Day 10: Malate Catholic School

I finally made it to my old high school yesterday.  Even simply standing in front of it was surreal.  This was where I spent four significant years of my life.  It seemed so small now.

I was lucky enough to catch a former teacher, Ms. S. (who’s now the Alumni Director) at the school, and, after a delightful lunch at Aristocrats, she gave me a quick tour of my alma mater.  A lot has changed.

The schools are now partially desegregated.  Whereas before, there was a “Girls’ School” and a “Boys’ School”– two buildings separated by a major thoroughfare (San Andres Street)– they have since been changed into the High School building (formerly the “Girls’ School”) and Elementary School building (formerly the “Boys’ School”).  Back then, it was a big deal when my buddies and I would venture into the Girls’ School.  We all had our crushes and eventual girlfriends, and, save for meeting up outside of school, we barely saw each other while classes were in session.  Nowadays, the students, although still separated into boys’ classes and girls’ classes, can now spend some time together during recess or lunch.  According to Ms. S., the decision to combine the genders had actually caused many parents to pull their students out of the school, citing that the lack of segregation would cause unnecessary distraction from their studies.  In 2001, the student body went from 6,000 students strong to only 2,900.

All the classrooms are now air conditioned.  I remember suffering greatly while in class when the mercury would rise to extremes, and the built-in ceiling fans weren’t enough to beat the heat.  What I would do to relive high school in air conditioned comfort!  (Um, on second thought, no; I wouldn’t want to relive high school.)

The gymnasium is now enclosed.  Before, it was simply barricaded with a wire fence, and whatever activities we did inside were viewable to the public.  With the increased desire for student privacy and security, solid walls were built, and the entry, as those for the schools, now have security guards posted.  Apparently, the gymnasium is the site of an alumni event in November.  Sadly, I won’t be able to attend.

Ms. S. introduced me to every current faculty member we bumped into, and it was a strange feeling being referred to as “alumni.”  I recently turned the Big Four Oh, but don’t really feel old.  Walking the halls of my former high school, and being surrounded by the current, young Malateans, I definitely felt my age.  But, it doesn’t change the fact that this stopover at my old stomping grounds not only solidified my desire to return to the Philippines for the 25-year Reunion, it made me even more proud to be an alumnus of this great school.

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