THE HISTORY OF GEN. GREGORIO DEL PILAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
A massive stone building erected by the Spanish authorities and used as a combined cavalry, infantry and civil guard headquarters at PLAZA DE MEISIC at the corner of old Reina Regente – Felipe II Streets in Binondo “Anales” or District was successfully used against the uprisings stage by the Chinese several times since these military units were able to check and quell these disorders.
The façade of this very old building (after the 1863 Earthquake which almost leveled it to the ground) still stood and had served since as a school site and a police headquarters.
Barely two years after the earthquake of 1863, looking for a place where to establish a schoolhouse, an enterprising Cebauno. DON GUILLERMO OSEMEña applied and was granted a permit to open the “ESCUELA DE NIñOS Y NIñAS. ” This school was ungraded and for sons and daughters of “Indios” who could not afford to enroll in the neighboring private school within the “ARRABALES” of Sta Cruz, Tondo, Binondo and Trozo.
It was in this same school, between 1870 – 1875 that the boy ANDRES BONIFACIO finished the only formal schooling of his life.
The “ESCUELA DE NIñOS Y NIñAS” of DON GUILLERMO OSEMEñA was under the strict supervision of the Dominician Friars, but the salaries of teachers were paid by the Spanish government. Not long after a permit to change the name “ESCUELA DE NIñOS” to “ESCUELA PRIMARIA DE MEISIC” (Meisic Primary School) was approved. Although no record was found to definitely pinpoint the date, any changes to be done must first be granted and recommended by the Dominician Friars and finally approved by the government.
Meisic is a combination of two tagalog words “May Intsik” which was appended to the place a long time ago. To make this school distinct and different from the other private schools in Binondo at that time, the name Meisic was affixed to it.
Some years later, one of its early alumni, ANDRES BONIFACIO, led a successful revolution that wrote the beginning of the end of Spanish domination all over the land. During those war years, it did not close its doors as much of the fighting happened at the outskirts of Manila.
Even when the American came in 1898 and lorded over the land, the same schools managed to hold classes. When some American soldiers were assigned as teachers they saw an influx of students eager to learn English. Though the Filipinos experienced the start of a new way of life under the early American Regime, the spirit of freedom was still the ultimate goal and aspiration of the Filipinos. Fired by this spirit, the early parents of the Meisic Primary School sought to change for the last time the name Meisic to a name symbolic of nationalism, sacrifice, and freedom.
What could be more appropriate than to name it after a battle hero? The country’s “LEONIDAS”- the man whom the Americans came to respect for his bravery – General Gregorio del Pilar.
The other reason why the school was named after Gen. Gregorio del Pilar was because in 1926 most of the officers and members of Parent – Teacher Association led by the late Mr. Manuel B. Santos, the School Principal, were from Bulacan, the hero’s province. A resolution was passed and sent to the alcalde which was approved changing Meisic Primary School to Gen. Gregorio Del Pilar Elementary School.
From a humble, one – classroom in 1865, the fast increasing number of pupils was broached to seek the elementary up to 6 years only, therefore, entailed expanding or increasing the number of high schools to accommodate the exodus of 7th graders to the high school.
A wide government not just a block away was made available after the old, dead estero was filled up and leveled having an area of 23,692 sq. m. the passage of Proclamation No. 676 dated January 31, 1941, Commonwealth of the Philippines, granting this area “Reserved for School Purposes” under the administration of the Director of Education was secured.
On August 10, 1941, barely 4 months before the outbreak of World War II in our country, the old Meisic building was vacated and a new building was built and occupied GENERAL GREGORIO DEL PILAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL located at the corner of CLARO M. RECTO and JOSE ABAD SANTOS AVENUE (AZCARRAGA – REINA REGENTE STREET).
Since then, the school has been known to the Division of City Schools, Manila for its meritorious achievements and various accomplishments both in academic and co-curricular activities. During the school year 2013 – 2014, GDPES ranked FIRST in the NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT TESTS both in Grades III and VI out of 72 elementary schools in the division.
The following year, SY 2014-2015, the school was awarded the following: 2nd BEST BRIGADA ESKWELA IMPLEMENTER, 2nd BEST IMPLEMENTER of ECOSAVERS PROGRAM, and 3rd OUTSTANDING CANTEEN.
As the country commemorated the 143rd Death Anniversary of martyred priests Frs. Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora on February 17, 2015, the 74-year-old Gabaldon Building of Gen.Gregorio del Pilar Elementary School was razed by fire destroying the 38 classrooms and all its contents.
Though deeply saddened by the loss of the main building at the midst of its rehabilitation, the school was able to normalize its operations and resumed classes three days after the fire because of the quick action and cooperation of all teachers, parents and stakeholders.
Now, looking at the burnt site, there are no more traces of the school’s historical past but rise a brand new four-storey concrete building enough and safe to accommodate the 1300 pupils and 49 teachers and staff.