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UST High School:

Thru the eyes of a True-blooded Thomasian

by Renato Jose Ma V Molano, Batch 80



1976 was our year of entry to the world of Secondary Education, or so they say. It was more of primary to me because of many firsts. Fresh from my UST Elementary days, we were the first freshmen who would occupy the new UST High School building after the old building got burned down in 1975. Having been arranged alphabetically then, I was seated between Pablito Mendoza and Christopher Nitura, both good orators, it was hard keeping up with them during English & Filipino classes. It was our first encounter with Mr. Antonio Villaruel, our Filipino Teacher who gave Dead Poet’s Society’s Robin Williams a run for his money. He was the only teacher I knew who used the blackboard at the back of the class room(!), who dances (or glides) his way around the room and gives you that infamous Ricky Reyes smirk with beautiful eyes to boot. It was my first encounter with our homeroom adviser, Ms. Evelyn Ariola, the then popular Geraldine look-alike, so pretty and sweet I made a portrait of her using my Mongol #2 pencil! There was Rosana Raroque for our Science class. She later became a newscaster in one TV network. Then there were these two Reyeses, Ms. Leilani and Ms. Henedina, Religion & English teachers, respectively. Then there was “thunder-like voice” Mr. Gregorio Platon of Practical Arts fame. My favorite of them all was Ms. Evelina Estiandan (because I always got the highest grade in Mathematics), who was petite but truly a Math guru.


In our year of entry, Mrs. Evangelina Teodoro was our School Principal, with Mr. Francisco Torres as the boy’s administrative assistant (AA), and Mrs. Araceli Murillo as the girls’ AA. Our regent then was Fr. Maximiliano Rebollo, O.P.


It was the same year when we were encouraged to participate in the Science Fair. I remember vividly how our exhibit was vandalized by outsiders, we lost our group’s Lego blocks, owned by a classmate, Gerald Nalagan. It took him weeks to inform his dad about it. Those were very expensive then. L


That was the same year that I was outsmarted by a girl during the annual Math Quiz Contest, and a Bautista at that! Oh well, our respective families were institutions in the UST High School. Why not? Three of the Bautistas (63, 66, 75) and three of the Molanos (74, 76, 78) have graduated Valedictorians from UST High! And ours is the batch when the two families were represented! We would end up graduating at the top of our respective sessions. J


Sophomore year was also unforgettable. It was 1977. I was in section 221. Students always look forward to the annual Song Festival sponsored by the Student Catholic Action (SCA) Cultural Section. And this year was no different. Our class prepared well for it, following our terrible heart-breaking loss during our freshmen year. In our freshmen year we were the crowd’s darling after having performed “Up, Up and Away!” and “Buhat” with matching over-alls as costumes and balloons as props. But we didn’t win at all, not even fifth place! Hahaha! But we made Ms. Ariola proud!


This time, we came in all prepared with full battle gear: body-fits with sequins and mirrors on our hands and glitters all over our bodies as we performed “Pippin” and “Binibini”. We ended up Champions in the afternoon session beating even the juniors & seniors! Not to be outdone, our sister section, 211 took home the championship trophy for the morning session! That was a first in UST High School History! That year, we became close to our sister section. That’s the year I got to meet Me-an Sanggalang, Monette Hilario, Monette Ventura, Dha Vasquez and Emy Villapando. And that same year love teams blossomed. J


1977 was the time I met my favorite teacher – Ms. Jacinta Ual-Constantino. She was so very motherly to all of us we loved her so much. She was generous with grades especially if you put colors on your drawing assignments in Biology. That same year she was appointed A.M Session AA upon Mrs. Murillo’s retirement. Mrs. Irene Orogo was our adviser and Filipino teacher and she was equally amorous. Our Social Studies teacher was Mrs. Victoria Cachola; English was handled by Mr. Felicisimo Velasco; Algebra was under Ms. Morillo; Practical Arts was with Mr. Reynaldo Tubadeza; Consumer’s Math was under Ms. Maximiano; and, Religion was under Mr. Mariano Carpio.


