Posts Tagged ‘Intramuros’

Grammar School and Beyond

Excelsior!” ends Lolo’s profile in his high school yearbook. “Ever upward,” it means in Latin, or, in everyday parlance, “onward and upward.”

The motto certainly befits a man who took his first job at the age of sixteen and didn’t retire until seventy years later, on his 86th birthday; who had multiple careers and conquered each; and who faced his challenges with skill, ingenuity, courage, and humor.

Carlos P. Romulo’s profile in the 1916 yearbook of the Manila High School. He was eighteen and a senior. The Manila High School, which still exists today, was established in 1906.

I’m guessing it was inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem (1841), which was taught as part of the American school curriculum for many years. Lolo learned English from Hattie A. Grove, after all, an American who came over to the Philippines with 539 other teachers in 1901 (the Thomasites) as part of a program by President William McKinley to educate the newly colonized Filipinos.

According to the Philippine Department of Education, Mrs. Grove was assigned to Camiling, Tarlac, from 1901, in charge of Central School. Leo J. Grove, her husband, is listed as a supervising teacher.

“Our teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Grove, were frequent guests in our home,” CPR recalls in I Walked with Heroes. “While Mr. Leo J. Grove seemed relaxed and amiable there, I could not lose my dread of him, because he represented the mathematics I could not master in school.

“But Mrs. Grove was my first English teacher in the Camiling grammar school, and to me she represented the magic world of books. It was due to her skill as a teacher that much of that magic rubbed off on me. I was a shining star in her class, and one of the dullest in her husband’s.

“She was quick to recognize my love of words and helped my interest along.

“She introduced fields of reading I might never have known but for her. Years after I had left school and much I had learned was forgotten I remembered the Groves, and I even remembered the American town from which they came—Ovid, Michigan.

“I thought a great deal about them after I escaped from Bataan and came to America. I wrote a letter to them addressed to Ovid but it was returned, address unknown.

“Then, in this same year 1942, the Pulitzer prize was given me at Columbia University, and in my speech of acceptance I said that the real winner of the prize was my first English teacher, Hattie Grove, who had taught a small Filipino pupil to value the beauty of the English language.

The Romulos moved to Manila in 1914, when Carlos was sixteen years old. They bought and moved into a house in Intramuros at 266 Calle Cabildo. Prior to the move, Carlos attended the Tarlac Provincial High School, the country’s first public school, which was established on September 1, 1902, in Tarlac City, by Thomasite Frank Russell White.

“The speech was publicized rather widely and I hoped it would flush the Groves out of hiding wherever they were, but still no answer came.

“Then, a few years ago, my speaking engagements included one at Miami. Just as I was about to leave for Florida a letter came from Delray Beach in that state. It was Hattie Grove. She wrote that and Mr. Grove had retired and he was in a wheelchair.

“I telephoned ahead to the Miami committee, and as soon as I arrived a car was waiting to take me to Delray. I brought the Groves back to Miami, where that night at the dinner at which I was to speak they were guests of honor.

With Hattie Grove, a Thomasite and Romulo’s first English teacher, in the 1950s.

“We sat at the head of the table and there was a great deal to be said before the speeches began. We had not met since, I believe, 1912, in the Camiling grammar school.

“‘Why did you not get in touch with me?’ I demanded, when I learned they had followed my career and saved every clipping concerning me.

“They explained they had not wanted to bother me. ‘But we are so proud of you and of all you have done,’ they kept saying.

“It was an emotional reunion. When I rose to speak I repeated what I had said the day I had accepted the Pulitzer prize, that Mrs. Grove, not I, was the true winner of the honor. The audience gave her a standing ovation and she was in tears. But she got up on her feet like a champion and made a wonderful little speech.

“She wound up saying, ‘I am eighty-two years old and this is the happiest moment of my life!’”1

1 I Walked with Heroes, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), pp. 49 – 50.

The Diary

My great-grandfather’s diary, dating from 1895, tells us many things. For one, Carlos P. Romulo was born in Intramuros; not in Camiling. (Though he did grow up in Camiling.)

En 14 de Enero de 1898 hora de las cuatro menos cuarto de la tarde (Viernes) Salía de su cuidado mi esposa á Dios Gracias con felicidad dando á luz un niño en esta casa la Legaspi Nº 19 (Intramuros) y á los nueve días de nacido le mandé bautizar, fué apadrinado por Don Enrique Llopis y Becerra (abogado) Su bautizo fué el dia

On 14 of January 1898 at 3:45 pm (Friday) my wife, thank God, happily gave birth to a boy in the house Legaspi No. 19 (Intramuros) and nine days after his birth he was baptized, his godfather Don Enrique Llopis y Becerra (lawyer). His baptism was on a

Domingo por la tarde entre 6 y 7 de la tarde de fha. 23 del mismo mes, se le ha puesto por nombre los siguientes; Cárlos, Enrique Gregorio Felix fuimos á la Parroquia de la Sta. Iglesia Catedral con los Sres. Llopis (padrino) Rodriguez y Paredes como testigos ambos abogados mi Madre y mi cuñada Paz.

