Mapa High School (1924 to 1928)
In 1924 my father started at what was then known as Manila East High School. Now known as Mapa High School. He was a very sickly and weak little boy and as a result spent much time ill at home. It seems ironic that father’s longevity and good health until late age was in apart directly attributed to his poor health as a child.
When he was in seventh grade, he accidentally stumbled upon an American body building magazine. So impressed by what he read and saw that he began regularly walking the eight kilometers to the National Library and back again, in order to look over the past copies of the magazine.
In addition he was fortunate that when he was in high school there was sort of “barbell” club nearby that he was encouraged to join in order to build up his strength. Two or three times a week he and some classmates would meet at his house on Espana and exercise. This was the beginning of his short but none-the-less impressive weight lifting and wrestling career which he gave up in early university because of time constraints.
At school his genius was noticed almost immediately by the teachers and was often asked to help them with marking his classmates examination papers. My father excelled in every subject in high school. His best subjects were mathematics and physics and his worst was music.
When my brother and I were in university, sometimes at mealtime we would talk of something that will need long division or multiplication. What I remember was that none of us can do it without going for paper and pencil but my father would look up at the ceiling and do it mentally. He will give us the answer long before anyone can come up with the answer with the help of paper and pencil. This happened several times and sometimes it was like a game. One time I teased him and asked, “what is there in the ceiling that can make you come up with the answer so quickly”.
My father took his studies seriously which left him little to socialize. He did not learn how to dance. I know that for certain because I was the one who taught him to dance Cha-Cha and Tango.
Tribune May 31, 1928
Arturo Tolentino, Valedictorian of the Manila East High School, heads the list of successful candidates for admission to the state university this year by his highest showing in the entrance test. Tolentino is also the Feather and Light weight lifting champion of the Philippines. Arturo Tolentino, a graduate of the Manila East High School, obtained the highest score with a total of 607.7 points or an average of 86.7% in the entrance test. In English he got a 182 score, i.e. his paper was marked 91%, in Mathematics 92%, History 77, Physics 89%, Biology 82.2 %, and intelligence test 85%.