The Home Economics building of Placido Escudero Memorial School in Brgy. Sta. Elena, San Pablo City, Laguna had been a source of urban legends among students and teachers for decades now.
Built in 1911, during the American Colonial era, it’s actually one of the very first Gabaldon schools in the city. The Gabaldons—designed by American architect William Parsons and funded through Act. No. 1801, authored by Isauro Gabaldon—are characterized by their bahay kubo or bahay na bato inspired architecture.
Melvin Almario, the current school principal, remembers being told there were elementals inhabiting their H.E. Building. He had not seen one himself since taking on his post almost a year ago but he can’t blame the folks in the surrounding barangay for believing it. The building looked ancient and worn. In fact, half of it was already turned into a bodega —having been in a clearly sorry state for a long time—while the other half was used by kindergarten students for a time when the school lacked classrooms.
But the H.E. building, which measures 10 meters x 17 meters, has undergone a much-needed facelift, and the school has been happy to post photos of the development on their Facebook page.
The project is part of the Department of Education and the National Historical Commission’s efforts to restore heritage school buildings, as mandated by Republic Act 11194 or the Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act. The restoration—which would be finished this June—couldn’t have come at a perfect time, as the school will be celebrating its 110th founding anniversary in December.
The principal says the contractor tried their best to remain faithful to the original look and architecture of the structure, and even used the same materials—mahogany wood for the trusses and capiz for the windows. “Very meticulous ang pagkagawa kaya talagang maganda po siya,” Almario says proudly.
Since the school now has enough classrooms, Almario says the newly restored building will be used to take students and visitors of PEMS to a trip down memory lane. “We are planning to turn it into a memorabilia room, to showcase the school’s history and achievements over the past 110 years. It will also serve as the school’s receiving area for visitors,” says Almario.
Sally Eduarte, 80, who was once a student and later a teacher in the school, was happy to see the restoration done in her alma mater during her recent visit. She says it reminded her of the olden days. Many generations in her family have been schooled in PEMS and she hopes that the school and the beautiful memories will continue to live on for years to come.