Old photos of Malimanga Elementary School in Candelaria, Zambales

For the New Year of 2024, I managed to take a week-long vacation with my family to visit relatives in Candeleria, Zambales. I had been away too long that except for that one time when we paid a one-day visit when my mother passed away four years ago, I have only the vaguest recollection of the last time I was there.

Me and Blackie at Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

So after stopping by our old house in Malimanga now occupied by Uncle Boy, we went to visit the local elementary school, which we often referred to as iskul ha babo–which means “school on the hill” in Sambal–because the school lies on the small hill of Malimanga.

When we went to visit last week, we saw a bigger structure–two stories high, painted with bright colors, with many classrooms. The way I have always remembered it, Malimanga Elementary School was an unpainted, single one-story structure with only four classrooms, with neatly planted plants in front of it.

This present-day, bigger structure reflects the growing population of this once sleepy barrio of Candelaria.

Despite growing up in Malimanga, I myself didn’t go to Malimanga Elementary School; instead I went to Candelaria Central School in the Poblacion for grades 1 and 2, commuting by tricycle everyday with my older sister.

On weekends, however, when my father was home from his work in Subic Naval Base, we would take walks around the neighborhood. And on one of those walks, we went to the top of the hill where the old elementary school stood, my father toting the Nikon camera he borrowed from his office.

These photos were taken in the mid-1970s so they are almost 50 years old. They may quite possibly be the oldest photos of Malimanga Elementary School in existence.

I’m glad that my father took these pictures.

And I’m also glad that even though the original film negatives have been lost–damaged by years of neglect–we have managed to preserve these photos as we moved through an almost endless succession of houses in Subic, Olongapo, Manila, Quezon City–until, in my case, eventually ending up in Japan.

Residents of Candelaria often find themselves in foreign lands in search of a better future. This is true in my family’s case and I assume this is true for countless other Sambal people in the towns of northern Zambales.

Once in a while, I take these pictures out from storage and I am transported back to Malimanga of fifty years ago, walking around the neighborhood with my dog Blackie.

At Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

(Above and below) Running around on the hill in front of the school, and picking up bugs maybe?

These photos were taken early in the morning, as you can see in the shadows.

At Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

At Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

(Above and below) My near constant companion during those walks was Blackie. He had a distinctive white band on this neck and his legs and the tip of his tail were white.

I like the neat bamboo fences the schoolchildren erected around their plants. I wonder where those children are now?

At Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

(Below) Lush vegetation, with papaya and banana trees in the background. The trees look to me like props at a studio shot, with me in the center in white and everything else a shade of gray.

At Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

(Below) I don’t know if this photo was when we were climbing up or going down. I concluded that we were going down at this time because my father was taking the photo from above, and quick-footed children usually go on first before their parent, especially if that parent is taking photos.

At Malimanga Elementary School circa 1975. Photo by Roly Eclevia CC-BY-SA 3.0.

I also left this for last because I find it the most most interesting of the set. There’s me in the photo with Blackie, and also Ate Tina looking down on my dog, a towel wrapped around her neck.

Our female companion is the only person in these seven photos who is looking directly at the camera–and smiling. Throughout the years, I have often wondered about the girl behind that smile.

Her face is very small compared to the rest of the photo in the original. But blown up by the 600x600dpi scan that I did, I can see her face clearly, eyes fixed at the shooter (my father) , wearing an ebullient smile that little girls of her age often make in front of a (then uncommon) camera.

My father at first said that she is probably Ate Baday, who lived with us in Malimanga. Ate Tina said that she is, in fact, Tia Lydia, daughter of Papo Dal, who were our neighbors. Uncle Johann concurred when I asked him, but Uncle Noel said this girl doesn’t look like Tia Lydia at all.

Then again, someone else mentioned that she is most likely Arlyn, daughter of Tio Bert and cousin of Edith, who was another one of our neighbors in Malimanga.

So far, there have been no consensus regarding this, and different people I’ve asked either didn’t know or gave me different answers or changed their minds later, which further adds to the mystery of this photo.

I would love to hear from the girl herself, if she happens to see this.

