ONOFRE R. PAGSANGHAN
Onofre R. Pagsanghan is a teacher. He began teaching at the Ateneo de Manila High School in 1951, taught both English and Filipino for more than four decades, became one of the first awardees of Metrobank’s Search for Outstanding Teachers in 1985, and continues to be recognized for his teaching not only by the Ateneo, but by other national organizations as well.
Mr. Pagsi, as his students fondly call him, has utilized and continues to utilize theatre as a means to teach not just English and Filipino, but Christian values as well. He began “teaching” theatre as moderator of the Ateneo High School Dramatics Society in 1956, managed its transition into Dulaang Sibol in 1966, and has won recognition as a playwright and director in the succeeding decades.
He married Florinda Duran in 1960. They have three children: Stella, Joel, and Sylvia. He was born in Manila on 12 June 1927. His parents are Hipolito and Vicenta Pagsanghan.
He has been a teacher at the Ateneo de Manila High School since 1951. He was the chair of the Filipino Department for 25 years. He served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for three years. He has been Director of the Ateneo Faculty Formation Institute since…
He is a well-respected and much-loved member of the Ateneo de Manila University community. In honor of his 50th year as a high school teacher, the Ateneo established the Onofre R. Pagsanghan Endowed Fund for Basic Education. On the occasion of his 45th year as a teacher, the Dulaang Sibol Theater was renamed Tanghalang Onofre R. Pagsanghan by the Ateneo. In 1991, the Ateneo awarded him an honorary PhD in Humane Letters.
He has lectured extensively throughout the Philippines, literally from Aparri to Jolo, on education topics, specifically on “Teaching as a Vocation.” He is a regular lecturer for the Department of Education. He has authored Hasik, Layag, and Makabagong Pilipino, three textbooks used in several high schools. He has also written two other textbooks for high school use, Reaching Out and Sagwan. In 1997, he founded the Sibol-Hesus School, a free tutorial school for public high school students.
He finished his AB, major in Education in 1951 and his MA in English Literature in 1984 – both from the Ateneo de Manila University. He graduated from the Ateneo de Manila High School in 1947.
In 1966, he founded Dulaang Sibol at the Ateneo and has been its managing director since. His work in Dulaang Sibol has attracted national recognition. It is high school theater with, as critic and National Artist Leonor Orosa Goquingco puts it, “professional polish.” For Dulaang Sibol, he has translated Jean Anouilh’s Antigone into Filipino. He has, likewise, adapted Thornton Wilder’s Our Town into Doon Po sa Amin and J.M. Barrie’s Dear Brutus into Wala sa Ating mga Bituin. With his students, he co-authored Adarna and Sa Kaharian ng Araw. Sinta, his adaptation of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s The Fantasticks, with its more than 260 performances to date, is one of the longest running plays in Philippine theater history.
Under his stimulation and guidance, his high school students have written plays in Filipino, which critic Alfredo Roces of the Manila Times called “the first important breakthrough for the national language”; and which critic Bien Lumbera of the Free Press termed as “a seminal force in the development of Filipino play writing.” Significant among these plays are Paul Dumol’s “Ang Puting Timamanukin” and “Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio,” perhaps the most frequently performed Filipino one-act play; and Tony Perez’s “Hoy, Boyet…” Among his other former students are Nonon Padilla, Batch Saludo, Johnny Manahan, Jim Paredes, Noel Trinidad, Subas Herrero, Dindo Angeles, Leo Martinez, and Jun Urbano.
He was Artistic Director of the Folk Arts Theater from 1974 to 1977. He has been the director of dramatics at the Ateneo de Manila High School since 1956. He has directed big productions of Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Cyrano de Bergerac.
He founded the Knights of the Sacred Heart in the Holy Trinity Parish of Balik-balik in 1948 and worked there for some fifteen years. To date, there are seven ordained priests from this organization composed of underprivileged boys. The seminary studies of three priests were partly subsidized by the group from the earnings of their annual plays in Filipino. Most of these plays were adaptations of Mr. Pagsanghan.
He has likewise pioneered in incorporating musical competitions in the study of Filipino to stimulate greater creativity in and love for the national language. The now nationally famous “Hindi Kita Malilimutan” is the musical composition of a First Year student of his, Manoling Francisco; the lyrics of the song are the fruit of the collaboration of Mr. Pagsanghan and his First Year class.
In his honor, his Sibol boys produced Pagsibol, a cassette recording of some sixteen Sibol songs, most of which are either his songs or his lyrics. The songs on the tape are only a part of more than a hundred original Filipino songs written in Dulaang Sibol. A second cassette recording of Sibol songs is entitled Kulay-Buhay. A third recording, Sumibol, has also been produced as a CD.
Ford Foundation Grant to observe educational television in the United States (1963)
UNESCO and British Council Fellowships to observe theater in the United States (1971)
Japan Foundation Scholarship to observe the Japanese system of education (1981)
New York University Scholarship on American Culture (1986)
Bayaning Gurong Pilipino Award from the ABS-CBN Foundation and UGAT (2003)
Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez for outstanding educator in literature from Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (2002)
The Outstanding Filipino Award from the Philippine Jaycees and Insular Life Assurance, Inc. (1996)
Metrobank Outstanding Educators Award for excellence as a high school teacher (1985, the first year of the Metrobank Awards)
E.A.G.L.E. Fund Teacher Award for excellence in the teaching profession from the Ateneo de Manila University (every year from its inception in 1980 up to the present)
First Irwin Memorial Award for excellence in the teaching profession from the Ateneo de Manila University (1977)
Ozanam Award for Outstanding Service as a Catholic teacher from the Ateneo de Manila University (1970)
Citizens’ Award for Television, Best Educational Television Program, for a televised series of lessons in Filipino (1964)
Centennial Honors for the Arts (Theater) from the National Centennial Commission (1999)
Gawad Manuel L. Quezon from Quezon City and the Taliba ng Inang Wika (1996)
Gawad CCP para sa Sining (Dulaan) from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (1992)
Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas from Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (1992)
FAMAS Best Musical Film Award for Sinta (1976)
Patnubay ng Kalinangan Award for national contribution in the field of theater from the City of Manila (1970)
Gawad Balagtas for significant work in Philippine theater from the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa in (1970)