Monday, June 4, 2012


CENTRO OF ATTRACTION. Miss Centro Escolar of 1934, lovely Nene with escort Jose, during the college day celebration.

During the Carnival years, one school that became one of the most ardent supporters of the national event was the Centro Escolar de Señoritas, a Spanish-influenced private institution founded in 3 June 1907 by two women educators, Librada Avelino and Carmen de Luna.

In fact, a fortuitous event at Centro Escolar in 1907 had resulted in the meeting, courtship and eventual marriage of the first Carnival Queen, Pura Villanueva with El Renacimiento editor Teodoro Kalaw of Batangas.

The all-girls school offered women education from kinder to college--with degrees in law, pharmacy, liberal arts, education and business. In its inaugural year, it attracted 250 students, but by 1927, it had had attracted over 1,500 girls, many from prominent families from all over the country.

A most-awaited school activity is the “Feria de Centro Escolar” or College Fair that began in the mid 20s, capped by the selection of a Miss Centro Escolar. Some of winners are still known to us; in 1929, Susana Casimiro reigned as Señorita de Centro Escolar and a certain Queen Nena in 1934.

Soon, the school was earning a reputation as the home of the most beautiful and accomplished ladies in the city, if not, the country. It was now wonder then that many of these campus beauties were always recruited as candidates to the yearly Manila Carnival Queen search. In fact, even the School Director, had a direct hand in the selection of the school representative.

Some of the Escolarina beauties who became Carnival Queen candidates included: Iluminada Perez (Princess at the 1929 Manila Carnival) Blanquita Opinion (Miss Visayas 1933 and a former 1925 Queen of Charity) and Luisa Marasigan, who was selected as the 2nd Miss Philippines in 1927.

Centro Escolar de Señoritas became a university in 1933 and became known as Centro Escolar University. CEU, as it is known today, has three campuses--the main Manila campus on Mendiola street, Malolos campus in Bulacan (1978) is in and the Makati Campus in the Makati Central Business District. The Parañaque campus was phased out in the early 1990s. CEU Cebu will be the first CEU campus outside Luzon. In 2007, Centro Escolar University—producer of some of the most beautiful Carnival beauties ever to grace the national fair—celebrated its centennial in 2007.

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