Arellano High School (AHS), the oldest in the second district of Manila and one of the best public institutions for secondary education, is located at Teodora Alonzo Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila. It was established in 1921 when the Manila High School was split into the Manila South High School (now known as Araullo High School) and the Manila North High School (which later became Arellano High School).

            During the early years, all the principals were Americans, the first being Mr. Eugene Willis Porter (1921-22), followed by Mr. Ralph Sams (1922-25), in whose term the school acquired its present site. It was also during the time of Mr. Sams that the first graduation was held. The third American principal was Mr. Isadore Cohen (1925-26).

            As early as 1926, under the administration of the last American principal, Mrs. Mabel Carlson (1926-41), the school became one of the country’s leading institution of learning. It was during this time that its students began winning prizes and honors in various competitive activities. This period was also memorable for the strike staged by the students to protest discriminatory acts of the American teachers against the students.

            In 1930, the school was renamed Arellano High School in honor of Justice Cayetano Arellano, the first Filipino Chief Justice of the Supreme Court..

            The school, which was made into a garrison during the Japanese occupation of the city, was recognized in 1945 with Mr. Juan C. Laya as the first Filipino principal (1945-48). Before the end of the year, Arellano High School was the only public school with two official publications, “The Chronicler” and “Ang Tambuli.” Under the able administration of Mr. Laya, the school annexed two units at La Chambre Building on Reina Regente Street in Binondo to accommodate the growing number of post-liberation students. These units later became the Jose Abad Santos High School. It was also during this period that the AHS Alumni Association was organized in 1946. To date, it is the only alumni group of a public secondary school that has remained active with projects that benefit the alumni, the students, faculty and the school as well. Fund-raising activities were undertaken for big projects like the improvement of the library, the purchase of new instruments and uniforms for the Drum and Bugle Corps and for the Rondalla ensemble, the renovation of toilets, the cementing of sidewalks and many others. The signature projects of the Alumni Association are the Scholarship Program and the Leadership Training Program. To this day, Arellano High School is one of only two schools in Metro Manila, which has a brass band.

            It was during the administration of Mr. Angel Framo (1948-49) that the Arellano High School became the largest public school in Manila. It had annexes in Halili, Rizal Avenue, Mayhaligue, O’Donnell, Zurbaran, Santander and Lope de Vega. In 1949, during the incumbency of Mr. Sixto Palaypay (1949-59), the annexes in Halili and Rizal Avenue became Manuel L. Quezon High School. It was during the incumbency of Mr. Fortunato Asuncion, who was the principal from 1959-69) (he was the first alumnus to become its principal), that the five other annexes were integrated to become the Teodora Alonzo High School. It was also on the same year that the Arellano Vocational Evening School was opened for technical and vocational courses.

            When a strong earthquake destroyed Ruby Tower in 1968, Arellano High School, which is located just in front of the devastated buildings, served as a temporary medical and relief center. The entire student population extended its help for the victims, and for this effort the school was conferred the Presidential Service Award. In 1968, the school opened the Evening Academic Classes to accommodate working students. This project was managed by the Assistant Principal, Mr. Mateo Angeles, who was then Officer-in-Charge.

            During the term of Mr. Benedicto Q. Mojica (1969-74), several noteworthy projects were undertaken. Some of which were the creation of a credit union for the Faculty and Staff (1969) and the conversion of the retail store into laboratory store (1973). Also, the Phase I of the total building program for Arellano High School was recommended and approved in August 1974 through the assistance of then Superintendent of City Schools, Dr. Josefina R. Navarro. When the construction of Phase I building was started in December 1974, Dr. Miguela C. Alarcon was the principal. It was during her stay in AHS when the school tried out two trend-setting innovative educational approaches: classes under the In-School Off-School (ISOS) and Bilingual Education were started. It was also during this time (1976) that the school’s rating in the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) rose from 14th to 2nd place. The completion of the 4-storey building under Phase I also took place during Dr. Alarcon’s administration.

