Anti-American resistance and the beginnings of public schools in Cebu
Philippine history tells how the geographical lay of Cebu rendered American control very loose. The island was not compact and there was only one way to travel around the province at that time — the sea.
The fortunes of Cebu is, significantly, due to its location roughly at the center of the Philippine archipelago. Even Fray Gaspar de San Agustin noticed it in early 17th century, “All [the Visayas plus northern Mindanao] are practically the same distance of from seven to ten leagues away” from the island. At the heart of Cebu, is the provincial capital. Cebu City grew out of the same site where the Spaniards founded their first settlement in 1565. “The site of the [city] was a good choice. It was along the bay which is sheltered from strong winds by the opposite Mactan island. On this bay, wrote Antonio de Morga, was ‘a beautiful, clear and anchorable seaport with ample capacity to accommodate many vessels at the same time’. And, added Fray Juan de Medina, ‘[This] port has so deep water right next to the shore that the ships anchor on the sand.’”1 It was this port that propelled the late 19th century progress of Cebu.
After the opening of its port in 1860, Cebu City’s economy picked up. From the city, products of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Negros Oriental, and northern Mindanao were sold abroad. “Ships carrying sugar, abaca, and tobacco regularly embarked from Cebu City for England, the United States, and Spain, the three principal markets for the port’s exports.”2 In 1868, the port of Cebu already shipped 1,181,050 pesos worth of exports, and fifteen years later, the value even doubled (2,429,048 pesos). Foreign trading companies set up branch offices there; the major ones were the English firms Smith, Bell & Co. and Loney, Kerr & Co., and the American group Russell & Sturgis.3
Trade growth and population growth went side by side. By 1890, the city already had 16,398 residents; and despite the revolutions against Spain, and later against the Americans, despite the cholera epidemic the swept the province beginning 1902, and despite the famine that starved the Cebuanos during the war, the population doubled in 1903 (31,0790).4 Of these, around a thousand were foreigners.5
Business also abound. In Calle Magallanes were the “European-style bazaars, jewellers, and tobacco shops”, in the Lutao District were “ petty Chinese shops, butcher sheds, hawkers, and retailers of fish, meat, vegetables, and other food and household items.” There were small manufacturers, and variety of “professional and service shops and offices (livery stables, funeral parlors, drugstores, pawnshops, print shops, and others).”6
The economic growth, however, was halted beginning the mid-1880s when the world price of sugar dropped year after year. Consequently, the value of Cebu’s export dropped severely. Many smaller hacienderos were bankrupt and forced to sell their lands. Still the sugar crisis did not reversed the city’s growth, it only postponed it. Came the 1890s, the sugar situation slowly stabilized, and the bankrupt haciendas were concentrated into larger estates of the Osmenas, the Climacos, the Cuis, the del Rosarios, and the Velosos.7 When the Americans arrived, Cebu City was posed for progress again.
During most of the Spanish rule, the “Queen City of the South” had always been the city of Iloilo. Toward the end of the 19th century, however, Cebu City’s economic development closed the gap with its more prosperous western Visayas neighbor. And at the arrival of the Americans, the central Visayan city could arguably claim the title for itself: “[a]s the nineteenth century came to a close, Cebu City, the provincial capital was the principal Philippine city outside of Manila.”8
The city, however, is only a small part of the province. It is located near the middle of an island 224 kilometers long and 39 kilometers wide. Along the entire length of the island, from northeast to southwest, a mountain chain separated the eastern and western side. Of the 4,564 square kilometers land area, 76 per cent are hills and mountains that were as low as 400 or as high as 1,034 meters, so most of the settlements laid along the coast.9 In some towns, immediately behind the poblacion, there were already hills and low mountains that slowly rise to the mountain ranges of the interior.
The port transformed the countryside too. Beginning 1860, Cebu was becoming a very densely populated island.10 By 1901, the provincial population was around 399,650, and only two years later, it increased to 592,247.11 Settlements, which were formerly very dispersed, became concentrated. While in 1825, the province only had 13 towns, by 1898, the towns have increased to 57.12
“Nineteenth century developments brought about the closer integration of city and countryside.”13 Cebu’s principal contribution to trade was sugar (and in a lesser amount tobacco). The opening to world trade stimulated the growth of sugar estates in the towns, particularly in the north and the west.14 The major sugar producing towns were Medellin, Daan Bantayan, and Bantayan in the north, and Toledo, Balamban, and Asturias in the west. Mandaue immediately north of the city, and Talisay and Carcar in the south were also sugar producers. Barili and Dumanjug in the southwest produced tobacco for export.15
The towns, however, were practically connected to the city only by sea. Compradores or agents, who visited towns to buy sugar and other produce, shipped their collected products to the city by coastal vessels.16 As late as 1900, there were still no roads, only trails that were difficult to navigate. To cross the west coast by land required sacrifice: “It took five or six hours by pony to cross the island from Carcar to Barili (only about 20 kilometers apart).”17 While the journey by land to other towns in the west coast, in the far north, and in the far south obliges one to take the boat even during typhoons. “Even the town governments exercised limited influence within their own jurisdictions. A military report in 1906 said: ‘There is not one municipality that pretends to govern the people living over seven miles from the coast line. Once the tao established himself beyond this approximate line he was out of touch with all forms of government.’”18
At the turn of the 19th century, the province of Cebu was prosperous and populous, the capital was fast becoming the new “Queen City of the South”, but its public school system was relatively undeveloped than would be expected. This paper argues that in spite of Cebu’s large population of school age children and enough income to support the education program, the growth of the public schools was slow because of the anti-American resistance. Although the Filipino-American war fought in Cebu was milder compared to the other provinces, the islands geography rendered early American control loose so that only few schools were opened.