It was our first experience of a high school fair. It was held at the UST High School grounds right beside the canteen. That was really something: the jail booth, the marriage booth, the love chain. We took every opportunity to make the most out of our daily allowance, which during that time averaged only 1 peso! Jeepney fare then cost only 15 centavos. I remember saving up enough just so I can join my classmates eat at Magnolia House right along Dapitan, or that carinderia nearby which served the best halo-halo for only PhP5! There was also this “Aling Ester’s gotohan” behind the carpentry shop that most boys frequent.


It was in our third year that the SCA decided to merge the songfest into just one. Perfect timing! Now is the time to work closely with our sister section. The result of the 311 & 321 partnership: Meistersingers. It was also the year that USTHS started adopting saints for our sections’ names. We were St. Charles; 311 was St. Candida. Why the letter C? The seniors’ had saints whose names begin with the letter D. Sophomores were “B” and Freshmen were “A”. But for one reason or another, we all carried on with our section name till we graduated the following year.


Since then, my world revolved around Charles & Candida. I never made acquaintance with boys or girls from the other sections, except for some former classmates who once belonged to our block. But my classmates had friends from Chrisostom, Clement, Cleto, Conrad, Constantine, Cornelius, Cyprian and Cyril. Their counterparts were Carina, Catherine, Cecilia, Christina, Claire, Claudia, Clotilda and Crescentia. I still wonder now why I wasn’t able to make more friends with the other sections.


My favorite teacher in junior year was my Geometry mentor, Ms. Carina del Rosario. She was also petite, but so smart and motivating. She even gave me a 96, when 95 was the highest possible grade in the report card! Our Filipino class was shared by Mr. Tony Villaruel (who left for Nigeria in the middle of the year) and Mrs. Luningning Perez, who was also our class adviser. Advanced Algebra was under Mrs. Angeles. Chemistry was under Ms. Teresita Santos with her mini microphone and AM/FM radio cassette recorder. She’s also known for throwing erasers or anything she can lay her hands on at students who misbehave or make so much noise! Economics was made more entertaining by good-natured Mr. Edilberto Balingit, who never ceased to amuse us with his antics; Oriental History was more appreciated under Ms. Zoraida Ongsansoy’s interesting narratives.


In senior year, everybody was pre-occupied looking for an organization to join more as an officer than just being a mere member. Why not? We’ve got to have something to include in our Veritas profile! That year nobody was allowed to head two organizations, to give more chances to other potential leaders. I was only eyeing for the Math Society Presidency, as I had been its Vice President in junior year. Little did I expect that Fr. Rebollo would strongly recommend me to be the Treasurer of SCA. He wanted somebody who was good in computations to ensure proper disbursement of funds. Membership fee then was only thirty centavos! And when the Veritas started searching for new editorial staff members, I readily applied eager to share my artistic skills. Again. I was so surprised yet happy to have been appointed by then adviser, Mrs. Lourdes Salcedo, to head the boys’ staff, much to the disgust of other people who was interested in the position. Ah, high school life had also been filled with intrigues and controversies.


Another first for me was my first “courtship” in senior year. She was from St. Candida. She was every boy’s “fantasy” & every girl’s “envy” but for me she was my “dreamgirl”! Tamey (what a beautiful name!) and I worked together for more than a year, having been editors-in-chief of the Veritas. I had more than three “competitors” then. I had the edge. In fact I was able to get her to be my partner for our Graduation Ball at the Philippine Plaza. Thanks to Johnny Francisco for the giving us a ride in their automobile. Our date didn’t end up so well though, coz I remember a “rival” asking her for the first slow dance of that night! Hahahah! I never spoke to her again until I brought her home. Sigh!


Our professors then: Mrs. Cipriana Yu, World History professor was our adviser who had also been my two older brothers’ adviser; English was shared by Ms. Ochoa (who left for Japan) and Ms. Joycelyn Velarde, the Celeste Legaspi look-alike; Physics was handled by Mrs. Corazon Gonzales when Mr. Pangandian passed on; Trigonometry by Mr. Danilo Concepcion, whom everybody treated like a “barkada”; Spanish by Mr. Benjamin Roda, whom we called “Prometheus” for his Greek God-like hair-do; Religion by Mrs. Evelyn Ariola-Songco; Filipino by Mrs. Lunigning Perez; Practical Arts by “tight-polo” Mr. Roy Ropa; and Speech, by Ms. Erlinda De Chavez. I loved my speech class because that was where we broadened our vocabulary (imagine having to learn ten new words per meeting!) and got to come up with a play for our final quarterly examination.


