Monday, July 03, 2006


Last Friday, feeling a bit nostalgic, I paid a visit to my old school, Bonifacio Elementary School at the corner of Ipil and Tayuman streets. Thinking I must first request a visitor's pass at the office, I was pleasantly surprised when the gatekeeper allowed me inside the grounds; free to roam around and take some pictures.

Now, if I were allowed to step into a time warp with the power to select which period of time past I would like to relive, it would definitely be the years as a student at this school. It was absolutely the most blissful and magical. Not only because it was the age of my so-called wonder years, but it was a period in time when everything seemed perfect. Life at home was abundant with joy and play while school was wonderful. It was like being in the midst of some fairy tale. There was absolutely nothing of major concern for us kids, except making good in school. I, like all my siblings, loved school. Well, although not in the beginning.

The first grade was tough because it was the first time I had to be in some unfamiliar environment five days a week with neither of my parents along with me. I would stand and cry by the row of drinking fountains at the school yard. My brother, a sixth grader at that time, would stay with me until there were only the two of us in that vast school ground. He didn’t want to leave me alone; afraid I might sneak out of the gate and attempt to go home, but only get lost in the process.

He would never raise his voice as he tried convincing me that school could be fun with all those kids as potential playmates. I wouldn't hear a word of it; all I wanted was to go home. Eventually, my teacher would come and fetch me while my brother would sprint over to his class. His teacher was very understanding and never gave him any flak for his tardiness.

In a couple of weeks, I met someone in class who would become my bestfriend. I was not afraid of going to school anymore because there was a familiar person waiting for me every school day.

The six years I spent in that school were simply marvelous. I really thrived in that environment. Only problem was, in first grade, it became obvious to everyone that I didn’t function well in the mornings. First of all, even though I would go to bed early, it was virtually impossible to wake me up. And when I did wake up, get dressed and physically get to school, I was always groggy and aloof. It would take me a couple of hours before I would become vibrant enough to participate in the class activities.

Fearing that it might only setback my learning development, my parents had me placed in the afternoon class beginning on my second year. And although I was placed in section 2 instead of 1, which were in the mornings, it was fine with me; actually, it proved rather auspicious. Without any pressure to perform exceedingly well in class, my entire learning environment became much more fun and creative. And this is where I attribute the impressive result of my IQ test when I entered MIT’s High School Division. I had the highest score among the entire freshmen. But it evidently turned south from that point on.

That high school was excruciatingly left-brain-oriented; steep in the sciences and mathematics. Unlike in more liberal and progressive schools in which questions were encouraged, here, it felt like to question was to be insolent — how dare we interrupt the teacher’s speech? Except for a handful, the rest of the faculty members were distant and disconcerting; somehow giving tangible form to the adage, those who can’t, teach; and tinged with resentment at that.

The kids attending Bonifacio Elementary School in my time were both fearful and respectful of authority figures; thus, the teachers were afforded with the same kind of attention one would give to a parent. It proved beneficial for all since the teachers became fully focused on teaching; their time was never compromised by any incorrigible students. The teachers I had in that school truly enjoyed nurturing our young minds; in the end, a good time was had by all.

To date, Bonifacio Elementary school remains among the top ten in the city of Manila's public middle school system. Many of its graduates, unable to afford private school, would go on to study at Ramon Magsaysay High School near UST on Espana and Manila Science High School in Ermita.


posted by Señor Enrique at 6:33 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would select the school where I spent my last two years of high school, Carlos P. Garcia High School at Paco, Manila. It's the first and only public school I've attended but that's where I met people from different walks of life and I acquired many good friends and many valuable memories. I don't have anything against private schools but I was painfully shy during my elementary school days and I wouldn't want to go back there.

July 03, 2006 12:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I also met kids from all walks of life in this school, Niceheart, and everyone was treated fairly and equally. Neither do I dislike private schools, but MIT was not a perfect match for me at that time. Perhaps, if I were of college age it would have been fine.

July 03, 2006 1:16 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It so nice of you to bring us back on a time travel to one of your wonderful days. Maybe, those elementary years would always be momentous for most of us since they were years when we were mostly innocent bout the realities of life and the world is such one huge open sea where everything we can think about could possibly happen, and we can be what we want to be. It's like a feeling of adventure, with the big brave world out there to await us and challenge us.

