#FEATURE: “Anong ginagawa ng SC?” The History of the PSHS Student Leaders

by Chen Thor

The SC logo. Photo from the SC Twitter page.

The Supreme Student Government (1964–1968)

The earliest remaining Science Scholar paper, dated August-September 1965, details the induction of the second administration of student council officers the year after the establishment of the PSHS System. The headline being:

“Miss Gloria Macapagal inducted the 1965–1966 officers of the PSHS Student Government at a convocation held at the Assembly Hall last Sept. 1 at 3:00 p.m.” -The Science Scholar August-September 1965 Issue

This marked the beginning of the second administration of the Supreme Student Government (SSG), as it was called from 1964 to 1968. At that time, it was the SSG Constitution that governed students’ actions.

“The Constitution and Bylaws of the Supreme Student Government was ratified in a plebiscite held Sept. 21 with [a majority vote of approval.]” -The Science Scholar August-September, 1966 Issue

Just a year after the second batch of SSG officers were inducted, the third proposed a new constitution creating the “Council of Leaders,” composed of the year-level batch presidents, the SSG president, and the SSG secretary.

“Reynaldo Vea, the incumbent president of the SSG pointed out that the creation of the Council would greatly enhance student participation as the Council would be charged with the formulation of policies affecting student welfare.” — The Science Scholar (August-September, 1966)

With the ratification, the power to create laws and policies was given to the students, effectively creating a legislature manned by the students themselves. This was a divergence from the original constitution that granted all powers to the sole Supreme Student Government.

“The ratified Constitution calls for the creation of the Student Court which is charged with trying cases involving violations of students’ rights.” -The Science Scholar (August-September, 1966)

“The jurists will be divided into four courts each consisting of five members who will select their own chairman” -The Science Scholar (October-December, 1966)

The Student Court Jury was formed as a means to defend students’ rights and analyze policies and cases with relation to the students’ welfare. The Court is composed of 20 students, all of which are selected based on faculty-submitted recommendations, with the SSG Sergeant-at-Arms serving as the chairman.

The Supreme Student Government (1968–1970)

Just two years after, however, the 1967 administration pushed for amendments that were eventually approved by faculty in a plebiscite. The change in the SSG constitution called for the replacement of the Supreme Student Government with the Supreme Student Council. The new SSC, with the batch councils, comprised the new Student’s Assembly.

“The new set-up has the chairman, the vice-chairman, five councilors-at-large, and five year-level councilors as SSC Officers.” -The Science Scholar (July-October, 1968)

The batch councils, or “year-level councils” as they were called then, remained the same, with the respective year-level councilors of the SSC serving as the year-level chairmen of each batch.

“The amendments, ratified by the students in a general plebiscite, included the immediate abolition of all the then existing clubs and organizations.” -The Science Scholar (July-October, 1968)

With this ratification, both the Student Jury and the Council of Leaders were abolished, along with all clubs and other organizations. Members of the Supreme Student Council were then tasked to lead a chosen committee. These committees took the places of all the clubs and organizations abolished.

“Upon assumption of office, the SSC chose among themselves a chairman for a committee. This committee chairman determined the number of members in his committee and also had the choice of members from the student body.” -The Science Scholar (July-October, 1968)

The Student Affairs Committee, functioning like the previous Council of Leaders, although with unelected members, and managing the Lost and Found Department, the Complaints Bureau, and the Dormitory Affairs subcommittees.

The Rules Committee, which functioned like the Student Jury, The External Affairs Committee, which handled affairs with outside organizations, the Business Committee, and the Finance & Budget Committee were formed among others to cover all aspects affecting quality of student life.

Activism (1969–1970)

A year after, on August 6, 1969, another constitutional amendment was approved by a two-thirds vote in a plebiscite held two days after a five-day “Constitutional Convention.”

“Among the proposals passed were: the changing of the name of the student government from Supreme Student Council to “Central Board of Students,… and the decentralization of the student government.” -The Science Scholar (July-September, 1969)

The right to form associations to tackle students’ problems, and the right to free thought, action, and speech were also guaranteed by the proposed constitution.

On August 12, six days after the new constitution was approved, a Pisay-based activist group known as “Malayang Katipunan ng Kabataan” led a strike and compiled a manifesto with their demands. They, among many other groups, regularly protest for reform in Pisay.

“Their demands, among which were: a) the clarification of the site problem, b) removal of incompetent teachers, c) equalization of stipends for full-scholar interns and full-scholar externs, and d) granting of the demands set in the January strike.” -The Science Scholar (July-September, 1969)

In a Senate (Congress) hearing the same month, the issues were investigated by several senatorial committees.

The next month, on September 4, the 12.7 hectare allotment towards the construction of the PSHS physical plant located in the Quezon Memorial National Park (now Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center) was approved along with its 4.4 million peso budget.

To quell the student unrest faced that year, the PSHS administration formed the Committee of Student Petitions, which was formed by two Political Science (PolSci) teachers and the chairman of the new Central Board of Students (CBS).

The change from a five-year curriculum to a four year one, student representation in the Board of Trustees, and the adjustment of the scholarship maintenance requirements were also addressed.

That same year, 97 members of the first batch, known as the “0-year” batch, graduated from Philippine Science High School’s five-year course curriculum. They experienced three constitutional ratifications, three different student governments and more than four strikes. However, they were not able to see the new Pisay buildings that we enjoy today.