The discussion focuses on the beginnings of the public school system, during the time when armed resistance was waged by Cebuanos against the Americans from 1899 to 1906. It looks into the effect of the war on the establishment of army schools, and, later, on the public schools under the Thomasites. Also, the conditions in Cebu is compared with the public school situation of other provinces and of the country.
The Cebuano Resistance, 1899-1901
The United States Navy gunboat Petrel showed up in Cebu on February 21, 1899 to demand the city’s surrender, or else, it would commenced bombardment. The Cebuano leaders were split. The revolutionaries wanted to fight the Americans and prevent their landing, but the wealthier residents feared the destruction of their properties and felt the futility of resisting. The latter prevailed, so the city was surrendered. On the following day, the Americans pulled down the Philippine flag and raised their own flag over Fort San Pedro.19
A few days later, the first occupation force, the Twenty-third U.S. Infantry, arrived in Cebu. In May 1899, additional troops came, but were still few to allow the Americans to expand into the towns north and south of the city. The military governor was concerned; prolonged inaction would embolden the revolutionaries. Since additional troops could not be sent because of the war in Luzon, the Americans stayed within the city limits and strayed only as far as the neighboring towns.20 If Cebu was a province in Luzon, a larger body of troops would have been sent for the occupation.
More troops arrived on June 14, 1899. With the addition of another four companies of soldiers and a platoon of artillery, the Americans began their expansion. The army first marched towards the south of the city, to the wealthier and bigger towns. By the end of July, they occupied, in succession, the towns of San Nicolas [this town, together with Pardo, were later merged into Cebu City by the Americans], Pardo, Talisay, Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao and Dalaguete. Then they crossed the island and entered Barili and Dumanjug on the west coast. The revolutionaries did not resist, except for a few shots fired during their withdrawal from the towns on the coming of the Americans.21
The occupation of northern Cebu was done the next year, 1900. At the end of April 1900, they had stationed troops in Mandaue, Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Danao, Sogod, and Bogo. Other west coast towns: Alegria, Toledo, and Tuburan, were also garrisoned.22 The tough United States Army had a hard time conquering the west coast; only five towns were occupied there, while seventeen east coast towns were entered.
The Cebuano revolutionaries withdrew to the mountains behind the towns; most were concentrated in the mountains behind Pardo where their headquarters was located. The Americans commenced the attack on the revolutionaries behind Pardo on August 1899, but their progress was slow. Defenders behind, strategically built, breastworks, blockhouses, and small ports hindered their advance. The difficult terrain contributed to the defense. Only with the help of guns from the Monadnock, and field artillery, did the army overran the defense works after several months. The Americans finally took the revolutionary stronghold, Sudlon, on January 1900.23
It was not the end of resistance however. After Sudlon fell, the Cebuanos immediately shifted to a guerilla war that took much longer to suppressed. In January 27 and 28, 1900, guerrillas led by Gervasio Padilla, ambushed and killed a small group of American soldiers marching from Sogod to Carmen. A few days later, another band assaulted the garrison in Consolacion. And the next day, a Cebu City outpost was also attacked. Encounters also occured in Pardo (February 8) and in Compostela (Feb 27). Nine American soldiers were killed and several others wounded from these attacks.24 The casualty count was low, but it showed that the occupation of the towns was far from secure.
The Army Schools, 1899-1901
The United States Army promoted education with enthusiasm. Three weeks after the fall of Manila, they already had seven schools in session. A few weeks more, it became thirty-nine. In the provinces, school openings were primary army projects: “In many cases a school was the first thing established by the army in a town, even preceding the rudiments of municipal government. Soldiers were always available for teaching assignments, and, though lacking equipment and books, they improvised sufficiently to begin classes, including instructions in English.”25 Usually, army schools26 were opened in garrisoned towns.
Cebu city was captured on February 22, 1899, and the towns north and south of it were occupied beginning June 1899 until April 1900. Outside of Cebu City, major garrisons were in San Nicolas, Naga, Dumanjug, Balamban, Mandaue, Danao, and Bogo.27 Argao was also an army station. As proof, on February 12, 1901, Col. McClernand ordered “the American officer-in-charge of the Argao detachment, a Lt. Thomas, to arrest Placido Osorio and Ruperto Buenconsejo, prominent citizens of nearby Dalaguete, for suspicion of collaboration with the insurgents. Thomas was to bring the two for questioning at the headquarters in Cebu on board the Troy, which was then docked at Argao.” Its garrison was probably big, for the town later became the base of operation in the south. Testament to this was the naming of a street to the pier after Gen. Robert Hughes, commander of the Visayan district beginning 1899.28 While in the north, Bogo was the base of operations. Smaller outposts were also established in Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Sogod, and Tuburan in the north, and Talisay, Minglanilla, Carcar, Alegria, and Toledo in the south.29
The army had concentrated their troops in the east coast of the island, as far as Bogo in the north and Argao in the south. Only two major garrisons were established in the west coast, in Balamban and Dumanjug. Balamban was the backdoor neighbor of Cebu City, so it must be secured in order to prevent guerrillas from using the towns’ mountains as hideout, and launched raids on the city. Dumanjug, too, was important as west coast terminal of one of the roads (Sibonga-Dumanjug Road) that crosses the province from the eastern side. Barili, its neighbor, was the terminus of the other east-west road (Carcar-Barili Road). The far north and far south of the west coast was relatively unprotected; only Tuburan in the northwest and Alegria in the southwest were stationed with troops, usually around 12-24 soldiers only.
