February 17, 2003 - Thomas Sites: In the Philippines, that attitude of public service exemplified by the Thomasites is being carried on today by the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: February 17, 2003 - Thomas Sites: In the Philippines, that attitude of public service exemplified by the Thomasites is being carried on today by the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 6:39 pm: Edit Post

In the Philippines, that attitude of public service exemplified by the Thomasites is being carried on today by the Peace Corps

In the Philippines, that attitude of public service exemplified by the Thomasites is being carried on today by the Peace Corps

Remarks By U.S. Embassy Chargè d'Affaires Michael E. Malinowski
In Honor of the Thomasites Centennial Memorial Program
American Teacher's Plot, North Cemetery, Manila
August 26, 2001

Mayor Lito Atienza, National Artist F. Sionil Jose, AAP President Robert Robbins, Father James Reuter, Thomasite descendants, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

As I stand here today a century after the Thomasites sailed into Manila Bay, I am deeply moved by the sight of these gravestones and what they represent to members of the American community and to our Filipino friends, including relatives and students of those pioneering educators. Each stone here is a reminder of personal sacrifice in a noble cause.

I am profoundly grateful to the American Association of the Philippines, to the city of Manila, to the National Historical Institute and to all others who have contributed to this very special centennial commemoration.

Young, idealistic American teachers, known collectively as the Thomasites, were responsible for creating the Philippine public school system. Their goal was to offer education to all strata of society and in the process to create the "educated citizenry" which Thomas Jefferson called the foremost bulwark of democracy.

The 540 Thomasites who were aboard the USS Thomas as it landed in Manila 100 years ago represented 192 different educational institutions across America. They came from nearly every state. Soon after setting foot on Philippine soil they were sent to assignments in towns and cities from Aparri to Jolo. Their mission was based on the premise that "the rising generation should grow up in that atmosphere of free inquiry and informed opinion so essential to the success of a democracy."

The difficulties were enormous. In the early years there were few schoolhouses or teaching materials. Transportation and living conditions were often difficult. There was a new culture to learn. The new American maestro or maestra was on perpetual display, followed everywhere by watchful eyes, every action observed with a mixture of wonderment and curiosity.

Pay was often delayed for months, with teachers surviving solely on the good will of the townspeople. In one case a teacher was forgotten by the bureaucracy for a whole year. He was eventually discovered with a roomful of chits from the local sari-sari store -- but still teaching!

As these headstones so poignantly remind us, some paid a very dear price for their commitment to Philippine education. Of the 540 Thomasites who landed in Manila a century ago, 27 were dead within two years. Mr. Collins drowned in rough seas while crossing from Negros to Cebu and was buried in Dumaguete. Mr. Guernsey died of diphtheria in Balayan, Batangas. Mr. Jamizon died of cholera in Dinalupihan, Bataan. Mr. Allen died of smallpox in Naga, Cebu.

Mr. Badger died of cholera in Malasiqui, Pangasinan, and is buried here. His widow, also a teacher, did not return to the United States. She chose to remain in the Philippines with her two sons to continue her mission of teaching in the public schools of Manila.

It was this kind of dedication, this spirit of service, which earned these American teachers the love and respect of Filipinos. They were not here for gold or glory. They were here to work with Filipinos -- and they did.

Creation of a public schools system in the Philippines moved ahead dramatically. In 1905 there were 1,074 American teachers and 3,414 Filipinos. By 1915 the number of Americans was down 50% and the number of Filipinos up 300% -- to 9,308. In 1925 there were 353 Americans and 25,241 Filipinos. By 1940, only 97 Americans remained. But throughout the Philippines Filipino schoolchildren were learning their lessons from an army of 43,682 trained Filipino teachers.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an amazing record. The sacrifices made by these pioneering teachers bore treasured fruit. By the time independence came in 1946, the Philippines had the highest literacy rate in Asia and was Asia's only democracy. That is an achievement which Americans and Filipinos can celebrate together.

I am pleased to say that the Thomasite tradition of service still survives. Since its founding, one of the hallmarks of America has been its spirit of volunteerism. In the United States today, some 90 million Americans take time each week to help their fellow citizens in a wide variety of religious and civic activities.

Here in the Philippines, that attitude of public service exemplified by the Thomasites is being carried on today by the Peace Corps. Peace Corps Director Bill Bright is with us today, along with some of his volunteers. Today, some 150 Peace Corps volunteers are similarly scattered across the length and breadth of this archipelago, carrying on the tradition of service begun in the Philippines by the pioneering Thomasites 100 years ago. Today, too, the Fulbright and other exchange programs of the Philippine-American Educational Foundation serve to reinforce the close educational links started by the Thomasites.

The spirit of selfless commitment to the Philippines exemplified by the Thomasites is perfectly reflected in the words of a poem written by E.E. Schneider while en route to the Philippines on the USS Thomas in 1901.

