In grade I we had no industrial work. All we did was practice reading, writing, and counting (the R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic). For lack of a pencil and paper I used a pointed stick for writing on the back part of banana leaves.
In grade II our industrial work was weaving of buri mat and pencil case. We brought to school dried buri leaves, stripped them with knives, and wove them into mats or pencil housing.
Our grade III industrial work was gardening. Mestro Maning Algate was our Industrial Work teacher and at the same time our principal teacher.
He allotted us a lot one meter wide and five meters long, per student, to dig, fertilize, and cultivate for planting radish and carrot seeds.
We watered our plants, cultivated them with sharp sticks, and we attended to them one hour every day. On Saturdays and Sundays we also attended to our garden plants. Our teacher was very strict and used physical punishment with the use of his big thumb jabbed at the side of our body if we failed to obey him or got boisterous or naughty.
Our industrial work in grade IV was fish net weaving. Mestra Masing Volere was our teacher, who taught us how to convert cotton bolls into thread with the use of a spindle. Then we were taught how to weave fish nets with the cotton thread we had spun.
By the end of the school year we should have woven a fish net one meter long and five meters wide at the bottom.
Large-scale gardening was our industrial work in grade VI. We were taught in school how to have a yard garden planted with corn, beans, bananas, papayas, lettuce, pechey and camote, or sweet potatoes.
We used ashes for fertilizer or every kind of manure: pig, chicken, cow, carabao, horse, etc.
I sold my lettuce in the Convent where Mg. Trining was boarding, and when she saw me haggling for the price with the Madre Superior (Superior Nun), she cried and took pity of me.
Carpentry was our industrial work in grade VII. Our teacher was Mr. Rico Valera, whose house was in front of the Gabaldon Building. Mestro Rico took pity on me as the smallest student, who couldn’t wield a saw or a hammer. He therefore assigned me in the nursery planting cuttings of gomamela flower plants and watering them.
My bigger classmates were able to build a work shop.
It was in grade VII when we received Christmas gifts from American children or students of our age. Because the gifts could not go around for all students, we drew lots for them. I cannot forget my joy when the gift I got was a skipping rope. I did not realize that the rope was made in the Philippines and was manufactured into an article for skipping, with a wooden handle, in America – attractively colored red, white, and blue!
Industrial work as one of the subjects in school was emphasized during primary and elementary grades then because very few continued schooling up to high school, where the students were required to pay tuition and matriculation fees.
After graduation from grade VII, or seven years of schooling, one was already a teenager ready to work and help in the family to make a living.
The required age for enrollment in grade I was 7. But I started schooling when I was only 5, hence I was only 12 after my graduation from elementary school.
Mother was very proud of me. She bought me a pair of long pants and a silk shirt for graduation, then had me photographed with my diploma.
She bought me a glass of ice cream as my graduation gift! It cost her five centavos but it was the most delicious, unforgettable gift I got from Mother.
Praise the Lord!