According to Resil Mojares, a historian of Cebu, “… for a time, the U.S. Army had control over the educational system. Prior to the arrival of the first professional American teachers in late 1901, some American soldiers did work in Cebu as English teachers.”30 Colonel E. J. McClernand, Cebu’s military commander in 1900, wanted to use schools to attract towns to the American fold.31 He must have established army schools in the garrisoned towns. If we assume that one school was opened in the poblaciones of the eighteen garrisoned towns, and two in the city, still, there would have been only 20 army schools in Cebu before the arrival of the Thomasites32 in late 1901. Too few considering the 1000 schools established by the military all over the Philippines by August 1900; especially, since Cebu was among the most populated provinces of the country.33
Many of McClernand’s schools, probably, did not last long. Neighboring towns of Cebu City were not completely secured, and towns in the far north, and in the west coast, were barely secured at all. When the Bureau of Education assigned the arriving Thomasites in 1901, Cebu was one of the last provinces they had in mind. Initially, they only sent five American teachers to Cebu, and placed the four of them safely in the city. Only one town was deemed safe, Balamban.
Surely, Cebu City had an army school or two. It was, probably, attended mostly by Cebuano mestizos who were wealthy and were supporters of the Americans. However, just across the river from the city, the more populous San Nicolas, hometown of many revolutionaries and sympathizers, was very unfriendly to the Americans: In June 1899, “[the Americans] threatened to burn down the whole town, leading to the evacuation and virtual emptying of San Nicolas.” They also arrested the capitan municipal, Santiago Ferrares, and replaced him with Luciano Bacayo. Bacayo, however, had to plead from the military to withdraw the threat because nobody was around for him to govern; only after the threat was cancelled did the residents return. While the people were settling again, a fellow San Nicolasnon, Antonio Nacorda, set fire on the house of revolutionary supporter, Paulina Padilla. He could have been acting on American orders.34 With this condition, I wonder if an army school was founded, and if established, made progress in persuading parents to send their children.
One who lived through those times recalled it. In 1998, as part of the centennial celebrations, Cebu City gave awards to the centenarians. Marivir R. Montebon, a journalist for The Freeman, a local daily, interviewed two of them. Fortunata Padolina Dungog was already 102 years old when she was interviewed in late October 1998, shortly after here birthday. Lola Nata, as her family called her, lived all here life in San Nicolas. Montebon wrote: “Lola Nata said that she never felt fear during the Filipino-American War. ‘Mora man lang ko ug nagduwa duwa adto. Sige lang mi og balhin balhin.” (It was just like playing. We kept on transferring from one place to another.)” Lola Nata also had this interesting recollection of the war: “‘Sa tiempo sa gubat, dili magtago og kwarta kay maigo kono sa bala. Pero nagdala man ko og daghan. Wala man lagi ko ma-igo.’ (During war, we were told not to hide money in our clothes because we will be hit by bullets. But I brought many. I was not hit.)”35
Reception in the Towns
In Sibonga, Argao, Naga, and Dumanjug, town leaders warmly welcomed the U.S. Army. “Argao officials declared that the town would fight the insurgents at the side of the Americans.” Others, however, were not enthusiastic; many residents resorted to passive resistance by avoiding the soldiers or by not talking to them. Some of the towns were even deserted: “Residents, forewarned of the Americans’ approach by the blowing of conch shells, stayed out of sight as the Americans marched in.”36 On entering San Remegio [a northwest town] in March 1901, this was the report of the commanding officer:
The people of San Remigio have either left that pueblo in a body or fled at the approach of American soldiers. Everything in my power had been done to show these people the benefits of American control. The place had been garrisoned and apparently great confidence had been created, but very suddenly the whole population left in much the same manner as did the people of Maravilla [Tabuelan, another nothwest town] and to occupy San Remigio now would be simply to occupy a town filled with empty houses. I recently entered that town about daylight and found it empty and captured about a dozen insurgent flags; also some powder and ammunition.37
Certainly, no army schools were opened in the deserted towns.
Even if the residents did stay, like in Pinamungahan in August 1900, “[t]he people as a whole seem perfectly cowed and afraid to show any signs of friendship and during our stay carefully avoided the troops. It was also impossible to buy anything in the shape of fish, eggs, chickens, cigarettes, etc., all such being carefully concealed or ownership disclaimed,” that commanding officer added.38 I think, what was more impossible was to hire a local teacher or to gather children for the schools.
Faced with this kind of reception, the reorganization of towns crawled. Between July to September 1900, the army had held elections in only nine of the 57 towns of the province: the capital Cebu City, the large northern town of Bogo, and the mid-sized towns of Dumanjug, Naga, Balamban, and the small ones of Medellin, Alegria, San Sebastian [no longer existing, incorporated into Samboan], and San Remigio. In April 13, 1901, five days before the visit of the Philippine Commission in Cebu and the establishment of a civil government, another six towns were organized which included the large towns of Argao, Sibonga, and Carcar, and Barili, and the mid-sized Dalaguete, and the small town of Minglanilla. These were either garrisoned towns or neighbors of garrisoned ones. The progress of town reorganization was especially slow in northern Cebu were American control was loose. Of the fourteen, only three were northern towns: Bogo, Medellin, San Remigio. The last batch of towns organized were also from the north: Tabogon, Sogod, Catmon, and Carmen. These only held elections in 1902.39
If towns were slow to organize, how much more were the schools. In several cases, school establishment preceded municipal organization, but in others, such as in Cebu, the reverse happened. Municipal elections were symbollic of the leaders’ consent to U. S. rule. It was through town officials that the Americans carried out programs such as education. These officials persuaded local teachers to teach in the army schools, and convinced parents to send their children to class again. In Cebu, where many town officials did not cooperate, where most of the people avoided interaction with soldiers—some even left their homes for the mountains, and where the Americans had the penchant for town burning,40 the schools were probably few. It would have to wait for the end of the war and the arrival of the Thomasites in the province.
