With the establishment of free education system in the Philippines, Americans constructed buildings in 1932 to facilitate learning of new students.
These buildings, which were named Gabaldon, have elevated concrete bases and wooden structures with spacious corridors.
About 80 years later, Gabaldon buildings are still standing today but are slowly degrading.
In Dalaguete, Cebu, principals of two elementary schools (ES) with Gabaldon buildings identified termites as the main cause of damage in the buildings.
“Mga upat ka tuig sad namo wala nagamit ang Gabaldon sa amo, gi-anay naman gud kaayo (We haven’t used the Gabaldon building in our school for almost four years now due to severe damage caused by termites),” shared Socorro Cejudo, Obong ES principal.
Balud ES principal Allan Bustamante added that although still usable, Gabaldon building in Balud school needed major repairs because of termite-caused damage also.
Today, Cejudo and Bustamante expressed their gratitude as the Cebu Provincial Government, local government unit (LGU) of Dalaguete and Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) turned over the restored Gabaldon buildings to Obong and Balud ES.
Governor Hilario Davide III said that the school plays a big role in shaping the character of the students.
“It is very easy to be polite and helpful if you are in a clean and happy surrounding. This is where students start to become responsible and useful citizens,” he said.
Thanking Dalaguete’s LGU and RAFI, Davide highlighted the importance of public-private partnership that contributed to the success of the project.
A total of P932,000 was spent for the restoration of the two school buildings.
Capitol and RAFI each covered 40 percent of the total cost while Dalaguete LGU took care of the remaining 20 percent.
Capitol also identified the school beneficiary of the project, RAFI handled the materials for the restoration and Dalaguete’s LGU provided labor.
“Ato makita nga kon maghiusa ug magtinabangay ta, daghan ta ug mabuhut ilabi na alang sa mga estudyante (This project showed that unity and cooperation can lead us to accomplishing more),” said provincial school board head, Provincial Board Member Peter John Calderon.
RAFI’s Education Development Unit executive director Anthony Dignadice shared that the 82-year old Gabaldon building is a symbol of the start of the free education system in the country.
“Free education has already been immortalized in these buildings,” he added.
The restored Gabaldon buildings now house homerooms of Grades 2 and 3 students in Obong ES and Grades 2, 3 and 5 in Balud ES.
Dalaguete Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante announced that Gabaldon buildings in Mantalongon and Saksak elementary schools will be rehabilitated next.