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History of

the Pioneers
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Maybe they were blind then, but they were not crazy. A glance at the serene and desolate compound of the Philippine Coconut Authority could give you the solitude and nostalgia you not need. Besides, who would want to be stranded among coconut trees, with the first sign of transportation a 3-km walk away? Who would want to deal with a bunch of science misfits and piles of books for nearly half of a decade? But a promising future could not be sacrificed on such trivial grounds. 
...And so it was that on July 1988, fifty-two youths gained the honor of being the first enlisted scholars of Philippine Science High School Mindanao Campus: The PIONEERS.
In contrast to what we expected, our first days of stay in PSHSMC - which soon turned out to be months - rolled on with perplexity. Classrooms had to be exchanged time after time so others can enjoy the luxury of a chair and blackboard. Obviously, the coconut was the only scrutable specimen accessible for discussion in Earth Science. From classrooms to laboratories, everything was rented.
If life in the classroom was a pain, life in the dorm was a sore. The common problem we all had was homesickness. Then we discovered we had to be crowded in constrained rooms. Soon, conflicts in matters of attitude and room upkeep arose. Food? We just ate our snacks and meals at the stair or out in the field. Water? We just our morning baths in front of the dormitory where water was supplied by a daily-delivered tank.
We probably had a good chemistry because despite the Sisyphean labor, freshmen life was loaded with intrigue, laughter, and excitement. Remember those ever-and-anon open forums, those late-night chats, and even those frenetic encounters with ghosts? Remember those mutual understanding affairs that hit the young hearts? Remember the dignity boys who crossed verandas at the second floor through a wooden plank, and those curious lads who climbed the restricted water tank? Remember those girls who picked and ate some experimental cherries of the PCA, and who jumped out of the library window?
One thing we will always remember is the six people who dedicated their time, effort and skill for the betterment of the students: the pioneering teachers themselves. To them, we offer our deep gratitude: they will always have had and will have a dear place in our hearts...
...And so it was that fifty-two students made it successfully to the first burdensome step in the making of PSHSMC.
Ah! Second year. The year of "culture shock", as they say. It was not a shock, but a real blow to us. With the coalition of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math and demanding teachers, we were forced to lay down our arms of children's games and accept a new world of books and experiments. It was difficult at first, but we soon admitted the natural callousness of a scholar's life. And PSHS life was that tough. Group discussions substituted open forums, and late night studying, late night chats. we would stay in the classroom until ten or so in the evening to finish our prepared-in-the-last-minute graded presentation or to do general cleaning.
Fortunately, dorm life improved with the transfer of the lads and the Davao City lasses to the CETC dorm. Although strictly prohibited, boys would sneak in the girls' study hall and have their tutorials. During holidays, when most of the dormers have gone home, we would chase each other through the maze of connected rooms, pretending boys to be ghost busters and the girls, ghosts, or we would play our childhood delight of "in-out".
But we were not the only people around. There were nights when our youngster brothers and sisters would knock on doors for consultation or simply for conversation. And there were days when they would brawl against us.
July 7-10 and November 9-11, the first Foundation Anniversary and first Intramurals, respectively, were red days. It was enlightening to witness the entire PSHSMC community toil for the big occasions. The Pioneers managed to have the best cheering, a title we prepared for with sweat and strife. Unfortunately, we did not catch the rest of the games.
The pressure of our studies was compensated by the pleasure of our activities. No PSHSMC graduate will ever forget these shocking yet spicy sophomore days...
...And so it was that forty-nine students managed to cross the turbulent rivers of their second year in PSHS...
If there ever was an award "Most Controversial Batch" or "Darling of the Press" in PSHSMC, it would probably fall in the hands of the PIONEERS. As the authors of the "magic letter" that compelled DOST Secretary Ceferino Follosco to fly to Davao to look into the school's problems, the Pioneers took a stride to growing up. A new outlook was on the rise; gone was the ignorance that dominated our early years. But despite our being mischievous, we Pioneers remained as lovable as we used to be.