Beginnings of the Public Schools, 1901-1903
Civil government was extended to Cebu in April 18, 1901 during the occasion of the visit of the Philippine Commission in the city.41 It was shortlived, however. Military rule was reimposed after only three months of civlian rule because of persistent Cebuano resistance. This time the Americans stepped up the campaign against the guerrillas. Between July and October, twenty-three encounters occurred where 100 Cebuanos were killed and 50 captured; no American died. Gen. Robert Hughes was even transferred to Cebu from Samar to finish off the revolutionaries. Intensified military operations coupled with burning of towns, threatening to burn others, and hamletting of mountain villages broke the resistance.42
On September 26, 1901, Juan Climaco, the “brains” of the Cebuano revolution, surrendered in Carmen. Others followed. In October 12, revolutionary leaders Pantaleon del Rosario, Melquiades Lasala, Mateo Luga, Angel Libre, and Saturnino Echavez with their men surrendered in Cebu City. And a week later, in Barili, Nicolas Godines, Troadio Galicano, Saturnino Echavez, and Francisco Rodriguez also presented theirselves to the authorities. General Arcadio Maxilom surrendered together with 78 men in Tuburan on October 27, 1901.43 That was the end of the Cebuano revolutionary government and its resistance.
While the generals negotiated their surrender, the first professional American teachers, popularly called the Thomasites, were sent to Cebu. The first batch arrived around September 1901.44 Succeeding groups were sent in the following months; eventually, 32 Thomasites were stationed in Cebu.45
The first batch consisted only of five teachers. Four were assigned in Cebu City, while one was stationed in Balamban.46 The four teachers assigned in Cebu City took over in the central school, the schools in Ermita, in San Nicolas, and in a barrio school; schools that must have been established by the army. A certain Mr. Manning took over in the central school, a Mrs. Levering in Ermita, and another two Americans in San Nicolas and in the barrio school.47 In 1901, the Bureau of Education saw Balamban, which was adjacent to Cebu, as the only town safe for an American teacher. It had a significant army garrison, and eventually around the boundary of Cebu City and Balamban, a major constabulary detachment, Camp Walker, was established.48 At this time, September 1901, the revolutionary army only began to surrender, so the security of the other towns were not ensured yet.
When the main revolutionary army of the province surrendered, more American teachers were assigned to Cebu. One teacher was transferred to Samboan from his station in Negros Oriental. Unfortunately he was not able to reach his new assignment: In January 29, 1902, Ira A. Collins was crossing the Tanon Strait from Bais, Negros Oriental to Samboan, Cebu, when he fell from the boat and drowned. Another teacher must have taken his place. A Thomasite was also detailed in Naga, Joseph E. Allen, who brought his wife and two children with him. Unfortunately, Allen got smallpox; he died after three weeks with the illness on April 29, 1903. Allen was buried in the town cemetery.49
Others who arrived later, had to wait for the next school year, 1902-1903, to begin opening schools since the current school year was about to end: “Louis A. Thomas, John E. Wells, Ernest Heger, and Clyde O. France were among the teachers who sailed from New York on February 22 1902, arriving at Manila two months later. After a stay of two or three weeks in Manila they went to the city of Cebu, on the island of the same name, where they arrived on May 30. They were instructed to wait for the opening of the American teacher’s institute for the island of Cebu, to be opened on June 16, after which they would be assigned to stations, to which they would proceed to open school and to begin work at the close of the long vacation.”50 The four, however, were not able to do so. They were not even able to attend the institute; they died before the end of June. Their story will be told later.
Three Americans were also assigned in the normal school of the city: Samuel MacClintock was principal, while Florence Grayum and J. Frank Daniel were instructors.51 Grayum later taught in the Cebu Provincial High School.52 Aside from the three assigned in Naga, Balamban, and Samboan, seven more Americans were distributed to the other towns of Cebu.53 One American teacher must have been assigned in the primary school of Argao. This school, in 1907, became one of the first elementary schools [that is offering both primary and intermediate instruction] outside Cebu City, serving Argao and the neighboring towns of Dalaguete and Sibonga.54
In 1902, all schools offered only a primary course; intermediate levels were only opened in 1904. A primary and intermediate course combined make up the elementary program. In 1904, intermediate courses were only available in one or two schools in the city, such as in the Cebu City Central Elementary School, and probably in San Nicolas Elementary School too.55 In school year 1907-1908, there were already five intermediate schools.56 Two or three must have been in Cebu, while the others where in the towns. As mentioned above, Argao was one of the towns which offered a complete elementary education in 1907.
Southern towns were preferred in the assignment of teachers. The larger towns of Carcar (20,000 pop.), Argao (35,000), Sibonga (30,000), and Barili (21,640) were located there. In the north, the only comparable town was Bogo (18,000).57 Their town leaders were Americanistos, friendly to the entry of the Americans in their towns. The roads were also much better in the south. Proof of which, the two roads that crossed the islands from east to west were in the south (the Carcar-Barili road and the Sibonga-Dumanjug road).58 Not one road was in northern Cebu: the people crossed the island by using only mountain trails there.
On a visit to the Museo Sugbo two years ago, a museum guide, showed us a picture of a boys class taught by an American teacher in a southern town; I just could not remember which. He also said that one of the students was his grandfather. Somehow, it is an additional proof that southern towns were more preferred.
Another ten American teachers began teaching in the third school year, 1903-1904. Seven of them taught in newly opened schools of Cebu City: Tejero, Cogon, Mabolo, Pardo, Mambaling, and two other suburbs of the city.59 It was in the schools in San Nicolas and in Mambaling that Jovito Abellana, Cebuano historian and politician had his early studies. The three other teachers were added to the faculty of the Normal Institute.60 Samuel MacClintock who was principal of the institute, later replaced H. E. Bard as superintendent of the division of Cebu.61
The American teachers were assisted by Cebuano teachers. Several were pioneer graduates of the Normal Institute of the city, but some of the women teachers were products of the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion.62 Cebu City had 17 local teachers in school year 1902-1903, while 177 teachers were distributed in the 57 towns.63 If the teachers were equally apportioned, there will be about 3 teachers for every town. That is not the case, however; some towns in the north and west of Cebu were without teachers, were without schools.