Hey, Bonifacio Elementary School looks so elegant with that gothic look. I am sure it is now part of national heritage or something.

July 03, 2006 3:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Not sure if it has been designated a national heritage, Major Tom, but will definitely ask (when I return for a full day visit with a couple of teachers).

From what I was told during my last visit, this school has been the subject of envy by other public school officials of Manila. And because of that, the special art class will be closed for good when its current teacher, Mrs. Moso, retires two years from now. Some of Mrs. Moso's students had won national prizes in art competitions and had gone on as professional artists.

The special music class (its rondalla having won numerous competitions as well) has a young enough teacher that it will go on for a few more years. It, too, might close its doors once the current teacher retires.

But yes, elementary school is such (scary at first) a wonderful environment, especially when it has a group of caring teachers.

BTW, I wish your eldest the best, Major Tom. I'm sure he'll enjoy his grade school years as much as I had!

July 03, 2006 4:25 PM  

Blogger j said...

your brother is very thoughtful and kind Senor.

in grade school I studied in Holy Family Academy and then in high school I moved to St. Scholastica's Academy. I practically grew up under the care of Benedictine sisters...I don't know if this is an advantage but what I do know is that I learned well and that I'm a God fearing person.

July 06, 2006 9:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I bet your teachers have really trained you well about the essence of "Ang di marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di makakarating sa paroroonan."

I hope you won't kick me out of your blog if I suggest you to help your school by donating anything to it through Donate to Your Old School

Well, that's what I am doing for years now and I am happy to see kids enrolled in my old school now, reading new books in their well-furnished library.

July 07, 2006 10:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Jairam. That particular brother would eventually become my bestfriend and confidant within the family. Sadly, he passed away about four years ago. I terribly miss him to this day. Very elegant and classy guy!

So, you're a kolehiyala through and through, Jairam. I'm sure the Benedictine sisters did a fine job with their educational system.

I was supposed to attend a high school run by Jesuits, but ... it's another long story that I might someday blog about, too.

July 07, 2006 5:01 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks for the link, Anonymous.

Making a contribution to one's alma mater is always a good idea and I'm sure the schools can always use the extra money.

On top of that, I'm sure there are other ways to give a helping hand. I'm sure I'll find out more about it when I go back for another visit next week.

July 07, 2006 5:18 PM  

Blogger j said...

Oh, it's sad to hear that your brother is gone now. But I'm sure that he is up there, praying and looking after you.

I'll be waiting for that post about you almost attending high school run by Jesuit's Senor :)

July 08, 2006 1:39 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Jairam, sometimes he would appear in my dreams especially whenever I was undergoing stressful times.

Ok, will write about the "Jesuit school thing" and post it as soon as I get a chance.

July 08, 2006 8:42 PM  

Blogger IAN Del CARMEN said...

WOW! I also studied there from 1984 to 1989! :)

Ian del Carmen

August 30, 2007 8:31 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It is a fine school with many dedicated teachers, Ian. Glad to know you've also attended Bonifacio :)

August 31, 2007 6:56 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was also a part of Bonifacio Elem. School. All of us, (we are three in the family) graduated from BES.i really miss my old classmates because during our time, there were no e-mails, friendster, or whatever that you can coummunicate with. It's been a along time, how I wish I can still meet them, were on our forty's already. he he he

September 26, 2007 12:39 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Cool! Yes, lalo na ng panahon ko, TV lang ... at limitado pa ang panood namin.

Pero, dami naman naming laro sa labas tulad ng piko, tutompo, tex, at iba pa :)

I'm a decade older. I iss those BES days, really ... my happiest.

September 26, 2007 6:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I graduated from Bonifacio in 1980. Do you know if the school has an official website?

December 15, 2007 2:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i also graduated from bonifacio, batch 1998 hehe...
alm mo po ba if meron website ang ABES?? i'm kinda lookin for my ABES clasmate kasi... thanks in advance ^-^

November 12, 2008 12:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I don't think ABES has a Web site; however, check out this alumni registry site for it:

November 13, 2008 7:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all students and alumni of A. Bonifacio Elementary School in Tayuman, Manila -- join us now at

January 24, 2010 3:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I salute you Senor Enrique and I am very gratefully for the write-up you made giving us also the opportunity
to reminisce our Alma mater. I belong to Batch 1960 and just recently retired from my profession. God bless ! Benny Nana

July 21, 2010 4:40 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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