Entitled "To the Philippine Teachers," the final stanza reads:

So let no fear of failure fill your hearts,
Or dash your courage, or your spirits grieve;
And let no petty doubts becloud your brain.
Remember, while you try to do your parts,
That if one spark of light you leave behind,
Your work will not have been in vain.

Thank you, and may warm U.S.-Philippine memories of the Thomasites, who worked so tirelessly for the education of the Filipino people and for friendly relations, last forever. Mabuhay kayo, Thomasites!

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines



By Rick Phillips on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 12:06 pm: Edit Post


I am in possession of a box of photos, papers, and a scrapbook of an American teacher who left for the Philippines in early 1902.

I am posting these papers on the Internet as time allows.

My page is : http://home.earthlink.net/~mariacielo/sharp/sharp.htm

I would like permission to link your Thomasite page.


Rick Phillips

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 1:27 pm: Edit Post

You have our permission to link to this Thomasite page.


By Clyde Hostetter on Friday, August 08, 2003 - 12:14 am: Edit Post

My father taught in the Philippines from about 1914 to 1917. He was on a later wave of Thomasite replacements. He established schools on the island of Panay and wrote about his experiences in a series of letters that I have keystroked and printed. I would be interested to know if any Peace Corps volunteers or staff have worked on Panay, and if any echoes of his work remain. His name: Harvey Edgar Hostetter.

By Lino L. Dizon on Monday, August 11, 2003 - 9:06 am: Edit Post

The JDN Center for Kapampangan Studies
Holy Angel University

with the
Center for Tarlaqueño Studies
Tarlac State University

and the
Public Affairs Office
Embassy of the United States-Manila

cordially invite you
to the

Book Launching



A 'Thomasite' History of Tarlac Province, 1901-1913
(In Honor of Frank Russell White)
9:30 a.m., September 04, 2003
Case Room, 2nd Floor
Mamerto G. Nepomuceno Hall
HAU, Angeles City

By Joie Matillano (adsl-57.90.130.info.com.ph - on Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - 1:30 am: Edit Post

I would be grateful to anybody out there who could provide me some information regarding undergraduate scholarship programs for filipino students, esp for those residing in Palawan. Websites or contact person's email addresses would be very much welcome.

Thank you very much.

My email address is joiemati@yahoo.com

By Anonymous ( - on Sunday, April 02, 2006 - 4:00 pm: Edit Post

Hi! I would like to know if anyone here knows the american teacher who taught in Malalam, Isabela or in Ilocos? I was trying to knowing our family background.



By Michael Romeyn (adsl-69-236-73-152.dsl.pltn13.pacbell.net - on Tuesday, October 03, 2006 - 7:38 pm: Edit Post

I have recently been informed that my maternal grandfather was one of the "Thomasite" teachers that arrived in 1901.
His name was George G. Adams. He stayed in the Philipines and married Esperanza Nolasco. My mother, Evelyn, was born 12/19/1926 in Aparri. So I assume he taught and settled in or near Aparri.

This is the extent of my knowledge of my grandfather. I would love to learn more.

Anyone with any information is welcome to contact me at:

Michael Romeyn
c/o PCS
1437 North Milpitas Blvd
Milpitas, CA 95035

By Noel Vera (ac90193b.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 5:31 am: Edit Post

If I may inquire: is it true that descendants of the Thomasite teachers have been granted American citizenship? I'm thinking in particular of the O'Hara family. I remember a newspaper article that said so, but I can't find it.

Also, would you have any details on the O'Hara Thomasites?


By Josephine Ingraham (72-160-83-160.dyn.centurytel.net - on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - 6:00 pm: Edit Post

I am interested in a American teacher named Luther Parker, he should have arrived in the Phillipines around 1901/1903, Does anyone know what happened to him? He is beleived to be our Grandfather, he was a teacher at an Indian school in Oregon before he left for a teaching job in the phillipines. Please Help
Josephine Ingraham

By Sheila Engle-Vicente ( on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 12:54 am: Edit Post

I would like to know where and who to contact for the complete lists/ names of the Thomasites who came to the Philippines.Have recently learned that my greatgrandfather was a Thomasite and he settled in Tacloban, which is near Samar.I am not quite sure of his first name cause the stories had been quite vague. Can anyone help me trace his roots? He is Mr.Engle, Floyd?

By David J. Gugerty (ppp-71-136-35-129.dsl.sndg02.pacbell.net - on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 3:00 am: Edit Post

Please send to any and all descendants of those formerly known as Thomasites...
Formation of a data site for all thomasites has not been formerly undertaken, and to locate and seek out histories of these individuals would be a monumental task, but this history should not be lost... any archive records that do not exist should be untaken by all who have relatives who participated in the Thomasite programs... so feel free to ask, I have a good background in the Philippines... cebu, panay, negros, mindinao and leyte... so being an ex peace corps in the 70's in rural health gave me a good insight, but I am very interested in the stories of these folks, and why wasn't it captured and yes it still can be preserved... so do email me any stories of folks in philippines in any capacity of work as thomasites... tks, david g.