Condition of the Public Schools, 1901-1906
Only five Thomasites were assigned in Cebu by October 1, 1901, the first school year of the public school system. Four of them took over in the existing army schools in Cebu City, while the last one assumed teaching duties in Balamban. Other provinces had many more Thomasites stationed in them: Cavite had 40 American teachers, Bulacan 32, and Pampanga 30. Of course they should have more because they are neighbors of Manila, but the most number of Thomasites, unexpectledly, were assigned in the Visayan provinces, neighbors of Cebu: Leyte had 39, Negros had 51, and Panay had 54 American teachers.64
Why?, we might ask. Cebu had a bigger population, therefore more school age children, than Negros and Leyte. Its population was also not far behind Panay. In 1903, their populations were: Cebu – 592,247; Negros – 460,776; Leyte – 357,641; and Panay – 743,646.65 So why were there only five American teachers in Cebu in late 1901?
The Bureau of Education, who determined the assignments, would not risk more teachers in Cebu. Even during the visit of the Philippine Commission in April, earlier that year, they were hesitant to extend civil government because “there is much unrest in the province, and bands of insurrectos prowl about in the neighborhood of the capital to the great alarm of the officer in command.”66 Cebu’s situation was like that of Samar which only had three American teachers assigned.67 Barker Sherman, Leyte’s division superintendent, had this recommendation to the bureau in 1901, “… as military operations are still in progress in the adjacent island [Samar] with no immediate assurance of their cessation, I deem it unwise to send teachers at this time to any part thereof.”68 Cebu’s own division superintendent, H. E Bard, must have recommended that too for Cebu.
Conditions in Cebu, however, was about to improve. In October 1901, the main revolutionary army in the island had surrendered. So in the following months, the Bureau of Education sent additional American teachers to Cebu, and by 1902, there were already 32 teachers detailed to the province.69
The second school year opened with an American Teachers’ Institute on June 16, 1902 in Cebu City.70 Other normal institutes were also held in Manila and the other provinces.71 The Thomasites assigned in Cebu province, and some from the neighboring provinces attended the assembly. One of those who spoke in the assembly was the deputy division superintendent of Cebu. He warned them of their reception in the towns, “As is to be expected under present conditions, the attitude of the presidentes toward American schools and teachers will vary widely. In some pueblos the presidente will be a real Americanisto, in others his insurrecto tendencies will be hidden only sufficiently for him to continue in office.”72 This superintendent, who came earlier, was aware of the conditions in the towns that were only recently spared from war. Many of the town leaders were former revolutionaries, were sympathizers, or were victims of the juez de cuchillo enforced by the army on several towns. After the conference, the remaining teachers of the original 32 assigned to Cebu (6 had died already by June 1902)73 went to their assignments in the city and municipal schools.
Public education in Cebu finally gathered momentum that year. Two superintendents, assisted by 16 American teachers, supervised 17 Cebuano teachers in the city schools and 177 local teachers in the municipal schools.74 If each Cebuano teacher taught a class, and in those days they had only one-class schools—there were no other sections—then there must have been 194 schools in the whole Cebu. This was the usual practice in the country during the early years of the public school system. One teacher operates a boys’ school, or a girls’ school, or a coeducational primary school.
In the primary schools of Cebu City, 335 students were enrolled. In the normal school, 39 Cebuano teacher-aspirants were studying. And in the next school year, another ten American teachers came and the enrollment also increased: the primary pupils increased to 996, while the normal school aspirantes became 206.75
In the 1904-1905 school year, there were already 213 schools in the province. Beginning this schoolyear, the intermediate level was introduced. The four-year primary course was also reduced to three years, just in time for the pioneer graduates to move up to the intermediate level. Intermediate studies was also for three years.76 (The fourth grade in the primary would be reintroduced in 1907.)77 The combined enrollment for the primary and intermediate schools that year for the province was 31,225. That year there were 37 American teachers in Cebu; there were also 162 Cebuano teachers, six of them were insular teachers.78
The elementary (combined primary and intermediate) school population of the country in school year 1904-1905 was 311,439 pupils.79 Cebu’s public school enrollment was 10 per cent of the national enrollment. This was a huge share considering Cebu was just one of the 37 divisions of the Philippine public school system.80
However, a lot of these schools were closed the following school year. That year, only 124 schools held classes in the province. According to Jose Quisumbing, “[the] closure of the number of schools in this year was due to the tight financial situation at the time which forced hundreds of pupils to drop out.”81 I think that was not the reason because national enrollment continued to increase.82 It was the intensified pulahan attacks in the towns of Cebu that prevented many children from going to school and caused many schools to close—some were even burned down by the pulahanes. The enrollment that year slid to only 22,700 in the whole province.83 The story of the pulahan movement and its effect on the public schools will be taken up in the next section.
In school year 1906-1907, Cebu recovered a little. The number of schools rose to 158, while the enrollment increased to 27,876. Still, only 21 percent of the total school age children of the province (135,060) attended school that year.84 It was very low compared with Ilocos Norte (41 per cent) and Nueva Ecija (53), and neighboring provinces of Iloilo (36 per cent) and Bohol (38).85
However, that small recovery marked only the beginning; Cebu’s public school system was finally taking off. The pulahan movement had been suppressed in 1906, and remaining bands were rounded up the next year, so security in the province was definitely better. In the next school year, the province’s school situation rapidly improved. Cebu had 262 primary schools, and 5 intermediate schools. The enrollment for primary was 50,919, and for intermediate was 672: a total of 51,591 elementary students were enrolled in Cebu that year; it nearly doubled the previous year’s attendance. Already 38 per cent of all school age children of the province were studying in the public schools. The average daily attendance was also high: 78 per cent for primary, and 88 per cent for intermediate.86 Meaning, students who enrolled, frequently attended classes. There were no more pulahan raids that would make their worried parents keep them safely at home.