Ever wondered how I was able to recall the names of my former teachers even without the help of former classmates?


Nine of these people became my colleagues when I decided to join the teaching force of my Alma Mater when I graduated from college! (I taught Math, Physics & Computer) Lani Reyes-Austria, Mr. &  Mrs. Evelyn & Rey Tubadeza, Tess Santos, Ning Perez, Baby Yu, Jackie Constantino, Evelyn Songco and Greg Platon.


One thing I couldn’t forget in senior year was the seniors’ variety show “Something Old, Something New and Something Borrowed”, with students from all sections participating in song and dance numbers. That was fun, as I got to know more of my batch mates like Chie Meneses, Linda Padilla, Alice Langit, Leah Militar, and Sally Maniego. I also met Rowena David, who would later be one of Ginebra San Miguel’s Super Angels. We also had our own version of “West Side Story”, with Lifebuoy commercial model Grace Zamora playing the lead role of Maria and Angelito Villamayor Jr. (he had more hair then) as Tony. The Medicine Auditorium was jam-packed during those shows.


High school life 1976-1980, I miss it so much. It was the time of experimentation, dares and double dares, competitions (even within the class!) and “chuchu” or “sipsip” with our teachers. There was no mention of the word “sex” yet then, not even in our Biology class! Ma’m Jackie was very careful and discrete in her discussion of human reproduction.


It was also the time of Aling Otik and Siopaoman. It was the era of OPM - Basil Valdez, Lea Navarro, Hajji Alejandro, Celeste Legaspi, Passionata, and the discovery of USTHS faces like Janet Macabasco (Janet Basco), Aloha Carag (Ali Sotto) and everybody’s favorite Visitacion Agbayani (Tet Agbayani). Other favorites then were “Hotdog”, “Hagibis”, VST & Company and Boyfriends. “In” then were bell-bottom pants, Magnolia House & Ali Mall. It was also the time of fraternities, triple X betamax, identity crises and puppy love!!! But I know of several high school couples who ended up tying the knot, and until now are still together. Gerald Nalagan & Linda Padilla, Romy Janairo & TJ Javaluyas, to name a few.  Of course, many became lovers in college & got married later like Timmy Gabriel & Icynth Baron, Rey Rey-Matias & Beth Villanueva, Mervin Moulic & Mariam Agbayani, and others more.


1980 was the year when the graduation of the girls & boys were separated for the first time! The girls had their graduation ceremonies in the morning, while we had ours in the afternoon, both at the UST Medicine Auditorium. I wonder why we didn’t hold it at the UST gymnasium that year. Finally this year a Bautista & a Molano ended up graduating Valedictorians. We both made our parents proud. Only in college did Regina Bautista and I finally became classmates because we both ended up pursuing an Engineering course also at UST. Gina is now the General Manager of Greenwich. Isn’t that great? Me? I followed my Dad’s (Eduardo G. Molano) footsteps, as a teacher. Having been a USTHS teacher and class adviser himself, he was well-loved by this year’s Golden Jubilarians, Batch ‘55. And only now did I find out that he was the adviser of the Veritas and of Section A! I am now teaching at De La Salle University, after having taught at UST High School for three years. Come to think of it, I spent a good 20 years of my life in UST. J


High school life was an exuberant mixture of playful pranks and serious business. However you put it, nothing beats the unexplainable nostalgia that you would feel every time we would talk about those high school experiences and most cherished memories. We have shared each other’s triumphs and trials, joys and sorrows, glories and pains, victories and defeats, rewards & disappointments. Nonetheless, to one and all, no other period in the life of man has been more enjoyable and unforgettable. The memory of these past years has never been effaced by the onrush of the impending struggles and problems that accompanied the pursuit of our respective careers. 


It is now 2005. Everybody is looking forward to the Grand Alumni Homecoming on the 26th of February, to reunite with bosom friends endeared to us by four long years of coexistence - people we haven’t seen for more than two decades. So as we celebrate 25 years as alumni of this venerable school, we beam with pride as we all say, “We have all been part of that colorful, wonderful and memorable life called UST High School!” Truly we have reached silver, but we will definitely look forward to our Golden Jubilee and hopefully share with one another once more the Magic of UST High…