Sunday in the afternoon between 6:00 and 7:00 pm on the 23rd day of the same month. He was named Carlos. Enrique Gregorio Felix, we went to the Parish of Sta. Iglesia Catedral with Mr. Llopis (godfather), Mr. Rodriguez, and Mr. Paredes as witnesses both lawyers, my mother, and my sister-in-law Paz.

El Miercoles fha. 23 de Marzo de 1898 hora de las diez de la mañana mandé vacunar á mis dos niños Lourdes y Cárlos la primera de un año y 10 meses de edad el segundo (illegible) de dos meses y 9 dias; el Médico q les vacunó fué el amigo Dón José R. Torres se recientemente licenciado y al cabo de seis dias o siete próximamente empieza con á levantar las cuatro vacunas que les hizo (dos en cada brazo) y todas vivieron

On Wednesday 23 of March 1898 at 10 am I had my two children Lourdes and Carlos vaccinated—the first was one year and 10 months old; the second _________ two months and 9 days old. The doctor who vaccinated them was my friend Don Jose R. Torres, recently licensed. And shortly after, 6 days or 7 days later, the four vaccines (two in each arm) all took effect

sin ninguna fiebre á Dios Gracias ni la menos molestia tanto la mia como el otro. Empezo a estudiar en 1903.

without any fever, thank the Lord, nor too much inconvenience like the other. He started school in 1903.

Based on this entry and others in the diary, the first three children–Enrique (1895), Lourdes (1896), and Carlos (1898)–were born in Intramuros, Manila, which suggests that the Romulo family lived in Manila at least until 1898. Other evidence includes the fact that my great-grandparents had their wedding photo taken in 1894 at a popular photography studio located on Carriedo Street near Escolta and Quiapo. We also know that Lolo Oyong proposed to Lola Titay at the Manila Cathedral, and that he established a primary school (Colegio de la Nuestra Sra. De Rosario) in 1893 in Trozo, Manila.1

The Battle of Manila Bay (a stone’s throw from Intramuros) took place on May 1, 1898, just three and a half months after Lolo Carlos’s birth. The United States annihilated almost the entire naval force of Spain in this one battle. Spy missions and plans for the attack had been going on for several months prior, and rumblings had long been felt in Manila.

The official portrait of Governor Gregorio Romulo, which hangs in the Kapitolyo, Tarlac City, Tarlac.

I’m guessing the family moved to Camiling, Tarlac, where it was safer, around April 1898. By the time Lola Choleng (fourth child) was born on July 9, 1900, they were (almost certainly) living in Camiling, and the following year (1901) Lolo Oyong became municipal councilor of Camiling. The Romulos quickly grew in prominence in Camiling as members of the rural gentry similar to the Aguinaldos in Kawit, Cavite, and the Aquinos in Murcia, Tarlac.2 By 1906 Lolo Oyong was town mayor; and from 1910 to 1914 he served as governor of Tarlac province.

Questions and notes:

1. What is casa la Legaspi Nº 19? The street still exists, as does Sta. Potenciana Street. But was this house a clinic or midwife’s house? Is it possible that Lolo was born at home? Why not at the hospital, since San Juan de Dios was just nearby in Intramuros?

2. The 14th of January 1898 was indeed a Friday. The deletion in the diary suggests that my great-grandfather (Gregorio Romulo) might have been confused, so I checked this detail. Note that pretty much all sources, from history books to Wikipedia, lists Lolo’s birth year as 1899. Even CPR mistakenly celebrated his 50th birthday a year late.

3. He was baptized on the 23rd of January 1898 at Sta Iglesia Catedral. Was that in Intramuros? Does anyone know if I can still manage to get his birth and/or baptismal records? If so, where?

4. Enrique Gregorio Felix is Lolo’s older brother, who would have been almost three years old at this time. Perhaps Enrique went with them to the baptism?

5. Gregorio Romulo’s sister-in-law could be Paz Peña, one of Maria Peña’s four sisters.

6. I believe my great-grandfather made an error in calculating the age of Lourdes, la primera de un año y 10 meses, because she would have been two years and ten months old.

Nick Joaquin. The Aquinos of Tarlac. Mandaluyong, Philippines: Cacho Hermanos, 1983.