On May 22, 1970, the four-year course was officially approved, making all sciences required, introducing four years of Filipino, and offering Journalism, Nippongo, and German electives.

The new curriculum was implemented in the same year.

“The students went on a general strike from Aug. 18 to 25 demanding the immediate settlement of the site problem and other domestic issues.” -The Science Scholar (July-September, 1970)

The year 1970 was greeted by protests led by student leaders regarding stipend, and school issues. However, that same year change was brought upon the student body when a new Student Court was created by the Central Board of Students. All members were appointed by CBS officers.

“Castro, the new Chief Justice, announced that charges of a student against another student, teacher, or administration official could be filed in the Supreme Court. On these charges, the SC’s decisions will be recommendatory and subject to reviews by the admin.” -The Science Scholar (October-November, 1970)

That year, the faculty also held a seminar along with the SSC about the importance of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, discussing and debating about the country’s problems amidst the growing tension of revolution.

This sparked talks and discussion throughout the whole school, with journalists publishing their opinions, PolSci teachers hosting forums, and students debating among themselves. The political climate was steadily getting thicker as allegiances were forming and opinions were being concretized.

Dante Simbulan Jr. (1971)

“The Supreme Student Council from 1971 to 1972, existed during a time of national ferment. Student governments who had once only advocated for student rights and welfare coalesced with issues of farmers and workers. These are the same issues facing farmers and workers that we still see today in 21st century Philippines, issues which were raised in the late 18th century and most parts of the 20th century, especially those related to agrarian reform,”

shared Dante Simbulan of Batch 1975.

Simbulan was the chairman of the 1971 Freshman Year-level Council. Being an activist since elementary in Ateneo, his acceptance into Pisay and the years of unrest yet to come only fueled his radical side.

“There were nationwide student youth organisations which had chapters in Pisay: Kabataang Makabayan, Samahang Demokratiko na Kabataan, Malayang Kilusan mga Bagong Kababaihan, Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista Arkitekto,” said Simbulan.

However, the SSC was not the only organization expressing advocacies for the masses. Several smaller student-led organizations also started popping up, each standing for different oppressed minorities.

Simbulan, however, believed that the SSC still established dominance over these groups. “Many of these organisations were outward-looking, focusing on national issues, with efforts to link them up with local campus issues, but the SSC would always work on campus issues and linking them with national issues,” he stated.

At that time, the “deterioration of the Philippine government,” as a campus journalist, “was because of the Philippine’s tolerance for corrupt and tyrannical leadership.”

On August 23, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation 889, suspending the writ of habeas corpus, two days after the Plaza Miranda Bombing.

Just four days after, two Pisay students were arrested and detained for posting allegedly anti-Marcos paraphernalia. They were beaten and assaulted for four hours during the detention, forcing them to sign a paper containing their legal “statement” of the events.

“Student councils mobilized tens of thousands of students at that time. The Welcome Rotonda QC was the starting point, and the road leading to UST was literally filled with black streamers to mourn the death of democracy,” said Simbulan, addressing the reaction of the students to the proclamation.

He further added, “Goons were hired to shoot at rallyists. On October 5, many demonstrators died in what is known as the Caloocan massacre of 1971.”

The Supreme Student Council continued its operations, further fostering dialogue between the student body and the administration.

“Until the dark days of Martial Law temporarily stopped the SSC,” shared Simbulan.

Martial Law (1972)

On September 21, 1972 President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law upon the Philippines.

Censorship and strict authoritarian rule was imposed all throughout the Philippines, with mass media and journalists being the main targets. The Science Scholar was not exempt from this. Most preserved post-1971 articles do not contain any criticisms of the government, as the previous issues had been littered with.

Along with this, “SSC and youth organisations of activist nature were banned,” as stated by Simbulan.

“However, there were student clubs which emerged with the influence of student activists and teacher. There were campaigns in 1973 on the Marcos Constitution organized by secret student-teacher activist committees in many major schools across the country, including Pisay,” he expounded. ”This was meant to disseminate the opinion of constitutionalists opposed to the 1973 Marcos constitution. These same secret activist committees would coordinate campus resistance nationwide.“

“Of course, during my time during martial law, free and open discussion of political issues were not allowed in campus. We resorted to printing secret manifestos and distributing them,” Simbulan shared, describing the unwavering nature of the organizations.

When asked about the importance of student leadership and activism, Simbulan responded, ”Student activism was not ‘self-centered’ but helped to amplify the stories and reality of social injustices in society, aggravated during Martial Law.”

One can draw parallels with the many issues and concerns of the past with those of the present. It is said that history often repeats itself, and when it does, we should be able to address these concerns.

We as Pisay students have a duty. A duty for the future of our country, and a duty to the people who reside in it. We must become more headstrong with our actions, just as the scholars of the past had been, and learn to take a stand. Not just with politics, but with what concerns us in everyday life. If it is wrong, we stand together to make it right.

DISCLAIMER: This article was written last S.Y. (S.Y. 2018–2019)

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The official English-language publication of the Philippine Science High School–Main Campus.

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The Science Scholar

The Science Scholar

The official English publication of the Philippine Science High School–Main Campus. Views are representative of the entire paper.

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