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LET’S WALTZ BACK INTO THE 50s and 60s: A genesis of private schools in the city

Hiroyuki Mizuguchi, a Japanese who lived in Davao City and studied at Davao City High School in 1940 in his book “Jungle Of No Mercy” (2010) recalls that when the war broke out in Dec 7, 1941, around 10,000 Japanese in Davao region were rounded up and incarcerated by the constabulary command at the Davao Central Elementary School (now Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Elementary School).

The sheer number of people, including children and infants, trapped inside this constricted facility would make one shudder at the thought of their overcrowded, inhuman living conditions, lack of toilet facilities, food shortage and disease obtaining at that time. In less than a month, Japanese troops had landed in the city and after a mild resistance from the local constabulary, the superior Japanese force ran them out of town and set all the prisoners free.

When the war was over, and the dust settled, the skies had turned magically blue and the sun’s rays shone bright and warmed the city folks with new energy to spring back to their normal lives. They eventually wriggled free from the hellish experience of the war and moved on.

Happy and exuberant folks began to pick up the pieces from where they’ve left and soon the whole town buzzed with activity. With intense burning desire, they rekindled the economy and started to work on their farms, rebuilt their homes, resumed their businesses, reopened up their stores, practiced their professions and the city started to hum. Government schools, which were closed during the war, began to open their doors.This was also the most auspicious time when prominent citizens started to chart the destiny of our city.

One foremost visionary was the late Atty. Guillermo E. Torres, who laid out his grand plan by putting up a school, Mindanao Colleges ( now UM) along Bolton St. and also started a newspaper company,

Mindanao Times, both founded in 1946. Later, a radio station, DXMC went on the air to broadcast news, drama, music and entertainment. Through the years, all of these sister companies achieved great success in the field of education, radio and print media receiving high accolades from the government and private sectors.

Several blocks away from Bolton St, was Magallanes St ( now Pichon St) where the late, Atty. Leopoldo Abellera, founded Rizal Memorial Colleges (RMC) in 1948. His school’s concept was for students to draw inspiration from the life of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who instilled patriotism and love of country.

In the late 60s, the RMC gym was constructed in Lopez Jaena St with a 2,000 seating capacity designed for school assemblies, concerts, social and musical variety shows.
During his lifetime, Atty. Abellera was appointed to the Court of Appeals and was also the concurrent Chair of the Land Transportation Office.

The Jesuits ( Society of Jesus) followers of the Spanish soldier- priest, St Ignatius of Loyola, founded the Ateneo de Davao ( AdDU) in 1948 with its first school building located in Matina and its first Rector, Fr.Theodore Daigler, SJ., a great admirer of classical music. Another campus was acquired in Jacinto St for the grade school and College departments. For decades, Ateneo de Davao University had distinguished itself and excelled in the standard of academic excellence. It has been recognized as one of the top schools in the country, specially in the school of law.

Other schools were Immaculate Conception College (now UIC) founded by the Religious of the Virgin Mary ( RVM) one of the oldest schools this part of Mindanao founded in 1905. Holy Cross of Davao, was founded by the RVM sisters in 1951. Philippine Women’s College was established in 1953. The defunct, Harvardian Colleges, Brokenshire School of Nursing, founded in 1954, and San Pedro School of Nursing,( now San Pedro College) established in 1956 by the Dominican Sisters, Davao Maternity School, St Francis Xavier Seminary have all contributed to the upliftment of our city’s educational standards.

After the 50s, there have been countless educational institutions established in the city to cope up with the rising population. Through the years, these institutions of learning, their founders, faculty, classroom teachers, administrators, have molded and produced our town’s outstanding civic leaders, high ranking officials of government and private sector, professors in their fields of expertise, nationally renowned professionals and businessmen which gave pride and honor to the city and its people and to whom they are eternally grateful. To be continued

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