Also in 1907, Cebu had 280 male and 148 female municipal teachers, and 31 male and 1 female insular teachers, 460 teachers in all.87 That was a great leap from 1904 when their were only 162 Cebuano teachers, and only six of them were insular teachers.88 It was expected, the anxiety over the pulahanes was gone. Parents were no longer hesitant to send their children to school, and Cebuanos were no longer reluctant to take the job of teaching; no more kidnappings nor killings threatened them as collaborators of the Americans.
The Cebu Provincial High School
The secondary level was added to the public school program in 1904. In each province a secondary school was established, usually in the capital town or city. Thirty five high schools were founded that year with 404 students enrolled.89 The Cebu Provincial High School in Cebu City was one of them. Ten American teachers taught there during the first year; its first principal was J.V. Barrow. In the next school year, 1905-1906, 20 students were enrolled.90 Two years later, the number of high school students increased to 39.91
In 1907, when Cebuano resistance was over, permanent facilities were provided to the growing high school. The director of education reported in 1908, “Cebu has both a high school building and a shop building in course of construction.”92 This was probably the building built on the huge school site along the wide and tree-lined street that led to the city’s uptown area, presently named Osmena Boulevard. Beside this is the city’s central school. “The school, which stands along Osmena Boulevard, had a vast school ground (much more expansive than what it is now) where the American sports like track and field and baseball were regularly played.”93 It was here where Cebu Provincial High School’s champion athletes, such as the brothers Roman and Ruperto Kangleon (basketball) and Regino Ylanan (baseball), trained.94
The high school building lasted until the Second World War where it was among those destroyed during the American “liberation”.95 The Cebu Provincial High School, however, was never rebuilt on the same site. Instead, after the war, the school was divided into two: the Cebu South Provincial High School was transferred to Argao, while the Cebu North Provincial High School was established in Tuburan.96 The vacuum left by the Cebu Provincial High School was filled by the Cebu City High School which was founded in August 1938 by the city government. After it transferred to the former provincial high school site, it was given national government support and became the Abellana National Vocational School in 1959.97
One of the teachers who taught in Cebu Provincial High School was the Thomasite, Bess Taylor Thompson. She arrived in the Philippines in 1901 and was assigned in San Fernando [not Cebu; either Pampanga or La Union]. After the end of the 1903-1904 school year, she resigned and returned to the United States. Thompson, however, was convinced by the director of education, David Barrows, to teach again in the Philippines. In June 1907, she arrived in Cebu and started the girls’ home economics instruction in the high school.98
In a letter, Thompson told of some of her experiences with her girl students: “There with native stones and utensils, I began a course in cookery, using native products as much as possible. They enjoyed the work—because they were permitted to have their little parties together and could serve tea to teachers and friends…. They [also] furnished refreshments at all high school social affairs.” The students of Thompson were fortunate to have a teacher who knew about the household arts, because besides cooking they were also taught housekeeping, sewing and crochet. Their housekeeping lessons was interesting: “On the campus of the Cebu High School, we had a domestic science cottage—a nipa-roofed house of three rooms and a separate out-of-door toilet. The girls learned to keep a bedroom, a kitchen, and large living and sewing rooms systematically with special attention given to sanitation,” told Thompson.99
Outside the school, she was amazed with the novelty: “In one Philippine home, the home of a teacher, where I was staying for a night, I asked my hostess to direct me to the ‘rest room’. She pointed to a little place in a tree over the sea’s edge. There was a ladder at the tree. I took it in my stride, conscious of just another experience of a lifetime.”100 This kind of restrooms are still common in Cebu. The trees are gone, and in their stead, small box-shaped rooms on stilts are lined along the shore. The ebb and flow of the tides take care of the rest.
The Public Schools and the Pulahanes, 1902-1906
“On the morning of June 10 … four teachers started from Cebu for a day in the foothills to the north of the city, their purpose, in so far as it is known, being to enjoy a day’s outing and to take pictures of the mountain country. Nothing further was seen of them until their bodies were brought back to Cebu on the 23rd day of July.”101 The four were the American teachers Louis A. Thomas, John E. Wells, Ernest Heger, and Clyde O. France, we mentioned earlier.102 They were waiting for the teachers’ conference scheduled on June 16, 1902 in the city, before they could begin opening schools in their different assignments in the province. “It was said that these teachers, prior to departing on this first expedition in an unknown country, were warned by Inspector Ross, then stationed in Cebu, of the great danger from bands of outlaws in these mountains.”103 The four were killed by the pulahanes.
The pulahanes was the generic name “for the mixed movement of brigands, rebels, and fanatics operating in Samar, Leyte and Cebu whose bases of operations were centered in the mountainous districts of Cebu, Leyte, and Samar.”104 The name was given because of the strips, large and small, of red cloth adorned on their clothings as bands, ribbons, or sashes. One group even pinned these red cloths over “white suits (americanang maputi)”.105 The red strips were amulets or anting-anting of the wearers that made them invulnerable to knives and bullets, and capable of other extraordinary abilities. For the American authorities, they were outlaws, but they were actually former members of the revolutionary army.
