Capiz National High School in time of cholera, war, COVID-19


On September 13, the Capiz National High School opened its academic year in the new normal.

Unknown to many, this year marks the 119th founding anniversary of the school which was established after the war and right before the worst cholera epidemic resurged in the province of Capiz.

Then Capiz governor Simplicio Jugo Vidal, who was educated in Universidad Central de Madrid in 1892, realized the importance of education in uplifting the socio-economic condition of the Province and the preparation for national independence later on.

Hence, by early 1902, his family voluntarily vacated the Casa Real, formerly the official residence of the Spanish politico-military governor, and have it renovated to be handed over to Ms. Mary H. Fee, the principal of Capiz Provincial Intermediate School, who later became the first principal of Capiz Provincial High School.

On June 6, 1902, the Capiz High School was formally opened. Ernest A. Coddington, the Schools Division Superintendent reported that in 1902 the attendance in the secondary school was an average of 50. However, due to the outbreak of cholera, some of the students died in that epidemic, hence the population was reduced to 20 students.

Moreover, the Philippine Commission reported that by September 1, 1902, there were 23 provincial high schools organized in the country. In Panay Island, three provincial high schools were established in Iloilo, Capiz, and San Jose (Antique).

In Capiz, the Provincial High School, an academic and agricultural school, was organized with one teacher overseeing 41 enrolled students.

In 1907, Governor Antonio V. Habana, Sr. had allocated 45,000 provincial funds for the utilization of Capiz High School. Of the total appropriation, 20,000 was used to convert the Spanish-era provincial jail into high school buildings. The magnificent Capiz Provincial School, now Capiz National High School, was inaugurated in 1908.

The Habana boasted the building not for its architecture but for being spacious and comfortable for schoolchildren who attended Intermediate, High School, and Industrial School, and for the large conference room, which he claimed, almost comparable to the Salon de Marmol of the Manila City Council.

Unknown to many historians, president Manuel A. Roxas studied in Capiz High School, now Capiz National High School, and spent his first and second year (1905-1907) in the said school.  But during his time, there was no third year yet, it was only opened in 1911. So, the young Manuel went to Manila and studied in Manila High School, now Araullo High School where he graduated in 1909 with high honors.

It was only 1915 when the fourth year was opened, and in 1916 when there was complete graduation of a four-year secondary course. Among the graduates were Atty. Josepha Abiertas and, later, the first Filipino Principal and Acting Capiz Governor Delfin A. Raynaldo, Sr.

In 1918, during governor Simeon Mobo’s administration, the Capiz High School was totally gutted by fire on August 29, 1918. As a remedial measure, the provincial board appropriated P10,000 to put up provisional roofing on burned walls. The board proposed a P150,000 loan from the National Board to build a modern concrete high school on a new site opposite the mission hills.

During the brief tenure of Governor Jose M. Hontiveros, he was able to secure a loan of 20,000 for the construction of a school building for the Capiz High School which was totally destroyed by fire.

In his first year as governor, the Manuel A. Roxas administration in 1919 and the Provincial Board tried to provide students of Capiz High School with decent and secure classrooms in lieu of the ones gutted by fire in 1918.

Fortunately, they were able to secure a loan of P50,000 payable in nine annual installments at a four percent per annum interest rate.

The following year they secured a loan of P73,500 payable to ten annual installments at a four percent per annum interest rate to fund the completion of the Capiz High School. In the same year, an appropriation of P100,000 was made available for the construction of the high school.  By 1921, Capiz High School building plan No. 20 (Gabaldon) was completed.

During the Japanese Occupation, the Capiz National High School became one of the Imperial Japanese Army’s garrisons in the province. In fact, a 30-caliber machine gun was installed in the school during nighttime and was removed during the daytime.

Now that we are facing the pandemic, Capiz National High School is just like a ghost town. Only the teachers, non-teaching staff, and parents who pick up their children’s modules can be seen going in and out of the school premises. 

But shall this pandemic pass, hopefully in the soonest time possible, the joys and laughter will again be heard on the halls and alleys of this great school where great Capisnons once studied and honed their character as individuals.*