            In 1977, upon the promotion of Dr. Alarcon to the position of Assistant Superintendent of City Schools, Mr. Salvador T. Parial (1977-83) took over. Under his able leadership, the school continued to uphold its tradition and to reap honors such as the most coveted Presidential Trophy for the Best Secondary School Paper in the Philippines, won in 1979 and 1981 by the twin school publications, The Chronicler and Ang Tambuli. The school continued to maintain its ranking as one of the Top Five Schools in the NCEE rating. During the incumbency of Mr. Parial, the stage was renovated and the construction of the 4-storey building under Phase II began. It was also during the term of Mr. Parial that the Alumni Association launched a full-scale scholarship program for deserving but indigent students.

            The management of the construction of buildings under Phase II program fell into the able hands of Mr. Carlos M. del Rosario (1983-93) who transformed the school into a spacious, clean and beautiful institution. He utilized even the smallest vacant spaces in the school quadrangle (where makeshift classrooms were built) for plants, which added beauty into an otherwise cramped, hot, uncomfortable site. Under this administration, major projects were undertaken like the construction of a 3-storey red-tiled façade edifice for School Department Heads, the Parent-Teachers Association wing with eight classrooms, the garage for school vehicle, Reading Center, the Student Center which houses the guidance office, and the Medical-Dental Clinics. Mr. Del Rosario also managed other projects like the construction of a concrete bridge connecting the classrooms, the air-conditioned Media Room complete with sound system facilities, video and slide projector, the Alumni Room with built-in cabinets, Computer Room, the water pump system for the concrete water tank for the Canteen and the comfort rooms.

            In line with its policy to improve further the physical set-up, the school has carried out beautification projects, the construction of the school quadrangle, concrete sidewalks, fish-pond, benches and plant boxes, the renovation of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, the repair and the repainting of walls, roofing, posts and railings, the installation of lamp posts around the Student Center, and the planting of trees and shrubs inside the campus.

            When Mr. Del Rosario left the school in 1993 due to an illness, Mrs. Feliciana C. Villa was appointed principal in 1994. During her incumbency, the school became a Node School of the Department of Science and Technology for the creation of two special science classes per year level wherein science subjects intended for university level are offered to students with exceptional performance in Science subjects. It was also around this time that the school became known as Cayetano Arellano High School.

            Upon the retirement of Mrs. Villa in November 1996, Mrs. Julita C. Antonio became the principal. It was during her administration that an alumnus, Mr. Eduardo Fajardo of Class 1964 sponsored the conversion of the Library into a topnotch, centrally air-conditioned library, which boasts brand new titles of new volumes of reference books and other teaching materials. He also donated an air-conditioned Audio-Visual Room complete with computer sets and high-end entertainment system.

            Mrs. Remedios E. Quiray, a balik-Arellano teacher (1968-81) was appointed the current principal in January 1999. It was during her term that Mr. Fajardo undertook the renovation of the school toilets and the repair of the drainage of the quadrangle. The concrete stage was remodeled and flowering plants and trees were planted to make the quadrangle a pleasant sight.

            Arellano High School has never failed to render the best service to its students, its Faculty and Staff, the parents, its alumni, the community, and the city as a whole. Ably supported by an active Alumni Association, concerned individual alumni and alumni classes, and the Parent-Teachers Association, the school has undertaken noteworthy activities that redound to the benefit of the students, the Faculty and the Community blend of the old and the new, of the past and the present, coupled with a determined dedication to uphold its vision and mission, as well as an unswerving faith in a rosy vision for the future – these are what CAYETANO ARELLANO (MANILA NORTH) HIGH SCHOOL will always stand for.

(The above article was compiled and written by Mrs. Elizabeth M. Bartolome-Cristobal Class ’51 and was published in the 56th and 57th AMNHSAA Anniversary Alumni Chronicle.)