The Cebuano revolutionary army headed by General Arcadio Maxilom surrendered on October 1901. Some, however, continued to fight as independent guerrilla bands. One group, led by the Tabal brothers, Rafael, Anatalio, Quintin, and Serafin, operated in the mountains of Cebu City and Balamban; Roberto Caballero’s group in Tuburan, Asturias, Borbon, Sogod, Carmen and Danao; Petronilo Esnardo in Bogo and Tabogon; Policarpio de la Pena in Carcar and Aloguinsan; and Anastacio de la Cruz in Pinamungahan.106
Pulahan bands were not outlaws. They entered towns in order to attack constabulary detachments, stole arms and ammunitions, punished collaborators, robbed the rich, and took, although at times forcibly, food supplies from the people. In Cebu, the remote towns of the north end (San Remigio, Borbon, and Danao) and the west coast (Tuburan, Toledo, Aloguinsan, and Barili) of the island were frequently attacked. These towns were “insufficiently protected.”107
However, during the height of the pulahan movement, from 1904 to 1905, even Cebu City and nearby towns were raided. The district of Cogon, a suburb of the city was entered by a pulahan band in 1904. And “[on] 7 May 1905, around a hundred pulahanes, ‘including women and chidren,’ entered the district of Consolacion, in the town of Mandaue, between 4:00 and 5:00 A.M. They were said to be led by Quintin Tabal. In the face of the raid, residents and the unarmed police fled. Five inhabitants were wounded and one woman murdered. In the one hour the raiders stayed in the town, they ransacked the houses, stores, and set fire to the old municipal building, the schoolhouse, and five dwellings.” While in July 1905, another group “raided the local treasury, burned the municipal building and part of the town, cut telephone and telegraph wires, and killed 18 residents” of Minglanilla.108 [emphasis mine]
Aside from the town halls, and the houses of officials and wealthy residents, schools were also targets of pulahan attacks. They were symbols of American authority; like municipal buildings (where schoolbuildings were frequently nearby), schools were often burned down too. Further, participating in the schools as local teachers or as parents of students was seen as collaboration with the enemy. Cebuanos were threatened not to teach in the public schools; those who disregaded the warning, would be kidnapped or killed. Certainly among those kidnapped in Cebu, Consolacion, and Pinamungahan in 1904, and killed and wounded in Mandaue and Minglanilla in 1905, were schoolteachers.
A centenarian, interviewed in 1998, lived through that time. Natividad Toling-Durado was already 101 years old in 1998. She was born on March 20, 1897 in Maravella, Tabuelan, and also grew up there. She turned seven years old in 1903 (the height of the Pulahan movement), and was nine years old in 1906 when most of the Pulahanes surrendered. Lola Tidad, she affectionately called, married when she was 18 years old. She was a housewife, “‘Ang akong trabaho manglaba, manglampaso, magbibingka, mag-borda. Tanang trabaho sa balay,’ she declared. (My work includes laundry, floor polishing, cooking rice cakes, and embroidery. All the house chores.)” Lola Tidad never went to school, nor learned to read or write.109 The northwest town of Tabuelan is, until now, among the least accessible municipality of Cebu. The distant islands of Bantayan and Camotes are far easier to visit.
The pulahanes surely disrupted the classes in the public schools. When the pulahanes descended on the towns, classes would be broken up. The teachers and students would be among the residents that fled for their safety. Several schools would even be burned, and some though spared from burning could not resume classes because the teachers resigned or were killed.
The pulahan movement ended in 1906 when the large bands availed of the amnesty. The remaining ones were arrested with the help of those who surrendered in the following years.110 Beginning that year, with the same number of municipal police, people even in the inaccessible towns of the far north, the far south, and the west coast were no longer threatened. Town life settled and the American programs were then better enforced. That year, as shown in the previous section, Cebu’s stunted public school system began to grow.
Cebu’s war against the Americans stunted the development of the public schools in the province. It would not have been a surprise if the public school system in Cebu was the second or third best in the country, since its capital, Cebu City, was the third, if not second, largest city in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century. Instead, because of chaotic conditions brought by the war, its public school system was among the worse, only a bit better than that of Samar.
Compared to Samar, however, the war in Cebu was tame, but the geographical lay of the island rendered American control very loose. The island was not compact (which would have been easier to occupy by simply placing troops in the center), but it was very elongated, so that the northern and southern ends, were more than two hundred kilometers away. Also, there was only one highway in the province at that time—the sea. The U.S. army would have to use more boats to ferry their troops quickly to the northern and southern towns. To make matters worse for the army, the whole island of Cebu is divided by a mountain range from as far north as Bogo to as far south as Santander. The west coast towns were doubly far; to get there the Americans had to sail far north or far south, round up the point, and then, sail down or sail up again to get to the western towns of the island.
Of course there were roads available. However, they were not only difficult to traverse, but were also death traps to the U.S. Army—guerrillas were prowling along the mountain trails waiting to ambush. Because of the mountains too, garrisons in the town poblaciones were not safely out of reach of the revolutionaries. Immediately at the back of the towns (Cebu’s towns were all facing the sea), mountains rose. It was so easy for guerrillas to sneak in for raids and to hastily retreat to their mountain hideouts when repulsed.
The Cebuano resistance, compounded by the island’s geography, rendered American control of the towns of Cebu very loose, so that their programs such as education could not be vigorously implemented. The schools the army opened between 1899 and 1901 were few; some were even closed because of the lack of security. When the Thomasites came, only Cebu City and Balamban had existing army schools, or only these two places were deemed safe for American teachers. Only five were sent the first time, despite that Cebu was one of the populous and prosperous Visayan provinces: fifty four Thomasites were sent in Panay, while 51 were in Negros. A staggering discrepancy that could only be explained by the poor peace and order situation in Cebu. Proof of this, four American teachers were killed, on the same occassion, in June 1902 in the mountains of Cebu City.
As the resistance dragged on, however, the Americans got the upper hand. Eventually, the long-suffering revolutionaries came down from the mountains, and, in 1906, the Cebuano hold outs, the pulahanes, surrendered. Consequently, during that year, the public school system began to grow again; the number of schools increased and the enrollment doubled the previous years. Cebu, finally, had a public school system worthy of its fame as the new “Queen Province of the South.”
1Junald Dawa Ango, “The Cebu-Acapulco Galleon Trade.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 38, no. 2 (June 2010): 156-57.
2Bruce Leonard Fenner, Cebu Under the Spanish Flag, 1521-1896: An Economic-Social History (Cebu City: San Carlos Publications, 1985), 107-08.
