San Beda College Campus 2005
By: Atty. Freddie Duran
The first thing you will notice is that Mendiola is cleaner now, with more trees and the buildings looked newer. Buses are no longer allowed to pass, and there are fewer jeepneys. Cars and small vans are parked on both sides of the street, but more on the San Beda side. Mapa High is almost obstructed by a McDonald’s, and opposite it, on the San Beda side, is a KFC restaurant. The gate has been renovated. It is now more imposing and pedestrians entering the school are closely scrutinized by uniformed security guards. However, the imposing Main building is still visible on the side. A new building, St. Maur’s stands on the opposite side where the junior football field used to be.
I went back a little and took another shot. This time, I was almost at the gate of Centro Escolar. A big signboard on the right was devoted to the dates of enrollment. The water utility was digging a hole on the right, and they placed the dirt on empty cement bags. I was ready to enter the school. It has been more than thirty five years since I graduated from High School.
The guards were friendly and amused when I told them of the purpose of my visit. I looked like a tourist, and it must have been a sight- a Balik-Beda. When I entered the campus, I immediately noticed the changes. There was a covered walk on the right side, and an open space on the ground floor of the building on the left. I was told it was used for meetings and was a sort-of town hall area. St. Benedict’s was still at the end of the drive, with cars parked on both sides. A historical marker was on the right, dated before the war (WW2).
I was directed to the right, the ground floor of the Main building. I noticed that the floor tiles had been refurbished, with red and cream tiles. The walls had also been repainted. A wrought iron gate had been placed there, to enclose the school when there were classes. A small statue of Mama Mary was still there, on the right. I was directed to go to the Alumni Office, which was immediately after the iron gate, on the right. I could see the chapel on the end of the corridor.
I saw the door of the Alumni Office, and there were only about three employees. They were young, and friendly. I saw a copy of Echoes 69, and scanned the pages.
When I left the chapel, I saw that that they had placed the Registrar’s Office right outside- perhaps to remind those working inside that there is more to life than material goods, and to extend the blessings to the said office.
I then looked for the familiar sights, hoping that the changes and the passage of time did not obliterate them. Fortunately there were still a lot to reassure me. The scout memorial to the Bedan scouts who died on their way to a Jamboree was still there, at the end of the drive right in front of St. Benedict’s Hall.
I stepped back and took a look at St. Benedict’s Hall, which used to be the High School building. It looked tired and whitish- a far cry from the red-brick building when it was still much newer.
The new College of Nursing was now using it. Well, there goes my memories of High School- where many unforgettable incidents occurred- the now infamous bombing of the toilet, the chalk dust placed on the overhead fan during recess which drove everybody out, white with chalk when the fans were opened after recess, and the biology frogs who escaped from their boxes placed on top of the blackboards.
Looking for more comforting sights, I went to the old canteen, and on the way, passed by the bookstore. Pareho pa rin.
I was encouraged. I looked inside and saw San Beda shirts, San Beda jackets, San Beda caps, and other souvenir items. Of course, there were textbooks being readied for the incoming school year, San Beda notebooks, folders and envelopes. The salesman was courteous and friendly, but had only a vague idea of Pat, our old bookstore attendant.
I then went to the cafeteria, which now sported a new name, and was more developed when we last saw it. The door was imposing, and sported a new but familiar name: DOM FELIPE CAFÉ:
After looking over the food, which looked and obviously tasted the same, I decided to go to the canteen for a quick snack. I was hungry after all that walking and reminiscing. But the canteen had really changed.
Anyway, I was hungry and took a small piece of ensaymada and royal tru orange. I was uncomfortable at first using the stand-up tables, but soon got the hang of it. I looked around. No... Pong was no longer there.
After taking a snack at the canteen, I wandered off and saw that they had been improving the area between the canteen and the clinic. Since the elementary and high school was being phased out of the Mendiola campus, they had been making it suited for an “adult” crowd.
I decided to see the old Grandstand where we spent a lot of time, playing with those “tansan” when we where younger, shooting it between the steps, and where on Fridays the PMT headquarters was located. The armory was then located inside the grandstand and the Boy Scout HQ on the other side.
The structure had been completely changed. A building with a hole for a ground floor was there instead, and a sort-of-grandstand was in its place. The quadrangle was still there, where the assemblies were held. I was told that the cobble stones of the area was being replaced, and for Php500, they would put a metal plate with your name and year graduated/batch on a cobblestone so that you would have a permanent remembrance in San Beda. Pretty nostalgic. (Contact the Alumni office if you are interested)
The old tables at the side of the quadrangle is now under a roof, where students can study/eat/sleep/drink to their heart’s content. I was told this was the favorite hangout of many coeds. Behind the tables is the Roman gardens, which is still off-limits to all students and civilians. The small fountain with the roman motif and the angel is still there.
They have also added a portion of the gardens near the quadrangle into a centennial park, with cement tables and chairs, with an old gate with PAX in it separating the park from the fountain area between the chapel and where the library used to be. There the old obelisk still stands.
On its right stands a metal-tube structure which, I was told, was a memorial to Bedans who died in the war.
I then turned to the front, facing the grandstand and at the space in front of the bookstore. There are some of us who could remember the old drinking fountain within this area.
It was called the centennial park because it was built during and to celebrate the centennial year of San Beda, the year 2001. Man, you could feel old when you realize that you graduated a long long time before that.
Thank you Freddie for taking us back to where we started.
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