ISM’s Centennial Celebration

ISM’S Centennial Celebration

Writer: Liz S.

The International School Manila (ISM) is one of the oldest international schools in Asia. First opened in 1920 as the American School for the children of American and British expatriates, ISM has grown into an immensely diverse community representing over one hundred nationalities and serving as a beacon of learning for over two thousand students each school year. 

Every student and teacher who has gone through the halls of our school knows that once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat. This mantra truly came to life this January when hundreds of ISM alumni from all around the world and across numerous generations returned to Manila to celebrate the centennial of the school.

The three-day festivities included walking tours of the new BGC campus, a cocktail night at the Peninsula Manila, a performance showcase in the Fine Arts Theater, a Barrio Fiesta, and a culminating homecoming event at Manila Polo Club. It was amazing to see all the different batches of ISM alumni come together and share memories of their fond times in high school. 

Visiting alumni Adele C. (‘77) happily remembers an old tradition at ISM: the Sadie Hawkins dance. “That was the opportunity given to girls to choose their dates and it was held in the school cafeteria,” she said.  “I was just too shy to ask, but I did it once.” She also remembers a time before social media and technology was used to promote school events and clubs. “I was in something called the Publicity Committee…we made posters with cartolinas and made statements by hand.” 

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Another visiting alumni Karen W. (‘79), notes the predecessors of some of beloved and present ISM extracurriculars. She was part of the Mabuhay Club–what would seem to be the predecessor of today’s Student Ambassadors. “We helped new students,” she said. “Sometimes we would ask them to do the Mabuhay Dance,” wherein a new student and a Mabuhay club member would take center stage in the canteen and just dance around. She also fondly remembers the “Tourist for a Day” event wherein students would visit iconic Filipino tourist attractions such as Rizal Park. 

In terms of keeping connected, Karen says that Facebook is the main platform alumni use to stay in touch. With instant messaging and online invites, alumni are just a click away from rekindling old friendships! 

The last hundred years of ISM has proven to be infinitely fruitful with its creation of friendships across nationalities and generations, forever being a home for its students and faculty. Congratulations to all the organizers of the Centennial Celebration and BT looks forward to what the next hundred years in store for ISM!