana along General Luna Street (where General McArthur held command post during the war) was cleaned for the future Manila High School.

 Due to the delay of this construction, the dilapidated Quonset Huts were  repaired for the meantime and remained as the main building of the Manila  High School (in  accordance with a Municipal Board resolution)  with the  MacArthur and Victoria as its annexes.
The MacArthur and Victoria Annexes were transferred to the million-peso three-storey building in July 1963 located in General Luna Street, keeping the Mehan Annex for the first and second year classes with Mr. S. Vera Cruz as the Head Teacher. The following year, the first year classes were again housed at the McArthur Annex, leaving the second year classes at the Mehan Annex.

        The present Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila building is the home of  the
                        Manila High School  from July 1963 to June 1967

The Special Science Classes at the Victoria Annex became the nucleus of a science high school in the city. Then, in October 1963 the Victoria Annex became the home of the first Manila Science High School.
When Mayor Antonio Villegas succeeded Mayor Lacson, he planned to put up a city university. The imposing Manila High School building was the choice of the city executive for the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. However, the high school authorities were assured that before the new building will be turned over to the city university, a new Manila High School building will be constructed at the old site on Calle Victoria.  The arrangement was that the science building will be transferred to the building formerly occupied by the Araullo High School at Padre Paura corner Taft Avenue.

The Manila High School was built in the school complex in General Luna Street that was later used by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, from July 1963 up to April 1967. On that site once thought to be the permanent home at Gen. Luna Street, the Batch of ‘64, ‘65, ‘66, and ‘67 graduated.
On February 26, 1967, the new school complex, a four-storey concrete edifice at the Victoria site of the first Manila High School was formally inaugurated with Mrs. Lydia Villegas cutting the ceremonial ribbon and unveiling the bronze marker. The opening of the new school was a whole day celebration, also commemorating the 61st Foundation of the Manila High School.

On June 1967,  the Manila High School opened its doors for the school year 1967-1968 in the premises they can call permanently their own at Victoria Street corner Muralla and Escuela Streets. Thereafter, all classes beginning in 1968 graduated from MHS at that historic site of Intramuros. At the same site, the Escuela Muncipal de Manila was established by the Spanish  government in the late 19th Century,  the Victoria Grammar School in the  early 20th Century on the onset of the American colonial era,  the Manila  High School and Manila South High School during the American era,   and Manila High School’s Victoria  Annex  from the early 1950’s up to 1963.

We cannot complete the history of Manila High School without mentioning and honoring Mr. Augusto Alzona, the late Principal of the Manila High School. He best exemplified a model civil servants and educator. He was simple, strict disciplinarian but with a golden heart. He was well loved by the students during his term in the Manila High. His way of giving token gifts like fruits to students and teachers endeared him to all. His vision and innovations led to the birth of Manila Science High School, an offspring of Manila High School.


November 25, 1959 marked the evolution of the first pilot science high school in Manila. On October 1, 1963, the Manila Science High School was officially born by virtue of a Municipal Resolution signed by Mayor Antonio Villegas. Credit for the school’s early success goes to the Manila Science High School Principal Augusto Alzona – the “Father of Manila Science High School

Manila High School is the Alma Mater of many outstanding leaders; among them were three former Presidents of the Philippines - Jose P. Laurel, Manuel A. Roxas, and Elpidio Quirino.
On October 18, 2005,  the National Historical Institute issued a certification that Manila High School is officially established in 1906 under the tutelage of Dr. David P. Barrows, Director of Education and Mr. Charles H. Magee, Acting Superintendent of the City Schools of Manila during those times.  It officially started its operation on June 11, 1906 as decided by the Bureau of Education.

The certification from Ambeth R. Ocampo, Chairman, NHI, is issued upon request of Arnulfo H. Empleo, Principal, MHS, for the issuance of commemorative stamps that will be used in celebration of its 100th Year anniversary.
References :
1.     National Historical Institute’s photocopies of Manila High School History.
2.     Letter and photocopies of documents from National Historical Institute dated  April 17, 2006, addressed to Emmanuel Esber of Batch 64.
3.     Backgrounder on Manila High School made by Melissa Migallos, Batch 79
           posted on E-Group’s Manila High School Graduate International Alumni website 
4.     Biography of Conrado F. Benitez, Jose P. Laurel and other illustrious alumni.
5.     Website of Letran College
6.     Website of Manila Science High School.
7.     Website of Ateneo de Manila University
8.     Website of Manila High School Alumni Portal – the other MHS web group
            complementing our E-Group.
Footnotes :
1.         The first  Escuela Municipal de Manila which is the forerunner of Ateneo de Manila was closed in the year 1865, when Ateneo assumed the name Ateneo Municipal  de Manila.
While the  other Escuela Municipal de Manila which is the forerunner of the old Manila High School, was established on the year 1892 on the waning days of the Spanish rule,  just before the start of the 20th Century.
This document  " History of Manila High School"  is a joint project of  Manila High School Alumni Association E-Group members. Initiated by Melissa Migallos of Batch 79 and the Research and compilation delegated to Emmanuel S. Esber of Batch 64. Some editing was done by Cito Caluyo of Batch 62.
Documents from National Historical Institute and Division of City Schools, Manila.

Photos of Manila High School as of June 2012

Other related postings :

Manila High School 106th Foundation Day

The Dutch Choir and the Manila High School

Manila High School (Intramuros) Hungers Burns The Heart


Manila High School - Centennial Anniversary and Alumni Homecoming

Other Related websites of Manila High School Alumni.

Manila High School Graduates International

Manila High School Alumni Portal

Web postings about Intramuros

Ciudad Murada : Intramuros

Intramuros - Puerta Real Gardens and Baluarte de San Diego

Photo Journal of Fort Santiago - Intramuros Manila