By joseph gillies (ool-4354cd63.dyn.optonline.net - on Friday, October 12, 2007 - 9:41 pm: Edit Post

i am adescendant of one of the original thomasite . his name JOHN SINCLAIR GILLIES,He got married and settled in manila and baguio city.He was killed by the japanese emperial army in the capital city of Manila. He was born in scotland, came to America late 1800s.anybody who has any information on what town or state helived or settled before going to the philippines, does he had a family or children here in the state before he left to the islands. txs joseph gillies

By janetsinfuego (k54_acl1.gw.smartbro.net - on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - 6:07 am: Edit Post

hi! my great grandfather was a thomasite. His name was william H. Pickel. I would like to inquire if is it possible for us descendants to migrate in the US?

By rachelle ohara ( - on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 3:57 am: Edit Post

Hi! I would like to address this message to Noel Vera who posted a message on October 19, 2006. Are you in any way related to the O'Hara's? Are you Noel and Ate Avic? Or was that just coincidence? This is Rachelle, Edward's wife. I'm trying to find more info on Ed's great grandfather James O'Hara. Any info you could provide would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

By jenny s. pascua ( on Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 9:01 pm: Edit Post

sir BSIM 3A po ako

By jenny s. pascua ( on Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 8:55 pm: Edit Post

hai sir lino. . kapangalan mu pa tito ko...hehe!!!ingat

By Jennifer Adams ( on Monday, August 04, 2008 - 9:05 pm: Edit Post

I wanted to know more about my family as well. My last name is Adams, and I'm sure there weren't many of those in the Philippines. Turns out my great-grandfather was a Thomasite as well-- George G. Adams, who named his son George (my grandpa) and also named his son George (my dad). I read some posts and I am surely related to Michael Romeyn who made a post back in 2006! If you still keep up with these, you are my dad's cousin. :-) I'm still doing more research, and hope to find out more about our family!

By Mia ( on Friday, October 10, 2008 - 1:00 am: Edit Post

Hello Jennifer & Michael! I believe we are related. My maiden name is Adams. My grandfather Richard Adams is son(the youngest) of George G. Adams a "Thomasite" My grandfather Richard married a Filipina. My father Alfred and his seven brothers and sisters are now living in the US. My family visits the Philippines every few years. Would love to know more about our Great Grandfather George!

St. Louis, Mo.

By Eleanor Engle Alvarado ( on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 - 1:59 am: Edit Post

TO: Sheila Engle-Vicente

My maternal grandfather is Floyd Engle of P. Burgos Street, Tacloban City. He married Silvestra Pulga. I remember mom telling me before that he was a soldier-teacher. My mom Conchita (long deceased) was one of their 6 or 7 children.

I wonder, are we related?

God bless.

By Sara L. haveman ( on Sunday, March 06, 2011 - 1:29 am: Edit Post

My Grandfather was John Milton Gambill. He came to teach about 1904-5 with 4 other Johns fron Southern Ill. University in Carbondale. He taught 2 years left and return for about 1 2 more years .I dont know for sure what boat he was on. We have pictures of him with his students and some momentos the returned with.I have been told that some sort of ship was named after him. Any more informatin appreciated.

By Kristen Mann ( on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 6:54 pm: Edit Post

My great grand-father was also a Thomasite, Frank Porter Low. He came from Ohio and stayed in the Philippines, I believe somewhere in Cebu and married a Dolores Ancheta. If anyone has any information, it would be greatly appreciated or if there is a list of the original Thomasites that came over in 1901.
Thank you.

Kristen Mann

By ka jose ( on Sunday, December 04, 2016 - 12:19 am: Edit Post

hi..our school (upi Agricultural school)was founded by a thomasite... Cpt. Irving Bryant edwards... descendants of edwards are still here in our place at upi,maguindanao,some have already migrated to the U.S.

By James Romeyn ( on Saturday, May 04, 2019 - 2:19 am: Edit Post

I am James Romeyn, grandson of Thomasite George G. Adams and his spouse Esperanza Nolaso. Greetings to all relatives who may read this.

Circa mid 2000s I attended the funeral of my loving uncle Albert Adams, George's son. At that time, I met one of my cousins and her children from Singapore. My cousin's son found that one of my uncles was General McArthur's personal assistant, and my uncle wrote a book about McArthur in the possession of the US government, who kept the book confidential because of potential risk to subjects in the book.

If the story is true, I would love to read the described book.

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