While an inner transformation was progressing, a new outside was also taking form. Davao City scholars partied and wept on their last night in the dormitory. The next Monday brought us to the - San Pedro Cathedral where, from then on, a PTA-hired bus will transport us to school. On January 7, 1991, we finally transferred to the school's main site in Sto. Niņo, Mintal, which has a better access to civilization. Yet it could not dispute the unparalleled green meadows of our old home.
Life went on with the usual cramming, studying, and researching. But the world within the classroom was not the only world that we knew. We went out of our way to inter-school competitions, all with prayers and due training. As was expected, people raised eyebrows or made quizzical faces upon the sight of a PSHS uniform or upon the mention of the school's name. But our representatives were able to prove their worth. Merits were garnered in district, division, regional, national and even international levels.
Our sinews were getting sufficient exercises as well. Defeated in the previous intramurals, we considered Intrams '90 as an ultimate challenge. Against all odds, we played as hard as our bodies can bear and cheered as loud as our voices can reach. And all these tireless efforts were recompensed by a clashing victory. 
As if an overnight change had occurred, our venturous manners had transformed into elegance on the night of the school's first prom. Everything was normal, only that the affair should have been dubbed Junior Students' Prom instead of Juniors'-Seniors' Prom. Despite the hidden agony behind the ladies' grins as a result of hours standing on high heels, they looked stunning. The boys in their three-piece suits were dashing. (It could have been so hot in there.) 
We were trouble and pride, fun and sorrow, sensitive and aggressive. We were the Juniors. 
...And so it was that the same forty-nine scholars passed the third trial of life in PSHS. If only they could make it to Evergreen.  
That is the best way to describe the school during the academic year 1991-1992: more facilities and equipment, recently constructed buildings, and a new batch of teachers. The atmosphere was a revelation of freshness and vibrancy. For the first time in the four years of PSHSMC, all four levels have finally been filled. It was exciting to see the school become busier than ever. At least, before our departure, we Pioneers were able to get the feel of a "normal" high school. 
We were too busy with the completion of our requirements for graduation to get involved with most of the school's activities. During our first university entrance test, we were kind of jerky; it was quite a preparation we made. After that, these tests became part of our normal routine. But an exception was the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), our paramount key to a college degree. 
In addition to that was the introduction of the dreaded Citizens Army Training (CAT). It was with difficulty that we had to set aside our camaraderie and pride for the discipline that the training called for. But we improved on many things...a lot. Soon, talks on DNA, Nernst Equation or optic fibers flowed with the tide of normality. Teachers got bugged by our never-ending questions for clarification. Most of the time, we would not come to a halt until we persuade our peers to agree with our convictions. But when the discussion is setting to a seriousness, the class would suddenly burst into laughter upon a gag or two. 
But then, we managed to spare some time for big school events such as the Foundation Anniversary and Intramurals. Intramurals was an exciting match. Our cheering presentation was finalized on the night before, and our only rehearsal done on the day of the competition; and to think that we got the first place! Our athletes had their first and only practice right during the games, but we walked out of the courts in triumph. Then the loud cheers toned down to silence. 
Life went back to the usual schooldays, now faster than ever. Then, that moment that we have been fearing and avoiding came -- March 26, 1992. Graduation Day. 
We could not help but wet our precious memories with tears. They all flowed down into the past, but we will always reminisce and cherish them. It was unique closeness that we shared, unlike any of the high school experiences we hear. All we can say now is, "We have shared the times through thick and think, and in the end, we will always win." 
...And so it was that the time for fifty Pioneers to part from each other, to gain more courage and independence for a new world that awaits them has come. But soon will come a moment when they meet again with fuller determination to fulfill their promise of a new dawn...  

- from the Bidlisiw '92 (The Official Yearbook of PSHSMC)





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Last updated: September 26, 1998
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