The legacy of Cesar Sioson Tiangco

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By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

Speaking Out

Sunday, March 15, 2015

FOR more than three decades, Cesar Sioson Tiangco served as the first principal of my Alma Mater, the Muntinlupa High School (now Muntinlupa National High School or MNHS). Established in 1945, MNHS was the very first post-war public high school opened south of Manila.

Initially conceived as a school for the children of Bureau of Prison employees, the school soon found itself attracting students not only from outside the New Bilibid Prison reservation but even beyond the boundaries of Muntinlupa. Outside students came from as far as the neighboring towns of San Pedro, Binan, Las Pinas and Paranaque.

Its initial teaching staff of 4 (including the principal) had to perform multi-tasking to meet the needs of the schools growing population. The other pioneer teachers of Muntinlupa National High School were Catalina Roque, Teodora Sacco and Lourdes Tibayan.


Mr. Tiangco was more than equal to the task of being principal, English teacher, adviser to the student publication and remedial teacher. As busy as he was, he still found time to indulge in his two passions: collecting butterflies and writing. As a boy, I saw hundreds of beautifully preserved butterflies inside his modest home. He wrote short stories and poems which saw print in the pre-war Sun Tribune Magazine and later in Agricultural Commercial Industrial Life, Philippine Free Press, Mr. and Ms. and Women’s Magazine.

His short story “Father Damian’s Trial” placed 14th among 100 Best Short Stories submitted by Asian Authors in the 1987 Asia Week Story Competition. His play “Wild Flowers” topped a contest held by National Library Association of the Philippines for Stage Play Presentation. He also authored two books: Making Life Beautiful (a collection of inspirational essays and stories) and Message of the Apparition (a novel).

In 1976, Mr. Tiangco became principal of the Rizal High School, his alma mater, where he retired four years later upon reaching the mandatory age of 65. He died on February 1, 2006 at the ripe age of of 91.

Shortly thereafter, the family discovered manuscripts of Message of the Apparition. The novel was posthumously published by his former student, writer Romeo P. Virtusio.

Aside from Virtusio, Mr. Tiangco has inspired other writers from Muntinlupa National High School, among them Wilfredo P. Virtusio (a 4-time Palanca short story contest winner and younger brother of Romeo), Rolando Justo and Romeo Navarro.

In memory of our late principal, 1956 and1957 MNHS golden jubilarians led respectively by Romeo Virtusio and Engr. Romeo Navarro launched in January 27, 2006 the first Cesar S. Tiangco Memorial Literary Awards. The CST Awards offered prizes to high school students for short story, poem and essay. The CST Awards later expanded to include college students.

Initially limited to students of Muntinlupa, the annual award also expanded its coverage to schools in Las Pinas, Paranaque, Pasay, Makati, Pasig, Taguig and Pateros.

Winners of this year’s 9th Cesar S. Tiangco Memorial Literary Awards Program were recognized over the weekend. They were chosen by a board of judges consisting of writers Placido Parcero Jr., Sheila Abejo, Rolando Justo and Juaniyo Arcellana. Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi had been invited as Guest Speaker. Previous awards ceremonies were graced by National Artists Virgilio Almario and F. Sionil Jose.

This year’s award ceremony was hosted by MNHS Golden Jubilarians (Batch ’65) led by Francis Montillano.

Listed below are the winners in The 9th Cesar S. Tiangco Memorial Literary Awards:

High School Division: Tula Category – 1st Dan Kylle Lumaque, Muntinlupa Science High School, 2nd Ma. Gloria Metran, Pedro Diaz High, 3rd Michaela L. Silvestre, Rizal High Pasig; Maikling Kuwento - 1st Jolina Abner, Pedro Diaz High, Joint 2nd Adriellee Dollison, Pedro Diaz High, & Alexander de Villa, Pedro Diaz High, Joint 3rd M. Angel Matildo, Rizal High, Rachel Flores, Muntinlupa High, Maneth Butial, Pedro Diaz High. Essay (English), 1st Allijah R. Jereza, Muntinlupa Science High, 2nd Karl Vincent Alvarez, Muntinlupa Science HIgh, 3rd Gyle Tampil, Muntinlupa Science High; John Edmond Bartolome, Pedro Diaz, and Maria Gloria Metran, Pedro Diaz High.

College Division: Essay - 2nd Michael Cabial, St. Bernandette College Alabang Poetry - 1st Michael Requilman, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa (PLMun), 2nd Amina Tan, PLMun Fiction 1st Rodela M Padin, PLMun, 3rd Alissandra Sigua, PLMun.

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