If you look further down the hill, there looks like seven other people in the photograph, hardly noticeable on first viewing but very visible when looking at the high-resolution scan. They are probably children in Malimanga who were there in the mid-1970s.

I wonder who they were. Are they and their children still living in Malimanga? Have they gone away like many of us? I wonder what kind of lives they are living right now?

If you walk further still beyond those people in the background, you will get to the north-south Zambales highway that goes to Santa Cruz on the right, and Olongapo on the left.

Eventually, a few years later after this photos were taken, we left Malimanga and Candelaria for good–going leftward–first to Subic and Olongapo, then to Manila.

Dawdaan litrato nin Malimanga Elementary School ha Candelaria, Zambales

Hin nakalabah a Ba-yon Taon, nag-urong kami sa Candelaria, Zambales ka-lamo ko yay pamilya ko tan luway anak. Poyra hataw hin nati hi Nanay a-pat a taon anan nakalabah hin nag-orong kami nin a-say awlo ha Candelaria, malapot a pa-nomton ko no naka-no yay hoyot akon nag-orong itaw.

Mayari kamin tomibaw itaw sa dati min bali ha Malimanga no ayti ampi-wan hawanin hi Uncle Boy, nako kami ha mahindog nin elementary school, hiyay pirmi min anhawayon nin “iskul ha babo” bana na itaw ya ha ta-gay nin babo nin Malimanga.

Hin tomibaw kami hin nakalabah linggo, na-kit mi taw mas mahi-ban a impa-dong iskul, lako nin classroom. No tama yay pa-nomtom ko, yay anka-tandaan ko yataw daan nin Malimanga Elemnetary School yay one-floor ba-yo main a-pat bungat a classroom. Hawanin mas mahi-ban yay na tama bungat ha lomalako nin tawo ha Malimanga, na dati yay a-say matinok a baryo nin Candelaria.

Maski nin hinomi-ban ako ha Malimanga, kae ko nag-aral ha Malimanga Elemetary School. Para ha Grade 1 tan Grade 2, itaw ako sa Candelaria Central School ha babali ampako hinyataw, awlo-awlon anlulan ha tricycle ka-lamo hi Ate ko.

No Sabado-Domingo namaot, no maka-no nag-urong hi Tatay ibat ha trabaho na ha Subic Naval Base, pirmi kamin ampilalako ha libot-libot nin Malimanga. Minghan naor, nako kami ha babo, awit ni Tatay yay hini-ram nan Nikon a kamera.

Yay law litrato iti ay kinwa hin mid-1970s kanya halos limampulo a taon anay lomabah. Ala-no yati yay nay pinakadaan nin picture nin Malimanga Elementary School main.

Maliga ko ta nakwa ni Tatay yay picture yati.

Maliga ko ta maskinan napirdi anay original nin film negative–nahira hilayna ta maboyoto na-po-layan–nagawa mi siyempri nin maisalba yatin paw picture mintras no ayti-ayti kami nan lumipat-lipat nin bali ha Subic ba-yo Olongapo, Ibali tan Quezon City, anggan naka-ka akoy na ha Japan.

Lako nin tawon ampiwan ha Candelaria karamilan an anpako ha marayo nin lugar, ampanigkap nin mas magandan an-arapon. Potog yati para ha pimilya mi, tan palagay ko potog yati para ha lako ni Sambali ha bawbabali nin mayanan Zambales.

Paminghan-minghan, an-ilabah ko yati litrato, bilang an-awiton lako ha Malimanga hinyataw limanpulo a taon a nakalabah, no ayti ko ampilalako ka-lamo hi Blackie.

Ha dalan mako ha Malimanga Elementary School. Yumi, Tatay, Kei, Auntie Eva (January 2024).

(Pagpasisyawan mo yoy nay matiko a Sambali ko ta apat a pulo taon anan homin praktis. Para iti sa translation ha Sambali, ginamit ko yay Tina Sambali diksyonaryong ginwa ni Sotero B. Elgincolin (kalamo hi Hella E. Goschnick tan Priscilla R. Elgincolin). Maari i-download yay PDF nin yatin diksyonaryo iti.)