3Resil B. Mojares, “The Formation of a City: Trade and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Cebu,” in Selected Papers on Cities in Philippine History, eds. Ma. Luisa T. Camagay and Bernardita Reyes Churchill (Quezon City: The Philippine National Historical Society, Inc., 2000), 81-82.
4Michael Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics, Filipino Elite Responses to American Rule, 1898-1908 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 2003), 196.
5Mojares, “Formation of City,” 82.
7Fenner, 134-36, 142.
8Resil B. Mojares, The War against the Americans, Resistance and Collaboration in Cebu: 1899-1906, (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1999), 5.
9Ibid., 53; Cullinane, 195.
10Mojares, War against Americans, 131.
11Ibid., 118, 122, 126; James H. Blount, The American Occupation of the Philippines, 1898-1912 (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1912), 567.
12Mojares, “Formation of City,” 81.
17Mojares, War against Americans, 55.
25John Morgan Gates, Schoolbooks and Krags, The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898-1902 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1973), 61,87.
26They were called army schools because they were established by the United States Army, and were distinguished from the public schools organized by the civil government. The army schools were turned over to the civil government, and became the core of the public school system.
27Mojares, War against Americans, 130.
28Erlinda Kintanar-Alburo, “Tidbits from the South,” in Sumad, Essays for the Centennial of the Revolution in Cebu, (Manila: De La Salle University Press, Inc., 2001), 23.
29Mojares, War against Americans, 43, 62, 66.
32The Thomasites was the name of the pioneer batch of teachers who came to the Philippines from mid-1901 to early 1902. There were 824 of them, men and women teachers. They were divided to different provincial assignments. From Amparo Santamaria Lardizabal, Pioneer American Teachers and Philippine Education (Quezon City: Phoenix Press, 1991), 52.
34Kintanar-Alburo, “San Nicolas, El Pueblo Antiguo,” in Sumad, 17-18.
35Marivir R. Montebon, “A Tribute to Two Centenarians,” in Retracing our Roots, A Journey into Cebu’s Pre-colonial and Colonial Past (Minglanilla, Cebu: ES Villaver Publishing, 2000), 89-90.
36Mojares, War against Americans, 42.
39Ibid., 118, 122, 126-27.
41Edith Moses, Unofficial Letters of an Official’s Wife (New York: B. Appleton and Co., 1908), 133.
42Mojares, War against Americans,139-141.
44Report of the Philippine Commission, June 30, 1901 (Washington: Government Printing Office, ), 511-15; Moses, 179-80. In succeeding citations, Report of the Philippine Commission is abbreviated as RPC.
45Amparo Santamaria Lardizabal, Pioneer American Teachers and Philippine Education (Quezon City: Phoenix Press, 1991), 52.
46RPC 1901, pp. 511-15
47RPC 1903, part 3, p. 754.
48 Mojares, War against Americans, 130, 187.
49Gilbert S. Perez, “From the Transport Thomas to Santo Tomas,” in Tales of the American Teachers in the Philippines, eds. Geronimo T. Pecson and Maria Racelis (Manila: Carmelo & Bauermann, Inc., 1959), 28-29, 32.
51RPC 1903, p. 754.
52Souvenir of the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Class of 1916 of the Cebu High School (Cebu City: The Class of 1916, March 29, 1941), 5.
53RPC 1903, p. 754.
54Atanacio P. Bandolon, “A Survey of the Educational Situation of Argao, 1954-1955” (M.A. thesis, University of San Carlos, Cebu City, May 1956), 1.
55Jose R. Quisumbing, The American Occupation of Cebu: Warwick Barracks, 1899-1917 (Quezon City: Progressive Printing Palace, 1983), 43; Montebon, 23.
56RPC 1908, vol. 8, part 2, pp. 854-55.
57Mojares, War against Americans, 118, 122.
59RPC 1903, p. 754; Quisumbing, 37; Montebon, 23.
60RPC 1903, p. 754.
61Ibid.; Quisumbing, 36.
62Milagros Narvios Gonzales, “A History of Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Cebu City, 1880-1966” (M.A. thesis, University of San Carlos, Cebu City, August 1966), 28-29.
63RPC 1903, p. 754.
64RPC 1901, pp. 511-15.
67RPC 1901, pp. 511-15.
70“Advice to the American Teachers in the Provinces from the Deputy Division Superintendent of Cebu, 1902,” in Tales, 125.
71UNESCO-Philippine Educational Foundation, Fifty Years of Education for Freedom (Manila: National Printing Co., Inc., 1953), 75.
72“Advice to American Teachers,” in Tales, 125.
73For a detailed discussion of this matter see pp. 10-11, 17.
74RPC 1903, p. 754.
76RPC 1905, part 4, p. 417.
78RPC 1905, p. 417. The insular teachers were those hired by the insular government, not appointed by the municipalities. The latter were called municipal teachers.
80RPC 1905, p. 416.
83RPC 1905, p. 418.
84RPC 1907, part 3, p. 205.
85Ibid.; May, 109.
86RPC 1908, pp. 854-55.
88RPC 1905, p. 417.
90RPC 1905, pp. 418-19.
91RPC 1908, pp. 854-55.
94Lourdes S. Mercado, Cebu Through the Centuries (Cebu City: Cebu Star Press, 1965), 5.
95Conchita E. Misa, “An Evaluative Survey of the Abellana National Vocational School of Cebu City, Cebu” (M.A. thesis, University of San Carlos, Cebu City, March 1959), 14.
101Perez, “From Transport Thomas,” in Tales, 30-31.
102For a detailed discussion of this matter see p. 10.
103 Perez, “From Transport Thomas,” in Tales, 30-31.
105Mojares, War Against Americans, 181.
106Ibid., 175-77; Quisumbing, 53.
107Mojares, War Against Americans, 181.
110Mojares, War Against Americans, 190-92.
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