The JASMS that was


But was this kind of education effective? 

Well, to my knowledge, graduates of JASMS elementary school had no trouble getting into and doing well in “traditional” high schools. All JASMS high school graduates who wanted to get into the University of the Philippines, did so. JASMS alumni include doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, visual artists, musicians, businessmen, and other professionals.

Also, most important, JASMS students learned to care for others besides themselves. And this, I think, is what Mrs. Gamboa wanted most of all for them to learn.  

Now back to the present. First, why do I not know anything about what JASMS is today? 

It’s because I turned away. I had to watch Mrs. Gamboa, my mother, suffer as she watched her beloved school begin to change. The struggle to keep class sizes small; teachers’ salaries commensurate with the work load, ability, and experience; and tuition fees at a level that would not exclude the less financially able—became harder and harder.

Then a building was built for a nursing school and she saw further encroachment as the University required classrooms to be used for adult evening classes. 

Then she became ill and when she died in January 1977 it was too painful for me to become involved with JASMS. And so I never knew what was happening.

I know some of her teachers managed to keep it going for many years. And then one day I heard that something had happened to the property and only a small portion was left. The Mountain was gone. The Gym was gone. The soccer field was gone. The Farm had been long gone. 

The preschool classrooms were gone and the whole school occupied only what was once the high school. Most of the original teachers had died or retired. 


JASMS still struggles to exist—mostly, I think, because alumni and parents still are grateful for what the school did for them and for their children.

They do not believe that a school like JASMS should be allowed to just disappear. (READ: Save the Philippine Women's University)

My daughter, Gillian, brought up in JASMS, who absorbed much of what her grandmother was, gave up a high-paying corporate job to try and rebuild JASMS. She is braver and a much better person than I am.  

I don’t know what will happen.

Land values are land values. Perhaps it’s too much to hope that education might be considered of some value as well—specially the kind of education that JASMS offered; specially the kind of education that this country so desperately needs. –

Joy Gamboa Virata is a respected thespian and theater director. She is the founder and artistic director of Repertory Philippines.