Story By Georgene Quilaton-Tambiga
Photos By Rheyxs Fernandez, Grade 11-OLA
With a total population of 1,240 students, a number that has tripled since a decade ago, Colegio de Sto. Tomas-Recoletos is now working at making smart spaces where students from both Junior and Senior High School Departments can converge, interact and continue learning.
The campus, once known for its wide, open spaces, has seen the growth of thousands of Thomasians and now it has to cater to a growing population, too. The perimeters of the iconic football field now house two grandstands, the Achiever’s Grandstand and the Golden Eagles Stand. Along these spaces, where spectators watch football matches, are the path walks that are lovingly dedicated to the pillars of what is now CST-R.
The path that runs from the St. Ezekiel Moreno Covered Court to the Achiever’s Grandstand is the Rev. Fr. Pedro Zunzarren Path Walk. Fr. Zunzarren was the first School Director who served Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Institute from 1941 to 1945. He led the school even through World War II that forced STVI (CST-R’s former name) to close when it was converted into a hospital and later on a training camp for the Filipino recruits of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFE).
At noon, Thomasians scatter all over the campus, except in classrooms and laboratories, to eat their lunch. While many prefer the formal setting of tables at the school canteen, many also love al fresco dining under the trees beside the field. The Rev. Fr. Faustino Paglinawan Path Walk provides this perfect space. It runs along the boundary of the school and the cloistered premises of Sto. Tomas de Villanueva-Recoletos Formation House to the school grotto.
It is dedicated to Fr. Paglinawan, who is among the first three graduates of the Minor Formation House. In 1989, the Thomasian priest became the first parochial vicar of the Our Lady of Consolation Parish-Recoletos in Talisay City, Cebu.
On the opposite side, is the path walk dedicated to Rev. Fr. Oscar dela Rosa.
Fr. Dela Rosa was a San Carlos City native. He was among the first three minorian graduates of the formation house. The priest and art connoisseur once had a mini museum established right on the second-floor landing near the old Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Chapel. Typhoons destroyed the mini museum and Fr. Dela Rosa’s precious collection had been sent to the University of San Jose-Recoletos for proper curation.
Just near the Golden Eagles Stand is the Rev. Fr. Tirso Ruana Path Walk. It connects the grandstand and the Industrial Arts Building. Fr. Ruana spearheaded the construction of the main school building and it is rumored that he hired a skilled Japanese foreman to implement the Spanish Baroque architectural design he envisioned for the school.
At the western part of the 13, 565 square-meter campus, is a nook under the decades-old trees. The Paseo de Elena Caballero is lovingly dedicated by Thomasian priests to Ms. Elena Caballero, the first woman school principal of CST-R. Miss Caballero was known to have led the school with an iron fist yet a very compassionate heart. She marched with CST-R as the nation underwent the trials and turmoil of the Martial Law Era. She’s the longest serving principal, 1969 to 1989.
The paseo dedicated to her is now abloom with shrubs and herbs and is adjacent to the Kapehan ni Tomas where teachers and employees find rest or take a break during lunch.
As San Carlos City is slowly turning into the melting pot of Northern Negros once again, CST-R projects its population to continue escalating. Soon there will be a need to construct a new school building but these smart and open spaces will be preserved to cater to students whose intelligences involve social and relation skills that are best practiced outside the constricting walls of the classroom.